This week in our corporate pursuit using the Life-study of Deuteronomy, we have part 2 of the review of the past of the children of Israel (message 4), an overview of Deuteronomy being a book concerning Christ (message 5), and part 1 of the rehearsal of the law (message 6). See introductory post.
In previous messages we have seen that the entire Bible is implied in the book of Deuteronomy, and that Deuteronomy is actually an extract of the Bible (week 1). As such, the book of Deuteronomy does three things: it manifests God, it exposes man, and it unveils Christ. It manifests God as the loving, righteous, and faithful God, and as a God who blesses. By contrast, Deuteronomy also exposes man’s real condition that he is nothing, has nothing and can do nothing. As a type of today’s believers in Christ (1 Cor. 10:1-13), the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness for 38 years, because of their unbelief (Heb. 3:7-19). Nevertheless, God extended His love to them by showing mercy to them and blessing them. Similarly, many times we are also far away from God in a poor situation. At such times we must pray for God’s mercy, which can reach us where we are, and ask for His blessing as grace.
In order for such a man to match such a God in His purpose, Deuteronomy also unveils Christ both as the goal (the good land) towards which we press, and the way (the commandment as the word) through which we may reach this goal. First, the good land is an all-inclusive type of the all-inclusive Christ as our goal and our aim prepared for us by God (Col. 1:12; 2:6). The good land (the land of Canaan) was an exceeding rich land flowing with milk and honey (Deut. 6:3; 26:9, 15; 27:3; 31:20), which provided the children of Israel with whatever they needed. Deuteronomy 8:7-10 describes the many items in the good land, including water, food, and minerals, which are all types of Christ. This signifies that everything that we need can be found in Christ (for more on this, please read The All-Inclusive Christ by Witness Lee, which can be downloaded here). Second, not only does Deuteronomy unveil Christ as our goal and our aim, it also unveils Christ as the life with the strength and ability for us to reach this goal (30:14; Phil. 3:12-14; 4:13). It is only through being one with Christ that we can reach this goal that God has set before us (1 Cor. 6:17b; Gal. 2:20).
In order to understand this, we need to first see God’s eternal purpose, which is to be expressed through and represented by man on the earth (Gen. 1:26; Eph. 1:4-5). In order to carry this out, God made a plan, an economy, to fulfill that purpose (Eph. 1:10; 3:9; 1 Tim. 1:4). According to His economy, God made man in His own image (Gen. 1:26), that is, according to His attributes of love, light, holiness, and righteousness. However, man became fallen, so in His economy God planned to redeem man and bring man back to Himself (Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14). God also intends to annul the sinful man through the cross of Christ (Rom. 6:6; Gal. 6:14) so that man would be brought to nothing. Although God intends for man to fulfill His purpose, He does not want man to do it by himself (Gal. 2:20). The man who believes into Christ (John 3:15, 16, 18) is one spirit with Him (1 Cor. 6:17b) and is in Him (Rom. 8:10). Such a man can live and do everything that God requires of him by Christ and through Christ (Gal. 2:20; Phil. 4:13).
Furthermore, Deuteronomy reveals that Christ is available to us as the word (Deut. 30:11-14; Rom. 10:5-8). Although the book of Deuteronomy does not explicitly mention Christ or the Spirit, it frequently mentions the word, the law, the commandments, the testimonies, the statutes, and the judgments (the ordinances), all of which are spoken by God and therefore are the word of God in totality. In the New Testament, we see that Christ is the word of God (week 1; John 1:1, 14; 6:63; Rom. 10:5-8). Furthermore, Romans 10:5-8 as an interpretation of Deuteronomy 30:11-14 implies the Spirit, saying, “the word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart.” To be in our mouth and in our heart, this word, which is Christ, must be the Spirit. Christ as the word is in our mouth and in our heart, because He is now the life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45b). As the Spirit, Christ is everywhere, available and rich to those who call on Him (Rom. 10:12). Finally, 2 Timothy 3:16a says, “All scripture is God-breathed,” implying that the scripture is exhaled by God. Therefore, when we inhale Christ as the Word, He enters into our being as the Spirit (John 6:63). This is the way by which we can fulfill God’s economy today.
In the rehearsal of the law, Moses respoke the law to the second generation of Israelites as a way of training them before they enter into the good land. Whereas the children of Israel were charged to keep the commandments, statutes, and judgements, today we need to “keep Christ”. In Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Moses spoke of loving Jehovah their God with all their heart, soul, and might, and charged them to keep God’s words upon their heart, teaching them diligently to their children, binding them on their hand as a sign, wearing them as frontlets between their eyes, and writing them on the doorposts of their house and on their gates. Similarly, today we need to love Christ, keep Christ, teach Christ, wear Christ, and write Christ. Finally, Moses was concerned that in their enjoyment the people would forget Jehovah their God, so He charged them to fear Jehovah, serve Him, and not go after other gods to provoke the anger of their God, who is a jealous God. May we heed these words and be perfected by them so that we can fully enter into the good land today!
9 thoughts on “Corporate Pursuit of Deuteronomy: Week 2 – A Book Concerning Christ”
I enjoyed that the only way to match God, move with God, and cooperate with God to fulfill His purpose on the earth is by Christ! Although we are nothing, Christ is everything! How do we take Christ in and live by Him? He is embodied in the Bible, God’s word. Since all scripture is God-breathed, the way to take in the word is by breathing! Christ is embodied in the word, and the word is the Spirit (Jn. 6:63, Eph. 6:17). We simply need to inhale the word that God has exhaled.
Thank you so much for putting this summary together. I was really supplied by reading it!
Question: What are the 3 general functions of the entire Bible and of the book of Deuteronomy?
(Please feel free to leave a short answer or a longer one with examples.)
1. Manifest God. 2. Expose man. 3. Unveil Christ
I enjoy from message 4 that even the “wandering years” had a purpose! This should change our view of our own and others’ “wandering” and pray for God to fulfill His purpose in the midst of our or their “wanderings”.
“The purpose of these years of wandering was to consume man’s flesh and unbelief and to manifest God’s mercy and blessing (v. 7). In ourselves we are nothing but flesh and unbelief, which causes us to depart from God. Our flesh and unbelief need to be consumed. It is easy to speak about this, but it takes many years to experience it. For the children of Israel, this took thirty-eight years. On the one hand, these were wasted years; on the other hand, these years were useful in consuming their flesh and unbelief.”
What does it mean for us New Testament believers to keep God’s commandments, testimonies, statutes, and judgments?
“In His economy God has planned that man should do everything God requires of him [i.e. keep God’s commandments, testimonies, statutes, and judgments]. However, God does not want man to do all this by himself; He wants man to do this by Christ, in Christ, with Christ, through Christ, and by being one with Christ.
[This means that as NT believers,] we need to have a spiritual union, an organic union, with Christ. In order that we may enter into such a union with Christ, God wants us not only to believe in Christ but to believe into Christ (John 3:15, 16, 18). To believe into Christ is to have an organic union with Christ, becoming one spirit with Him (1 Cor. 6:17b). In this union we are joined to Christ, we are one with Him, and we are in Him. Now as those who are one with Him and in Him, we need to do all that God requires by Christ and through Christ. No longer should we live by ourselves and do things by ourselves, but we should live by Christ and do everything by Christ.”
Even though the Children of Israel were in the wandering in the Wilderness and were in unbelief (Heb. 3:7-19), God extended His love to them by showing mercy to them and blessing them. Similarly, many times we are also far away from God in a poor situation. Lord have mercy on us where we are, and keep us, Lord in Your grace.