Moses' eleventh speech, Part 9, The land of the New Covenant
Jul 29, 2013
In speaking of Israel’s regathering, Moses concludes in Deuteronomy 30:4, 5,
4 If your outcasts are at the ends of the earth, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you back. 5 And the Lord your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers.
This passage is one of many assumed to validate the Zionist position. But there are difficulties with this. First, Moses was speaking to “you,” which we know to be not only the biological Israelites (Deuteronomy 29:10), but also the aliens with them (Deuteronomy 29:11), and “those who are not with us here today” (Deuteronomy 29:15). In other words, it extends far beyond the Zionist Jewish people.
Second, when we consider that the term “Jew” is just a shortened version of Judah, then it is clear that the Jews today are not the only beneficiaries of the promise of regathering. The house of Judah consisted only of Judah, Benjamin, and parts of Levi. The majority of the Israelites were not Jews. Yet “Israel” today is a self-proclaimed Jewish state. Citizenship is forbidden for most biological Israelites! (Recall that the Israelites of Scripture were taken to Assyria, and after Assyria fell, these Israelites immigrated to Europe and beyond.)
Third, Zionism presumes that the Old Covenant is still in force. Christian Zionism tries to maintain both covenants at the same time, applying the old to the Jews and the new to the “gentiles.” Some even think the New Covenant is a renewal of the Old Covenant. Those who espouse these views tend to deny or to discredit the book of Hebrews and many other New Testament writings.
Fourth, God promised David—at the height of his kingdom—that Israel would be given a new land where they would no longer be afflicted, nor would they be deported to other lands. God made a covenant with King David in 2 Samuel 7:12-16, promising him—or rather, his “son” and his descendants—an enduring kingdom that would not end. Part of this promise appears in 2 Samuel 7:10,
10 I will also appoint a place for My people Israel and will plant them, that they may live in their own place and not be disturbed again, nor will the wicked afflict them any more as formerly.
David recognized that this was a promise for the “distant future” (2 Samuel 7:19). It is evident from history that the biological Israelites migrated into Europe, America, and other places, where they soon outgrew the possibility of squeezing back into the old land. But beyond this, God had a far greater promise in mind, one that would apply to all men. Abraham sought a heavenly country and a “city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10).
This is neither the old land nor even a new land on earth. Ultimately, it is the land that was promised both to Abraham and to King David. Both died without receiving these promises, we are told in verse 13. Abraham confessed that he was a stranger in the old land of Canaan, and the writer of Hebrews extends this to all of the men of faith.
13 All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles [parepidemos, “strangers, foreigners”] on the earth. 14 For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. 15 And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out [i.e., Canaan], they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.
In other words, all of the men of faith throughout the Old Testament sought better promises than what the old land of Canaan had to offer. That was, in fact, the nature of their faith. Like Abraham, the model “man of faith,” they were all foreigners, even in their own land. Canaan was only a type that served as a temporary inheritance until that which was better should come. The better promise would also be inclusive of all men, for in that sense all men have been aliens to the heavenly country and the New Jerusalem.
Paul makes it clear from Galatians 4 that Hagar and Sarah served as prophetic types of the two Jerusalems, and that the true inheritance is only through Sarah, who portrays the New Jerusalem. The earthly city is Hagar, who is incapable of bringing forth the promise, even though she bore a child of Abram himself.
Modern Zionism seeks to re-establish the glories of the past. The apex of its vision does not reach beyond the land of Canaan and the old city of Jerusalem. It claims Sarah as its mother, not knowing that in reality, its mother is Hagar who is in bondage with her children even now (Galatians 4:25). The only way to escape this bondage is to claim a new spiritual mother and to honor her as the Fifth Commandment teaches.
The scope of the New Covenant, as Moses reveals in Deuteronomy 29:14, 15, is all-inclusive. It is not possible to fit everyone into the old land of Canaan. Canaan was only an early model of what God intends to do with the whole earth (Numbers 14:21). This is why the book of Hebrews is a “book of better things.” The “better” has replaced the original model. The real has replaced the type. We have a better covenant, a better priesthood, better sacrifices, and a better land and city. The better will never be replaced by the old model, for the better promise is permanent and endures forever.
The promise to David was fulfilled to the letter. Even when Judah’s last king was killed, and the Babylonians destroyed the city and its temple, the promise endured. Solomon understood the promise to mean, “you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel” (1 Kings 2:4). Hence, when the last king of Judah was killed, Jeremiah brought the king’s daughters to Spain and Ireland to marry them to the kings of those countries, who also ruled over Israelite emigrants. It was important that the seed of David would rule somewhere until such time that the final Heir to the throne should come.
That throne, however, never returned to the old land and the old city. The new capital of the Kingdom of God is the New Jerusalem, for He is now revealed to be the God of the whole earth (Isaiah 54:5). No longer is He merely the God of Israel, but He is the “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16), having universal dominion over all that He created.
Therefore, when Moses promises in Deuteronomy 30:4, 5 that “God will restore you from captivity” and “bring you into the land which your fathers possessed,” we cannot assume that we understand the manner in which this promise was to be fulfilled. As the promise unfolds throughout the prophets and is revealed further under the anointing of Pentecost in the New Testament, we gain greater clarity.
Moses gives us clues, mostly through the universal scope of his message in Deuteronomy 29:10-15, but David speaks of a new land, Isaiah shows that God is not just a local deity, nor is He merely the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The New Testament brings the two Jerusalems and the two countries into clear focus, showing that the promises of God have come in two stages. The first was only the model, the prophetic type; the second is the “better” promise, for it is greater and is permanent.
Moses continues in Deuteronomy 30:6,
6 Moreover, the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, in order that you may live.
Such heart circumcision was not a feature of the Exodus covenant. It was revealed only in the second covenant, first in Deuteronomy 10:16 and again here in 30:6. It is also significant that the first revelation came in the context of the second law that was to be written after the first tablets were broken. Heart circumcision, then, is the main feature of the New Covenant.
Heart circumcision is something that God alone can do, for it is a work of the Holy Spirit within us. Its purpose is to cause us “to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” Our flesh may fear God through the first covenant, but we truly love Him through the second covenant, because such love is a gift from God.
Deuteronomy 30:7 gives the contrast, saying,
7 And the Lord your God will inflict all these curses on your enemies on those who hate you, who persecuted you.
In other words, those who hate the people of the New Covenant are the ones who are yet under the curse of the law for disobedience. Recall that “enemies” are defined in the law as those who are hostile to Jesus Christ and remain in disagreement with His law. Even the Israelites were God’s enemies during their time of rebellion (Isaiah 63:10).
Moses then continues in Deuteronomy 30:8,
8 And you shall again obey the Lord, and observe all His commandments which I command you today.
Because this is a statement within the context of the New Covenant, where God was circumcising their hearts, we must read this as a promise, not as a command. The promise is that when God circumcises our hearts, we shall obey the Lord and observe all His commandments. Why? Because our obedience is the result of His work of circumcision within our hearts.
9 Then the Lord your God will prosper you abundantly in all the work of your hand, in the offspring of your body, and in the offspring of your cattle, and in the produce of your ground, for the Lord will again rejoice over you for good, just as He rejoiced over your fathers; 10 if [kiy, “because, surely”] you obey the Lord your God to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of the law, if [kiy, “because, surely”] you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and soul.
At first glance, this appears to be a conditional promise, for both the NASB and the KJV render kiy by the word “if.” But this is a different word from what is used in Exodus 19:5, where “if” is from the Hebrew word im, or eem. Gesenius Lexicon shows that the Hebrew word im indicates the start of a conditional clause:
Hence, the word im is used in Exodus, but kiy is used in Deuteronomy. The word change shows the distinction between the two covenants. The meaning of kiy is “because, certainly, surely,” etc., as we are told by Gesenius Lexicon:
We see then that Moses was given the precise wording that would describe the New Covenant as something God was doing in the hearts of the people, causing them to be obedient and to love Him with their whole heart and soul.
This is the ninth part of a series titled "Moses' Eleventh Speech." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones