Moses' tenth speech, Part 18, Israel was cursed to serve other gods
Jul 09, 2013
The final section of Moses’ speech gives the climax of the curses for disobedience, beginning in Deuteronomy 28:64,
64 Moreover, the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth; and there you shall serve other gods, wood and stone, which you or your fathers have not known.
When Israel and Judah were divided after the death of Solomon, King Jeroboam of Israel set up two golden calves, one at Bethel and the other at Dan (1 Kings 12:28-30). Hence, the root cause of Israel’s captivity was established from the beginning of their history.
The prophet Hosea points to the calf at Bethel as well, for he was a prophet to the House of Israel. He accuses Israel of adultery with other gods (Hosea 7:4) and says that “a spirit of harlotry has led them astray” (Hosea 4:12; 5:4). For this reason, God will bring judgment upon this false god of Israel, saying in Hosea 8:5, 6,
5 He has rejected your calf, O Samaria… 6 A craftsman made it, so it is not God; surely the calf of Samaria will be broken to pieces.
In Hosea 10:5 the prophet calls Bethel by the name of Beth-aven, “house of vanity, lies, or emptiness.” Beth-aven was actually a town just east of Bethel itself, but Hosea links the two, as if Bethel, the “House of God,” had become the “House of Lies.”
Hosea 5:4, 6 also says,
4 Their deeds will not allow them to return to their God. For a spirit of harlotry is within them, and they do not know the Lord…. 6 They will go with their flocks and herds to seek the Lord, but they will not find Him; He has withdrawn from them.
What is this spirit of harlotry? How does it manifest in practical terms? Verse 11 gives the answer: “Because he was determined to follow man’s command,” that is, the traditions of men. Further, we read in Hosea 7:14,
14 And they do not cry to Me from their heart when they wail on their beds; for the sake of grain and new wine they assemble themselves. They turn away from Me. 15 Although I trained and strengthened their arms, yet they devise evil against Me. 16 They turn, but not upward, they are like a deceitful bow…
In other words, the Israelites did not lack religion, and they gave the appearance of repentance, but it was not “from their heart.” They do repent, or turn, but they repent of their righteousness, rather than of their sin, and hence, “devise evil against Me.”
This is why it is imperative to understand the law of God, for without knowing how to repent, America will be incapable of true repentance. We all see how, in times of disaster, people flock to the churches for a short time. They pray, and they even attempt to repent, but their hearts are not changed, because they remain ignorant of the ways of God. “They turn, but not upward.” Further, “they wail on their beds,” but not on account of their sin. Instead, they are looking for “grain and new wine.” They want provisions, supplies, and prosperity, while holding on to their traditions of men. They seek God’s protection and blessing so that they might continue with their lawless beliefs and life style.
The ultimate curse of the law is that Israel would come to the place where she was fully incapable of repenting. In fact, Jeremiah 16:13 says,
13 So I will hurl you out of this land into the land which you have not known, neither you nor your fathers; and there you will serve other gods day and night, for I shall grant you no favor [chaniynah, “grace”].”
The prophet was expounding on Deuteronomy 28:64, which we quoted earlier: “There you shall serve other gods, wood and stone, which you or your fathers have not known.” In other words, the ultimate curse of the law for Israel’s disobedience is that Israel would find herself in such bondage that she would be incapable of repenting. The real bondage is in the fact that she does not know how to repent, and that she is so completely convinced that the traditions of men are the word of God, it is impossible for her mind to be changed so that she may truly repent.
Such a situation would be disastrous, because the law would then bind them forever in this captivity to foreign nations. Fortunately, however, the prophet understood that God was sovereign and would take steps to change the situation Himself.
The prophet Hosea compares Israel to Jacob, showing that Jacob’s life prophesied of Israel as well. Jacob served as a slave to Laban in Syria (Aram), which is prophetically the same as Assyria (Hosea 12:12). His slavery was brought about by his deceit, as his name indicated. Yet his slavery ended after twenty years, and he returned to the land of Canaan to keep the appointed feasts (Hosea 12:9).
Jacob’s first stop was Mahanaim, which correlates with the feast of Trumpets. His second stop was at Penuel, which represents the Day of Atonement. His third stop was at Sukkoth, which is the feast of Tabernacles. To get the full story of this, see chapter 4 of my book, The Laws of the Second Coming.
Thus, God promises to take action by His sovereign will to change the hearts of the people, saying in Hosea 13:14,
14 I will ransom them from the power of Sheol; I will redeem them from death. O death, where are your thorns? O Sheol, where is your sting?
