This week in our corporate pursuit of Deuteronomy we conclude the section on the rehearsal of the law with Life-study messages 22 and 23, and begin a new section on warning in message 24.
As a continuation of the rehearsal of the law, Deuteronomy 22:1-4 and 8 speak of taking care of others’ interests. If an Israelite comes across his brother’s straying animal, clothing or any of his lost things, he must not neglect them but shall return them to his brother. The word brother indicates that, in the sight of God, all the children of Israel were members of one family. Among us today, there should be the practice of caring for the interests of the brothers and sisters, who are fellow members of the Body of Christ.
Deuteronomy 22:10 speaks of not plowing with an ox and a donkey together. This typifies the matter of becoming “dissimilarly yoked with unbelievers” (2 Cor. 6:14a). Being yoked together refers to any intimate relationship such as marriage and business. For example, if a brother in the Lord marries an unbelieving woman or a sister in the Lord marries an unbelieving man, it will be difficult for them to live together. Also, if a believer has an unbeliever as a business partner, the believer may encounter many problems because the unbeliever may want to do certain things that are incompatible with the life within the believer. As believers, we should not be unequally yoked with unbelievers, for this is a mixture which is abominable in the eyes of God.
An Israelite was to make twisted cords upon the four corners of his garment (Deut. 22:12). Numbers 15:38 says that they were to make tassels on the corners of their garment, and put upon the tassel of each corner a cord of blue. Here, “garment” typifies our conduct and behavior, “cord” signifies binding, and “blue” signifies something heavenly. Together, this picture shows that as children of God our conduct and behavior should be bound by the heavenly government.
When a man took a new wife, he was not to go out with the army, nor was he to be charged with any duty for one year, and he was to make his wife happy (Deut. 24:5). Related to this matter, we must honor marriage and not damage it. God is happy to see young people come together in marriage, and even more so when they have children, because this is according to His purpose (Gen. 1:28). On the one hand, God wants the couples to have physical children; on the other hand, He also wants them to have spiritual children in the church life. If we are spiritually barren, this is a shame in the sight of God. God hates barrenness and fruitlessness and is happy to see us becoming spiritually productive and fruitful (John 15:16).
In Deuteronomy 25:19, God strongly charged the children of Israel to blot out the memory of Amalek, who did not fear God and was the greatest enemy of God’s people, frustrating them in taking God’s way. Amalek typifies our flesh. In the New Testament, flesh in this context (Rom 6:19; 7:5, 14-25; 13:14) denotes the fallen and corrupted human body with all its lusts (See Romans 7:18 footnote 2 in The New Testament Recovery version). The thing that is most opposed to God’s way is our flesh, and it must be dealt with thoroughly.
As we conclude the section on the rehearsal of the law, which spans Deuteronomy 14-26, we see that five governing principles of our behavior are implied in this section: (1) toward God, to be sanctified and fearing; (2) toward oneself, to be righteous and pure; (3) toward others, to be kind and generous; (4) toward animals, to be sparing and sympathetic; and (5) toward the devil, to be rejecting and separated. Actually, as pointed out in Week 2 of our corporate pursuit, the intrinsic significance of Deuteronomy is that it is a book concerning Christ and all of these rehearsed statutes and judgments speak forth in detail how fine, how tender, how considerate, and how sympathetic our God and Christ is. Therefore, if we receive and enjoy Christ as the reality of all of these commandments, ordinances, statutes and judgments, we will be enabled to live such a life as the reproduction of Christ (see Week 3).
We now come to a new section on the matter of warning. Deuteronomy 27:1-28:68 deals with the matter of warning and speaks about being cursed or blessed. Before taking care of either the blessing or cursing, the children of Israel were to build an altar and offer up burnt offerings and peace offerings. The altar, signifying the cross of Christ, implies grace, for before God dealt with us regarding blessing or cursing, He accomplished salvation through Christ’s redemption on the cross.
Verses 7-8 indicate that the one who wants to keep the commandments of God must offer himself as a burnt offering to God for His satisfaction, so that he can offer a peace offering to God for his own enjoyment with God in fellowship. On the cross, Christ offered Himself to God as a burnt offering for God’s satisfaction and as a peace offering so that we can be satisfied. Thus, if we intend to do something for God, we must first offer Christ to God both as a burnt offering for God’s satisfaction and as a peace offering which is mainly for our need. Then we will have enjoyment with God in the divine fellowship.
In themselves, the children of Israel surely would not be able to keep the commandments, statutes, and judgments of God; however, right beside the stones with the inscriptions of the commandments of God was the altar, implying grace (Deut. 27:4-8). Before we were saved we were cursed under God’s commandments, statutes, and judgments. Through Christ we have been redeemed “out of the curse of the law” (Gal. 3:13). God has provided an altar, the cross of Christ, where we take Christ as the burnt offering offered to God for His satisfaction. Because we have come to the cross, we are now under the cross and are no longer under the law. Thank and praise the Lord that we now have the way to fulfill God’s commandments through Christ so that we can be trained as His army to fight for His interests on earth today!