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A Month in Deuteronomy

Over the next several weeks, the GearTalk Biblical Theology podcast will enjoy A Month in Deuteronomy. Hands to the Plow’s Creative Director, Mark Yaeger, has also designed some great cover art that may serve your ministry as you teach through this amazing book. Deuteronomy occurs in the Bible’s first division (= the Law), so the first gear is in blue in the first speech balloon; yet all Scripture’s gears (= Law, Prophets, Writings, Gospels and Acts, Epistles, and Revelation) influence or draw on Deuteronomy, which is why all the gears are colored in the second speech balloon. read more…

The Problem: Israel’s Disability

The Problem: Israel’s Disability

The Problem: Israel's Spiritual Disability

by Jason DeRouchie, Tom Kelby, and Jack Yaeger | A Month in Deuteronomy


JY: Welcome to Gear Talk, a podcast on biblical theology. Today is the second podcast in our month in Deuteronomy. The four podcasts in this series all have titles starting with the letter P. Last week, Jason and Tom talked about the Plea today, Jason and Tom talked about the Problem, Israel’s hard-heartedness. Key texts focused on today include Deuteronomy 9 and 29. We have an album cover designed to go along with this month in Deuteronomy, you can download a link in the podcast from the show notes.

Israel’s Hard-Heartedness vs. Our Hard-Heartedness

TK: Hey, Jason. Good to be back, back in Deuteronomy.

JD: Yes, back in Deuteronomy. Delighted to be here, Tom.

TK: So our last podcast you gave an outline and we’re going to be going through 4 P-words describing the book of Deuteronomy in our month in Deuteronomy. So we talked about the plea—love God, love neighbor, Deuteronomy 6:5, 10–19. People can go back and listen to that one. Today we’re not talking about that. What are we talking about today?

JD: Today, we’re moving beyond the plea to Israel’s problem, and the problem relates to their hard-heartedness, to their spiritual inability to actually do what God called them to do.

TK: So, Jason, before, before we go further, your talk—all of us listening, I would think here that we hear it in a way that we’d say. OK, you said Israel, but I’m thinking of myself and my hard-heartedness. I needed to come to Jesus. Are you wanting us to focus on ourselves or specifically on Israel at this point?

JD: Well, what we see from the story of Scripture is that what is true of Israel is true of every human without Christ. The majority of Israel, as we’re going to see today, is spiritually disabled. They have not experienced the regenerating work of the Spirit. They do not know what it means to actually have a transformed life where they can see God as beautiful and delight in him and turn from wickedness. Instead, those that were redeemed from Egypt, almost all of them are rebels at the core. Inside looking no different than the Egyptians or any of the other neighbors outside of Israel. The nation itself was prone to wander, and that’s exactly where we are when we are born. But it’s important first to recognize that the Old Covenant that we’re talking about renewed in the book of Deuteronomy was not given to us and therefore, first and foremost, what we’re reading about is of a different time and a different constitutional structure of reality, where God has entered in and chosen a people. And yet, in that choosing of them, he did not—in that gracious redemption, and in the gracious gift of his law, his revealed will—he did not graciously change most of their hearts. And the New Covenant is of a very different nature of grace. It has a similar structure in that we are redeemed by God before he ever calls us to follow, just like Israel was redeemed from Egypt before they ever arrived at Mount Sinai. That’s a similar structure. The pattern of grace is similar, but in the New Covenant, the entire makeup of the people is different. Our standing with God is different.

So it’s not a one-to-one correspondence that we’re talking about because our listeners, most of them are regenerated believers. Most of Moses’s audience were not. Most of Moses’s audience were not born-again. So what we need to do is think about Deuteronomy within the flow of the story of salvation. That starts with Genesis and Adam in the garden, commissioned by God to display his image, to live his way to eat from any tree except the tree pertaining to the knowledge of good and evil, and Adam fell and was then kicked out of his paradise. Then God raised up a new son, called Israel a corporate son that he birthed outside of the promised land gave them instruction and then placed them into the promised land. Deuteronomy is right on the cusp of that entrance into the promised land. But like Adam, failed to heed God’s word, Israel, as we’re going to see today, will fail to heed God’s word, and Moses knew it. And, therefore, like Adam was under a curse, kicked out of his paradise, Israel will enter into a covenantal curse and be kicked out of their paradise.

And then we show up in the story, some Jews, some Gentiles drawn into Jesus who is born without sin, without a direct connection to Adam. And yet, he is a new humanity, full flesh, full blown and truly human, but also truly God. And he is able to do and be what the first Adam could not do and be. He is able to withstand temptation that Israel was not able to withstand in the wilderness. Jesus in his wilderness experience says no, where Israel gave in, and therefore Jesus perfectly obeys, operating representing as the ultimate King of the Jews, representing Israel in every step, and representing humanity in every step. And, therefore, his perfect obedience is able to be applied to not only those who were in Moses, but those who were in Adam. That is, it’s able to solve the Jewish problem of failure to keep the Mosaic Covenant. But it’s also able to solve the human problem of not being able to fulfill the call of the original creation covenant. And so Jesus is the ultimate human, the last Adam. He’s the ultimate Israelite, the new Davidic king. Israel had been the hope of the world. God had said to Abraham that through them all the world would be blessed through Abraham and his offspring, all the world would be blessed. But ultimately, it’s not the offspring people that bring that blessing, it’s the offspring person.

But if Israel—I’m thinking about Romans 3:19—if Israel, under the law, was unable to keep the law, Paul says, every mouth in the world is stopped. Here’s his words, “We know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law.” This is the law covenant, the Mosaic Covenant. It’s speaking. And that’s what we looked at last week. What was it speaking? It was calling Israel to love God with all. And it was speaking to Israel in particular as a people redeemed by God, set apart for him, speaking to them. And, as it spoke, they were under it, obliged to keep it, and yet they fail. They had a benefit that none of the rest of the world had in knowing the revealed will of God. Think about that prayer that we started with last podcast, that prayer to any god. You had this sufferer who didn’t know what he had done wrong, but he was confident he had done wrong. He had offended some god. Israel didn’t have a problem of knowing whether or not they had offended God. God had given them a revealed will. Yet they fail. They fail to keep it, and if Israel, who had such benefit, could not align with God’s right standard, then all the world can shut their mouths and recognize that they are culpable. That’s what Paul says. If Israel failed, who had the law, then every mouth may be stopped and the whole world may be held accountable to God. My understanding of that text is that all the world’s culpability, our inability to honor God, is proven by Israel’s failure. We didn’t, as Gentiles have the law. Israel had the law. Our hope was in them perfectly obeying the law. And in their failure, our destiny is set. If they who had the law were unable to keep the law, how much more culpable are all of us? And so we read Deuteronomy through this lens. Yet recognizing that Jesus comes as the ultimate Israelite and is able to do what Israel couldn’t do to secure the promises that Israel couldn’t enjoy. And we’re going to look at that here at the front end of this podcast. What Israel was promised, on the basis of a perfect obedience, and ultimately, as we’re going to see next week, it is that promise that Jesus, ultimately, brings, fulfilling the Old Covenant and securing what we now know of as the New Covenant for all who are in him the righteousness and the life that in the Old Covenant were contingent on perfect obedience. If you didn’t meet the condition, you couldn’t be declared righteous. If you didn’t meet the condition of perfect obedience, you could not be able to enjoy lasting life.

TK: The surprising thing here is it’s like Israel—if you just want to use language from business or something—is being hired for a job. But then being told you actually cannot successfully complete this job we hired you to do. That’s the problem we’re talking about today, right? They have no ability to do what they’ve been told to do.

JD: And the reality is, they’re glad in their state. It’s not that they want something, but they can’t have it. It’s that they actually don’t want it. It’s very similar to the command that God gives Pharaoh. Let my people go. And yet God also is going to declare, I will harden Pharaoh’s heart so that he will not let my people go. The divine will is being shown at two levels in Pharaoh’s life and it’s being shown, as we’re going to see, at two levels in Israel’s existence. God has a purpose in the law, he says, love me with all. But he also has a purpose for the law in not creating a people who are able to keep it. The majority of Israel is not able to keep the law and it will bring such destruction and such condemnation to the nation that it will ultimately increase the sense of darkness in the world to the point that when the light comes, it will be shown all the brighter and the glory of Christ will be magnified as the ultimate fulfiller and perfectly obedient one where Israel failed, and where Adam failed. So that’s where we’re heading, Tom.

The Structure of the Old Covenant

TK: All right, so where would you—your thesis you’re stating is that Israel has a spiritual disability and that I think I said it last week, I grew up in some ways just thinking they keep blowing it, they keep making mistakes. They should try harder. They should do better. But where would you go to prove that actually they do have this disability. So give me a couple of verses in Deuteronomy.

JD: I want to go there and I know that those verses are the first on our list, but before I even do that, I just want to draw attention to a structure in this book, building off of last week’s comments, the plea is clear: Love me with all. But to what end? And I just want to read a few verses that will set a context for us as we go to look at Israel’s problem. The first verse I want to look at is Deuteronomy 6:25. Deuteronomy 6:25—the commandment—singular—has been clear in this book. It’s the ultimate principle-command, love Yahweh, with all, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your substance. This is the command that fathers were to pass on to their children in this book. And then, Moses says, “It will be righteousness for us if we are careful to do all this commandment”—singular—“before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us” (Deut 6:25). Notice, Tom, that righteousness will be to us if, that is, the people that God entered into relationship with, the people that God redeemed from Egypt and met at Mount Sinai and carried through the wilderness these forty years are not a people who were righteous. Righteousness in the Old Covenant is the goal. Do all the commandment and then it will be regarded to you as righteousness. You’ll be counted as righteous if you keep all. That’s the structure of the Old Covenant.

TK: Can I just stop you right there, keeping all—the way you read Deuteronomy? Would that be the same way we would say maybe in a school or something, like, hey, I got a B, I did pretty good. Or is all keep it perfectly. So this text. What is it saying keep it perfectly. Or is it saying try your best and do pretty well.

JD: My understanding is that it’s saying keep it perfectly. But the all is pervasive. God will not lower his bar of perfection. He won’t allow a little bit of sin, a little bit of compromise. Instead, he commands for all.

TK: This is a—it’s a deeply troubling thing to hear that if you, I mean thinking if you’re one of the people standing there just saying, who can meet that standard.

JD: And I think that, for the Israelites, what they were supposed to feel was, God I can’t do it. So I need to go outside of this particular constitution, back to the book of Leviticus and recognize that there is a provision for the sinner. In God’s giving a sacrificial system, wherein a substitute animal could somehow some way stand in for a human who has offended the holy God. And I will put my faith in God’s provision of this substitute. The two conditions in Leviticus that had to be met—they needed to confess their sin and feel their guilt. Only with those two conditions met would the sacrifice of the substitute allow them to be made right with God once again. And then they’re back to the call of be holy as I am holy or, in this text, keep all the commandment. It’s the only way that a sinner could actually have any hope. But the challenge of Deuteronomy is that the constitution itself is given to a people who don’t have the desire to confess their sin, who don’t have the desire to feel their guilt. And so, this this law that is calling for good things is given to a hard-hearted people and, because of that. the law itself, the law covenant, is going to destroy Israel. And I want to look at the fact that Moses knows Israel’s hardness, and Moses himself knows what the results will be, even as he’s preaching, even as he’s laying out the guidelines for this covenant, he knows what the results will be. So on the one hand, there is this blessing of righteousness. It will be righteousness for us if we are careful to obey all the commandment.

A similar statement in Deuteronomy 8:1, “The whole commandment that I command you today you shall be careful to do so, that you may live.” So, righteousness was the goal. Life was the goal. But both of them were contingent on Israel’s obedience. It’s summarized in a passage like Deuteronomy 30:15 and following, “See I have set before you today life and good death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, by keeping his commandments and his statutes, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. But”—and this is the massive contrast—“if your hearts turn away and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, then I declare you today that you will surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and to possess” (Deut 30:15–18). So, you have two options, life and death, and it’s contingent on keeping doing. That’s the structure of the Old Covenant: Do this and you will live. Do this and you will live. And like Ezekiel, in his book, where he recalls Leviticus 18:5, which says, “Do this and you will live.” He recalls it three times and then he portrays Israel like a valley of—filled with dry bones. The Old Covenant, at the end of Israel’s history, ends in Israel’s death because they didn’t do. That was the structure of the Old Covenant. It resulted in death. It resulted in judgment. And as we’re going to see now, Moses himself recognized that’s exactly where the old covenant with would go. Moses recognized the Old Covenant would condemn Israel and that it would need to be replaced by a New Covenant that would produce righteousness.

Israel is Unrighteous, Stubborn, Rebellious, Unbelieving

TK: Maybe it’d be good right now, Jason, just to reflect for a moment on our album cover we have for our month in Deuteronomy. So the second image we have is of Moses talking and we see in the background the people worshipping around the golden calf. So, what were we going for when we asked Mark to draw that? And the people the people are not light, like all the people are dark in that picture.

JD: Right. On the one hand, we have Moses in the day of Deuteronomy, speaking to a people, most of whom are darkened, and in fact in that picture all of them are darkened. But then he has this speech bubble where he’s recalling the golden calf episode and that takes us to our first text. That clearly shows Israel’s hard-heartedness Moses in Deuteronomy chapter 9, speaking to his present audience, forty years removed from Mount Sinai. In the Golden Calf episode, he recalls the golden calf story of Israel’s idolatry at the mountain, and amazingly, he says that the people of his day, the new generation, are no different than the people of the Mount Sinai generation. And that’s why those in the speech bubble, that picture of the golden calf, they’re all dark, their hearts are dark, they’re disabled. And then the contemporary—Moses’s contemporaries in the Book of Deuteronomy, they too are still dark.

TK: You’re just like the people in that time.

JD: So I want to move in and I want to start reading in Deuteronomy 9:4. Moses says to this new generation of Israelites, who’ve now come out of the wilderness ready on the cusp of entering the land, he says, “Do not say in your heart, after the Lord your God has thrust out the Canaanites before you. It is because of my righteousness that the Lord has brought me in to possess the land, whereas it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is driving them out” (Deut 9:4). So the nations that are being pushed out of the land are wicked, and God has declared judgment on them. But Moses cautions them and says don’t think it’s because of your own righteousness. You’re not necessarily better than them. That’s where he starts. It’s not because of your righteousness. It’s because of their wickedness. Then he says in verse 6, and I’m going to read verses six and seven. “Know, therefore, that the Lord your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stubborn people. Remember and do not forget how you provoke the Lord your God to wrath in the wilderness. From the day you came out of the land of Egypt until you came to this place, you have been rebellious against the Lord” (Deut 9:6–7). So he calls Israel to remember and, this is amazing, in Deuteronomy 6:25, “Righteousness will be to us if we are careful to obey all the commandment.” Now, he says in Deuteronomy 9, don’t think it’s because of your righteousness. It’s the exact same word as in Deuteronomy 6:25. And you’re saying you’re not reaching the goal. You have fallen short of the mark. Don’t think it’s because of your righteousness because you are a stubborn people. So what we learned so far and then is that Israel is unrighteous, Israel is stubborn, and then he says you have been rebellious against the Lord from the day you came out of Egypt to this place all the way until this place. So Israel is unrighteous, stubborn and rebellious.

And then at the end of the chapter, he says—he recalls the story of the golden calf, the forty days on the mountain and he came down and God’s displeasure was against the people. And then he jumps ahead and he gives a couple more stories of Israel’s failure. And he adds one more word, he says, “When the Lord sent you from Kadesh Barnea saying, ‘Go up and take possession of the land that I have given you,’ then you rebelled”—there’s that rebellion word again—“against the commandment of the Lord. And you did not believe” (Deut 9:23). So just think about these words that he’s used. The Israel of Moses’s Day is unrighteous, stubborn, rebellious, and unbelieving. That’s their qualities. They have been rebellious against the Lord, Moses says, “From the day that I knew you” (Deut 9:24). Don’t think it’s because of your righteousness. It’s because of the wickedness of the nations that God is kicking them out. Don’t think that it’s because of your righteousness for you or a stubborn people, and then he ends the chapter recalling the prayer that he made on Mount Sinai. And what’s amazing is he frames the chapter with the word wickedness, but at the beginning of the chapter, it’s the wickedness of the Canaanites and at the end of the chapter, he says, recalling the prayer that he made on Mount Sinai at the Golden Calf episode, “Remember your servants, Abraham, Isaac and. Jacob do not regard the stubbornness of this people or their wickedness or their sin” (Deut 9:27). So, he uses the exact same word of Israel that he uses of the Canaanites wickedness.

TK: Everybody’s got a problem.

JD: Everybody’s got a problem. The Canaanites have a problem, but the same problem is bound up in the very heart of Israel. They’re unrighteous, they’re stubborn, they’re rebellious in their unbelief. And that is a problem.

TK: Jumping forward, and we’re not going there in the podcast as far as a theme, but you’ve said it often in the Old Testament kind of a thought when they’re in the land a come and see mentality come and see the goodness of Yahweh. But if you imagine a hard-hearted, stiff-necked, rebellious, unbelieving people, there is nothing for the world to come and see. In the land, there would be nothing for them to see because this people will not bow to the living God.

JD: That’s right. It was through Israel’s obedience to the law that the nations would take notice and say, oh, what kind of a God you have that is so near to you and reveals himself in such amazing ways. Israel is going to fail in their witness to the nations because of their inability to keep the word of God. They’re wicked and they delight in it. It’s not that they want to keep the law. No, they are wicked. They are stubborn. That’s Moses’s language. They’ve been rebellious from the day that they came out of Egypt, all through the forty years. And now his new generation is just as hard hearted, just as reticent to keep God’s word. They’re unrighteous, they’re below the standard, and if life is dependent, contingent on them being obedient, all that can come according to the Old Covenant law is their death. And that’s exactly where Moses is going to go. In Deuteronomy 4 he had already anticipated it because he said, when, after they enter into the land, “When you father, children and children’s children and have grown old in the land and act corruptly by making a carved image in the form of anything, and by doing what is evil in the sight of the Lord, so as to provoke him to anger, I call heaven and witness against you today that you will utterly perish” (Deut 4:25–26). Now the ESV in Deuteronomy 4:25 adds an “if”—if you act corruptly. But that if is not in the Hebrew text at all. Instead, it’s as clear as can be that, as certain as it is that they will father children and children’s children, as certain as it is that they will grow old in the land, it’s as certain as it is that they will act corruptly and engage in idolatry, resulting in all of Israel perishing. It was certain; Moses knew it was coming.

This is reemphasized at the end of the book in Deuteronomy 31. Just listen, first I’m going to give you Yahweh’s perspective and then I’ll give you Moses’s perspective. Here’s what Yahweh says, “Yahweh said to Moses, ‘Behold, you are about to lie down with your fathers’”—Moses is about to die. Then this is God’s prediction—“‘This people will rise and whore after other foreign gods among them in the land that they are entering, and they will forsake me and break my covenant that I made with them. Then my anger will be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them and hide my face from them”—God will justly bring curse upon them—“and they will be devoured and many evils and troubles will come upon them, so that they will say in that day, ‘Have not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us?’” (Deut 31:16–17). Moses recognized that the Old Covenant would result in Israel’s death and condemnation. Here’s Moses’s perspective at the end of chapter 31:27, “I know how rebellious and stubborn you are. Behold, even today while I am yet with you, you have been rebellious against the Lord. How much more after my death?” There is not good prospects for the Old Covenant in Moses’s mind. It’s not just a matter of potential rebellion, these are direct predictions about what will happen and we find out in the book why it is we’ve talked about spiritual disability.

And I’ve used that language because that’s the imagery that God himself uses in Deuteronomy 29. Why is it that Israel is stubborn? Why is it that they are so recalcitrant and prone to wander, committed to their wickedness? Here is Moses: “You have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes in the land of Egypt”—Israel has watched what God did “to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land. The great trials that your eyes saw the signs and those great wonders through the plagues.” But then it says this, “But to this day”—so he’s covering forty years. You saw what God did in Egypt and “To this day the Lord has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear” (Deut 29:2–4). Israel’s problem? They saw what God did, but they didn’t have spiritual sight to glory and stand in awe of His majesty. They heard Moses’s words at one level, but when he says hear, oh, Israel, Yahweh, our God, Yahweh is one, God did not give them a heart to know him and ears to hear him. They didn’t know deeply in their core that he was worthy of all their lives. They didn’t hear his call to their allegiance in a way that moved them to obey. They were spiritually disabled, and they would remain so until and unless God changed it. It would take a miracle, Tom. Because this is where Israel was and Moses and Yahweh already set forth at the front end that God’s purpose for the Old Covenant was that it would result in condemnation and death. Moses saw it. It would result in Israel’s entering into the land, engaging in idolatry, and then being cursed by being kicked out of the land, by experiencing exile. This is Israel’s ruin is the result of the Old Covenant, because the majority of them remained hard-hearted.

Feel the Weight of the Problem

TK: Thinking about that picture we have of Moses and he’s recalling the golden calf. You think it is quite a hopeless picture because you don’t see a solution anywhere in that picture there and it just makes you think, is there help coming from anywhere, because right now if God is not giving them a heart to obey, but the obedience is the requirement, we are stuck. That’s the picture. It makes me wonder, Jason, if you are preaching, teaching through this passage. How would you walk your people through this part? What would you recommend? I think sometimes, sometimes in in my teaching I almost like a relief valve in something like get too quick to the good news without focusing on this is the very real nature of the bad news. So how have you used this? What we’re talking about today in your preaching and teaching?

JD: I would say three things to try to help our people get it, and all of them would be from the perspective of the New Testament. I think you’re absolutely right to stress we don’t want to relieve our people too quickly because Israel’s problem is our problem, apart from Christ. Israel could not change their hearts. They had a heart problem. They didn’t—God hadn’t given them a heart to know. Indeed, he says to them in Deuteronomy 10:16, “Circumcise the foreskin of your hearts and be no longer stubborn.” He commands them: you’ve got a heart problem, here’s the scalpel, go fix it. Cut off that calloused hard part, or the shell around your heart. And the reality is, if we try to do heart surgery on ourselves, we’ll kill ourselves. But Moses is—he hangs on in this book to the problem. He, from start to finish, makes the plea, but from start to finish he focuses on Israel’s problem. But as we’re going to see next week and the week after, he doesn’t leave them there. He anticipates a solution, but before we can even meditate on the solution, we must feel the weight of the problem. And so what I want to do is focus on three things that Paul says that simply reinforce what we already saw and what Paul says shows that what is true for Israel is true for all. Number one, the law is holy. Romans 2:20 is what I’m thinking of here first off. He says in the law we have the embodiment of knowledge and truth. So let’s not think that what Moses has called for is bad. No, in the very law is the embodiment of knowledge and truth. And in Romans 7:12 he also says this, “The law is holy. And the commandment is holy and righteous and good.” It is good to say love God with all, even though it’s the very means of our destruction. It is right and holy and good, this commandment. But while it is holy, the age of law—that is the age of the Law Covenant of the Mosaic Covenant—was not one characterized by faith. I think this is what Paul means in Galatians 3:12 when he says the law is not of faith. That is the age of the Law Covenant was not the age of faith. It was an age characterized by rebellion, an age, a law covenant that was built upon the principle, do this and live, rather than believe this and live. It was built on a principle that would destroy every human apart from Christ. Every mere human would be destroyed under such a structure. Do this and live. And Israel, rather than believing in God’s provision of a substitute, the majority of Israel failed to believe, and, therefore, they died.

TK: And that’s why in the album cover, we don’t see people like with a glow of light on them because the people are not wanting what Moses is saying at all.

JD: They’re not. In the first image, where Moses is lifting up the number one, we see two figures, there’s a woman and there’s a man, and maybe three figures and we know of Caleb and Joshua, who set themselves apart and therefore are even part of those to whom Moses is speaking in Deuteronomy. But most of the older men in the generation had failed to believe. Most of the audience was not remnant, but rebel. And Paul would have counted himself among that group when he says, in verse 10 of chapter 7 of Romans, the very commandment. It’s interesting, he uses the language of the singular commandment, just like Moses does in Deuteronomy 8:1, where he says, “The whole commandment that I’m commanding you today, you shall be certain to keep so that you may live.” The commandment is this singular summary of all that he’s calling for in Deuteronomy, which is synthesized in love God with all. Then Paul says in Romans 7:10, “The very commandment that promised life to me”—do this so that you may live—“the very commandment that promised life to me proved to be death to me.” That’s Paul’s commentary on Deuteronomy, Paul’s commentary on the law covenant. “The law that promised life proved death to me.” So, the law is holy, but the age of the law covenant was an age of faithlessness. Then, while the commandment promised life, it ultimately brought Israel and Paul’s death. And from that perspective, then, the last thing I would say regarding this to help us feel the weight—what this means is that God’s ultimate purpose for the law covenant was to multiply transgression, to condemn Israel, all in order to show them their need for Jesus. Just consider some texts here, Tom. Romans 3:20 “By works of the law, no human being will be justified in God’s sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” What’s God’s purpose for the law? To awaken our knowledge of sin. Romans 5:20, he just says it straightforwardly, “Now the law came to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” What was the purpose of the law covenant? To multiply transgression to increase the trespass. Here’s Paul’s language in 2 Corinthians 3:7, 9, He simply calls the Mosaic law covenant—he says, “It bore a ministry of death.” 2 Corinthians 3:7.

TK: Interesting it also says it came with glory though, so we can’t say that was a horrible thing.

JD: Right there is no question there is glory. That’s apparent in the Old Covenant law. But what Paul’s argument in 2 Corinthians 3 is compared to the glory of the New Covenant, which he says bears a ministry of righteousness, so it he contrasts—here’s his language, “If the ministry of death, carved in letters of stone, came with such glory, … will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory” (2 Cor 3:7–9). So it’s not that the old covenant wasn’t glorious. Oh, it showed us God. Through the Old Covenant, Israel encountered the holy God. But compared to the glory that we see in Jesus, and the glory that brings a ministry of righteousness, it’s as if the old covenant didn’t even bear glory. That’s the contrast. It’s amazing that God set up a system wherein he brought judgment on Israel.

It reminds me of Romans 9. Where God says this, “What if God”—Sorry, Paul says this, “What if God, desiring to show his wrath and make known his power”—which he is worthy to do, which he is right to do, to let us see aspects of his character that would not be present were it not a world of sin. And it is right and good for all glorious God to manifest as much of his glory before the created as possible. And yet for us to see aspects of his character, it demanded that he make a world of sickness to be healed from, of sin to be pardoned in order that we might actually recognize his just right to punish sin and to forgive us from it. “What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power”—think about Israel now—“has endured with much patience, vessels of wrath prepared for destruction in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom he has called not from the Jews only, but also from the Gentiles” (Rom 9:22–24). What if God wanting us to see his glory, endured for centuries, objects of wrath in order that when the light would shine, we would stand in awe of his mercy. That’s the framework I think we read when God says the “Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it”—so righteousness was the goal of the Old Covenant, but the Gentiles didn’t pursue the Old Covenant in order to get righteous, yet they “have attained it, that is a righteousness that is out of faith, that is by faith” (Rom 9:30). By faith in Paul’s day, there’s Gentiles who are enjoying right standing with God, declared right with him. But there is an Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness that did not succeed in reaching that law. “Why?” Paul says, “Because they did not pursue it by faith but as if it were based on works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone” (Rom 9:32).

He then says a little few verses later, “Being ignorant of God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Rom 10:3–4). The end of the law—it’s goal, it’s terminus—is Christ. That’s where it was pointing all along to help the world recognize we can’t keep it. We can’t align with God’s standard. We need a savior. We need someone who can actually fulfill for us what we can’t fulfill on our own. That we would by faith enjoy right standing because we can’t enjoy that right, that declaration of righteousness by keeping all the commandment ourselves. But that’s exactly what Christ did. And we’re going to meditate on that more in the next two weeks regarding the promise. But what I want us to feel right now is that Israel was in darkness. They had a spiritual disability. Their problem was real and it would result in the destruction of the Old Covenant and God purposed that it would be so. There was still a remnant. But with respect to the majority, there was nothing built into the Old Covenant itself that could change their hearts. What the law was powerless to do, weakened as it was by the flesh, God would ultimately do through Jesus (Rom 8:3). But within the scope of the story of salvation, the Law Covenant, which dominates the Old Testament—that’s why we call it testament, Latin for covenant—the Old Covenant is the covenant that dominates the entire Old Testament storyline. And it’s a story of death and destruction. And if we struggle to work our way through the Old Testament, it’s likely because we’re feeling the weight of the death and destruction, we’re feeling, the weight of Israel’s stubbornness. And we’re feeling our deep-seated need for light.

TK: I think for a lot of us, when we’ve read, like when the Israelites cross the Jordan River and they encounter Jericho for instance. The first time we see those things, there’s a shock that Israel sins. Moses would not have been shocked because everything we just talked about, but a verse this all reminds me of is in the book of Hosea, Hosea 9:15, where Yahweh is talking about the sins of the people, and he says this, he says, “Every evil of theirs is in Gilgal; there, I began to hate them. Because of the wickedness of their deeds I will drive them out of my house. I will love them no more; all their princes are rebels.” And Gilgal was the first place where the Israelites encamped once they crossed the Jordan into the promised land. So that thought of right from the moment you got into the promised land—that was the moment, but using the language of Hosea there, I began to hate them. Wickedness marked Israel from the moment you came into the land, and Moses would have just said, yeah, that’s exactly what I said was going to happen. They are rebellious people with hard hearts.

JD: Yes, I think of Deuteronomy 32 that anticipates Israel’s entire story, and God says, “The Rock, his work is perfect”—talking about himself—“for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness, and without iniquity, just and upright is he. They have dealt corruptly with him; they are no longer his children because they are blemished; they are a crooked and twisted generation” (Deut 32:4–5). The entire audience of Moses was one that was crooked and twisted. That was the majority and ultimately, they would be declared not my people. In the New Testament, Peter is going to talk in Acts 2 in his sermon to the Jews of his day, saying you’re still like them. “With many other words, he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, ‘Save yourselves from this crooked generation’” (Acts 2:20). That’s drawing directly on Deuteronomy 32.

TK: He’s saying, even though you’ve come into the land once left by exile and you are technically back in the land, you are still a group of rebels. Nothing has changed.

JD: That’s right. In contrast, Paul says in Philippians 2, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing”—think about Israel in the wilderness—“that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation” (Phil 2:14). Paul there uses the language of Deuteronomy 32 and contrasts the Israel of Moses’s day with the church. We’re no longer a crooked and twisted generation. We are the children of God, but we’re living amidst such a people, crooked and twisted. God had not given them a heart to know, eyes to see, or ears to hear. And if he did not act, if he did not overcome their resistance, they could not change, they would not change. To this day, he says, God hasn’t given you a heart to know, eyes to see, or ears to hear. That language of to this day, he recalls that language—Paul does. So, for Moses, it was forty years, for Paul, it was centuries. But these are his words in 2 Corinthians 3:14, the Jews’ minds were hard, “For to this day, when they read the old covenant, the same veil remains unlifted because only through Christ is it taken away.” To this day, in Deuteronomy 29, becomes to this day all the way into the New Testament period.

The same language comes in Romans 11. “Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking,” Paul says, “The elect obtained it” (Rom 11:7). The Ruths and the Hannahs, the Josias and Haggais, they obtained it. But the rest were hardened. “As it is written, God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear down to this very day” (Rom 11:8). That’s Deuteronomy 29:4, aligned with the judgment of God from Isaiah 29:10. God hadn’t given them spiritual ability. Indeed, because of their willful disobedience, he would even judge them by greater hardness. And it would show the need for Jesus. It was designed to show that the end of the law, where it’s all going in the story of redemption—if you follow the storyline of the Old Testament, you will end up at Christ. He is the light that overcomes the darkness. He alone is the savior who can enter in and redeem those who are so broken and so needy. And Israel becomes a picture. Israel’s neediness is merely a picture of the world’s neediness. And that’s where all of us fit, in need of a savior. Israel’s problem and the failure of the Old Covenant is a picture of all of humanity’s problem in Adam and a failure of the creation covenant. Yet as we’re going to see next week, just as God promised Genesis 3:15 that an offspring of the woman would rise to crush the serpent, so he promises in Deuteronomy, a prophet like and greater than Moses, a New Covenant mediating prophet, to whom people would listen. They won’t listen to Moses. They don’t have ears to hear. But in his day, this New Covenant prophet, they will hear and they will listen. And the word will be near them in their heart and in their mouth. That’s next week, though, we’ll come back to more of Deuteronomy. Thinking through the plea through the problem now to the promise, Yahweh’s promise of a heart change, and of a savior.

TK: I again encourage you to download the PDF of the album cover, we have that in our show notes, but you will see next week that this promise—you’re going to see a depiction of it, and we’ll talk about that next week. But the people there in, in that depiction, they are light, and so that something, something has changed in this people. We’ll talk about that next week.

JD: Awesome. Look forward to it, Tom.

TK: All right, blessings.

JY: Thank you for joining us for Gear Talk for our month in Deuteronomy. Next week we cover the promise made. God promises to do what Israel can’t in circumcising their hearts and empowering love for the sake of their lives. Again, go to our show notes and download the link to a PDF of our album cover for our month in Deuteronomy. For more resources, visit To stay up to date on new Hands to the Plow resources follow us on Instagram \@HandstothePlowMinistries and make sure to check out our YouTube page for more content.

The Promise Fulfilled: Deuteronomy 30

The Promise Fulfilled: Deuteronomy 30

The Promise Fulfilled: Deuteronomy 30

by Jason DeRouchie, Tom Kelby, and Jack Yaeger | A Month in Deuteronomy


JY: Welcome to Gear Talk, a podcast on biblical theology. This is the fourth and final podcast in our month in Deuteronomy series. The titles for all these podcasts start with the letter P. Today, Tom and Jason talk about the “Promise Fulfilled.” We have an album cover to go along with this podcast. Go to our show notes and find a link to a PDF of the album cover. Tom and Jason refer to the album cover throughout the podcast, so you’ll want to have this in front of you.

Review of Deuteronomy: The Problem, The Plea, The Promise

TK: Jason, are you ready to do our last podcast, at least in this month, on Deuteronomy?

JD: I am, delighted to be back Tom.

TK: Me too. And we’ve been building—we have an album cover for our month in Deuteronomy—we’re up to our final image. If I’m looking at it, it’s kind of like in the 5:00 corner of the cover. So Jason, you want to kind of walk us through the album cover?

JD: Sure. Well, we started with “The Plea,” and Moses is making it on behalf of God. He’s standing there as a as a light blue figure, talking to a crowd of dark blue people. And he’s holding up his number one finger, and it could represent, “There shall not be to you any other gods before me” (Deut 5:7), the first of the commandments. Or it could be, “Yahweh, our God, Yahweh is one” (Deut 6:4). But he’s calling people to love this sole creator, the only ultimate judge, the only ultimate value setter—to love that God with all, and to not worship any other god. Second image, there’s a Problem and the problem relates to the cover of the color of the people. They are dark, and as much as Moses calls to them, his present generation is no different than the golden calf generation. They are spiritually disabled, unable to see the glories of God, unable to hear the word of God, unable to understand all that is being declared to them because their hearts are cold.

TK: So for forty years they walked through the wilderness. But in in that sense, as far as heart condition, nothing—nothing changed during that time.

JD: Nothing changed. The new generation is like the old one and Moses comes to the end of his messages in Deuteronomy, and declares you’ve been stubborn since the day I knew you. How much more will you be stubborn after my death (Deut 31:27)? So he anticipates this context of destruction and envisions what Paul states explicitly: that the Old Covenant will bear a ministry of death and condemnation (2 Cor 3:1–9). Moses already saw it. He knew that it would end in Israel’s destruction, and he uses the language of annihilation—he uses the net language of absolute destruction to refer to the exile when they would be kicked out of the land. And it sets us up for understanding that the Old Covenant is ultimately going to come to an end, and that if anything follows the Old Covenant , it will be like a resurrection following the death of the people of Israel. God’s people are, as it were, walking-dead people and the Old Covenant will end in a valley of dry bones as Ezekiel envisions (Ezek 37), but it will be followed by a resurrection. It will be followed by a new exodus, and that leads us to image 3, where now a figure other than Moses, but similar to him is leading a new people, and all of them are lightly colored. They’ve been transformed. But it’s as if Moses is looking from a distance. We’ve moved from the Plea—we’ve moved through the Problem to, now, the Promise Made that God would transform hearts, leading a new exodus by a New Covenant mediating prophet. And that’s where we come to today.

The exodus—that in image three is somewhat distant and not specific—all of a sudden becomes very specific in the fourth image where the mediator—the prophetic mediator who was leading the exodus in image three—is now coming right toward us. And it’s a picture of the Christ and following him are a host of people from, it appears, every tongue and tribe and language and nation. People of different shapes and sizes, different ethnic backgrounds, and they’re following the Christ, who is teaching them as he walks. He—we’ve now discerned, the one we call Jesus—is indeed the covenant mediating prophet like Moses. He is the one leading the new exodus and that is what the New Testament authors declare. We want to start with Moses where we left off last time with Moses’s anticipation of the coming of this one and the portrait of the Exodus he would lead—the transformed people—and how the New Testament authors think about it.

Acts 3: Peter Proclaims Christ – The Prophet Like Moses

But for starters, I just want to point to the book of Acts chapter 3. Right after Peter says, all the prophets foretold the sufferings of Christ (Acts 3:18)—and that would include Moses—he says these words, recalling the promise in Deuteronomy 18. After noting—after urging the people to repent, to turn from their sins, that a time of refreshing might come—he says, “Moses said the Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers, and you shall listen to him in whatever he tells you, and it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people” (Acts 3:22–23). Moses said that, and then Peter says, “And all the prophets who’ve spoken from Samuel and those who came after him also proclaimed these days” (Acts 3:24). So he’s saying that these days, the days of the coming of Christ, the days of the rise of the church, were the days that Moses was predicting when he said, A prophet like me would rise from your brothers. And you should listen to him (Deut 18:15). That’s the day that all the prophets spoke, think of and then Peter adds this, “You are the sons of the prophets”—the beneficiaries of these prophets and of the covenants that God made with your fathers when he said to Abraham—”and in you in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness” (Acts 3:25–26). That servant is none other than Jesus. He is the prophet Moses was anticipating would come. And Peter, I believe is pointing in this text—declaring Jesus is the one throughout the gospels. We know that people were anticipating the coming of the prophet and they recognized Jesus was this prophet. Peter makes it absolutely explicit there in Acts 3.

TK: Jason, would you say—because I’m looking at it right now, verse 20, verse 25—he says, “You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your father saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed’” (Acts 3:25). So we have a reference to Deut 18, where he says, “Moses said the Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me” (Acts 3:22; Deut 18:15). And then we go to Abraham and the promise to Abraham and he’s referencing Genesis 12 there. So, what would you say a Christian preacher, teacher, reader should do when you find these images. What would you recommend we do with that? Is he wanting us to combine the two and put the Prophet and Abraham’s offspring together? Or what would you say I’m supposed to do when I see these?

JD: That’s exactly what I believe he’s wanting us to see: that the very one that God promised to rise through Abraham, the offspring person, is none other than the Prophet that Moses anticipated. And then Peter takes one more step: God, having raised up his servant sent him to you first, and that draws in all the hope of the servant songs, Tom. So that’s right.

TK: Isaiah. Yep.

JD: What Peter has done is taken the prophet like Moses and reached backward into the law, to the offspring of Abraham and reached forward into the prophets, to Isaiah’s Messianic, royal servant. And here said they’re all the same person. Jesus is the one who has, through his suffering and through his triumph, overcome the curse. And he’s right now here to bless you by bringing every one of you from your wickedness. And that language of wickedness recalls language and Deuteronomy 9. Jesus is the one—he is the one that is here to answer Israel’s problem, and not only the problem of Israel, but the problem of the entire world. He’s the one that we’ve been anticipating, the king that would perfectly align with God’s way, not replacing Yahweh, but representing him perfectly. And who would have a throne that would last forever. This is the one Moses anticipated, the Prophet in whose mouth God would put his word.

This reminds me. You remember in Deuteronomy 18 how God said the prophet like Moses—God would put his word in his mouth and he would proclaim it to the people, and the people would listen to him. In Moses’s day, his audience didn’t have ears to hear. They were spiritually deaf. They wouldn’t listen to him, but God would put his word in the mouth of the prophet, and to this prophet the people would listen. It reminds me of another text in Isaiah that I believe is attached to this messianic servant. Just a chapter and a half before we even read Isaiah 61, where Jesus said, “The spirit of the Lord is upon me because he’s anointed me to bring good news to the poor” (Isa 61:1\Luke 4:18). This is what we read, “A Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn from their transgressions,”—and then God talks to him—”‘As for me, this is my covenant with them,’ says Yahweh:”—he talks to this Redeemer—”‘My spirit that is upon you and my words that I have put in your mouth will not depart out of your mouth or out of the mouth of your offspring or out of the mouth of your children’s offspring,’ says Yahweh, ‘From this time forth and forevermore’” (Isa 59:21). In the day of the Messiah, the Messiah, who is also Isaiah’s servant, will enjoy both the Spirit’s presence and the words of God in his mouth. But the anticipation is that this servant, who is also Abraham’s offspring, will himself have offspring. And the very spirit that is on the Messiah will be on his people. And the very word that is in his mouth will be in their mouths.

And that sets us up for going back now to Deuteronomy 30, because there’s a bridge that Moses himself makes between the age after the exile, when the new exodus is happening, when hearts are transformed, and the people can love God with all. In that very age, it says they will listen to God’s voice, and in chapter 18, we learned they would listen to the New Covenant mediator’s voice, this new prophet like Moses. They would listen to his voice. And then what we’re going to see—and this is where we left off last podcast, Tom—in Deuteronomy 30, there is a prediction made, that the very words that they’re listening to will be in their heart. So let’s turn Tom to Deuteronomy 30 and I just hope this will give us a launching point into our focus for today. Last week—the promise made, today—the promise fulfilled, and we’re gonna look at a number of New Testament texts springing first out of Deuteronomy, chapter 30.

The Promise Fulfilled: New Exodus

TK: It’s really good to remember at this point that Moses doesn’t get to go into the promised land. But he is not anticipating success, so he is anticipating failure. He sees that coming. He sees exile coming and he sees this second exodus. So the way I’m looking at the album cover, like you said, he sees it from a distance, but he’s seeing it accurately, and I would just say he’s also loving what he’s seen. So in the same way a believer today looking back on the cross would find delight in the work of Christ, I think what we’re seeing here would be him finding delight as he looks forward, even though he knows there are certain things about it I’m not seeing as clearly as I would as if I was looking back on it.

JD: That’s right, I think that’s correct. He is seeing something. He’s celebrating something and and—

TK: He loves it.

JD: You said he didn’t—he doesn’t get to go into the promised land, and I would just note—yet. Because in Matthew 17, he is at the Mount of Transfiguration. Moses is there and he sees Jesus. And he and Elijah are standing in the presence of the king, who is in their presence, glorified. And God declares, “This is my son, in whom I am well pleased, Listen to him” (Matt 17:5). And the very fact that Moses is there is pointing the reader—and it would have been pointing Peter, James and John, who were watching it all play out. It would have been pointing them to the reality, this is the one that I saw depicted in our in our scene as leading the new exodus.

TK: And actually I can’t remember which gospel writer—I’m not looking at it right now—says it in the Greek, it says that they were talking together about his exodus.

JD: Oh, that’s Luke 9 and it is an image in the ESV it says they were talking to him about his departure. That’s how the ESV translators took it. But very literally, it’s Luke 9:31, Moses and Elijah were talking with him. It says, “[They] appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus, which he was about to accomplish in Jerusalem.” That’s what we’re talking about. That they were talking to him about his exodus. What are we talking about? The new exodus that we’re celebrating in these podcasts. The promise made, the promise fulfilled. I’m so glad you brought that out.

TK: Of course they would use that language. That’s right.

JD: Well, and here, here’s the significance. Exodus—the whole imagery is that they were in bondage, right? They were in captivity and that’s what the Old Covenant was for Israel. As Paul says, in Rom 7:10, I believe, “the law that promised life to me brought death.” That’s what had happened. It brought bondage to death. And yet what Moses is anticipating is that on the other side of death, one will rise, a New Covenant, prophetic mediator—other than Moses, but someone like him that his life pointed to—a new prophet will rise and lead an exodus out of the captivity that the Old Covenant had brought. The Old Covenant had resulted in curse, and he would lead an exodus in Jerusalem out of that curse, unto blessing. It would start by Jesus, fully identifying with the curse, as Paul says in Galatians 3, “He became a curse on the tree. As it is written,”— Deuteronomy 21—”cursed is everyone who has hung in a tree” (Gal 3:13). And Jesus bore that curse for himself. God made him to be sin who knew no sin (2 Cor 5:21). All of our filth, our prejudice, our bitterness, our lust, all of our anxiety, all the sin, every lie, every cheat, every steal that we lived out in our lives, he bore it for all the elect—all who would trust in him. He bore all that, becoming sin on the cross, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. And just remember, Tom, how in the Old Covenant righteousness was the goal, “It will be righteousness for us if,”—or when—”we are careful to do all the commandment” (Deut 6:25). They would be recognized as righteous when they obeyed perfectly. And yet Deut 9 had told us when we looked at the problem, don’t think that it’s because of your uprightness of heart or your righteousness that you are getting to enter into the land. No, it’s because of the wickedness of these people—the Canaanites—you are a stubborn people (Deut 9:4–6) he says, having highlighted Deut 30:6, that he would—God would—circumcise this restored community’s hearts and the heart of their offspring so that they would love God with all. That’s the climax of this new exodus. We read these words, verse 8, “And you shall turn, and obey the voice of the Lord and keep all his commandments that I command you today” (Deut 30:8). There it is. They’re going to listen—that term, obey, could be translated “listen” here. They’re going to hear God’s voice. They couldn’t hear God’s voice in Moses’s day, but their—in this day of heart circumcision—their lives are going to be different. They will hear God’s voice and keep his commandments. “And the Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous,”—it says—”in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your cattle, and the fruit of your ground” (Deut 30:9). God’s just going to make them like a new creation in this day. “For the Lord will again delight in prospering you as he took delight in your father’s because you listen to the voice of your God to keep his commandments and his statutes that are written in this book of the law, because you will turn to Yahweh your God with all of your heart and with all your soul” (Deut 30:9–10).

TK: Can I ask you a question here about your starting quotation? You said, “and you shall turn, and obey the voice of the Lord and keep all his commandments” (Deut 30:8). ESV says “again,” can you get us where you got with “you shall turn” versus “you shall again obey.”

JD: The ESV translators treated a verb—the verb “to turn” can also be “return,” and they rendered that as “again,” as if Israel had listened to God’s voice in the past. And then they stopped listening, and now they’re going to listen again.

TK: That’s a pretty significant difference we’re talking about here.

JD: Right, I understand it because Moses says that God hasn’t given Israel of his day, the majority of them, ears to hear, that when it says “you will turn” what’s at stake is they’re going to repent. And after that repentance, they will listen. For the first time they will listen to the voice of the Lord, indeed, keeping the very commandments that Moses is commanding them today, that is in the day of Deuteronomy, in that future day of heart circumcision they will repent. That is, they will turn. And they will listen to the voice of God, and they’ll keep his commandments.

TK: Yeah, I like that. So the picture isn’t of a previously obedient people who went wayward for some period, going back to what they used to be. The picture is of a repentant people doing something they’ve never done before.

JD: I think so. It does become significant and ultimately, as we saw last week, it’s because of the mercy of God, the compassion of God is what awakens them to be different people. Verse 10 says all of this will happen because you listen to the voice of God. God is going to make them like a new creation filled with bounty and provision because they listen to the voice of God and keep his commandments. And we have to say, how can they do that? What’s changed? Well, we know something has changed in their heart because verse six talked about how they would be have hearts that were circumcised, the old way changed, that resistant shell removed.

You Will Listen… For God’s Word is In You

And it recalls that verse that just as they would love God with all their heart and soul, it says they would turn to Yahweh with all their heart and soul. But then in my ESV, there’s a heading. The choice of life and death, and it acts as though Moses is turning away from this future prediction about the New Covenant and returning to the present. But the first word of verse 11 is “For.” So let me put it together as I understand it: You will listen to the voice of the Lord your God and keep all of his commandments and his statutes that are written in this book of the law in that future day, you will do this because you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul for—Why will they turn to God with all their heart and with all their soul? I think that’s what’s happening in the next verses, but you can’t read it in the ESV, or indeed in any modern translation, because it acts as though Moses is coming and is all of a sudden shifting from future prediction to present time. So the ESV says this, “For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you. Neither is it far off. It is not in heaven that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it down to us that we may hear it and do it.’ Neither is it beyond the sea that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it.” (Deut 30:11–13). The way the ESV renders this acts as though—saying the reason in the future you will listen to God’s voice and turn to him with all your heart and soul is because today the commandment is not too hard for you. It’s not too difficult for you. I just don’t think that’s Moses’s argument in the book of Deuteronomy. He’s already said you’ve been stubborn since the day I knew you. You will be stubborn after my death, Deut 31. He said God isn’t giving you a heart to know him, eyes to see him, ears to hear him, Deut 29:4. Now, what’s significant, Tom, is that in Hebrew, verses 11–14 do not include any—the Hebrew doesn’t include any verbs. And that’s a very common way to make clauses, where the verb is understood and it’s a state of being verb. And you determine whether it’s a state in the present or in a state in the past or the future based on the context. Now the ESV translators automatically assumed that the shift was to present time.

TK: Present time from Moses’s perspective.

JD: As if Moses is saying, the commandment is not too hard for you. But he’s already declared and he will declare again that the commandment is too hard for Israel. Meaning that they can’t keep it, because of the hardness of their hearts.

TK: Right.

JD: It’s not that it’s too, that it’s impossible for a human to keep it, but it’s impossible for hard-hearted people to keep it. I believe that the better translation in light of the context and in light of that conjunction “for” is this—why is it that they will turn to God in that future New Covenant day with all their heart and with all their soul? It is because this commandment that I command you today, the very one that in verse 8, God said you will listen to my voice and keep all the commandments that I command you today. Moses’s present words will matter in that future generation. In that future day, “You will turn to the Lord with all of your heart and with all your soul, because this commandment that I command you today will not be too hard for you, neither will it be far off. It will not be in heaven that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it.’ Neither will it be beyond the sea that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it.’ But the word will be very near you, it will be in your mouth and in your heart so that you can do it” (Deut 30:10–14). All those verses, Tom, I translated future time. As if the prediction is continuing, and that verses 11 through 14, are just providing one more reason why Israel will turn to God and notice what he says.

He actually sets it up so that so that he’s not talking about the Old Covenant, which Moses is speaking of in his day. The very way he words it, he contrasts with the Old Covenant. He says in that future day, you won’t have to say—or it in the what I’m talking about this word—this commandment that you will keep in that future day, it is not in heaven that you should say who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it down. That’s what Moses did in the Old Covenant, he climbed up to Mount Sinai into the very heaven itself and received the law. That’s the Old Covenant. No, and the New Covenant—it’s not going to be like that. Then what did Israel have to do? It says here neither will it be beyond the sea, that you should say who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us that we may hear it and do it. That’s exactly what Israel had had to do to cross the sea in order to arrive at Mount Sinai. That was the Old Covenant. And Moses is actually contrasting the Old Covenant with what it’ll be like in the new. The very word that God puts in the prophetic mediator’s mouth, the people will listen to. Indeed, it says here that word will be in their mouths, it will be in their heart. The audience in Moses’s day has no heart to follow God, but in this day, the very word of God will be in their heart. God commanded, during the plea in Deuteronomy 6, these words, love God, there’s only one God, and you’re to love him with all. These words that I command you today shall be on your heart. But it was only a command. These words—get these words on your heart, but Israel couldn’t do it. They were disabled. They had hardness, but here the contrast and it’s picked up as I already said in Isaiah 59:21, where we’re told that this Redeemer’s—that the Redeemer that has God’s spirit upon him, that has God’s word in his mouth—God will take that same spirit and put it on his offspring. God will take that same word and put it in the mouths of his offspring. And I want to propose that’s exactly what Moses is anticipating. He’s envisioning a New Covenant fulfillment in the days of the prophetic mediator. When the mouth—where God’s word will all of a sudden enter into the mouths of God’s people. They will be confessing it. They will be proclaiming it. And that very word will be in their hearts. And it’s that change—the word in their mouths and in their hearts—that will give rise to them being a new people, and that will ultimately give rise to God letting them flourish like a new creation.

TK: I was looking at the Psalm today where it says, “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me,”—or it can say—”But you dug out my ears”—that you made me so that I can hear you made me so that I can obey (Ps 40:6).

Can you? So I’m looking and I have the Hebrew text open right next to an English text. Let’s just imagine I have just my English open again. Can you explain that one more time? Because when I’m looking at the English, especially with the heading there that I have an ESV open to, it says “The Choice of Life and Death.” And then I see all these present tense verbs, so I’m going to explain it to somebody else—what I’ve heard you say today. But can you just explain it one more time for us?

JD: In verse 2 Moses looks ahead, and he says you will return to the Lord your God. You and your children after the exile, you will turn to the Lord your God—you and your children—and listen to his voice in all that I command you today (Deut 30:2).

TK: That’s the context.

JD: Then in verse eight, he says again you will turn and listen to the voice of the Lord your God in that future day of heart-circumcision and keep all his commandments that I command you today. Why will they turn to the Lord their God with all their heart and with all their soul verse 10. Because that’s how I’m reading the “for” in verse 11. And the Hebrew doesn’t include the verb “is”—it’s a verbless clause, and verbless clauses demand us looking at the context to know whether it is “was, is, or will.”

TK: So the idea is I am going to need—I’m going to supply one based on what I’m seeing around it.

JD: That’s right, you have to supply the verb, the tense of the verb. Not only the verb itself you have to supply, but it’s tense based on what you’re seeing around it. And when we hear “for” right after, “You will turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul for…” And it’s very clearly you will turn, that’s a future oriented verb. It’s written that way in the Hebrew. You will turn in the future to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your souls.

TK: I didn’t supply that one.

JD: I didn’t supply that one in verse 10. The future, the future tense, was supplied in the Hebrew, “For this commandment that I command you today, not too hard for you neither far off.” That’s what the Hebrew says and I’m suggesting that the most natural reading is: Why is it that you will turn, will turn to the Lord in the future? Why is it that you will listen to his voice and keep all the commandments that Moses is commanding you today and do that in the future? It’s because this commandment that I command you today will not be too hard for you. Neither will it be far off, because the word will be in their mouth and will be in their heart so that they can actually do it.

Paul, Like Moses, Contrasts the Old Covenant with the New

Now, what’s significant, Tom, is that this isn’t just my reading of Deut 30. I think it’s Paul’s reading of Deut 30, and he’s actually going to quote our text and apply it to the New Testament Church. And he’s going to contrast our text, which was given to us by Moses—he’s going to contrast Moses with Moses. And the way that he’s going to do it is because he’s going to contrast Moses and Lev 18:5, where he’s summarizing the whole thrust of the Old Covenant. “Do this and you will live.” Do this, that is, keep all the commandment, and you’ll enjoy lasting life. But if you don’t do it, you’re gonna die. He’s going to contrast that principle.

TK: Almost like Jesus saying to the rich young ruler, what do I have to do to live? And Jesus says you tell me. You know the commandments.

JD: That’s exactly right. That is alluding back to that very text in Leviticus 18:5. But then Paul is going to contrast Lev 18:5 with Deut 30:12–14. He’s going to contrast it, saying that the Old Covenant, which is captured in Lev 18:5, really summarizes a righteousness based on law. But what Deut 30 is anticipating, because it’s referring to a different stage in salvation history—it’s referring not to the Old Covenant age, but I’m proposing to the New Covenant age. He’s able to contrast it, in the same way that he can contrast the Old Covenant with the new and say what Deut 30—would that law, were that word of God written on the heart, and put in the mouth. So that they can actually listen and heed and obey. He says that’s the righteousness that’s based on faith.

So let’s turn to Romans 9. And I want to begin in verse 30. We’re gonna move into Romans 10, but I wanna begin in Rom 9:30. Paul says, “What shall we say then? That gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have obtained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith.” Somehow there’s gentiles who have actually been declared righteous, which was the goal of the Old Covenant law. And yet they never pursued it. But then, he says, “But Israel, who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness,”—a law unto righteousness, they pursued it, it will be righteousness for us if we obey all—”Israel, who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness, did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they didn’t pursue it by faith. But as if it were based on works” (Rom 9:31). So there it is—Old Covenant Israel with hard hearts, rather than breaking over their inability to obey God and saying God, please forgive me, I’m going to trust your provision of the substitute sacrifice—the unblemished sacrifice standing in for me as a pointer to the ultimate coming of Jesus. Rather than doing that, they just kept working, working, not believing but working.

And so, all of a sudden, gentiles start believing in God, not working to be right with God, but trusting in God, trusting in Jesus, and they’re declared righteous whereas the Jews—the Israel of Paul’s day—they were working and so therefore they stumble and fall. They never reach the righteousness for which they were seeking. This is what Paul says in verse three of chapter 10. “Now, being ignorant of the righteousness of God and seeking to establish their own. They did not submit to God’s righteousness.” And then it says, “For the end of the law is Christ for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Rom 10:3–4). The end or the goal, that is, there’s a law covenant, an age of law—it’s connected to Moses. It was all along, pointing ahead to Christ, and when he comes that age of the law covenant is over. The end of the law is Christ for righteousness. How do you get righteousness? It’s either by working, or by believing in Jesus. And Paul says, “the end of the law is Christ for righteousness to everyone who believes, for”—now he’s going to give his rationale, and here’s where he’s going to contrast Moses with Moses— “Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. The righteousness that is based on faith says,”—and here’s where he quotes Deuteronomy 30:12–14—”Don’t say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend to heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down.)”—Who’s your hope,—”or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? The word is near you in your mouth and in your heart (that is the word of faith that we proclaim); Because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom 10:4–9).

What’s Paul doing? I think the only way that he can say Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law and then he cites Lev 18:5 and then he contrasts it citing Deut 30:12–14 with the righteousness that is based on faith—It’s because he recognized that what the ESV translated in Deut 30 as present time is actually future time. It provides the ultimate reason why people turn to God and enjoy new creation. Why do hearts get changed? Why do they turn? It’s because God puts his very word in their mouth, in their heart. And in Deuteronomy, that word that people are enjoying in the age of restoration is none other than the word that is declared through God’s mediator, his prophetic covenant mediator. God puts his word in the Prophet. The Prophet declares the truth. He embodies the truth. He’s like that king who reads from the Torah every day and it changes his life. And now he calls people, follow me. And as that word goes forth from his mouth, it overcomes the resistant heart, and it embeds itself in the mouth of the people, so that now they begin to confess the word, which is Christ. That word has been into their hearts and it’s changed them.

I think Paul cites Deuteronomy saying what Moses anticipated is now being fulfilled. Jesus is the embodiment of this word that Moses predicted would be put into the mouth and heart of the transformed New Covenant people. And that word is none other than Jesus himself. The Old Testament anticipated him, as Paul says in Rom 10:4, “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness”—or in the word order of the Greek, “The end of the law is Christ for righteousness.” You want righteousness. It’s only going to come through Christ and you enjoy Christ by faith and as you believe in him, the very word of Christ is put into our hearts and everything changes. This is how the New Testament sees Jesus fulfilling the hopes in Deuteronomy and how he sees a New Covenant people being born through a new exodus. We are set free from bondage to sin and in slavery to a righteousness that is based on law that we can never meet. We are freed from, as Paul says in Colossians chapter 2—He uses the language—Jesus at the cross “canceled the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands” (Col 2:14). We could never reach the legal demands. Do this and live. It will be righteousness for us if we obey. We could never reach it. But by faith, all of a sudden, we enjoy it—all of Jesus’s perfect righteousness being applied to us.

TK: We, Jason, we started and looked at Acts 3 where it said all the prophets have foretold these days. And you can see why one reason is that all the prophets after Moses had read Moses. And we have to say they had read Moses clearly, because the Spirit of the Lord was speaking to them so they knew what he was saying. And they were not calling Israel to go back to that note—obey in a way Moses said your hard-hearted way will not be able to obey. They were all looking ahead. I was just thinking of Jeremiah 16—Jesus calling his disciples and the fact that they’re fishermen. But in Jeremiah 16 where it says, “Therefore, behold the days are coming, declares the Lord, when it shall no longer be said, ‘As the Lord lives, who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ but, ‘as the Lord lives, who brought up the people of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them.’ For, I will bring them back to their own land that I gave to their fathers.”—And then he says,—“Behold, I’m sending for many fishers, declares the Lord, and they shall catch them” (Jer 16:14–16). That picture—I’m looking at the album cover now of a people who’ve been caught by the Lord, and who, love, love him and their ears have been opened, and the word is not too far. The word is near them. It’s in their mouth.

JD: That’s so good, Tom. Connecting it right back to that second Exodus motif. You’re in Jeremiah 16, and if we were to just jump to Jeremiah 23, the same imagery is used, but Jeremiah himself associates it with the coming new David. “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous branch.”—That’s what we’re talking about. The end of the law is Christ for righteousness. How is it going to happen? It’s going to happen because he is righteous.—”I’ll raise up for David a righteous branch. He shall reign as king and deal wisely. He’ll execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days, Judah will be saved. Israel will dwell securely, and this is the name by which he will be called, ‘Yahweh is our righteousness.’ Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when they shall no longer say, ‘As the Lord lives, who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ but ‘As the Lord lives, who brought up and led the offspring of the house of Israel out of the north country, and out of the countries where he had driven them.’ Then they shall dwell in their own land” (Jer 23:5–8). So your text is so beautiful because it anticipates fishers of men with the new exodus. Here, the new exodus is now associated with this new son of David, whose name is Yahweh is our righteousness, and he is associated with this new exodus. And Paul is just bringing it all together. He sees Jesus fulfilling it. He sees God bringing in people like himself, who was a true Jew and—Paul was a Jew—and yet with that, some from the nations, other nations, gentiles, heeding God’s voice, all of them enjoying the righteousness of Christ. It’s so hopeful.

Abraham: A Picture of New Covenant Believers

TK: Jason, what would you say—Moses is looking ahead, but he is speaking to a people in his day also about to go into the promised land. What was the intent of the words for that people group? What should they have done? What should have happened?

JD: I think that they should have prayed, God, I want to be a part of that work. I recognize that you’re envisioning destruction and judgment and that the majority of Israel around me are going to be sinners until the exile. But I want to be, even today, one who is controlled by your voice, delighting in your glory, heeding your word. Would you, by your mercy overcome my resistance? Pardon my sin through the provision of the sacrifices that you give at the Tabernacle and let me walk in this life today, as I hope for this future reality tomorrow. Let me already experience the kind of transformation you’re saying will be democratized in that future day where everyone is enjoying it. Let me enjoy it today. Let me be among those who, like Abraham—and this is Moses’s language, when he I mean, it’s amazing. It’s as if—so Moses portrays himself as someone in who doesn’t believe, Num 21, like Israel who doesn’t believe, and because of that Israel and Moses don’t get to enter into the land. But in contrast to that, Moses reaches back to Abraham’s life, who—which was imperfect—but he notes Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him righteousness. The very righteousness that was the goal of the Old Covenant was already enjoyed by Abraham, but enjoyed by a declaration not by his ability, but by the recognition of his own inability. He was believing God to do a miracle, ultimately in relation to the offspring promise and it was exactly that—it would take a miracle. And he believed God, and it was regarded to him as righteousness (Gen 15:6). I think of Deuteronomy 26:5, where it says that God will raise up his offspring person, through whom all the world will be blessed. “Because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws” (Gen 26:5). That’s an amazing verse because Abraham is 340 years before the law. Abraham is way before God takes Israel to Mount Sinai, yet Moses portrays Abraham as a man of faith whose life overflowed, whose faith gave rise to—it was as if Abraham was a covenant obey-er before, before the Old Covenant law was even present.

TK: I love that you just brought this up, by the way, if you’re if you’re following along looking these up, we just said Deuteronomy 26:5, it’s Genesis 26:5. No, we’re all good. But that thought of Abraham obeying God’s charge, commandments, statutes, laws. Yet none of those have been given like they’re going to be given, and so Moses is exactly what you said, portraying Abraham as a law keeper. How is that possible? It’s by faith.

JD: And it’s only possible because by faith something is changing in his life, and this this makes me think of how Paul talks in Romans 2 when he speaks of Gentiles. He says, “If a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law,”—keeps the statutes of the law—”Will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law, will condemn you”—Jews—”who have the written letter and circumcision, but break the law. For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical, but a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart by the Spirit, not the letter” (Rom 2:26–29). That’s exactly what Moses was anticipating in Deuteronomy 30, that the age when hearts would be circumcised. But the way that Moses portrays Abraham is as if he’s one whose heart has been circumcised. He’s loving God with all that he is. But it’s all by faith.

TK: So he’s perfectly keeping the law even though he doesn’t have it.

JD: Even though he doesn’t have it, he is living out the law of love, but he’s regarded as one who’s perfectly kept it, because Jesus, as it says in Rom 5:18–19, “As one trespass led to condemnation for all men,”—meaning the sin of Adam,—”so one act of righteousness”—that’s one act of statute keeping—“leads to justification of life for all men. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made”—or regarded—“as righteous.” Jesus’s perfect statute keeping is counted to us so that we might become the righteousness of God. As we read in Jeremiah 23, this new David is called “The Lord is our Righteousness.” That’s his name—he embodies. And so we’re first declared righteous, and then we gradually, increasingly become righteous until when we meet Jesus, we will be like him, fully righteous. But our right standing with God is by declaration grounded solely, only in Jesus’s blood and righteousness. There’s Gentiles—and I think you and I are among them, Tom—whom Paul would regard as keeping the law. Not imperfectly, but truly—sorry—not perfectly, but truly keeping the law of love. And God looks at us as keeping that law as if it were perfectly being done because of Jesus’s perfect righteousness. “What the law was powerless to do, weakened as it was by the flesh. God did by sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin he condemned sin in the flesh in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us” (Rom 8:3–4). I think that means the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, not by us, but by Christ in us, who now walk by the spirit and are empowered to fulfill the law of love, Christ’s law, reckoned or regarded or imputed—Christ’s law keeping regarded as our law keeping. Counted as us so that we have perfect right-standing with God. And now the only sin that we can conquer is sin that’s already been addressed at the cross. And we have God, 100% for us already in Christ, and we are pursuing holiness in light of it. But righteousness is not simply the goal of our existence, it’s the ground of our existence. And as we read in a passage like Romans 6, If we have been set free from sin—that is, if we have been justified from sin, then the fruit—there’s the language—the fruit that you get leads to sanctification and its end eternal life (Rom 6:22). God begins to make new creation in our hearts because we’re attached to the righteousness of Christ. Our lives begin to change. This is what Moses was anticipating. This is the new exodus. Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound and know we’ve been set free. The old man died in the waters of judgment. And now we’re in—we’re following the New Covenant mediator, we’re in him—some from every tongue and tribe and people and nation and ever expanding church, celebrating this new exodus, this heart transformation because the word has been put in our mouth and in our heart. That is the word of Christ.

TK: It’s so good. I’m looking at as we’re talking about this, I’m looking at the picture of Jesus Christ leading this second Exodus and people from—we have men and women in the front row here and looks like somebody maybe from a tribe in Africa or something like that and somebody maybe from South Asia. That this picture of the greatness of Christ, getting people from everywhere, and all of them look like his work transfer. None of them look like the dark blue we see in the first illustrations in our album cover. All of them, the work of this one man impacted all of them.

JD: That’s right, praise the Lord.

TK: Jason, this is really sweet. I am sure that we will be in Deuteronomy again. But this four weeks has been really good. Thanks for walking through it with me.

JD: Awesome, a month in Deuteronomy, it’s been great.

TK: All right. We will see you next week.

JY: Thank you for joining us for Gear Talk. You’ll find helpful resources on Deuteronomy as well as resources on a number of other topics at For more material from Hands to the Plow, visit To stay up to date on new Hands to the Plow resources, follow us on Instagram \@Handstotheplowministries and make sure to check out our YouTube page for more content.

The Promise: A New Prophet, Changed Hearts, and Real Love

The Promise: A New Prophet, Changed Hearts, and Real Love

The Promise: A New Prophet, Changed Hearts, and Real Love

by Jason DeRouchie, Tom Kelby, and Jack Yaeger | A Month in Deuteronomy


JY: Welcome to Gear Talk, a podcast on biblical theology. This is the third podcast in our month in Deuteronomy series, the title for all these podcasts starts with the letter P. Today, Jason and Tom talk about the promise a new prophet, changed hearts, and real love. We have an album cover to go along with this podcast. Go to our show notes to find a link to a PDF of the album cover. Tom and Jason refer to the album cover throughout the podcast, so you’ll want to have this in front of you.

TK: Hey, Jason. Good to be back. We’re talking about Deuteronomy again.

JD: I love Deuteronomy and love to be with you, Tom. Glad we are here.

Review of Previous Album Covers

TK: So I am looking at Mark’s album cover, the blue album cover for a month in Deuteronomy. We have four images here. I would just encourage you—we’re going to be referring to this especially at the beginning. So, if you went to our show notes, you can pull all these the PDFs up on some of the podcast browsers you can also see it. But the upper left hand corner—if I start there I have an image of Moses holding up one finger and talking to a group of people. Most of the people are dark blue. There’s a couple of people who aren’t. They’re not colored in like that. Then to the right of that, so moving to the right, like moving clockwise, it’s Moses, and he’s remembering the golden calf, and all the people are also colored like that. The next image, today’s image is going to be actually almost like we’re making a Z right in the middle and it looks like an exodus event, but the people aren’t colored blue, and they’re actually not walking through water. It almost looks like they’re walking through grass or something like that. So Jason, can you kind of walk us through Moses with the number one in the dark people. That was our first podcast. And then, move us through the album covers to this point.

JD: Sure, Tom. So Moses in the first image he is light and a light blue. And as you said, there’s a few individuals in the crowd that are light blue, but the majority are dark and that symbolizes that they are spiritually disabled. They’re standing there listening to words, but they don’t have spiritual hearing. They’re seeing Moses with their physical eyes, but they don’t have spiritual sight to revel in the glory of God that he is displaying. He’s holding up the number one, recalling the first commandment. There shall never be to you other gods before me. When you think of the heavenly throne room, there is only one throne, one causer of all one God, one judge, one value setter. and he deserves all of our allegiance. Indeed, Yahweh, our God, is one. That oneness also symbolizes the shema which is Hebrew, for hear: “Listen, O Israel, Yahweh our God, Yahweh is one” (Deut 6:4), the only supreme being in the universe. And therefore, the one who deserves all of our love rightly deserves it, necessarily deserves it, and even lovingly deserves it. It is the most loving thing he could do, because he alone is our savior. He alone can help us in our time of need. He alone is the ultimate satisfier. So that’s the first image, but it moves us to our second image. This is the people in Moses’s day and as we learned last podcast, Moses’s favorite terms throughout the book for Israel to describe them is that they are rebellious, they are stubborn, and they are unbelieving. Moses repeats that language over and over again, and therefore his entire audience in the contemporary day is portrayed dark. But then in the speech bubble, he’s recalling the golden calf episode and all the people surrounding and worshipping the golden calf. They too are dark, and Moses’s point is from the day that we came out of the land of Egypt all the way to this day, forty years removed, you have been rebellious from the day that I you. Indeed, even today you’re a stubborn people, rebellious of heart, and then he declares how much more after my death.

TK: So this is—they’re about to enter the promised land. But this is the state of the people as they’re going to enter the promised land, correct.

JD: That’s the state of the people. The majority is hard-hearted and far from God. They are at one level his people. But most of the people that God redeemed from slavery at Egypt, most of the people whom God spoke—graciously spoke his law to at Mount Sinai, we’re wicked. And that’s even the language that Moses uses. He says the people were wicked at the golden calf episode, and that’s the same language he applies in Deuteronomy 9 to the Canaanites that Israel is about ready to eradicate. They are wicked. And Moses says you’re going to enter into the land and you’re going to still be wicked after my death. And it’s going to result in the breaking down of this covenant relationship such that you are going to be recognized as spiritually dead. This covenant, the Mosaic Law Covenant, will condemn you. Pointing out for you the need for a New Covenant and even a New Covenant mediator as we’re going to see today. So that leads us to our third image. And like you said, Tom, we have—it’s as if Moses is from a distance looking far off, and what he sees is what resembles an exodus. Mark Yeager just did a great job displaying for us an image that is, it’s not the Red Sea episode. We don’t have water here. It it’s different than water and yet it recalls the watery episode where God delivered the first generation of Israelites out of the land of Egypt.

But this is something new, and whereas Moses in the pictures has white hair, now they’re being led by a figure with dark hair, and yet all we do is, all we see is his back, and we see this group, but none of them are shaded darkly. It’s as if every follower who’s participating in what appears to be a new exodus event has been transformed. There are no members of this group who are dark-hearted. Every one of them has experienced a rebirth, a transformation. So, whereas Moses can say in Deuteronomy 29:4—which was one of the key texts from last week, though you saw all that God did in Egypt, the great signs and the great workings through the plagues, you saw how he overcame Pharaoh. You saw it with your physical eyes. He declares in Deuteronomy 29:4, “To this day, Yahweh has not given you a heart to understand or know eyes to see or ears to hear.” They couldn’t grasp the significance of this saving event. They couldn’t see the glory of God and have it sear their souls. They couldn’t hear the word and be compelled to follow. But what we’re trying to capture in this third image is that something has changed. There’s a New Covenant mediator who is teaching that they are now following. And everyone in the group that is receiving instruction is a true disciple, a true follower. Something’s changed, and that’s what we’re going to focus on today, this image of promise expressed. In Deuteronomy, God not only makes a plea not only clarifies Israel’s problem, that is their inability to heed the plea, and which will result in their spiritual destruction, experiencing the curse of the covenant—in exile, separated from the promised land, separated from the God of Promise. God also in Deuteronomy declares restoration, and that’s what we’re going to focus on today, this promise of restoration that is associated with a royal hope and associated with a prophetic mediator. And that’s going to be accompanied by internal heart change. So we saw last week this call in Deuteronomy 10:16 “Circumcise, therefore the foreskin of your heart and be no longer stubborn.” Israel needed heart surgery. But the way that Moses frames it, in accordance with the old covenant, is here’s the scalpel circumcise your heart.

TK: You do it.

JD: You do it. And the book shows us that if Israel tries to deal with their heart problem on their own, they’re just going to die. It’s really that way you try to cut open your heart and deal with the internal inability, your lack of desire for God, your lack of hunger for him, your failure to see and savor what you’re supposed to be seeing and savoring. You try to alter that on your own and you’ll die. You can’t do it yourself, and so the answer of this book is, we’re going to see today, is that God’s going to do for Israel what they couldn’t do for themselves. God will be the one who does the heart surgery, and when he does it, everything changes. A new exodus happens—a new exodus from slavery. But this time, not just a physical separation, a separation from the spiritual powers of darkness themselves, such that these people are enlightened. They’re not dark anymore. And they’re able to follow because they know, and they see, and they hear.

Deuteronomy 4 Exile and Return: Hope in a Compassionate God

TK: So we talked about it a little bit before the podcast and just saying there’s all sorts of places, obviously, we could go in the Prophets and in the Writings just the Old Testament sections that would draw off this. We’re going to try to at least mainly camp in Deuteronomy and we’ll refer to some other scriptures. But Jason, I think a good place to start would be let’s go to Deuteronomy 4 and we’ll start here and then move on from there.

JD: That’s great, Tom. Beginning in Deuteronomy 4 is a good place because it’s the first place in the book that explicitly notes that when Israel arrives in the land, as certain as it is that they will father children and grow old, so too they will act corruptly. I noted last week the ESV actually adds a qualifier. It says, “When you father, children and children’s children and have grown old in the land, if you act corruptly, then you’re going to experience destruction” (Deut 4:25). But that “if” is not even in the Hebrew text. The Hebrew text simply says, “When you father, children and children’s children and have grown old in the land and act corruptly by making a carved image in the form of anything, and by doing what is evil in the sight of Yahweh your God, so as to provoke him to anger, I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that you will soon utterly perish from the land that you are going over to the Jordan to possess, you will not live long in it. But you will be utterly dead, destroyed” (Deut 4:25–26).

Now I’ll just make one note. That language, they will be utterly destroyed, is a characteristic of this book. When it portrays the exile it portrays it as a complete destruction, even though it assumes there’s going to be a remnant that follows. But the way that it portrays the ultimate curse is as if a true death has happened. You will be utterly destroyed. The language is of complete annihilation. And what that implies, I believe, is that the old covenant will indeed come to an end, and if anything is to follow it, it will have to be like a resurrection. It will have to be like a completely new reality. There’s connections between the old and the new, and yet what happens is ultimately new. It’s about new life, new birth, a new people. There’s continuity, but there’s massive discontinuity. So Israel, Moses says, is going to arrive in exile. He says, “The Lord will scatter you among the peoples and you’ll be left few in number among the nations where the Lord will drive you” (Deut 4:27). So it’s like a new Tower of Babel judgment. Israel was like a new humanity, birthed through the watery chaos of the exodus. And yet God says—just like happened at the Tower of Babel with the first humanity—Now you will be scattered throughout all the nations. I’ll scatter you among the peoples. You’ll be left few in number among the nations where the Lord will drive you. And he just says explicitly. Even then, they’re not going to learn. “There you will serve gods of wood and stone. The work of human hands that neither see nor hear, nor eat nor smell” (Deut 4:28). Later in the book, he’s going to say Israel, you don’t have eyes to see or ears to hear, and what that means is that Israel becomes what they worship, becomes like what they worship. And that’s how Psalm 115 even talks. You shape—the nations shape the idols that have eyes that cannot see, ears that cannot hear, noses that cannot smell, hands that cannot touch. And then it explicitly says. “Those who make them will become like them” (Ps 115:8). What you revere, Tom, you will resemble. If we go after things that are empty, our souls are going to become empty, and like the idols, so too Israel. Israel won’t have eyes to see or ears to hear or mouths to eat, or noses to smell. They will become like them.

But now we come to our key verses here in Deuteronomy 4, Tom, because that’s not the end of the story. That’s as far as we got last week. But then it says this, “But from there”—that is, amidst the exile—“From there you will seek Yahweh, your God, and you will find him when you search for him with all of your heart and with all of your soul. Indeed, when you are in tribulation and all these things come upon you”—What things? Well, they’re going to enjoy blessing in the land, but then they’re going to experience curse—“When these things come upon you in the latter days, you will return to the Lord your God and obey his voice. For”—and I love this for—“the Lord your God is merciful. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers that he swore to them” (Deut 4:29–31). So let’s put this together, Tom. After the exile, Israel is going to seek and find the Lord. Amidst their tribulation, amidst all the curse, in what Moses calls the latter days, they will return to the Lord and the ESV says, “Obey his voice.” Very literally, they will “hear his voice” in Moses’s day. Most of Israel doesn’t have ears to hear, but now something’s going to happen, spiritual disability is going to be overcome. Their ears are going to be opened. They’re actually going to hear God’s voice. And then why, why will it happen? There is no more fundamental reason for what is truly the New Covenant hope of Deuteronomy, no more. You know reason it will happen than what we read at the beginning of Deuteronomy 4:31. Why is it that they will return to the Lord? Why is it that they will hear his voice? Because Yahweh, your God, is a compassionate God. Oh Tom, that is our hope. There’s no other place we can go.

TK: Certainly not in ourselves. I mean that I would—I was thinking as we’re hearing this. How hopeless apart from this promise, it would have felt to Moses if we did all this work, all this suffering, getting to this spot. Going into a land just to repeat the entire process, will this never end?

JD: Well, yeah, that’s exactly right. You think about how he talks in Deuteronomy. He’s already talking to the next generation of Israelites, not the first generation that came out of Egypt. And yet he says from the day I knew you all the way to this day, you’ve been rebellious. Nothing’s changed, and it has to set up the hearts of the people. And then he says you’ve been stubborn since the day I knew you. How much more after my death. What’s gonna change?

TK: Like I was a hindrance to your disobedience, but when I’m gone, it’s gonna get worse.

JD: It’s gonna get worse. But in the latter days. In the end times, something is going to change and it all is because God is compassionate. This really takes me right back to Exodus 34. Likely the most clear and developed text on the doctrine of God than anywhere else in Scripture. Exodus 34:6–7, “Yahweh, Yahweh, a God gracious and”—what, Tom?—”Compassionate.” There it is. He’s slow to anger and abounding and steadfast love and faithfulness, forgiving wickedness and transgression and sin. But he will by no means let the guilty go unpunished. That’s our God. This balance between justice and mercy. And yet it is his mercy, his compassion that moves him to save. What this means, Tom, the grammar, what it means is that they seek the Lord because God is compassionate. They will return to the Lord because he is compassionate. They will hear the Lord’s voice because he is compassionate. That is, God is the decisive mover in this restoration, the future hope, the future change. The decisive mover is not the people’s action toward God. The decisive mover is God’s compassion, even before they return, before they hear, before they seek. That’s the grammar. That’s what the grammar says: you will turn to me because of my compassion. God’s compassion is the bedrock foundation that awakens faith that awakens hope that awakens love. It all starts with God, and if God doesn’t act, that is, if he doesn’t do it, nothing would change. It would take a miracle. And so even as we, as this—the hope is for a remnant in this instance, a remnant of Israelites who deserve judgment. The hope is that they will return, but as they return they are acting out a miracle. A miracle of compassion. The call is that they will listen, but as they listen, they are acting out a miracle. So that God is ultimately the one who is glorified through this New Covenant restoration.

TK: It is really amazing that we so often put God on trial and say something like, a good God wouldn’t… And we’ll define what God would or wouldn’t do. But it’s so like that second picture in our album cover of a darkened people defining their God the way they want to define their God.

JD: That’s really good.

TK: And God is not clearly—based on just even the verses we’ve looked at, the pictures we’re looking at—God is not the one who’s on trial. It’s the people who will not listen, will not honor God as God, they are following their darkened hearts, are worshipping the way they want to and God is the one who is saying, unless I act, unless it’s driven for me, nothing, nothing will change.

JD: That’s right. Praise the Lord for such miracle-working compassion to overcome our resistance and Tom, we can just pause and just speak to families. Both of us, have loved ones who are still hard hearted. We know that we were there. And our hope alone was the compassionate God and our only hope for change in our loved ones is a compassionate God. So for our listeners, plead with him. Pray to this God of compassion. It’s built into the very character of God alongside of his justice, and the only people who are saved in this world are those upon whom his compassion has come. It’s necessary. So pray for it. Pray for it, because it’s the only power to save.

TK: Amen. And our all our not just save our ongoing hope rests in this God remaining who he says he is. Oh That’s right.

JD: We don’t serve a God who might change his mind on such matters. He is the unchanging one. The same yesterday, today, and forever. And in that we find great comfort.

TK: Yeah, I—we need to move forward. I was just going to say looking at this album cover, what’s interesting is you could almost draw a line from all the dark hearted people right to the exodus in the sense of all of the people in the second exodus were the opposite. All of them. Except we should say the one leading it.

JD: That’s right. The one leading it was not like the rest. And as we’re going to see some today, and especially next week, he’s different than all the others, and he alone makes this exodus possible.

Deuteronomy 30: The Promise

TK: So Jason, we’re going to move forward and then to Deuteronomy 30, then we’re going to kind of come back and Deuteronomy to some different passages. But what do find to do to round me 30? Why would you take us there?

JD: Well, I take us there because the very language of Deuteronomy 4—I’m just going to read the parallel here in Deuteronomy 4. It says, “When you are in tribulation and all these things come upon you. In the latter days, you will return to the Lord and hear his voice” (Deut 4:30). Then in Deuteronomy 30, it opens up this way, “And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you. Then you will call them to mind … and return to the Lord and hear his voice” (Deut 30:1–2).

TK: So you know, these two passages go together.

JD: They go together, Moses in the very way that he is preaching his sermons is calling us to remember what he said in chapter 4 because they’re tied together. They’re talking about the same reality. So all of the hope of Deuteronomy 30 is grounded in the same bedrock compassion of God that Deuteronomy 30:31 stressed—Deuteronomy 4:31, stressed. And everything that’s being talked about in Deuteronomy 30 is latter days reality. Now we could have a different podcast focused on just that phrase: the end times, the latter days. But Deuteronomy chapter 4, where it said this is what’s going to happen in the latter days—that’s the third time in the Pentateuch that that phrase “latter days” has shown up. We see it in. Deuteronomy 49. It’s in the latter days.

TK: Or Genesis 49.

JD: In Genesis 49. Sorry. Thank you. Genesis 49, where we learned that in the latter days, the lion of the tribe of Judah is going to rise and he will crush his enemies. Then we next read it in Numbers 24 where we learn that a king is going to lead another exodus. In that day, a light, a star will rise from Jacob and reign in the world. So these are images of the hope for the coming King. And now in the latter days is when this great restoration is going to happen. We want to keep that in mind. So we come into Deuteronomy 30. And it’s here most explicitly that we’re going to see this imagery of new exodus. And that’s why we display it in our third image on the album cover. What’s happening in the New Covenant? What’s happening in the intrusion of God’s compassion in space and time to change hearts? And what we’re going to see, I hope, by the end of this podcast is that the community that’s involved in in that new exodus, following this New Covenant mediator—it’s not just made-up of ethnic Israelites. No, even Moses anticipates, no there’s nations who were involved in this transformed people. But we’re not there yet. Right now, we’re focused on Israel is in exile. And God declares when all these things the covenant blessing and the covenant curse of the Mosaic Covenant, is poured out on you. Then, and this is my translation, it’s a little bit different than the ESV’s, but I put the then clause right there in verse one of chapter 30, verse one, “Then”—we learn what will happen to the people—“you will call them to mind” (Deut 30:1). That is, they’ll think about the blessing. They’ll, “Think about the curse among all the nations where the Lord your God has driven you, and you will return to Yahweh your God, you and your children, and listen to his voice. In all that, I command you today” (Deut 30:1–2). All of a sudden, everything that Moses says in Deuteronomy, that’s not being listened to by his present audience—all of that Deuteronomy message will matter to that future generation that will enjoy this spiritual rebirth and restoration. They will listen to all that Moses is commanding them today. And they will listen “with all your heart and with all your soul.” Well, that very phrasing recalls Deuteronomy 6:5, where the very one God is the one that we’re supposed to love with all of our heart and with all of our soul. Now they will heed his voice with all their heart and with all their soul. So that’s what—when all these things come upon them—that’s what the people will do.

Well, how about Yahweh? What’s he going to do? And that’s what we read in verses 3 and following, “And Yahweh your God will”—a key phrase—“restore your fortunes.” That’s used all throughout the prophets and the Psalms, that phrase “restore your fortunes,” to talk about what God will do after the exile in the days of the Messiah. He’s going to restore what was lost. “And the Lord your God will restore your fortunes. And have compassion on you” (Deut 30:3). So not only will compassion move him to act, it will move him to bring more compassion. “And he will”—here’s 3 verbs, Tom—“He will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you. If your outcasts are in the uppermost parts of heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you. From there, he will take you and the Lord your God will bring you into the land” (Duet 30:3–5). So he’s going to gather, he’s going to take, and he’s going to bring. And now there’s this image of return. Just like Israel, Abraham was in the land then his descendants were exiled into Egypt, and then God gathered them and took them and brought them and planted them into the promised land. Now that imagery is being drawn on to where, though Israel has been scattered—they’ve been utterly destroyed is the language of Deuteronomy, their covenant relationship is broken, and it’s as if they’re walking dead men—God will now reach into that death and start something new. He will move them out of slavery and bondage into freedom. He will do a new exodus, Tom. And the very ones that he’s doing a new exodus with are those who have been transformed. “He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your father’s, and the Lord your God will”—here it is—“circumcise your heart” (Deut 30:5–6). In Deuteronomy 10, he called Israel to do it themselves. But now it’s God who is the surgeon, and when God acts—like he did when he put Adam to sleep and took out his rib and shaped the woman—when God acts, it’s a permanent, an ever-present distinction between male and female. When God works on the heart, it will be an ever-present healing and the result is this, “He will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring.” So there’s a promise there that not only will individuals be changed, but offspring will be changed and we would have to consider another podcast, are we supposed to be thinking that every physical descendant of a believer? Like if you’re born again, then a physical descendant, that there’s a promise here that they’ll have a heart change as well. I don’t think that’s what’s at stake. I think this is about a spiritual offspring. But I would argue that at another time. “God will”—it says will—“will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring”—so he’s going to do heart surgery—“so that”—here’s the purpose—“you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deut 30:6).

So what this says Tom, is that the plea that was made at the beginning of the book is now going to be acted out. Whereas Israel couldn’t know God because their hearts were bad, they couldn’t see his glory because their eyes were blind. They couldn’t hear his word because their ears were deaf. Now something’s going to change. They will love the Lord their God with all their heart, all their soul. And then the ESV says that you may live. But this is a different phrase than we find anywhere else in the book. In the rest of the book, we hear it over and over again. “Do this so that you may live. Do this so that you may live.” And every time that you get that “so that,” it’s followed by a verb or an infinitive. “Do this to live. Do this so that you may live.” But that’s not what we get here, Tom. And so I wish that this wasn’t translated this way, “that you may live” because it’s a noun. And the way that it should be rendered is “God will circumcise your heart so that you will love him with all for the sake of your life” (Deut 30:6). And the very difference in grammar signals there’s something different happening in the story of salvation here. Whereas before the people were supposed to act perfectly, keeping all the commandment and life was the goal, and they couldn’t reach it. And that’s why Ezekiel envisions them like a people who are dead, whose bones have become dry in a valley in Ezekiel 37. They’re in need of resurrection. That’s exactly what is being envisioned here, that the very group that is going to enjoy a new exodus is a group that has been transformed, whose hearts are now changed, and God acts for the sake of their life. He is doing for them what they couldn’t do on their own. He’s bringing blessing where all they had known was curse.

And then the final statement is “And the Lord your God will put all these curses on your foes and the enemies who persecuted you” (Deut 30:7). So that the—in the same way that Moses’s words will matter to this community who has been transformed, centuries later, Deuteronomy is going to matter, when God does this transforming, new exodus, internal work, Deuteronomy is still going to matter. And if I may say that means Deuteronomy is Christian scripture because it’s among the Christians that God is doing this New Covenant work. As Paul will say in Romans chapter 2, he makes it as explicit as possible, recalling Deuteronomy 30, verse 6 and matching it with Ezekiel 36:27. He says, “No one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical, but a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart by the spirit, not the letter” (Rom 2:28–29). And he’s celebrating that God is doing such internal circumcision, even among the Gentiles. That’s what he’s arguing in Romans chapter 2, that even the Gentiles who weren’t given the law are living as people whose hearts have been changed, so that they’re loving. And that in Romans 2 becomes the indictment on the Jews who receive the law and yet fail to believe. Paul’s point is that Deuteronomy 30:6 is being fulfilled in the church. And that implies that the new exodus is being realized even today. God has acted for the sake of our life and what that means is not only are we recipients through, I’m going to argue, the New Covenant mediator of all the blessings that were promised to Israel. Not only that, the curses of the Mosaic covenant are the very curses that God will now put on all the New Covenant enemies of God, just like he promised Abraham, “The one who blesses you I will bless, but the one who curses you, I will curse” (Gen 12:3). The Abrahamic covenant curses were on the enemies of the covenant. So too in the New Covenant, the New Covenant curses, God declares, are the very curses in the book of Deuteronomy that God will put on the enemies of his people. This is the hope of Deuteronomy. It’s a vision of new exodus that includes internal transformation by God for the sake of his people’s lives, and he will protect them and provide for them.

TK: I can just imagine Moses seeing this ahead of time and he’s already—so much has already been written like you already mentioned, like about in the latter day days in Genesis 49. He was already preparing us for this coming into Deuteronomy. That we would have thoughts already to say, I think I know some pieces of how this gets put in place. You mentioned it earlier. A king-deliverer theme has been built so far. But he’s going to expand about on this in Deuteronomy, right? So Deuteronomy 17 would be a something to pull into this conversation, then, at this point.

The Larger Context of Deuteronomy 30: A King in Deuteronomy 17

JD: It really is. And yes, so what we want to do now is look at some other elements of Deuteronomy, both within the book and within the whole Pentateuch, the law. When we read Deuteronomy 30 in light of the broader context, there’s a number of elements that intersect with this same period. This same period of new exodus is now going to be what we’re anticipating is oh, this must be also intersecting with that hope for King. And then we’ll see, oh, this is also intersecting with a hoped-for New Covenant mediating profit.

TK: That’s a really good way to say it, because as you’re reading it, you’re already building your theology of this. You’re understanding as you go along and so you’re saying, OK, I know somehow a king from the line of Judah fits into this story. And maybe as you’re working through Genesis, I don’t know quite all the details as the Bible progresses, I’m seeing it clearer and clearer. So we get this in Deuteronomy 17.

JD: That’s right. Deuteronomy 17 is where he, Moses, clarifies the law for a coming king. He lays out the characteristics that are to guide the choice of the king, the responsibilities of the king. So we read, “When you come into the land that is the promised land that Yahweh your God is giving you, and you possess it, and you dwell in it” (Deut 17:14). It’s going to be very natural for you to think, OK, we’re a nation. We now have our land. We need a human king.

TK: Other nations have kings.

JD: That’s right. God doesn’t deny that Israel can have a king like the nations have a king. But as we’re going to see in 1 Samuel chapter 8, he will not let Israel have a king like the nations. That is, the type of king the nations have is not the kind of king Israel is to have, and it’s made clear even in this text. So, “When you come into the land … and you say, ‘I’ll set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me.’ You may indeed,”—God says—“set the king over you whom Yahweh your God will choose. One from among your brothers you shall set as king over you. You may not put a foreigner over you who is not your brother” (Deut 17:14–15). So he has to be chosen by God, and he has to be an Israelite, that is the true King of Israel. But then it lays out a whole bunch of characteristics. First negative ones. “He may not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses” (Deut 17:16a). Egypt is always a picture of exile, and the horses are a picture of self-confidence—big army, I have power. And God wouldn’t let Israel’s king move in that direction. No. God is the one who will fight for them. “Since the Lord has said to you shall not return that way again” (Deut 17:16b). Not only that, it’s not only that they can’t have this war-horse power, “You shall not acquire many wives for yourself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver or gold” (Deut 17:17). So he can’t have lots of women, because as we already—as we see in the life of Solomon, what does it do the king builds all these marriage alliances. That’s where polygamy happened most often in the ancient world. The king creates all these marriage alliances with peoples who are not followers of Yahweh, and so all these women come in who are not Yahweh followers, and they turn the king’s heart away and to engage in idolatry, and where the king goes, the people will go. That’s the history of Israel. And not only that, so not war horses, not women or excessive wives, but also not wealth, lest he start to get haughty and think he has the power he has the sway. God is his provider.

But then it’s here that we want to focus because it gives the only positive statement of what the king is supposed to do. A king that will be God’s way is one that “when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he writes a copy for himself”—he writes for himself “in a scroll a copy of this law” (Deut 17:18). So, all of a sudden, the very law of God that Moses is declaring will be this king’s guide. But not only is he supposed to write it and have it approved by the Levitical priests, it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life. So he’s got a Bible that is to be his guide. He’s a king, but he’s a king under God’s authority. He doesn’t get to make the rules. He’s simply supposed to apply the rules, live out the rules, and point the people to the ultimate ruler. So, God’s kind of king is not one who replaces God as king, but who represents God as king. “And it shall be with him. He shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord His God, by keeping all the words of this law in these statutes and doing them in order that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, that he may not turn aside from the commandment either to the right or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom and his children, in Israel” (Deut 17:19–20). He will enjoy long life if he remains a humble man under the Word of God. And when we connect this passage to the hope of the hope of a coming king that is set forth all the way back in Genesis, then repeated in Numbers, all of a sudden, what we see is we’re actually getting a portrait of what the Messiah will bring, the very one who will possess enemy gates, the very one whose rulership will expand what was first the promised land to lands. The very one through whom all the nations of the earth will be blessed. This is a character sketch of what he will be like. It sets a background, at least for us wondering, OK, we know that during the Mosaic Covenant era none of this will happen—Israel will be far from God. And though Israel was called to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation amidst all the nations, they’re going to fail at they’re calling. Nations are not going to be blessed, because as we recall, from even the first week of this podcast in Deuteronomy 4, the nations would take notice, Tom, only when Israel obeyed the law. And yet the promise of Genesis is that in the days of this coming king, the nations will be blessed and it sets us up when we read Deuteronomy 30 and we see this discussion of new exodus and heart change and loving God. Well, that is what Deuteronomy 4 said is the very means by which the nations will be drawn in. And it sets us up for thinking, oh in Deuteronomy 17, we’re actually getting a portrayal of the coming Messiah, the hope of the world. And his days are most likely associated then with the days of this new exodus and this New Covenant transformation. That the one who will actually be leading this new Kingdom and that is associated with this New Covenant is this king who will live underneath God’s book. And who will have a humble and contrite heart. And, according to Deuteronomy 17, who will continue long in his Kingdom, he and his children in Israel. That’s the hope of the book so all we’re doing is reading the continuing context, not just the close context but the continuing context. Deuteronomy 30, in light of its continuing context—and it all of a sudden tells us we need to be thinking about all of this restoration stuff in relation to the promised king.

TK: I think something that you will read quite often in different things—when people focus on, for instance, David and Solomon, and they’ll talk about people in their generation and they would have thought they would have connected them to this king or whatever, but right away you’d see, neither David nor Solomon can qualify for what we’re reading right here. The explicit things that this king would do, they did not do. And the biblical authors want you to see these—they want you to know Solomon can’t be this king. He makes a covenant with Egypt. Actually, he sends the people to get horses from Egypt. So just on and on your, your eyes are saying I don’t think it can be Solomon. But I would just say somebody living in Solomon’s own generation, who loved God’s word would have had Deuteronomy also. And they would have already been thinking that—they would have been thinking, I don’t think it’s glorious for us to have 40,000 war horses. I think that goes against God’s law based on this, and they would not be seeing him then as the Messiah.

JD: They wouldn’t have. And they also know, Moses said you’re going to get in the land and things are going to go bad and. It’s going to culminate in exile, but why do we have books like Samuel and King’s? And then at the end of the Old Testament period, books like Chronicles? It’s in order to remind us: not David’s Kingdom, not David’s reign, not Solomon’s reign, none of the twenty kings in the north, none of the twenty kings in the South after the Kingdom was divided had what could be qualified as being continuing long in his Kingdom, he and his children. All of their reigns came to an end. They did not endure, and none of these kings matched the ideal. And that’s what Deuteronomy 17 is doing. It’s elevating the ideal, and then the story. So this is what the covenant says. And then in the history of the covenant that we get in the former prophets, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings—it simply unpacks for us that the ideal was never met and, therefore, just like you’re saying, Tom, the eyes of the reader move ahead to one greater than any of the kings, to a greater son of David. And who would? And the prophets, they go exactly here. They associate the new exodus with the new David. They bring in this royal imagery in the line of David and associate that figure with the new exodus. And there’s so many texts we could go to Isaiah 11, Hosea 3. Where it is this figure this Messiah figure who is associated with the very age of transformation that Deuteronomy 30 has foreseen.

The Larger Context of Deuteronomy 30: A Prophet in Deuteronomy 18

TK: Jason, it’s not just a king we’re talking about. Go one chapter further, 18. What do we find in Deuteronomy 18?

JD: Moses is within this section of the book, unpacking the roles of different offices in Israel. But in the midst of his talking about it, he says something and—well, this is what he says, “The Lord your God will raise up for you”—raise up for you, that’s, I’ll just say, that’s resurrection language. That that’s what a resurrection is. You raise up—he “will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers, it is to him you will listen” (Deut 18:15). Now the ESV has you shall listen and that can be a little blurry, whether this is an ought to do or will do. But the Hebrew is more clear. I think it’s you will listen to him. So, in Moses’s day, unable to listen. But when this prophet rises, they will listen. He’s a prophet like Moses, but it’s not Moses. Now, many people say, I know it says a prophet and it’s presented as a person, but many scholars will say this is actually talking about just a prophetic office. He’ll raise up prophets in general. But I don’t think that reading will stand because of what Moses does. “Yahweh your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers, it is to him you will listen,”—which means their spiritual disability in this prophet’s day will be overcome—“just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of Yahweh, my God, or see this great fire any more, lest I die” (Deut 18:15–16). So how did Moses come about? He was called by God out of Midian to go and rescue the people, but the people ultimately recognized him as the covenant mediator and God affirmed it when the fire of God showed up at Mount Sinai and the people ran—while they were hearing the Ten Commandments—they ran to Moses and said, let God not talk to us anymore. Let him talk to you and we will listen to you. This isn’t just a prophet, that is, to be like Moses in this way means that he will not just be a prophet who enforces the covenant, he will be a prophet who mediates the covenant. Isaiah was not a mediator. Jeremiah was not a mediator. Indeed, none of the old covenant prophets were mediators.

We see it played out in the story of Elijah, he’s the only human prophet in the Old Testament that is associated also alongside Moses with Mount Sinai. And there’s many recollections in 1 Kings 18, where as he goes to Mount Sinai it’s like he’s redoing the journey of Moses and he gets there and God says why are you here? And Elijah complains and says the people are not listening to Moses. They’re not heeding the covenant. And it’s as if Elijah, what he’s wanting is the New Covenant. I need a new word. They’re not listening to Moses. And God will not answer him. He wasn’t in the earthquake, he wasn’t in the thunderstorm. And then what the Hebrew actually says is he didn’t hear a still small voice. He heard a thin silence. God didn’t give him anything, and then he says, Elijah, why are you here? He asks him again and he sends him back and therefore in the story of Israel, Elijah becomes the chief figure pointing back to Moses. He went to Mount Sinai, but God didn’t give a New Covenant. Elijah becomes the example of pointing to Moses and all the way up to the days of Malachi, Malachi chapter 4, it’s listen to Moses, but I will raise up a new Elijah. So at the end of Deuteronomy, Deuteronomy 34, what we read is that when Deuteronomy was put together, “No prophet had arisen yet like Moses who knew God face to face, none like him for all the signs and wonders that the Lord had sent to him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, to all of his servants, to all of his land, and for all the mighty power and all the great deeds of terror that Moses did in the sight of all Israel” (Deut 34:10–12).

John is filled with signs that Jesus did to prove who he was, and what he is showing is—John saying the new Moses has come. This is him. And up until that day, he had not arrived, and that’s why Malachi ends saying you’re expecting a new Moses. You’re also expecting a new Elijah. And Jesus, says John the Baptist, is he. When we get to the mount of Transfiguration in Matthew 17, who’s there? It’s Elijah and it’s Moses. Why those two? Because they—Elijah, was the pointer to Moses, and Moses was the pointer to the new coming Moses. And in that context, God says, “This is my son, listen to him” (Matt 17:5). That’s a straight quotation from Deuteronomy 18. We’re not anticipating a chain of prophets who will climax in the Messiah. This text, I believe, is anticipating a single prophet, and specifically what it tells us is that this very prophet—God says, “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him, and whoever will not listen to my words, he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him (Deut 18:18–19). So this is a prophet who has God’s word in his mouth and the reason that’s significant is because Deuteronomy 30 is going to use the exact same language about all the new transformed people whose hearts are circumcised. God’s word will be in their mouth and in their heart. And what it suggests to me is that when it says in Deuteronomy 30 that they will listen to God’s voice like they were unable to do in Moses’s day, the voice they are listening to is now mediated through this New Covenant prophet who is like Moses, that is, we’re anticipating the Messiah to be leading the new exodus. And that’s why in our in our picture, Tom, the hair of the one leading the new exodus—it’s dark. We don’t see his face. It’s as if it’s less clear to Moses as he’s looking ahead. But what is clear is that there is a new mediator. And that the people have been changed. But in anticipation of next week, what we’re going to see as we move from promise made to promise fulfilled, we’re just going to meditate on New Testament texts that clarify the fulfillment of this hope in the New Testament. I want to make, I know our time is ticking here, but I just want to make a few comments on Deuteronomy 30, and then summarize some reflections on the nations in Deuteronomy. Does that sound OK, Tom?

Concluding Thoughts on Deuteronomy 30 and the Nations

TK: It does sound OK and I am just loving this and just want to say, as all of us as we read our Bibles, Old and New Testament, this is setting the framework for so many things. That I was thinking of the passage where Jesus is getting the disciples, saying I will make you fishers of men. It’s coming from this same passage of how will God get his people into this new exodus in the book of Jeremiah and said I’m going to send fishermen to get the people. I will catch the people because he is a merciful, compassionate God. So many things connect to what we’re talking about today.

JD: I love it. That’s so good, Tom. Beginning in verse 8 of Chapter 30, it recalls Deuteronomy 4 and the beginning of Deuteronomy 30. He says, “You shall turn and listen to the voice of Yahweh.” He’s talking to this now heart-circumcised people. “You will turn and you will listen to the voice of Yahweh and keep all of his commandments that I command you today.” Let me just make a note that if indeed the fulfillment of these words is in the New Covenant age, what Moses is saying is that in that day you’ll listen to what I’m saying today. Deuteronomy is Christian scripture, and Deuteronomy still matters for Christian.

TK: Just want to make a note—I think Jason you’ve written some really helpful materials and something coming out here. We’re going to talk about in February, but on this of—since this is the case, how do we apply what is written to the lives of believers living today.

JD: Right. If Moses law matters for us—is it direct? And I’m going to argue no, it can’t be direct because Moses’s law covenant is not the covenant we’re under. Yet. Deuteronomy 30, verse 8 says in that day of heart, circumcision, you’ll listen to all and keep all that I am commanding you today. So somehow all of Moses matters for us, but we’re not directly under its authority.

TK: We’re keeping Deuteronomy somehow.

JD: That’s right. And I’m going to argue it’s only through the mediation of Jesus. He clarifies for us how to fulfill every bit of Moses’s law. “The Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in that day, in all the work of your hand and the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your cattle and the fruit of your ground. For the Lord of God will again delight and prospering you as he took delight in your fathers. For, you will listen to the voice of the Lord your God, keep his commandments and his statutes that are written in the Book of the Law, for you will turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deut 30:9–10). I’m going to leave Deuteronomy 30:11–14 to kick off our next podcast, Tom, but I just want to note—there is an intersection between what is promised in Deuteronomy 18 with the prophet like Moses, to him they will listen, and now this text. Deuteronomy is going to matter, and you will listen to Yahweh’s voice. Where does that voice come from of Yahweh? Well, God says in Deuteronomy 18, I will put my word in the prophet’s heart, and he will speak to you. So, I’m proposing, and I’ll argue for it next week, all the more that the word of Yahweh that is now obeyed relates to Moses’s law covenant words, but now reiterated and clarified and fulfilled through the mouth of the New Covenant mediator whom we know of as Jesus.

That’s all I’m going to say on that. And then I’m just going to summarize a few things. Deuteronomy 4:6–8, the nations will take notice when obedience to God’s word is evident. We looked at that in the first week of our podcast. It’s only when obedience happens that the nations will say, oh, what kind of a God you have that is so near and that gives such an upright law. Obedience will only happen when the representative King of Israel obeys the law perfectly. Deuteronomy 17, and the nations will take notice, and the nations will be blessed. Deuteronomy 29:4–28, it says that in the midst of exile, the nations will hear and see the judgment that God is bringing on Israel, and it’s the nations that will say in Deuteronomy 29 that Israel went and served other gods, and the anger of the Lord was kindled against the land, bringing the curses on them. The nations will recognize the weightiness of sin and the judgment of God. Deuteronomy 32:21 says that God will raise up some who are not his people to provoke jealousy among the Jews, among the Israelites. So, Paul is actually going to draw on those very texts in Romans 10, Romans 11, to say this is what’s happening today, God is raising up Gentiles for himself, and it’s awakening jealousy among the Jews, calling them back to embrace their own Messiah. It’s Moses who first set that out in Deuteronomy 32:21. Deuteronomy 32:43, although it’s not clear in the ESV, it’s absolutely clear in the Septuagint and in Romans 1510, which Paul cites to justify his Gentile mission, that the nations, when they see what God does in his acts of justice and in his acts of redemption, Deuteronomy 32:43 says the nations will praise the Lord. And finally, in Deuteronomy 33:18–19 it points to nations outside of Israel who will be drawn in to God’s people and become worshippers. And I want to propose, Tom, that within the framework of all Deuteronomy, this new exodus that we’re celebrating, the circumcision of the heart that we are seeing realized or hoped for in Deuteronomy 30 is within the framework of the whole book. It has to be associated with nations who’ve been drawn in, and the only way that the nations could move from darkness to light, from being those who are hostile to God to becoming praisers of God, is because they also have experienced a New Covenant heart circumcision. God has done a work in them, just as he promises to do among the remnant of ethnic Israelites. And he doesn’t promise that the whole nation of Israel—like all Israelites underneath, in a nation will experience this. He’s promising a remnant of Israelites and some from the nations who will experience this New Covenant transformation. I’m going to stop there. Next week we move from the promise made to the promise fulfilled and we’re just going to revel in how the New Testament builds off of the promises of Deuteronomy. We’re going to start in Deuteronomy 30 once again and then build the bridge into the New Testament.

TK: I can’t wait. This has been sweet. I’m so thankful for this book. And I am thankful for what Moses is seeing ahead and celebrating here.

JD: It is so good. See you next week, Tom.

TK: All right, bye.

JY: Thank you for joining us for Gear Talk. You’ll find helpful resources on Deuteronomy as well as resources on a number of other topics at For more material from Hands to the Plow, visit to stay up to date on new Hands to the Plow resources. Follow us on Instagram \@HandstothePlowMinistries, and make sure to check out our YouTube page for more content.

OT Background to Revelation’s Lamb Imagery (Part 2)

OT Background to Revelation’s Lamb Imagery (Part 2)

OT Background to Revelation’s Lamb Imagery (Part 2)

by Jason DeRouchie, Tom Kelby, and Jack Yaeger


JY: Welcome to Gear Talk, a podcast on biblical theology. Today we consider once again the amazing Lamb imagery in the Old Testament. This is all part of a series on major characters in the book of Revelation. Tom and Jason pick up today in Genesis 22. The podcast ends with a look at the amazing words David uses in Psalm 34, demonstrating how Old Testament authors knew the Passover Lamb wouldn’t be a Lamb at all.

Review: Genesis 22 – God Will Provide a Substitute on this Mountain

TK: Welcome to Gear Talk. I’m Tom. I’m with Jason, and today we’re doing the second part of our focus on the Lamb from Revelation. So, Jason, we talked about Revelation 4 and 5, that combination of chapters. And how John heard about a Lion, but when he looked, he saw a Lamb. And we’ve been talking about the Old Testament background to this Lamb imagery. So we got into Genesis 22 and that spot where it says, “On the mountain of the Lord, it will be provided” (Gen 22:14). So, any first thoughts before we dive in today.

JD: Well, our springboard off of last podcast is truly that hope. It’s a hope not only Abraham had, as Jesus said in John 8, Abraham saw my day, he rejoiced and was glad (John 8:56). It’s a hope that Moses, the author of Genesis had. As the narrator himself says, “As it is declared unto this day on the mountain of the Lord, it will be provided.” So Moses is looking ahead even as he’s at Mount Sinai, he is looking ahead. Even as he is instituting the entire range of Levitical sacrifices, he is looking ahead to a greater provision that will be made on the mountain of God. And the readers eyes then are pushed ahead to gain greater clarity through progressive revelation, as we have delivered to us in his word of the nature of that provision, and in the context it’s a substitutionary, sacrificial provision. That’s what God just supplied.

TK: I think it’s—that’s a real help saying that Moses is looking ahead as we think about the books of Moses. Moses is not thinking that Israel is going to keep this first covenant, the old, the Old Covenant.

JD: Not at all.

TK: So he’s not thinking—and I know you’re writing a commentary on Deuteronomy and Moses’s statements—but your statement not at all. He’s not thinking oh, this will work. What’s just happened at Mount Sinai.

JD: No, Moses is explicit when we get—I mean his three favorite terms for Israel in the book of Deuteronomy are that they are stubborn, unbelieving, and rebellious. Those are the three terms that he uses over and over in the book to characterize his people, and by the time we get to Deuteronomy 31, he’s explicit—Yahweh is explicit, first to Moses, “You’re about to die with your fathers, and then this people will rise and whore after foreign gods among them in the land that they are entering, they will forsake me and break my covenant that I have made with them. Then my anger will be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them” (Deut 31:16–17). So Moses knows the Old Covenant will be broken. And that it is needed to be—it will be needed to be replaced by a New Covenant, which he unpacks for us in Deuteronomy 30. And it’s built upon the promise in Deuteronomy 18 that there will be a prophet like Moses who, just as Moses at Mount Sinai was called upon by the people to mediate the covenant, it says in Deuteronomy 18:15–20, so too, there will be a new prophet, a new covenant mediating prophet like Moses. But unlike with Moses, to this new prophet, the people will listen. The text is explicit in predicting that, and it’s that text, then, that is echoed at the baptism. “This is my son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt 3:17). And then at the transfiguration. “This is my son. Listen to him” (Matt 175). And this is the one.

TK: This is the one, here he is.

JD: And we’re expecting from these earliest stages that on the mountain of God, a sacrificial, substitutionary provision will be made definitively, and what God does on Mount Moriah is only anticipating it.

TK: So do you have any—Jason, do you have any thoughts that—I know you have a ton—but any more in Genesis 22 related to the Lamb imagery that you’d like to get to before we move to our next text?

JD: All I would say is Isaac requests where is the lamb for the burnt offering. The burnt offering is a sin offering. And we are anticipating, therefore, a lamb to be a substitute payment for sins. Isaac recognizes the offense against God must be addressed, and so the context of this hope for provision is God’s wrath, his war against sin and God’s supplies a ram. But what was originally asked for is where is the lamb? That’s a general term. Then I would add in this same context we have explicit, direct prophecy of the Messiah. And it comes when the angel of God comes a second time to Abraham after he has shown his willingness to sacrifice Isaac. We’re told the angel came a second time, and it’s in this context that we have direct prophecy of the Messiah is coming: “I will surely bless you, and I will multiply your offspring” (Gen 22:17). In the previous chapter—why chapter 22 is so important is because, in the previous chapter God had made explicit in Genesis 21 “Through Isaac, your offspring will be reckoned.” Isaac is not the offspring, it is through Isaac that God will preserve the offspring of promise that reaches all the way back to Genesis 3:15, and that has been hoped for in the line of Abraham. Sarah’s barrenness had called into question the promise of the coming offspring who would overcome the curse with global blessing. And yet God has miraculously brought Isaac and through him the coming offspring will rise. And it says that offspring, when he arises, God will multiply as numerous as the stars in the heavens and as the sand on the seashore and your offspring—the same offspring who will multiply that is, who will become the church—that same offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth regard themselves blessed.

So if we had any question regarding what is the typology of Isaac as a sacrifice, the provision of the Lamb on the mountain of the Lord will be provided. Moses makes clear by including the direct prophecy of the coming offspring, a single, male descendant of Abraham who will multiply into a global people, and in doing so, as it says in Genesis 17, Abraham will move from the father, being the father of one nation to a father of a multitude of nations. And in that multiplication, the single offspring will extend turf as it says in Genesis 26:3–4. In contrast to the promised land, God will give him lands, plural, or, as it says in Romans, 4 to Abraham, God promised that the patriarch would inherit the world. It was already promised to Abraham, and that’s part of what we’re anticipating here, that in relation to a substitutionary provision, the offspring to whom Isaac’s own life points. The offspring that will be sacrificed by his greater father will multiply as numerous as the stars and through that multiplication, he will possess enemy gates and be the agent through whom all the nations of the world are blessed. There’s so much bound up in Genesis 22, and it’s in direct relationship to this promise of a coming Lamb.

Reading Backwards: Lot and the Exodus

TK: So from here I’m thinking we could obviously go actually a couple directions forward and backward. But we’ve been prepared that deliverance for God’s people comes from a lamb, and actually even earlier in Genesis we’ve seen types of—like God rescuing Lot—like a people, his people being rescued because when Lot is rescued it’s in connection—I’m looking at 19:3—the angels came and they made them a feast, baked unleavened bread they ate—this is all in connection with Lot’s exodus out of Sodom. So that story gets magnified in Israel’s exodus out of Egypt. Before we get to that story, though, just Jason, I think I grew up and my thinking was—I’m wondering if this was typical of you or for how many people—God saved the innocent people out of Egypt. Would you say that’s fairly typical people to think that way.

JD: I think so, yes, he condemned the wicked ones and saved his good, his wholesome, his pure people. We probably have a similar thought when we think of Noah’s flood. He condemned the world. But there were eight pure people. And so it strikes us when we get to Genesis chapter 8 and there’s only eight humans left on the planet, and what we read is God say, “I will never curse the ground again because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Gen 8:21). Well, who’s he talking about? He’s talking about Noah. He’s talking about Noah’s wife, their three sons and their three sons’ wives. That’s all that’s left on the planet. And it was exactly those words in Genesis 6:5 that God says the wickedness of man is great on the earth and every intention of the thoughts of his heart, are only evil continually. , God was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and he decides to send a global flood. I think we probably are equally surprised when we consider, now, the Passover Lamb and recognize well why was that Passover Lamb needed and what did that blood represent. And I think that’s where you’re going.

TK: Yeah, that that thought of the good guys were saved. But then you have this lamb standing there and you just said that a little bit ago about Isaac and the burnt offering—the burnt offering is for sin, so the Passover lamb in Egypt is because of sin. So, what is the story we’re supposed to take from the Passover Lamb connected with the exodus? And it’s part of why I brought up Lot, too, Is that Lot’s story has connections to the exodus story, I’ve already seen it once now. I’ve seen God save his people, but like Lot, I read the lot story and I think Lot you don’t seem very innocent to me. You seem a lot like the people there, just a little bit different worldview, maybe. But here we get the same thing. So, Jason, what are we supposed to take from the Passover story?

JD: Well, the language of pass over is specifically in relation to God’s judgment or as the text says, God’s death angel. So he has an angel of death that Yahweh sends to Egypt to execute his judgment on the gods of Egypt, and all who follow them. In that context, the only houses in all of the land of Egypt that God’s death angel passes over, are those that have been protected, because God’s wrath has already been addressed. That is, the houses that bear the mark of blood—the lamb’s blood, the Passover lamb’s blood on the doorpost. So, a lamb has operated as the substitute for an entire household. And that Passover Lamb is not securing eternal salvation for these Israelites. Indeed, this is the generation that will die in the wilderness, separated from God and unable to enjoy his lasting rest. But the Passover lamb does operate as a type or pointer for that eternal salvation. But what it supplies is an immediate salvation, and it also clarifies that those in the house needed a substitute. And that’s what the lamb—an unblemished lamb—supplies. God is going to count those in the houses as if they were unblemished and pass over them, whereas all in Egypt who do not have safety under the blood are not passed over but are actually executed. So, it is this sacrificial lamb’s death that serves as a substitute and protects those who are underneath the visual provision of that blood. The blood is put in the door posts. Everyone who has entered in is then secure from the angel of death. So we read, for example, in Exodus 12:3–7, “Tell the congregation … every man shall take a Lamb according to their father’s house, a lamb for a household. And if the household’s too small for a Lamb, then he and his nearest neighbors shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish a male a year old. Take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the month, when the whole assembly of the congregation shall kill their lambs at twilight. Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the doorposts and the lentil of the houses in which they eat” (Exod 12:3–7). And then we read, “For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and strike all the first born of the land of Egypt, both man and beast; on all the gods of Egypt, I will execute judgment: I am Yahweh. The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you or destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt. This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout all your generations, as a statute, you shall keep it as a feast” (Exod 12:12–14). So there is this lasting testimony—what’s happening in Egypt will be an everlasting testimony for the Jewish nation—until that Jewish nation comes to an end—it will be a lasting testimony of recollection that there was a lamb that operated as a substitute. That I was worthy of death under the judgment of God, and yet he made a way through the provision of the Lamb. The sacrificed Lamb for me to not receive his penalty, but to enjoy his merciful provision of life.

TK: There’s a interesting verse, chapter 12, verse 38. It makes the comment, a mixed multitude also went up with them, and I think something baked into that statement right there is that mixed multitudes somehow found themselves under the blood of the Lamb, because that’s the only way anybody made it out of Egypt—is being covered by the blood of the Lamb. So, this picture here is going to be moved forward in the story. In the scriptures there’s some descriptions of the lamb here that—it’s almost like one sentence is taken, but that sentence should remind you of a whole storyline. So Jason, give a couple of comments about the statement, “You will not break any of its bones,” because that was one of the commandments about the lamb. Don’t break its bones.

JD: That’s right. Verse 46 of chapter 12 of Exodus, “This Passover lamb shall be eaten in one house.” So it needed to be consumed all at once, and that’s why if your family was too small, you need to get your neighbor’s family to come in so that the entire lamb is consumed. “It shall be eaten in one house; you shall not take any of the flesh outside the house, and you shall not break any of its bones.” So this Passover lamb is characterized by the not breaking of any bones, and that becomes very significant because in both the Old Testament and in the New Testament, future predictions about the Messiah are either built upon or the declaration that in Christ it is fulfilled. Why at the cross, for example, in John 19:36 it recalls such statements, “Not one of Jesus’s bones were broken.” They broke the legs of the two thieves in order to ensure that they would die, but Jesus had already died in order to fulfill the statement and they did not break his legs “in order to fulfill the statement, not one of his bones would be broken.” And what that does is it shows us that typology here. We’re just talking about a Passover lamb that is not supposed to have broken legs, but the fulfillment that typology is indeed indirect prediction. It indeed is—built into the text is typology, and I think we’re supposed to connect the Passover lamb of Exodus 12 with even the prediction of Moses, the declaration of Abraham in Genesis 22 that on the mountain of the Lord it will be provided, namely a new Lamb and a burnt offering.

Reading Forwards: The Lamb in Psalm 34

TK: So these instructions are repeated in in Moses’s book, so Numbers 9:12. But I want to move from here, Jason, to Psalm 34. So this thought, though, that the Lamb is on the one hand consumed, on the other hand, it’s kept intact, don’t break its bones. We said that John took this and said the scripture fulfilled this passage, which was originally spoken about a lamb. He applied it to Jesus, and you call this typology, that idea of I’m taking the picture of the lamb and I’m blowing it up to that infinite level where it was a picture of the Lord Jesus. But it’s clear from Psalm 34 they were already making this connection between going from a lamb to a man who would give his life even in Old Testament times, Psalm 34.

JD: Yes, in Psalm 34—all the Psalter is interrelated, these psalms are not just independent, but are rather intentionally placed, and we come to Psalm 34 only after reading Psalm 2, where the anointed one of God is elevated as heir of the world and the nations are called to find refuge in him lest they experience his wrath. He is the only one in whom the nations can find help, and that’s a striking statement. It’s as if he is the blood that protects. Then we read all these suffering psalms, great lament psalms. We’ve already talked in a previous podcast about gospel cycles in book one and how there’s just the retelling of the suffering, anointed king, who then triumphs by God’s grace over great tribulation. And then what is birthed on the other side, is great testimony of God’s deliverance to a throng of people who are giving praises to God on behalf of the deliverance. They have benefited from what God has done for his king. And his story ultimately becomes their story. His deliverance becomes their deliverance. So, it’s retold from numerous angles throughout the Psalter. When we come to Psalm 34 and the psalmist says right off the bat, “I will bless the Lord at all times” (Ps 34:1), and he calls the audience, “Oh, magnify the Lord with me” (Ps 34:3). So what does he bless? It’s striking, he’s gonna bless the Lord at all times. That means on the mountain tops, but also in the valleys. Indeed, he says, “Let the humble hear and be glad…. I sought the Lord and he answered me. He delivered me from all my fears” (Ps 34:2, 4). He was down and God raised him up, and now he’s calling those who are listening to join with him in praise to God—to taste and see that the Lord is good like he has tasted and seen that the Lord is good, to fear the Lord, seen in the way that they live interpersonally in their speech and their actions, in their forbearance with one another.

He’s calling them to join him and this just reminds me of the very way Psalm 1 is set up where you have the blessed man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked or stands in the way of the sinner, or sits in the seat of the scoffer, but his delight is in the law of the Lord. He’s like a new Adam, like a new Joshua who meditates on the law day and night, he’s leading a new conquest. And yet, unlike Adam, his life is fruitful, right? It’s bearing like new creation. And then the end of the Psalm is, blessed are the righteous ones the company of the righteous ones—plural—in contrast to the wicked ones who do not enjoy God’s presence. So there is a man, and then there is a community. And then Psalm 2 ends., whereas Psalm 1 opened, blessed is the man, Psalm 2 ends, blessed are those who find refuge in him, namely the anointed man, the anointed King, the son of God. Blessed is the man, and blessed are those who find refuge in him. And that interrelationship between the righteous ones, plural, and a righteous one, singular, seems to be at play right here in Psalm 34. So with that in mind, Tom, why don’t you pick it up for us and lead us through the final section, which really appears to be the basis: why should we praise God? Why should we join this individual? And it’s really captured in the final verse the Lord redeems the life of his servants, plural. None of those who take refuge in him will be condemned. And since in Psalm 2 to take refuge in Yahweh necessitates that we first take refuge in his anointed son. So, the reason that we should join this anointed voice, whose blessing the Lord, join him in magnifying the Lord is because, somehow, in doing so we will not be condemned. But there’s more at stake in the way that these final verses are put together. So meditate on that just for a minute.

TK: I—even before we get there, just looking at this psalm, this is one of those psalms that, in Hebrew at least, each verse would be based on one of the letters in the Hebrew alphabet like we would say in English A-Z. And I—this Psalm is giving the, if you want to say it, the A to Z of those who desire to see good. Who desire to live long. So what is it? Well, it is this. Keep your eye on the Lord. But part of it is you need to find yourself in the king. So, we get to this spot and there is suffering in this song, the king saying watch my life. This is what happened to me. I was delivered. It gets to a spot here and it says in verse 17, “When the righteous cry for help, and that’s the Lord hears” (Ps 34:17).

JD: And that’s plural—when the righteous persons cry for help, the Lord hears.

TK: And the Lord delivers them out of all their trouble. The Lord is near to the broken hearted and saves the crushed in spirit. So, the one reading this is—this is not like a Psalm of rejoicing at this spot. You’re not feeling it, you’re feeling like I have nothing, like you would feel like a slave in Egypt. That’s that picture here. Then it says “Many are the afflictions of the righteous,” and that is not plural in the Hebrew. “But the Lord delivers him out of them all” (Ps 34:19). And then here’s this statement, “He keeps all his bones, not one of them is broken” (Ps 34:20). Well, you just imagine David, and he’s reflecting on the king, the coming king, just like Moses was, but he uses language of the king, not like a king reigning on the throne, but he compares the king to a Passover lamb, right here. Takes the language from Exodus 12, takes the language from Numbers. 9:12, and he applies it to the king. So, if we’re wondering, how did John get there in John 19:36 and apply these verses—the verse about “He keeps all his bones, not one of them is broken”—to Jesus, he was able to do this in part because David was already doing this in the Psalms. The Old Testament had already made clear that a Passover lamb by itself is not sufficient, we need a greater Passover Lamb, who will be a man. And that connection is being made in this Psalm right here. So, we’re able to preach the gospel fully from this Psalm here and call people, put your trust in the one that God saved. Now Paul’s going to do some different things with this. One of the things he’s going to do is say because you are in him, God will also deliver you. And so he quotes this in—let’s see it is in Romans, is it in Romans 8 I think. No, that’s Psalm 44. Where is—he doesn’t quote this one.

JD: Peter does.

TK: Peter does. But that thought of for us, just like our king, we are being kept intact, we will not be destroyed because we have found refuge in the king who, as a Passover Lamb, laid down his life for us. And we also ought to then lay down our lives for others. So the ending, like you said, it is—the ending is a call for people, first of all, watch the wicked. And if the way looks easy right now, don’t take that way because affliction will slay the wicked. Those who hate the righteous will be condemned. That picture of Egypt, that picture in Sodom, for when Lot was rescued out of it, the Lord redeems the life of his servants. And if you wanted to, I’d draw an arrow right there. How does he do it? He does it, in verse 20, through the offering of his perfect Passover Lamb. That’s how he redeems the life of his servants. None of those who take refuge in him will be condemned. All of them will be part of this exodus then. So, this psalm is even presuming there’s an exodus God’s people are a part of. That’s what Peter is talking about. And he’s saying it’s hard, these are hard days, but the Lord will deliver his people.

JD: I think that’s so beautiful. The contrast between the righteous plural and the righteous singular. He really elevates—who is this righteous person? Many are a righteous person’s afflictions, but Yahweh rescues him from them all, protecting all his bones, not one of them was broken. It’s as if he’s—David, the author here—is envisioning he’s looking ahead to the ultimate one, in whom he finds his hope, and then he declares what Psalm 2 already declared: those who hate a righteous one will suffer for their guilt. They will be condemned. You stand against God’s anointed, the ultimate righteous one. You will be condemned. But if you are on his side, if you look to him as the agent through whom God will meet your deepest need, then you’ll be known as God’s servant. He will redeem your soul and none of those who find refuge in God in such a context will suffer for their guilt. None of them will be condemned. It’s a beautiful, beautiful, hopeful psalm.

TK: And I think as far as there’s a reason Peter is reflecting on this in 1 Peter—this whole psalm—because he’s calling people, remember this, remember where you’ve put your hope, live in this way. It’s hard right now, but you will be delivered. And those who hate the Lord will be destroyed. So, you have tasted and seen that the Lord is good. Hang on. That’s why he’s reflecting on that Psalm. Uh, Jason, I think that if this would be a good spot to conclude for today. We have in the Old Testament, we are going to a spot where Isaac is going to reflect further on this and we have talked about this in previous podcasts, but, I don’t know, what your thoughts are, if you’d like to go back to Isaiah 53 in our next one.

JD: We will figure that out. But even before jumping to Isaiah 53, by the time we’ve gotten to Psalm 34, we’ve already walked through Psalm 22, which Jesus himself, at the cross, quotes when he says, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt 27:46). And we could take an entire podcast just to note how the Gospel writers, especially Matthew in Matthew 27, as Jesus is going to the cross—the very one whom John the Baptist would say, “Behold the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29)—as Jesus is walking to the cross, the Gospel writers, in order to define what he is doing, are reaching back into Psalm 22. So, when I come to Psalm 34 and I read about this righteous person’s afflictions—this righteous person, whom God rescues, protecting all of his bones—I feel compelled to be reading it in light of Psalm 22 where all these agents of death have surrounded the psalmist, they have pierced his hands and his feet. Yet he can count all of his bones. They stare and gloat over me. And then they divide his garments. They cast lots for his clothing. And yet, these dogs, these lions, these oxen that are all portraits of the enemy, they’re all beasts, standing against this one who is like a Lamb slain. God rescues him. And then he tells his testimony to the brothers, and we’re told right there in that context that all the ends of the earth would remember this event and turn to the Lord. All the families of the nations shall worship before you because it proves kingship belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations. Posterity shall serve this one who just experienced God’s deliverance. It shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation as they come and proclaim his righteousness, even to a people yet unborn (Ps 22:27–31). That’s what we’re talking about in the story of the Lamb, the very Lamb in Revelation 5, who is as one who was slain and yet worthy of all glory and honor and power and praise. This is the one we’re talking about. And as you already said, what we’re seeing done of Jesus in the New Testament was already done by David in the Old Testament. In the Psalms, he already elevated a person, portraying him as a Lamb. His bones would not be broken and he would be the means, the agent through whom God would save a multitude and a multitude from the nations.

TK: Yep. Sometimes people wonder like, what were the strange things the apostles did with the Psalms, or with other books that they quoted. And what you realize is they were doing nothing strange. They were using them as they were intended, but they were doing things the Old Testament authors were already doing. So, David already knew the Passover Lamb is a man, not just a man, he’s the king who will lay down his life for his people. Moses would have said I already saw that I spoke of that in Genesis 22, like we talked about. I knew the Passover was picturing a greater Passover when God would get all his people. And he speaks about that in Deuteronomy. All right, well thanks for listening. I pray that these things bring joy to your heart and like this Psalm—when we say like an A-Z Psalm kind of—that Psalm 34, that this is, if you want to describe, what the life of a believer looks like, here it is from A-Z. I pray that our life will rest in the Lamb who laid his life down for us.

JD: Amen.

TK: All right, we’ll talk to you next time.

JY: Thank you for listening to Gear Talk. For more information about Hands the Plow and the work we do, visit Also check the show notes for helpful resources from Hands to the Plow.

OT Background to Revelation’s Lamb Imagery (Part 1)

OT Background to Revelation’s Lamb Imagery (Part 1)

OT Background to Revelation’s Lamb Imagery (Part 1)

by Jason DeRouchie, Tom Kelby, and Jack Yaeger


JY: Welcome to Gear Talk, a podcast on biblical theology. Today, Jason and Tom continue their consideration of major figures in the book of Revelation. Today they focus on Jesus as the Lamb. Why is the Lord Jesus described as a Lamb? Jason and Tom talk about John’s use of this term in Revelation. They then turn to the Old Testament and walk through Lamb imagery appearing from the beginning of Genesis. This is the first part of a two-part series on Jesus as the Lamb. When you’re done listening, check out the show notes for links to resources connected to today’s episode.

The Lamb in Revelation: Slain yet Conquering

TK: Welcome to Gear Talk. I’m Tom and I’m with Jason.

JD: Delighted to be with you again.

TK: So Jason, today we are finishing up something we started last week, well not finishing, finishing up a part of what we started last week. We talked about the Lion-Lamb imagery in Revelation chapter 5, but we didn’t really focus on the Lamb. We focused on the Lion.

JD: That’s right. So, we are amid a discussion of key figures in the book of Revelation, and we’re starting with the chief protagonist in the book, this Lion-Lamb figure. So last week, we looked at some of the Old Testament background to this language of the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David. And this week we want to develop the image of the Lamb, the slain Lamb, who by his blood ransomed some from every tribe, tongue, people and nation and gains victory—he conquers through his sacrifice. And we want to consider some of this Old Testament—the Old Testament background to this imagery that is so dominant in the book. Indeed, Lamb refers to Christ twenty-six times in Revelation. And it only occurs one other time in the entire book, the term, and that’s in relation to this second beast, known as the false prophet, who has two horns like a lamb, yet speaks like a dragon. And it really stands as a counter, even a counterfeit to the true Lamb, who rules and reigns in this book and who works judgment and salvation.

TK: We made a point last week—John hears about a Lion, and when he looks, he sees a Lamb. And this actually helped me a lot, seeing that this happens throughout Revelation. We talked about it with the city, for instance. John will hear one thing and it’s almost like he turns and looks and he sees something that is that thing, but it’s surprising the way it comes about. Now he hears about a Lion, but he looks and he sees a Lamb and one of the points here is we shouldn’t think this Lamb is weak then. This Lamb is a Lion.

JD: That’s right. And the book is so clear. This Lion has conquered, and he has done it as a Lamb that was slain. That is the means. And this Lamb is strong. This Lamb is indeed in the very throne of God. He is in heaven, overseeing and orchestrating all things, and he alone, as it says in Revelation 5, is worthy to open the scroll that includes the very words of God by which he brings about all of his purposes. He does it through his word. The very words of God, that detail the salvation, the good news that will bring saving grace to all the world and this good news within the book. What the dominating image is—a God of judgment who’s going to overcome the enemies who’ve been standing against the saints, who’ve been standing against the Lamb. And when God brings that ultimate vindication and brings justice, it indeed is good news. And in this book he’s doing it through the Lamb, the Lamb in this book is not seated but standing. In the majority of the book, the Lamb is standing ready for action and then in Revelation 19, we’re going to see him on a white horse bringing judgment.

TK: So he’s different than, for instance, the Lamb portrayed in Isaiah 53. Because this Lamb is one that has been slain.

JD: That’s right. The sacrifice has already been accomplished and that provides the grounds for his ability to carry out the saving purposes of God in the world. And earlier books in the New Testament clarify he’s doing that through his church. That’s how it is being accomplished. Or in Genesis 22:17–18 is this figure, this offspring of the woman and offspring of Abraham that Genesis 3:15 already said would conquer the serpent, though he himself would have his heel struck—this very figure, it says will multiply like the stars of the sky and like the sand on the sea. So, this one figure this offspring of the woman and offspring of Abraham will become a people. And then it’s with the result that, that is through the people, he will indeed—this offspring of the woman—will claim the gate of his enemies. And this offspring will be the agent through whom all the nations of the earth will regard themselves blessed. But he will do it ultimately through the church, through all the great numbers that he has multiplied into—the one will become the many, and then through the many the one will overcome enemy turf and be the agent of blessing. So, you’ve got an image even right there in Genesis 22 of this figure that we’re going to see as we begin to walk through the Old Testament. From the beginning, there is this this vision that the conquering will only come through tribulation. And yet in Genesis 22 the conquering is declared, and it’s being accomplished through a people. But as the people are working, it is his kingdom, this individual’s kingdom that is expanding. And enemy turf is being claimed. And, as this people expand, it is this individual that is recognized as the decisive agent of the world’s blessing. So, we see that being unpacked within this book, the decisive conquering has been done. He is a Lamb slain, and, as it declares in Revelation 12, those who identify with him have conquered “by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of his testimony.” This individual, who is just portrayed in such glorious ways throughout this entire book of Revelation, is leading a people and, because of what he has done already, definitively in space and time, the people are gaining victory. As you said last week, the term, a term you used often was courage. They have courage to conquer and they’re doing it through the strength supplied in the Lamb’s sacrifice, by the blood of the Lamb, by the word of his testimony, they stand upright and therefore are not under the accusatory condemnation of the great Dragon, the serpent.

TK: They are not afraid. Yep.

JD: And now they’re not afraid because they have been washed, they have been cleansed, in the words of Revelation 5, they have been ransomed by the blood, and have become a kingdom and priests to God. And now this people, this multiethnic community, every tribe, every language, every people, every nation, this new Israel, have now been gathered. And we as the church are reigning, or rather, will reign with Christ on the earth, but he has already conquered, and he is now readying in this book to—and then, even in the book, it goes all the way through when he does bring judgment. He is readying for judgment in his standing, and then he brings judgment, seal by seal, he opens and the judgments of God are poured out on the earth. And as they come, it’s good news for the saints, because God does take sin seriously and those of us in this world need to take it seriously as well.

TK: The Lamb imagery isn’t just a Lamb. So, what it says is he has seven horns and seven eyes and then it says which are the seven spirits God sent out into all the earth. So, when we imagine the Lamb, we are not imagining a powerless creature. Seven is a picture of strength here.

JD: It’s a picture of strength. It’s a picture of completeness. He has all the authority he needs. This image of a ram—I mean of a of a horn rather, we’re to be thinking of an instrument of power all throughout the Old Testament the horn is that instrument of strength, and in this instance it’s sovereign strength. He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David. He is in the throne room of God. It says in verse six of Revelation 5. And he’s being worshipped as the sovereign one who alone is worthy to open up the saving purposes of God. These horns truly do display sovereign strength. You had a good thought about these horns as we were reflecting before the podcast opened Tom, that takes us back to Jericho. Just reflect for a second on your thoughts.

TK: Well, I think Revelation is replaying so many things we saw in the Old Testament. For instance, the ten plagues in Egypt replayed on a worldwide scale in Revelation. The conquering of Jericho is replayed in this book. We have a city set against the people of God, Jericho. And we have God’s people who are seen on the offensive. But one of the parts of that story is the priests were blowing seven horns and—seven ram’s horns, actually—and that was instrumental in the walls coming down. So just thinking about imagery and saying, wait a minute, there’s another spot in the Bible where seven horns are associated with a city opposed to the people of God coming down and becoming no more.

JD: This entire book of Revelation is detailing the Day of the Lord. And the Day of the Lord is less an extent of time and more an event in time. It portrays the time when God rights all wrongs and brings—restores peace to his world. And we see intrusions of the Day of the Lord reaching all the way back into the Old Testament, and one of those is at the conquest when God is destroying the Canaanites. It’s a microscopic picture of the Day of the Lord when he is overcoming his enemies. And so it’s very natural that a book like Revelation would reach back to even Old Testament imagery of the battle of Jericho to elevate, in this instance, the ultimate conqueror, the Lamb himself, who’s now bearing seven horns. And what’s intriguing to me—an element is intriguing—is that in this book the warrior-Lamb will show up in Revelation 19, with the sword coming out of its mouth. Now we might think that’s a weird way to fight a battle, and yet what it declares is that simply by speaking, will he accomplish his victory.

TK: That’s really good.

JD: And he simply—that’s all he has to do is open his mouth and it becomes—thinking back to our reflections on the servant songs where in his mouth, it’s like a sword, Isaiah 49. And that’s the one we’re talking about here. This Lamb will ride and bring great victory and just like at the battle of Jericho, the seven horns simply had to be blown, and God brought the walls down. The swords did not have to be raised. God won the victory through his saints. And so too, in this book, these representative horns—and then you have also have seven churches, right? And there may be a connection here that the Lamb has all the strength he needs in order to protect his people. And these churches, representative of all the Christian churches throughout the world, the seven Spirits of God which are the seven eyes that this Lamb has. I mean, it’s weird imagery if we try to draw it, but all of it is simply symbolic for something greater and meaning that Christ is—as the sovereign one—is able to see in all directions. He knows what is going on and he is bringing his sovereignty to bear in such instances, so you have his sovereign strength and the working of the Spirit.

TK: So to say it kind of in a simple way, it would be almost like a church saying we’re such a small church in in such a remote location. Surely the Lord doesn’t think about us. He would care about churches in major places. And somebody might say, wait a minute in Revelation there are seven churches, but the ram has seven eyes—the Lamb does. He sees clearly all of them, and he has seven horns. Surely, he has a horn for our church. And that sort of picture—he has strength for us. We can make it, we can conquer. Jason. I’m thinking about—because we will get there, not today, but Revelation paints pictures of a beast, for instance. And you talked about a Lamb-beast combination coming up and the dragon. The Lamb appears first and it is intended to encourage the Saints, but as we think about the Lamb appearing throughout Revelation, the imagery here that we talked about is not passive imagery. It should encourage the church. The Lamb in his imagery is presented as doing something and strong and very active. Would you agree with that?

JD: Absolutely, as you said this—we would think the Lion is the one who’s bringing the conquering, but in this book it is the image of the Lamb that is dominant. The Lamb is the one who, for example, unleashes his wrath on his enemies. It is the Lamb who will conquer. For example, in chapter 6 verse one, “I watched the Lamb, when the Lamb opened, one of the seals, a voice came forth like thunder. And it said come and I looked, and behold, there was a white horse, and its rider had a bow.” So here you have the Lamb opening a seal and out is coming a message of judgment.

TK: That does not seem weak at all.