Paul quotes this in 1 Corinthians 15:55. It is the only time that he speaks of Sheol (or Hades, in Greek). It is in the context of Christ delivering us from the power of Sheol. Paul broadens its application beyond Israel to include all men at the resurrection.
For the first 98 years of his life, Jacob wrestled with his brother Esau and with his uncle Laban, as he fulfilled the prophecy of his name. Jacob literally means a heel-catcher, because he was holding Esau’s heel when he was born. This became a Hebrew idiom for a deceiver, conniver, or a usurper. Jacob thought he was wrestling with Esau and Laban, but he was actually fighting God, for he did not understand the sovereignty of God.
Finally, however, God had mercy upon him and, and I believe the angel took the form of Esau. Toward daybreak, Jacob had an epiphany and saw that he was actually wrestling with an angel. In other words, the problem was not with Esau, but with Jacob. God had been using Esau to teach Jacob of His sovereignty.
This revelation brought him to repentance, depicted by the Day of Atonement, and prepared the way for him to keep the feast of Tabernacles (Sukkoth).
Hosea sees Jacob as a type of the nation of Israel that sprang from him. Even as Jacob went to a Syrian captivity, so also did the House of Israel go to Assyria. Yet even as Jacob was delivered through the feast day pattern, so also Israel today will be delivered.
This deliverance will not come to the current Mideast state that is called Israel. That is a Jewish state, not an Israelite state. The Jews trace their lineage back to Judah, not Israel. In fact, “Jew” is a shortened form of Judah.
The nation of Judah went into a Babylonian captivity; Israel went to Assyria a century earlier. These were two different captivities involving two different nations. Hosea’s prophecy was directed toward Israel, not Judah. The Israelites eventually immigrated from Assyria, heading north and west into Europe, as history shows plainly. From Europe, America was founded and established 2,520 years after Israel went into captivity.
Hence, America is the primary fulfillment of the prophecies regarding the physical regathering of the House of Israel. They were NOT regathered in the old land, of course, because God had promised them a different land as early as the time of King David. When God made His covenant with David, He said 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 [ragaz, “moved”] again, nor will the wicked afflict them any more as formerly.
This prophecy was given at the height of David’s kingdom. This must have made little sense to David at the time, because it implied that Israel would be moved and afflicted. Indeed, Israel was afflicted and moved by Assyria to a foreign land a few centuries later. But God had already appointed a new place for Israel, where they would be planted and not be moved again. This was obviously not the old land in Palestine.
The verse says nothing of timing, nor even the reason for needing another land. But we can see today that those Israelites would become far too numerous for the old land. Israel’s iron-yoke captivity was to last “seven times,” that is, 2,520 years (7 x 360 years). For this reason, the promise to David could not be fulfilled prior to 1776, when the iron-yoke captivity began to come to an end.
America was founded in 1776 to fulfill the prophetic law, a smaller group representing the larger body of those Israelites. Unfortunately, because of their subsequent sin, America was put into captivity to Mystery Babylon. Yet this has been a wooden-yoke captivity, which has allowed us to remain in this land without being invaded and destroyed. As Nathan said to David (above), “nor will the wicked afflict them any more as formerly.” In other words, it was a promise that Israel would not have to suffer again under an iron yoke.
Keep in mind also that the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecy to David is that we should inherit the heavenly country that Abraham sought (Hebrews 11:16). That is the next level of fulfillment that is coming to the overcomers and those who are blessed through them. Even now, as individuals, we are able to receive many of those blessings through a mature relationship with Christ. However, the day is coming when these promises will be seen in the nations on earth, as God reclaims all that He owns by right of creation.
The overcoming remnant has always enjoyed the favor (grace) of God, even though they have been persecuted and have had to endure the captivities brought about by the lawlessness of others. God has always used the remnant to carry the truth and to be a light in a dark world. Paul mentions this in Romans 11:5 and 7. They are the real inheritors of the promises, bearing witness to the blind and hardened hearts of Israel and also the world.
So the curse of the law in Deuteronomy 28:64 does not apply to the overcomers. While the nation of Israel as a whole were blinded and were thus locked into serving other gods, the overcomers by definition are those who serve God without such blindness. Jeremiah 16:13 says of the people in general, “I shall grant you no favor (grace),” but this does not apply to the remnant of grace (Romans 11:5).
This is the eighteenth part of a series titled "Moses' Tenth Speech." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones