Moses' second speech, Part 3
Jul 17, 2012
Deut. 5:10 says,
(10) but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
Jesus quoted this in John 14:15, saying,
(15) If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
Again, he said in John 14:21,
(21) He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him.
In these verses, Jesus tells us that the commandments are His own. In other words, He is the incarnation of the One who was revealed to Moses as Yahweh. It is also apparent that the term "love" is used in a more limited manner than in John 3:16, "God so loved the world." The world at large does not love Yahweh-Jesus at this present time, yet God loves the world. But in John 14:21 above, Jesus spoke of a more limited manifestation of love, given to those who keep His commandments.
To this smaller group is given the revelation of Himself and the revelation of the word, the law, the prophets, the psalms, and the gospels. We see this specifically with John himself, who is called in John 21:20, "the disciple whom Jesus loved." Such a statement would be meaningless if He loved all men equally--or even all the disciples equally. This indicates that He revealed Himself to John more than to the other disciples. In other words, John understood the mind of Christ more than the others, because Christ revealed His heart to him in a greater way.
Such is the promise, then, of those who "keep His commandments." We must add, too, that keeping His commandments is more than just obeying Him. The Hebrew word shema means both to hear and to obey. Obedience is the result of hearing. Hearing comes first. Hearing is not possible apart from Christ disclosing Himself (that is, His mind and heart). When Christ knows that hearing will produce the fruit of obedience, He reveals His heart.
The Third Commandment
Deut. 5:11 says,
(11) You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain [profanely].
Christians today have applied this verse mainly to cursing, swearing, while using His name or some form of it. Certainly, that is a common part of Western language and culture that is not good. However, that is not the main force behind the commandment.
Neither does this command address vulgarity or obscene language, as many have defined "swearing."
Our English word profane comes from the Latin pro, "before," and fanum, "temple." It implies doing something "before (outside) the temple." That is, it indicates some word or deed done outside of God's character. Most curses are done outside of God's character and mind and are therefore profane. However, some curses are done by the mind of God. We see this in Deut. 28:15 in regard to the "curses" of the law upon the disobedient.
We may also take note of Noah's curse upon Canaan for his actions in Genesis 9.
The Third Commandment prohibits the invocation of God's name for a dishonest or unlawful purpose that is contrary or hostile to God and His will. We are made in the image of God, and as such our words have a basic level of authority that we do not often understand or even believe.
It is my personal view that curses actually create evil spirits, empowered according to their weight of spiritual intent. If these are not nullified, they continue to affect the world indefinitely, moving from person to person and from generation to generation. Because few people understand these things well enough to deal with them, the problem has become progressively worse over the centuries.
All oaths in a biblical court of law invoked the name of God as witness to the truth of some testimony. Hebrews 6:16 says, "an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute." What does this mean? It means that in any dispute or controversy between two parties, where they cannot find agreement but find it necessary to go to court, an oath is required, ending the dispute.
For example, in Numbers 5:11-31 we see that if a man is "jealous" because he is convinced that his wife has had an affair with another man--and yet he has no real proof--he may take her to the Divine Court. He was to bring her to the priest, and if she insisted she were innocent, she was to swear an oath in the name of God that she was innocent (Num. 5:19). Having done this, God Himself was to take the case, and the husband was to leave it in God's hands, allowing God to prove her guilt or innocence. (In this case, if God made the woman barren, it was an indication of her guilt.)
This law was greatly misunderstood and misapplied during the Middle Ages in their practice of "Trial by Ordeal."
"In medieval Europe, like trial by combat, trial by ordeal was considered a judicium Dei: a procedure based on the premise that God would help the innocent by performing a miracle on their behalf."
For example, they might tie a rock to the woman and throw her into the river, assuming that if she were innocent, God would cause her to float and thus save her. In other cases, they would burn people at the stake, assuming that if innocent, God would intervene.
They did not understand that the biblical method presumed innocence. The medieval Trial by Ordeal presumed guilt unless God intervened, whereas in biblical justice the suspects were presumed innocent unless God intervened.
The point is that an oath in the biblical court of law ended the dispute. The jealous husband was to leave it in God's hands and refrain from further accusations against his wife. And if, in fact, she had taken God's name in vain, God judged her accordingly.
A related law is found in Lev. 5:1,
(1) Now if a person sins, after he hears a public adjuration [oath] to testify, when he is a witness, whether he has seen or otherwise known, if he does not tell it [what he has seen or heard], then he will bear his guilt.
This involves cases where there is a public investigation or a divine "visitation" after a crime appears to have been committed. The public were adjured, or commanded to reveal to the court whatever evidence they knew. In such a case, the priest (judge) administered a general oath to the public in the name of God. If a man then refused to testify, he was held guilty by God Himself and was to be judged as a false witness who intended to bring injustice to the victim of that particular crime. Hence, the law in Deut. 19:19 would apply, "then you shall do to him just as he had intended to do to his brother," that is, to the victim.
In other words, if a man conceals evidence, he would be liable to receive a penalty equal to that which was imposed upon the innocent--or what was NOT imposed upon the guilty.
By this law in Lev. 5:1, the high priest adjured Jesus to testify (Matt. 26:63). Jesus was silent until the high priest invoked this law. Then He spoke the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, which the high priest took as blasphemy. Yet this is a good example where Jesus, the unspotted Lamb of God, followed the law perfectly.
This is the third part of a series titled "Moses' Second Speech." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones