Deuteronomy 29:9–31:30: Hungry to get close to God?

We don’t have to go to Heaven ourselves to learn God’s Law; we don’t have to die to keep it. God’s Law is so close to us, we can taste it. That’s a key lesson in the dual Torah reading נִצָּבִים Nitzavim (“standing,” Deuteronomy 29:9–30:20) and וַיֵּלֶךְ Vayelech (“he went,” Deuteronomy 31:1–30). God’s words are to be “right at the tip of our tongue,” so when we it in our “mouths,” we can “swallow” it and incorporate it into our everyday lives.

As with other parts of life, we have to cross-check our thoughts and actions with Scripture. This is why the book of Deuteronomy has been given us. We know that Messiah Yeshua followed Torah to the letter, and we can look at His perfect example to follow it ourselves.

The book of Deuteronomy applies to us, regardless of where we come from, whether we are born Israelites or grafted into Israel (Romans 11). It is addressed to everyone from the lowest servant to the highest leader, all those who believe in God.

“‘You stand today, all of you, before the LORD your God: your chiefs, your tribes, your elders and your officers, even all the men of Israel, your little ones, your wives, and the alien who is within your camps, from the one who chops your wood to the one who draws your water.’” (Deuteronomy 29:10–11 NASB)

Moses is addressing everyone from the lowest servant to the highest leader, all humans who believe in God. The entire book of Deuteronomy applies to us, regardless of where we come from, whether we are born Israelites or grafted in.

We are to make sure that everyone knows these rules, there is no one who should be kept ignorant of God’s Torah.

“‘The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.’” (Deuteronomy 29:29 NASB)

What are God’s secrets? Our sins, our goals, our secrets are His secrets. We are not to pry into the secret sins of others and reveal them. However, when God reminds us of an unresolved private, secret sin, He uses them to teach us, correct us and help us move forward to make us closer to His image.

However when sins are performed in public, they are no longer private or secret. The question is what do we do when we discover public sins? We are to learn from them, teach out children what not to do.

It is not about shame or humiliation with God, but people do shame and perpetually humiliate people whose sins become public.

We are to do to other as we would want done to us. If we want God to keep our sins secret and not publicize them and humiliate us with them, we should treat our neighbor in the same way.

We can benefit from the decisions of our ancestors but we can also be harmed by the decisions of our ancestors.

Israel is unique in all the world that they have maintained their cultural and religious identity for over 4000 years. No other nation, not even the Chinese or the Indians can really claim that. Think about all the other nations that were once dominant: Babylon, Persia, Greece, etc. They did not have as long of a history as Israel has carried.

“‘It shall be when he hears the words of this curse, that he will boast, saying, “I have peace though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart in order to destroy the watered land with the dry.”’” (Deuteronomy 29:19 NASB)

It never goes well when we lie to ourselves. It also never goes well when we treat the Bible like a cafeteria. We can’t cherry pick which scriptures we will follow and which ones to discard. How bad is it? God treats the cherry picker very harshly. Self delusion is a serious sin.

“The LORD shall never be willing to forgive him, but rather the anger of the LORD and His jealousy will burn against that man, and every curse which is written in this book will rest on him, and the LORD will blot out his name from under heaven. Then the LORD will single him out for adversity from all the tribes of Israel, according to all the curses of the covenant which are written in this book of the law.” (Deuteronomy 29:20–21 NASB)

“‘Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.’” (Matthew 5:19 NASB)

Our Messiah Yeshua is the gatekeeper of the Kingdom of Heaven.

“‘So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind in all nations where the LORD your God has banished you, and you return to the LORD your God and obey Him with all your heart and soul according to all that I command you today, you and your sons.’” (Deuteronomy 30:1–2 NASB)

We need to repent, and learn obedience. In Hebrew, this is called teshuvah. Saying “I’m sorry” is not repentance. It can be the beginning of repentance but repentance is more than words.

Repentance starts when we are sorry with all our heart and soul. Romans 10 elaborates on heart and soul.

“Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness. But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: ‘DO NOT SAY IN YOUR HEART, “WHO WILL ASCEND INTO HEAVEN?” (that is, to bring Christ down), or “WHO WILL DESCEND INTO THE ABYSS?” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).’ But what does it say? ‘THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART’ — that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” (Romans 10:1–10 NASB)

The heart carries our emotions and what we believe. Our soul is our animation and what we say out loud and do. We need both our heart and soul to work in unity to properly walk in Torah. They are intertwined. If they are not, your walk is empty.

“For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach. “It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’ “Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’ “But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it.” (Deuteronomy 30:11–14 NASB)

Moses is referring to Messiah Yeshua in this statement, spiritually speaking. The sea or ocean is a euphemism of the grave and death. Deuteronomy is one of the simplest books of Torah.

We don’t have to go to heaven ourselves to learn the law, we don’t have to die to keep the law. The law is so close to us, we can taste it. It’s right at the tip of our tongue. When we put something in our mouth, we are intending to swallow it.

If we don’t eat food, we eventually die. If we don’t take in our spiritual food of Torah, our spirit will eventually die as well.

“See, I have given before you today life and death, good and evil. Now if you listen to the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, to love the Lord your God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes and his commandments and his judgments, then you shall live and become many, and the Lord your God will bless you in all the land into which you are entering there to inherit it.” (Deuteronomy 30:15–16 New English Translation of the Septuagint)

Salvation is a life time event, not just a one-time decision. And as with other parts of life, we have to cross-check our thoughts and actions in comparison with scripture. This is why the book of Deuteronomy has been given us. We know that Messiah Yeshua followed Torah to the letter and we can look at His perfect example to follow it ourselves.

Spiritual ideas are not physical but when we live them out, they become physical. What we have faith in will inevitably show up in our actions.

“What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, just as it is written, ‘BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.’” (Romans 9:30–33 NASB)

Death is not a desirable thing. Our desire is to live. Death is our last enemy and only God can conquer that, which is what Messiah Yeshua did for us.

“So Moses went and spoke these words to all Israel. And he said to them, “I am a hundred and twenty years old today; I am no longer able to come and go, and the LORD has said to me, ‘You shall not cross this Jordan.’” (Deuteronomy 31:1–2 NASB)

This not a reference to Moses being too physically ill to be able to get out bed. We read later in Deuteronomy 34 that Moses still has lots of physical strength in him. The reason that Moses can no longer “come and go” is reference to God’s final decision that Moses will not be allowed to take them over the Jordan.

““Now therefore, write this song for yourselves, and teach it to the sons of Israel; put it on their lips, so that this song may be a witness for Me against the sons of Israel.” (Deuteronomy 31:19 NASB)

The song, which we will learn about next week, is a very pleasant song. How is it a witness against the children of Israel?

“When I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels who had seven plagues, which are the last, because in them the wrath of God is finished. And I saw something like a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, holding harps of God. And they sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, ‘Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations! Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy; For ALL THE NATIONS WILL COME AND WORSHIP BEFORE YOU, FOR YOUR RIGHTEOUS ACTS HAVE BEEN REVEALED.’” (Revelation 15:1–4 NASB)

A witness doesn’t judge, the witness just says what he or she saw. The judge is the one who renders judgement. The children of Israel did not follow the instructions in Deuteronomy. That is why this song is a witness against them.

Summary: Tammy.

Banner Photo: An Eastern chipmunk from Bas-Saint-Laurent, Province de Québec, Canada, stuffing its face full of seeds. (Photo by Gilles Gonthier via Wikipedia Commons under Creative Commons license.)

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