JD: No, not weak at all. In 17:14, we read that they’re going to make the war on the Lamb, all the enemies of God, and yet the Lamb will conquer them. Why? For he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called chosen and faithful. The Great War of the centuries is going to be brought against the Lamb, and yet he is King of kings and Lord of lords, and he will conquer them, and with him will be the saints who are called, chosen, and faithful. This is the portrait of the Lamb, a victorious Lamb who saves. I think of chapter 15:3—it’s so beautiful and hopeful—he leads the saints in praise to God. It’s not only the song of Moses, it’s the song of the Lamb. And then it says “Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God Almighty, just and true are your ways, O King of the nations” (Rev 15:3). So, the Lamb is King of kings and Lord of lords, and yet he is leading the saints in praising his own father, who is the Great One. It is this Lamb—what we call the marriage supper of the Lamb. So, he’s the one who is readying his bride, and that bride is the church, the New Jerusalem, and he’s going to gather us in. It is this Lamb, it says, who will shepherd his people and guide his saints. Just two verses here, 7:17, it says, “The Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd and he will guide them to springs of living water.”

TK: This should comfort us.

JD: Oh man, this should comfort us. In 14:4, it says that of the 144,000—and I anticipate us talking about this among the key figures within the book. Who are these 144,000? I believe it is the true new Israel of God, which is a multiethnic people redeemed from the earth. And it says it is these who have not defiled themselves. It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes.

TK: He’s going somewhere. He’s doing something.

JD: He’s going somewhere, he’s doing something. He’s leading, he’s guiding, he is shepherding. And if you’re on his side and you’re one of his followers, this book brings us great hope.

Old Testament Lamb Imagery: A Wounded Conqueror in Genesis 3:15

TK: I love it. I think the courage we get from this book—meeting this Lamb, who is the most fierce warrior in the book, should bring great hope and courage to the church to persevere in hard days, because I’m with the Lamb, I will make it. Hey, Jason, I would like to, I think, spend the rest of our time if we could in the Old Testament, does that work for you? Just the Lamb imagery, because we said it last week, John in Revelation uses the Old Testament more than any other New Testament author, but he doesn’t do it like other authors do, and there’s not a right or a wrong, it’s just the way of apocalyptic literature like Revelation. You’re not going to say something like as it says in Isaiah, and then quote it. Instead you will use it and you’re expecting the readers will know something, but you’re not going to introduce it like that. So if we could look at a little bit—Lamb imagery and why would this be so prevalent in Revelation? So, where should we start?

JD: What we are going to start in the book of Genesis, this is where it all begins and over and over again—this is Gear Talk, biblical theology—we are constantly finding how foundational the entire book of Genesis is for understanding the rest of Scripture. And the very Lamb that we are talking about it, I think, it finds its roots—the imagery finds its roots in Genesis chapter 3 where—just the imagery when we’re thinking about an imagery, we’re thinking about sacrifice within the framework of the book of Revelation. He is a Lamb like one that was slain. So where does that image of sacrifice of substitution, where does it start? And I mean we we’ve got a good list of verses here, so we can’t—we’re not going to read them all, but we’ll try to touch on most of them. But I just want to take us right back, remembering the foundational gospel promise right in the context of the original fall episode. The very first confrontation God makes is against the serpent himself, that ancient serpent, the devil, as Revelation 12 refers to him. This red dragon is in the garden and we’re told the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field—that’s going to become significant as a backdrop for why Revelation talks about the beast alongside the Dragon because he’s in the Dragon’s image rather than imaging God. But then there’s the Lamb, and the Lamb looks like God himself. Indeed, he’s called the son of Adam, or the son of man. But in the context of judgment, God confronts the serpent, and says, “I will put enmity between you and the woman”—so, between the serpent and the woman who’s the source of the coming offspring—“I’ll put enmity between you and the woman, between your offspring, serpent.” So there’s gonna be serpent of the devil—sorry—there’s going to be offspring of the devil, but there’s also going to be offspring of the woman and there’s going to be animosity between the two—“between your offspring and her offspring, he”—so he is the woman’s offspring—“shall bruise your head serpent, and you shall bruise his heel” (Gen 3:15). What this suggests is there’s going to be a conflict. The serpent is on the ground and it’s going to strike the heel of the woman’s offspring. This is a male offspring, a he. “He shall bruise your head. You shall bruise his heel.”

TK: I’ve often thought about this. Where we live, we don’t have poisonous snakes here, so in our context it can sound like, oh that would be unfortunate. Or that would be painful to have a snake bite my heel. But in certainly the global south, most of the world’s a snake and certainly this serpent should be seen as a poisonous snake. So, a bite on the heel would likely be fatal.

JD: Would likely be fatal, and yet this is the means by which the ultimate serpent himself is going to be crushed on his head. And so all of this suggests that if the serpent was the means by which the old creation is cursed and moves toward destruction, what would happen if an ultimate image bearer of God were to strike the serpent on the head, to do to the serpent what Adam had failed to do? This individual offspring of the woman is being portrayed as a new Adam, who would—the original Adam was called to serve and guard the land. Now we have—and yet he failed to do just that—now we have a new individual, a new Adam figure who is indeed guarding, and he is striking the key enemy. And putting a death blow to that enemy. Yet at a sacrifice to himself. That’s all that we get at this moment. But it’s only this is verse 15, it’s only seven verses later that God is making animal garments, animal skin garments and clothing Adam and Eve, as if he is re inheriting them, declaring them to be his royal children. And how does it happen? Through the sacrifice of animals.

TK: “And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins, and clothed them” (Gen 3:21). They were, strangely, they were already clothed with clothing they made for themselves out of plants.

JD: But now God is clothing them.

TK: Right. Right. I sometimes think of like when you are listening to music or hear—or watch a movie perhaps. And a certain character, a certain thing happens and you get a type of music or a little melody that goes with it. It’s almost like a certain melody was introduced in 3:15 of the new Adam, sacrificially saving the people and dealing with the serpent. And imagine that same melody being played in verses like the one we just thought about. That I should say, wait a minute, I’m hearing a version of the same thing right here in 21.

JD: I think so. Many scholars will say you’re reading something into the text that is not there, but what’s missed is that, I believe what’s missed is that for many of us, when we think about the Lamb imagery that takes us to Moses, it takes us to the Passover. It takes us to the Tabernacle. And we’re going to get there momentarily. That is exactly right. That’s where the context of substitutionary sacrifice, where, where.

TK: Well, it’s made explicit there.

JD: It’s made explicit there. It is the context in which we gain clarity that the wrath of God is against sin and sinners, and that God, in order to make things right, that is to atone for sin, he must either slay the sinner or slay the substitute. So, we’re going to see that that’s where it’s made clear. But the same Moses who gives us the books of Exodus through Deuteronomy is the one who gives us the book of Genesis. That is, Genesis is crafted, the story of Genesis 3 and 4 is crafted in such a way to awaken images in the minds of the readers who are living in the context of the Passover and the Tabernacle.

TK: That’s really helpful.

JD: Even though the story of Adam and Eve takes place centuries before we ever get to Mount Sinai, we have to remember that the story itself is being written for us in light of Mount Sinai and the readers themselves would have been reading these hints that we’re talking about right now, I think, in relation to their framework, which is God takes sin seriously. He judges and punishes sin by death. And yet he has provided a way somehow for the blood of bulls and lambs to stand in our stead. How this is possible, I don’t know, they might say at this point, but the fact is this imagery of animal skin garments and of an individual being struck in the context of battle, it would be raising images of war and that’s what’s happening in Leviticus. That’s what’s happening in the Passover Lamb, it’s war. God’s war against sin. We’re going to see that when we get to Exodus and recognize that the Passover sacrifice is in the context of God’s war against Egypt.

TK: And certainly Revelation, that ending part of this story we’re talking about. But Jason, this makes sense that if I was living and first hearing what Moses had written, if I’m part of the wilderness generation and the tabernacle is a part of my daily thinking, and I’m hearing the Abel story, for instance, in Genesis chapter 4.

JD: That’s right.

TK: I would already have formed thoughts about God being pleased with Abel’s sacrifice. They wouldn’t be a surprising thing to me that that sort of sacrifice would please him.

JD: It—if what’s at stake is indeed sin, then they would know fruit is not able, offering fruit to God—it’s not that that’s a bad thing to offer to God, but that doesn’t cover sin. That can be part of a peace offering where you’re giving the fruit of the lamb—fruit of the ground rather—as part of the meal that will be enjoyed in the midst of the fellowship of the community at the Tabernacle. But vegetables are not a means for dealing with sin and Abel’s offering is the pleasing one to God. He offers the first born of his flock, and that would have been a signal, I think, to the reader. Yeah. Abel’s offering is the one that can satisfy, Cain’s offering cannot.

TK: So they would, they would have thought this when Noah left the Ark as well, wouldn’t they?

JD: They would have. You’ve got here a host of clean animals, seven of each type of clean animal, and we find out why is it that among the unclean there’s only a pair, a male and a female. But among the clean God said bring seven of each. Why? Because after the flood the wickedness of man’s hearts were the same as they were before the flood. The eight people on the ark had the same kind of hearts as all the rest of the world that died under the judgment, the watery judgment of God. The only thing that could allow God to let them continue to live was a blood sacrifice in Genesis 8:28—where is it 20 and 21—Noah offers this sacrifice, and it is a pleasing aroma to God, and it’s in this context that the entire covenant—common grace covenant—is clarified and by common grace I mean that God, rather than wiping out rebels, he gives rain to both the just and the unjust. He lets the sun shine on both evil and on the good. He lets evil people flourish. He says, I’m not going to pour out a watery judgement on the world again. And what this does, due to a blood sacrifice, it provides a context for saving grace to be operative. Because God is withholding his judgment, his bow is pointed up rather than down on the world because of that it gives a context for the cross. It gives a context for Jesus to show up and save the world. And the context of Noah, what it suggests is the sacrifice, which itself anticipates the cross—what Jesus was doing was ultimately paving away for the saving grace to be operative by purchasing common grace. And you’re right, the Noahic flood also is setting a stage for the readers to be thinking about substitution, for we as readers of Revelation to be seeing a backdrop for the Lamb imagery. Why is it that through the Lamb’s death, an entire multiethnic people around the world is ransomed freed from the bounds of the Dragon?

TK: Yeah, your mind goes to so many stories.

JD: So many stories.

Old Testament Lamb Imagery: A Substitute Ram in Genesis 22

TK: So Genesis 22, Jason, let’s move there. Because I—we’re obviously going to get to the Passover, but we have a stop first in Genesis 22, the Abraham-Isaac story.

JD: It’s no light stop. God had said in Genesis 21 through Isaac, the offspring, the offspring of the woman, the offspring of Abraham, will be reckoned. Isaac is not the offspring, but it’s through him God is going to raise up this victorious offspring who, by his own sacrifice—his heel will be struck—he will gain victory over the serpent. That’s the hope of Genesis. And that’s what stands in the backdrop. It’s through, Isaac, that your offspring will be reckoned yet God has told Abraham, go to the mountain a three-day journey. And sacrifice your son. Abraham believes he knows that his son will be sacrificed. It’s as if he’s already dead when Abraham leaves. And three days later, his son will be resurrected.

TK: So Jason, you’re a an Old Testament professor here and some of us, we read things, believers read things in the Old Testament and we read them and feel like we see the gospel, but then maybe we read notes in our study Bible and they won’t say anything. So a three-day journey and we say, hey, that reminds me of something, could that be intentional? But then it’s almost like we’re talked out of thoughts like this. Seems like the gospel story. Can you talk about that for us a second? Do you get what I’m the question I’m asking?

JD: I think it’s so important to remember what Paul says, he opens the book of Romans this way: that he is a servant of God called to be an apostle, “set apart for the gospel of God”—so it’s good news, it’s gospel—God’s gospel, he is the source of it. “The gospel of God, which was promised beforehand by the prophets in the sacred writings concerning his son” (Rom 1:1–3). So many who write study Bible notes don’t recognize enough that the Old Testament prophets were proclaiming the gospel concerning—the gospel of God concerning his son.

TK: Even way back in Genesis.

JD: That’s right. In John chapter 5, Jesus himself says Moses wrote about me. And the scriptures testify about me. That’s John 5. Moses is the author of Genesis. Jesus, says in John 8, Abraham saw my day, he rejoiced and was glad. Abraham saw it. And this is one of those texts where I think Abraham saw it. He saw the day and if there’s an inclination in the heart of our listeners, I’m reading this text in Genesis 22 and I’m wondering is this a signal? Well, wrestle with it, and if you can establish warrant from the text itself, then keep walking ahead until something in the scripture says no, this isn’t right. What you’re looking for is warrant. I can justify my interpretation is I’m—say you’re preaching this week—I can justify my interpretation for the people from the biblical text itself and we can’t forget in this particular instance, we want to think about Paul’s words in Romans chapter 8. He said, he’s quite forthright and I think he has Genesis 22 in his mind when he said, God, who—“he who did not spare his own son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things” (Rom 8:32). I think Paul has in mind the Abraham story. What Abraham is doing for Isaac is what God is doing for us. Jesus is called God’s beloved son. This is my beloved son, listen to him.

TK: So that’s the start. I’m not looking at it right now, but as I remember at the start of the passage, it says take your son, your only son whom you love, take him to one of the mountains in the region of Moriah that I will show you. That description, even for a believer, it rings bells in you and like you said follow that trail then.

JD: Follow the trail.

TK: An example I use with the church is sometimes it’s like a thread and you’re pulling on a thread to see what happens. Like, huh? What will happen when I pull on this?

JD: That’s right. We’ve talked about typology. I think the beginning of this Isaac story is filled with predictive, indirect prophecy called typology. Where the symbolism, the figures, the actions, the characters are actually pointing ahead to the person and work of Christ. And then what we’re going to see is when we get to verses 16 through 18, the typological prophecy turns into direct prophecy. About the coming of the Messiah, he is the offspring of Abraham who will possess enemy gates, and it is through that offspring that all the nations of the earth will regard themselves blessed. Those are the kinds of warrants that I’m talking about. But in this context, in route to Mount Moriah, which 2 Chronicles chapter 3 is going to tell us is where the very temple of God is—think about sacrifices—the very temple of God—think about the throne room—the very temple of God is going to be made. It’s the only two places in all the Bible where Moriah is mentioned. That’s where we’re at and in route it is Isaac who says, Father, I see the wood for the burnt offering, but where is the lamb? This is the very first time where it’s clear burnt offering, before we have the building of the Tabernacle, is the only sacrifice for sin. And it’s the first time in Scripture where we see that that burnt offering is directly associated with a lamb and God supplies a substitute. Isaac is not going to be sufficient to pay for the sin represented in the burnt offering. God gives a ram, and that contrast ram is a more specific term, lamb is a broader category and it’s lamb that Revelation is going to draw on. And, intriguingly, we can just jump ahead really quick. It’s in Isaiah 53 that the suffering servant is going to be like a Lamb led to the slaughter, and I think it has in mind the same imagery that is associated with Genesis chapter 22. It’s that substitute, but in Isaiah 53 it’s not an actual lamb, it’s a person who represents, who’s acting like a lamb. He is the substitute, and that suffering servant is Jesus himself, the king, the anointed conquer that Isaiah celebrates. But before we get to Isaiah.

TK: Yeah, just a thought, Jason. Let’s, if we could, conclude with the—you mentioned direct prophecy coming up, but I want to conclude this one and we’ll pick up next time and move forward to the Passover. But the statement, “On the mount of the Lord, it shall be provided.” So, there’s a statement after Isaac’s question. And after the deliverance, so can you just talk about that. It’s verse 14 of Genesis 22. “So Abraham called the name of the place the Lord will provide, as it is said to this day, ‘On the mount of the Lord, it shall be provided.’” So there’s a people who are saying this saying, and the author is just, Moses is making that comment. People say this to this day.

JD: This is foundational to why I believe this whole Isaac episode is indeed typological prophecy that Abraham understood and that Moses, as the writer understood. So what we learn is that what God—what happens at the mountain in God providing a ram in the place of Isaac, it gives a certainty to Abraham that there is a future provision that will take place. It doesn’t say Yahweh has provided it very explicitly in the Hebrew text, says Yahweh will provide, and then Moses comments, as it is said to this day, so.

TK: Yes, because it’s a little strange, Jason, because it should have said—Abraham seemingly should have called it Yahweh provided, past-tense because he provide us a substitute, but he went future.

JD: That’s right. Because he he’s able to see that what God is doing at Mount Moriah is a foretaste of a greater provision. He—it’s as if Abraham knew that the blood of a ram ultimately could not take the place of human sin. If humans have sin, then a human has to die, whether as the one who was the violator or as a substitute. But if—but the only type of substitute that will work is an unblemished substitute, and no human on earth, no mere human on earth can stand as that substitute. All Abraham says here is what we’ve just seen is indeed a prediction of a future provision that God will supply on the mountain. And then Moses affirms it. And in his day—in a day when there were all those more sacrifices happening—in his day, Moses is still himself looking ahead to a future provision at a future mountain.

TK: He’s not saying, then, what we’re doing right now is sufficient. He’s saying no, I’m looking ahead.

JD: The narrator himself says, “As it is said to this day. On the mountain of the Lord, it will be provided.” And so I believe you’re absolutely right. This is indeed true prophecy about a coming provision and in the context, what is it about? It’s about the offspring promise through Isaac, the offspring will be reckoned and offspring that will come from Abraham. And as we saw last week, it’s an offspring that will come through the line of Judah as a lion. But here it’s being portrayed—the provision will come like a lamb. So I think it is a good place to stop. It sets us up and in our next podcast we have many more Old Testament texts that stand as the backdrop to this imagery of a victorious Lamb figure and how we’re to think about him in relation to the royal Lion figure. That’ll be next week.

TK: I can’t wait. All right. We’ll see you next time. Thanks for listening.

JY: Thank you for listening to Gear Talk. Check the show notes for helpful resources from Hands to the Plow.

OT Background to Revelation’s Lamb Imagery – Part 3

OT Background to Revelation’s Lamb Imagery – Part 3

OT Background to Revelation’s Lamb Imagery – Part 3

by Jason DeRouchie, Tom Kelby, and Jack Yaeger


JY: Welcome to Gear Talk, a podcast on biblical theology. Today we are considering, for the third episode, the Old Testament background of the Lamb imagery John uses in Revelation. Last episode, Jason and Tom ended with David’s incredible words in Psalm 34. Today we start with the consideration of why John chose to speak about Jesus as he did in Revelation. We then work backward, considering John the Baptist’s words about Jesus as the Lamb of God and Old Testament prophecies from Isaiah and Zechariah.

The Lamb in Revelation: The Radiance of the Father

TK: Welcome to Gear Talk. Today we are going to be talking and finishing, for at least this time period, our discussion of the Lamb described in Revelation 5. Jason is with me. Hey, Jason.

JD: Hey, good to be back.

TK: So Jason, we’ve been talking about Jesus described as the Lamb and I would encourage you to, if you’re listening, to go back and listen to the previous two podcast—three podcasts, actually. We’ve been talking about characters in Revelation. Jesus is introduced as a Lion in Revelation 5. In fact, he’s described as that, but when John looks, he sees a Lamb and we made note of that. But Jason, I wanted to ask you something about what John is doing here because, in Revelation, John chooses to use the title, Jesus or the name Jesus less than he uses the title, Lamb. So, what do you think John is up to? And there’s specific numbers too. So, the name Jesus after Revelation 5 appears just nine times, but Lamb appears twenty-eight times in reference to Christ. So what is John wanting us to think?

JD: Yeah. Within the book we have Jesus’s name occurring fourteen times, so it’s half of the instances that we have the name Lamb. There’s a clear identification. From the beginning, all that this book is about is a is the revelation of Jesus Christ. And so this is bearing testimony of the Christ. John is on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. He’s been proclaiming the greatness of the resurrected Christ, whose resurrection did not stop with him being on the earth again, it extended all the way to his being elevated to the right hand of the Father. The testimony of Jesus is indeed what drives this book, the faithful and true, who are following Christ are holding fast to the testimony of Jesus. That’s Revelation 12. They are keeping the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. Revelation 14 and then at the end of the book, it’s a call to celebrate Jesus, as the one who is over all things. And Jesus ends the book saying I Jesus have sent my angel to testify to you. And then John’s prayer, come Lord Jesus, the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all. There’s no question he has Jesus in focus. He’s aligning with the Father’s passion and redemptive history to magnify his Son.

And yet, the dominant image of who Jesus is in this book is a lamb, but it’s not a prediction that he will suffer. Rather, it’s all built on the fact that he has suffered and has brought great fruit from that suffering. It’s birthed a new creation. It’s birthed a people who are now standing strong and true to this Lamb. They have conquered the Dragon “by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimonies, because they love the not their lives, even unto death.” Revelation 12:11. So this blood of the Lamb, the Lamb that was slain, has ransomed some for God from every tribe and language and people and nation—Revelation 5:9. This work of the Lamb is the foundation for all victory, all hope, all courage in the book of Revelation. So it’s not just Jesus the man, it’s Jesus, the Lamb that was slain. And what that means—because the one who was slain rose and has victory and I think that John is wanting his readers—you and me—to gain the same fuel that Christ himself had in his own suffering. We’re identifying with the Lamb in his journey unto triumph. But for us it’s also through suffering. So that’s probably another one of the reasons why the lamb imagery is so dominant—to remember that if the head had to journey through his suffering, the body will too need to journey through suffering. He is the one who went before us. And yet his victory has overshadowed and colored all that we are. It’s given us hope and grounding, and because of what Jesus did, we have courage because as he has definitively won the battle for us. He has overcome this Dragon and his beast and the false prophet. As we dwell today in Babylon, outside of the City of God, carrying our own crosses as we endure the false teaching and the persecution of the Antichrist and all of his outworkings in our age. We have hope because of what the Lamb has secured, he has ransomed, we have conquered and it’s all through the blood of the sacrifice. So, it’s the dominant image, I think, not simply saying Jesus, whose name means Yahweh saves, raising up the metaphor of the lamb elevates how he saves. He saved through suffering, and we now follow that lamb, carrying our own cross unto our own crown.

TK: That’s really good. I think when we read well anything, but certainly this book here—Revelation—and he’s using an image, it’s really easy to almost flatten the text out. So, to pick a different one in Revelation 4:2 it says, “At once I was in the spirit, behold a throne stood in heaven and one seated on the throne. And he who sat there…” and he’s going to go on. Maybe in my preaching, in my reading, in talking to someone very quickly saying, well, that’s God the Father. Versus meditating on why did John choose to not name God the Father right there instead, start with a throne. There was a throne, and so a throne stood in heaven and one seated on the throne. I think for us to resist that flattening of a text to just say, well, that’s God the Father and let’s move on, almost as if John was just for creative purposes alone substituting something, versus: No, he’s saying something by doing this. What does it say that there’s a throne? What does it say that one is seated on that throne, and that throne is in heaven. It should say something to the people who are on earth who are suffering. It should encourage us in ways that maybe just a name wouldn’t encourage us because we wouldn’t be thinking down the same roads. Any thoughts about that, Jason?

JD: Well, what came to my mind was the initial verses of the book of Hebrews where Christ is called the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of God’s nature—being that very literally, it’s being the radiance of the glory of God and being the exact imprint of his nature. He sat down at the right hand of God, so the main verb is, he sat down being the exact imprint of God’s nature. And lest we think he’s just like the wax that would somehow capture that seal, but it’s not the seal, it’s just a picture of the seal. That’s not what he means in saying he’s the exact imprint of his nature because he’s described as the very radiance of the glory of God, meaning that this is the glory emanating. This is the glory. It’s not just a picture of the glory. It’s not a reflection like we would see in a mirror or like in the way that a picture would represent the reality. That’s not what Jesus is, he’s the very radiance of the glory. And the way that God is described in Revelation 4 is very similar to how Jesus himself is described in Revelation 1, and we’re supposed to see this connection and, as the Lamb steps forward, he is nothing less than the radiance of the Father’s glory. He is God. He is three. He’s a new person in the Godhead, but he is, in his very essence God, not just a picture of God, not just a reflection of God, he is the very radiance of God.

And so as John is describing this one, of whom they will say, holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God almighty, he’s—this description is of one who is seated on the throne having—you’re right, the ambiguity is calling us to recognize there is the Father and there is the Son, and there is the Spirit. And this book is—while it can describe all three as it does for example, in Revelation 14 where the true Trinity stands against the false trinity of the Dragon, the beast, and the false prophet, the description in Revelation 4 is of a nature that it makes us think. It’s like it leaves the ambiguity: Who are we seeing here? Is it Jesus? Is it the Father? And the sense you get is yes. And John wouldn’t have us separate the two because, as the writer of Hebrews has said, Jesus is the very radiance of the Father’s glory, not something distinct from it. But the way that we encounter it, the way we encounter God is through Christ. The very light that we see, the very warmth that we feel is indeed the sun’s rays emanating. It’s not something different from the sun. It is caused by the sun generated by the sun. And if the sun goes below the horizon. We no longer experience it. It’s one in the same with the sun. And indeed everything we see in reality is dependent on that radiance. And so there is, even in John’s description in Revelation 4, an elevation of the very nature of the Christ alongside the Father. I agree.

The Lamb in the Gospel of John and Leviticus: Providing Access to God

TK: Jason, let’s start in, John. I want to go back to the Old Testament—I know we both do—to talk about some passages there that speak of the Lamb of God. But let’s work backwards. So, John the Baptist introduces Jesus as the Lamb of God. Why did he do that and not introduce him in a different way? What was he saying to the people?

JD: Well, it is striking that when we come to John 1:29. The next day, he sees Jesus coming toward him and John the Baptizer doesn’t say, look, my cousin. But those who are around him hear, “Behold the Lamb of God.”

TK: He doesn’t even say the king. That’s not his starting point. Look, the king.

JD: Right. He identifies this one as one coming from God as a lamb who takes away the sins of the world. This takes us back to Matthew chapter one, where the angel says to Joseph, “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save (the world) from their sins” (Matt 1:21). That’s the framework when John is able—this very John who was filled with the Spirit even before he was born. When he got close to his cousin, when Mary still had Jesus in the womb and John was in the womb, as Mary drew close, it says John leapt because he, even as an infant in the womb, he recognized the one that he was getting close to. And here he identifies him and it is such a striking statement. John’s—Jesus’s disciples wanted him to be the conquering king, and yet John was able to recognize from the start, “Behold the lamb who takes away the sins of the world.” Before the lamb reigns, he must suffer. The triumph will come through significant tribulation, and it’s as if John, here at the start of Jesus’s ministry, is testifying to what the next years will be for his cousin, who is our savior. Who is John’s savior. It will be the path of a lamb led to slaughter.

TK: I’m thinking of the man Simeon who met Jesus it, you know, Jesus’s mother and father in the temple. And when he said when he said to Mary that a sword will pierce your own soul and he said this one is destined to cause the rising and falling of many in Israel (Luke 2:35), people who knew their scriptures, which would have been the Old Testament at that time—if somebody said look, the Lamb of God, they would have been able to put a lot of pieces together wouldn’t they. They’d have said, if he’s, if he’s taking the sin of the world away and he’s the Lamb of God, then this one is going to be sacrificed.

JD: It’s so important—we’ve talked about the Passover in our previous episodes, but there’s so much more at stake. The Passover was a one time a year event. And yet, in Exodus 29, we learned that every morning and every evening there was a burnt offering of lambs at the Tabernacle and that got transferred into the temple in Jesus’s Day. In John’s day, every morning and every evening lambs were being sacrificed as a testimony to the seriousness of sin, to God’s war of judgment against sinners, and that he made a way only through substitution for provision to be made. In Leviticus 9 and for that matter, Leviticus 3 and 4 and 5, it’s lambs that are central to the very personal and corporate sacrifices that Israel made to approach Yahweh’s presence without being incinerated. I think of specifically in Leviticus 9, because it is the initiatory sacrifice at the tabernacle that is the very first time sacrifices were ever made, and because of that it sets a pattern, giving clarity for what all the rest of the sacrifices that would be offered at the tabernacle at the temple would be about. And right here in Leviticus 9, this is what we read, “I want you to take a male goat”—that’s a lamb—“for a sin offering and a calf and a lamb both a year old without blemish for a burnt offering. An ox and a ram for peace offerings”—and then here’s what it says, “to sacrifice before the Lord, and a grain offering mixed with oil for”—here’s the reason—“for today, the Lord will appear to you” (Lev 9:3–4). So, God says I’m giving you the sacrifices because I’m going to appear to you. That’s the reason I want you to encounter my glory. That’s explicit and just two verses later, “This is the thing that the Lord commanded you to do, that the glory of Yahweh may appear to you” (Lev 9:6). That’s what’s on the other side of putting our faith in God’s provision of the substitute. You trust his provision of the substitute and you get to encounter the glory of God, but not in a way that destroys us like it does the lamb itself, but rather in a way that awakens holiness that helps us see the beauty of God and the greatness of God in a way that changes our souls.

TK: That’s beautiful.

JD: That the whole principle of substitution is foundational for all of Israel’s existence, and what John the Baptist, in that single statement, “Behold the lamb who takes away the sins of the world,” he is putting all the focus of Israel’s corporate worship. They cannot encounter the presence of God at the temple apart from sacrifice. Indeed, if you think about the very structure of the temple, Yahweh is seated on his throne—that’s the Ark of the Covenant, that’s the footstool that links heaven and earth. And it’s in the Holy of Holies. The temple is east-oriented but unlike ancient temples of—that we read about and that we have found numerous examples of in the ancient world, Israel’s temple had curtains. In the ancient world, the god’s idol, his image, the statue, would be in the holy of holies, and the gods were known to sleep at night. You can’t see them, but when the light of the sun would rise over the east—every temple is pointed eastward—the sun’s light would shine and pierce through all the courtyards into the sacred place, into the very holy of holies itself. The light would hit that idol and it would come alive. But in Israel’s temple there were curtains at every stage. There were guardians, so that the light of the sun couldn’t pierce into the Holy of Holies, and that everyone would know that the light that was emanating was the true light, the true glory. God is seated on the throne. People enter into the temple from the east to enjoy the presence of God, but the only way to get to the Holy of Holies is through the altar of burnt offering. It’s at the very center of the main courtyard. At the center of the back half of the temple is the Ark of the Covenant, so God is seated at the center of one half and the altar of burnt offering, ever reminding Israel of their sin, is at the center of the other half, and the only way to approach God is through sacrifice. That is, through these lambs, morning and evening, morning and evening.

So, there’s the Passover lamb, but then there’s the daily lambs, and then the specific lambs that were for sin offering, for guilt offering. This was the provision in order that Israel might encounter glory and live. But in—that was Leviticus 9—it’s only Leviticus 10 that Nadab and Abihu, two sons of Aaron the high priest, offer unauthorized fire before the Lord, and the result is that the glory of God, the very fire of God, came out and incinerated them. So the text says, When the people offered their sacrifices they supplied, their lambs, the fire of God came out, “The fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the pieces of fat on the altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces” (Lev 9:24) But just two verses later it says, “And the fire came out from before the Lord and consumed them (Nadab and Abihu) and they died before the Lord” (Lev 10:2).

TK: It’s actually—oh finish your thought here. I was just going to connect this to—this is the story being told in Revelation, just a micro version of it.

JD: I’ll let you follow up on that right after I finish this thought. It’s the same fire. It’s the same glory, and either it awakens praise in those who have put their faith in the substitute, or it incinerates those who come to God taking him lightly, taking their own sinfulness lightly, like Nadab and Abihu who did, and the summary statement is this, “Among those who are near me, I will be shown holy. And before all people, I will be glorified” (Lev 10:3). So, before sinner and saved, God will be glorified. But it’s only among those who approach God, who draw near to God, “Those who are near me,” those who draw near to him through the provision of the substitute in whom God will be displayed as holy. The lamb is central to our holiness, being saved from the penalty of sin. We call it justification, being saved from the power of sin, we call that sanctification and being saved from the presence of sin in the future, we call that glorification. That is the hope, and all of it is driven by the provision of the lamb. So, calling Jesus the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world, and using this as the dominant image in Revelation is massively significant. Everyone—there is not a person in Israel, in John the Baptizer’s day that would not have connected, wow, this is that person that Psalm 34 was anticipating that Psalm 22 foresaw. And as we’re going to see that Isaiah 53 displayed.

TK: So my thought was—this thought of you have a people who, because of sacrifice, are able to encounter God and they shout and fall on their faces and we see that picture of a global people in every tribe, nation, tongue in Revelation, because of the sacrifice, right, sacrifice, ultimate sacrifice of the Lamb doing that. But we also see a people who are resisting God and that their end is the same destruction as we’re seeing in Leviticus chapter 10.

JD: And it’s a destruction by fire.

TK: Right.

JD: It’s—they become the sacrifice. God, the only way for atonement to happen, for God to make restore right order, is either through killing the sinner or killing the substitute, and Jesus comes as the perfect substitute. For all who will believe in him, for all who will surrender to him there can be life and hope and help and courage and comfort. But for those who fail to surrender. It is a tragic story, for they will be thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur, where there will be torment, day and night, forever and ever. “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire, sulfur, which is the second death.” And that’s exactly where the devil, along with the beast and the false prophet were thrown and where they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Revelation 20, verse 10, Revelation 21, verse 8.

The Lamb in Isaiah 53: The Suffering Servant Slain as a Lamb

TK: That thought, John saying, and you, you already mentioned it, but look, “The lamb of God,” people obviously have in their mind in that day a real lamb, real lambs, because that’s part of the culture and it’s part of the story they’ve known. But we said it in previous weeks and you just said it again—and John’s not the first one to make this jump from an animal lamb to a man. The authors in the Old Testament were already doing this. So, you mentioned Psalm 34, that saying that the Passover lamb actually is going to be a man. You mentioned Psalm 22. We talked about Genesis. But Jason talk a little bit about Isaiah 53 and what it tells us about the lamb.

JD: Isaiah 52:13–53:12 is the final capstone servant song we’ve meditated on that whole song in a previous podcast. Here, we’re wanting to specifically see the imagery associated with slaughter, with lamb. It opens by saying “My servant.” The very servant who, “will be high and lifted up, he will be exalted” like a lion-King. He will be exalted, it says, “Just as many, oh Israel, were astonished at you.” Why were the nations astonished at Israel? Because they experienced the curse, the curse of God came upon them. They were exiled, separated from the presence of God as Psalm 22 says, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Ps 22:1). That’s what the Israelites as a corporate nation were declaring as the Babylonians served as their agent of slaughter. They came in—the Babylonians came in and judged Israel. So it will be of this man who, under the instrumental hand of humans, will have an appearance that becomes “so marred beyond human semblance and his form beyond that of the children of men, so he shall sprinkle many nations.” In the same way that the blood of the sacrifice was sprinkled on the altar and on the people, setting them apart so that they were devoted to Yahweh—sprinkled on the altar so that it was set apart for Yahweh—now the blood of this person, God’s servant, the very one who would be exalted. He experiences a level of persecution that puts his own being beyond the semblance of a human. He was so beat up so—the image is crucified. And yet from that blood, something happens where he sprinkles many nations so that they become devoted for God. They become separated for him. They move from enemy to friend. In this chapter, the many—the many, keep that language in mind—it’s the many nations who are sprinkled, not just one nation. No, this man is an agent for the salvation of many.

TK: And what you’re saying right here is the sprinkling language. Even though the lamb itself is not used in this little tiny chunk in 52. There’s, you’re saying, the lamb imagery because of sprinkling is already being introduced into the text.

JD: It’s already being introduced. That’s right. And it’s going to become explicit as we move through the passage. But right away we find out that the very one who will be exalted as King and Lord over all things—this language of high and lifted up that recalls chapter 6 where John saw—sorry—Isaiah saw the Lord—and it’s not Yahweh, it’s Lord, smaller caps—saw the Sovereign One seated on the throne, high and lifted up. So this is royal imagery. He is seated in his palace high and lifted up. How did it happen? The very one who would be high and lifted up entered deeply low, humbled himself, taking on the form of a man, and then even moving to the point where you couldn’t even recognize him as a man. And through that he sprinkled many nations. This is, in just two verses, the picture of the gospel. And like you’re saying it already anticipates the lamb imagery that’s going to dominate this servant song. This very one, it says in 53:3, “was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hid their faces hr was despised, and we esteemed him not.” That’s the perspective.

TK: Who is “we” right there, Jason?

JD: The prophetic voice is calling all who have been saved to recognize there was a point at which we didn’t recognize who Jesus was, we didn’t recognize our need for a savior. Indeed, we were the ones in our sin that put him at the cross. We were why he came. He came not for the righteous, but for the unrighteous. It’s the sick who need a doctor. And I think John—Isaiah here is reminding the remnant—we were among the sinners who put him into this suffering. “Surely he has borne our griefs carried our sorrows, yet we esteemed him, stricken, smitten of God and afflicted.” Just, I mean, Isaiah is looking ahead and seeing himself among the Romans, seeing himself among the Pharisees, seeing himself among the proud in the Jewish nation that said, crucify him, crucify him. Isaiah is seeing himself as among those who, when they looked at the Christ, they said he’s being punished under the hand of God. Just as Israel, the nation was cursed and exiled, he’s having the same experience done upon himself.

TK: It reminds me of Psalm 22, where it says if God delights in him, let him rescue him.

JD: Yes, the mocking.

TK: The mocking because clearly in their mind God does not delight in him because of what he’s suffering.

JD: And Matthew 27 draws explicitly on that specific verse and applies it to the audience who’s watching Jesus in his passion, in his suffering experience at the cross. “He was wounded for our transgression,” says Isaiah, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.” So there is—in Isaiah’s mind, whatever is taking place in relation to this man that’s going to sprinkle atoning blood on nations, at the core of it is a substitutionary act wherein he—as we’re going to see the unblemished one—is standing in the stead of sinners. Oh the hope, oh the help, oh the beauty, “By his stripes, we are healed.” By his wounds we gain help. “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth.” And here it is, Tom, “Like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, like a sheep that, before his shearers, is silent he opened not his mouth. He was—by oppression and judgment he was taken away. As for his generation, who considered that he was cut off of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked, although he had done no violence and there was no deceit in his mouth.” Central to all the sacrifices was that the lamb had to be unblemished. It had to be clear that the sacrificial substitute was not dying because it itself was blemished. Rather, the unblemished nature was going to be counted to one who brought the sacrifice and all the sins of the sinner would be counted toward the unblemished lamb. And that’s how the substitution would work. The substitute taking our sin and his uprightness being counted as our own.

TK: I think that, moving forward to the introduction of Jesus at his baptism, and it would be at his transfiguration as well that idea of this is my son in whom I am well pleased. It’s saying that heaven has given a verdict about this one, just as it says here, this one has done no violence. This one has no deceit in his mouth. This one’s innocent.

JD: That’s exactly right. It recalls Isaiah 50, the third servant song where the servant himself testifies. “He who vindicates me,” chapter 50:8, “He who vindicates me is near, who will contend with me? Let him stand up. Who is my adversary? Let him come near. Who can declare me guilty?” Answer—no one. He who declares me righteous is near. That’s what he testifies to. His was indeed an unblemished sacrifice.

TK: How much of this do you think a New Testament era person—and John was obviously filling the last of the Old Testament age prophets, but in we’re reading them in our New Testament. How many of these pieces did he know? Had he read Isaiah 53? Would you say Jason?

JD: He definitely had read Isaiah 53. He is bathed in the book of Isaiah, where it promised a Messiah who would come and open blind eyes and heal the lame. And Jesus recalls this in Matthew 11 for John the Baptist as he sits in prison. Jesus was one who was to be light not only for God’s people, but for the nations. John knew all this. Jesus was supposed to set the captive free, John knew this, and Jesus said blessed are those who are not offended by me. Meaning that John is still in prison, not everyone’s eyes are open, not everyone’s ears are hearing and yet Jesus is beginning it. And blessed are those who can hope in Jesus, even if they don’t receive all that.

TK: This is really significant because John’s proof from Jesus comes from Jesus quoting Isaiah. So, it’s exactly what you’re saying is—if Jesus says I need to convince you of something, I’m going to go to a book you’ve soaked in. It’s the book of Isaiah. So when he’s using this lamb imagery, we have to assume Isaiah 53 is in his mind.

JD: That’s a—I believe so. Old Testament quotations in the New Testament, Old Testament allusions in the New Testament include contexts, and all the passages that Jesus recalls for John the Baptist are those that surround this very text, which clarifies the means by which a people will be saved. We have to go to verses 10 and 11. Here it is. We read, “It was the will of Yahweh to crush him”—this servant lamb—“He has put him to grief when his soul”—and listen to this, Tom—“makes an offering for guilt.”

TK: That’s your lamb language again.

JD: That’s the lamb language again when his soul makes an offering for guilt, three things will happen: “He shall see offspring; he shall prolong his days; and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.” Tom, what will he see?

TK: Well, he will see the promise from Genesis, chapter 12. He will see the promise from—and you would go further like we read it—the same the Isaac-Abraham story. The offspring will take over the gate of his enemies. So he’s—just reading Isaiah’s poem from earlier passages and making things clear—but he is going to be raised, cause clearly you can’t see if you’re dead. He’s going to be raised and he’s going to see the fulfillment.

JD: If he will be an offering for guilt, experiencing the wrath of God and the fires of God. If he will operate as a substitute, this unblemished lamb-man. He will see something. He’ll prolong his days and the will of the Lord will prosper, so he will be alive. It’s resurrection.

TK: If he didn’t—the “When his soul makes an offering for guilt, then he shall see his offspring.” It’s a requirement for the offspring to exist even.

JD: It is, and here it’s specifically the offspring of the Messiah. So, if the Messiah is the offspring, it’s the offspring of the offspring. It is the multitude that you already pointed us to Abraham. It says and what he will see is offspring. But then in verse 11, Isaiah makes a comment. He says, “Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see. He shall be satisfied.” So here what he will see, we’re already told, is a people. And now joy is associated with the people on the other side of his sacrifice. Think about Hebrews, chapter 12, “For the joy that was set before him, he endured the cross.” How does that passage open up? “Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses”—those testifying to the worth of Christ. Let us be among them. We are the very—what was the joy that was set before Jesus? He will see offspring, he will see and be satisfied, sprinkling many nations, some from every tongue and tribe and people and nation. It drove Jesus through the cross. It was the joy that was set before him. “By his knowledge, my righteous one”—there it is, he is the unblemished sacrifice. “My righteous one, my servant shall make many to be accounted righteous.”

Now there’s that language of many, one more time, and it pushes me to Romans 5:18–19, where we read these words, “As one trespass led to the condemnation for all men”—that’s the one trespass of Adam. “So one act of righteousness”—righteousness, Jesus—“leads to justification of life for all men. For as by one man’s disobedience, the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” This is the lamb language. This is Revelation 5. “Worthy are you for you were slain and by your blood you ransomed some for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” This was the joy set before him. This pushed him into the cross and through the cross, satisfying the wrath of God so that there could be legitimate atoning blood to sprinkle on the many. And now he is high and lifted up. It’s it is the story of the gospel, and it provides the hope and the foundation for the entire book of Revelation.

The Lamb in Zechariah

TK: And you have a people who are suffering probably a little bit like John the Baptist and wondering, is he really going to do what he said he’s going to do. And that whole encouragement of look at the lamb, remember the lamb. You need to conquer. Hold on to Jesus. Jason. Let’s end here. And this is too short for this passage, but I think it’d be good if can you just walk us through a little bit of the end of Zachariah, so 12 and 13. Give us a few thoughts here, because clearly Isaiah is not the only one thinking this and we’ve already made that clear. Isaiah had read the Psalms. He’d read Psalm 34, he’d read Genesis 22. He’d seen the imagery of Abel bringing his sacrifices in Genesis chapter four, but here we get something from. Zachariah as well.

JD: Yes, we can end here. Zechariah is an amazing gospel book saturated with other books like Isaiah. Zechariah knew his scripture. Zechariah is dominated in a—I mean it’s driven by the call for the people to rebuild the temple. Think sacrifices, think priesthood. And it also recognizes that the priests themselves are but a picture of a greater priest. And that the sacrifices are but a sign of a future sacrifice and that the temple that they’re building is but a glimmer of the future glorious temple that God will build in his people. So, we get numerous statements. For example, in Zechariah 3, after it says that the priests are but a sign of a future priest, it says that on a single day the Lord will remove the iniquity of the land in a single day, Zechariah 3:9. In Zechariah 6 we read that this—that a Messiah figure will build the temple of the Lord, build the palace of the Lord and that he will bear royal honor and sit on the throne. And not only will he be a royal figure, he will be a priestly figure on God’s throne. And then it says people will come from afar and help him build the temple. I think we’re seeing Jesus as the high priest-king who will build the temple of God with the help of many nations. Indeed, back in Zechariah chapter 2 it even said many nations shall join themselves to the Lord in that day, and they shall be my people, not my peoples plural, but it’s as if they become the new Israel: they shall be my people. But the question becomes then, in this book, how will this happen. And what we learn is God is the ultimate shepherd of his sheep. And yet the people will turn on their shepherd, who’s represented through a figure.

Think about the triumphal entry where it cites Zechariah 9, “Rejoice, O daughter of Zion. Behold, your king is coming to you righteous and having salvation is he” (Zech 9:9). This is Jesus. He’s riding into Jerusalem, and yet it says explicitly here, “As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit” (Zech 9:11). The blood of my covenant. It’s directly associated with this royal figure whose reign will be from sea to sea, recalling Psalm 72, this royal figure is now associated with a bloody covenant. He is God’s Shepherd, Yahweh is the shepherd, but he will reign through his messianic priest-King. But what’s striking is that it says here at the end of Zechariah, “I will pour out on the House of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem”—and in this book the inhabitants of Jerusalem is not just Jews. No, they’ve been joined, according to Zechariah chapter 8, by many from the nations. So, the nations are filling Jerusalem. Then there are ethnic Jews there from the house of David. And God says, “I will pour out on all who are in Jerusalem and among the house of David, a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that when they look on me on whom they have pierced, they will mourn for him” (Zech 12:10).

And then it says in chapter 13:1, “On that day there shall be a fountain open for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to cleanse from sin and uncleanness.” Here it testifies to the fact that the shepherd will become like a sheep. He will be pierced on behalf of the many, and flowing out of his sacrifice, the shepherd sacrifice. So he’s like a lion-King who is now treated like a lamb. And on behalf of his sacrifice, there will be a cleansing from sin and uncleanness that is poured out on the many. “This is the end of chapter 13, “Awake O sword against my shepherd, against the man who strikes next to me—who stands next to me” (Zech 13:7). So there’s going to be a sword against the very man who stands by God’s side. “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered. I will turn my hand against the little ones. In the whole land, declares the Lord . . . I will put this third into the fire and refine them as one refines silver, I will test them as gold is tested,”—and then this is the Hebrew text. It doesn’t show up in my ESV this way, but it says in the Hebrew text, “He will call upon my name and I will answer him.” This is the Messiah. This is the shepherd who becomes like a sheep: “I will say he is my people, and he will say Yahweh is my God” (Zech 13:9). A person is now declared as the people of God. Indeed, all who are in this person. He represents the people and in Zechariah chapter 2, the people included the nations. He represents the many in his death and that’s why the blood of the covenant, according to Zechariah chapter 9, opens the door for his reign to be from sea to sea, because he is the instrument, he’s not only the temple, he’s not only the priest, he’s the sacrifice. And he provides the means for the salvation of some from every people and tongue and tribe and nation, who are now considered the very people of God because he is the people of God. He is the one who represents the many who are sprinkled through his atoning blood, Isaiah 53. And that many is a multi-ethnic community that is being redeemed by the blood of the lamb, who conquers by his blood and by the word of their testimony. I’m in Jesus. He is my Lord. He saved me from my sins. There is now no condemnation, and that declaration puts a death blow to the work of the serpent. The work of the devil.

TK: It is so good. I was talking to a friend last night who is going to be preaching somewhere on Sunday and I just said, you know, what are you preaching on? And he said, I’m preaching on the tree of life and how later biblical authors saw a multitude of trees. And that same thought of, springing from Psalm 1, he will be like a tree planted by streams of water. Ezekiel sees this, but the tree now has, all of a sudden, this one tree is growing all over the place, and Revelation ends that same way. Because the one man who’s like a tree has brought fruitfulness everywhere and created a people. This has encouraged, my soul encourages me for the rest of my day. My prayer, Jason for us, for those who listening is we would meditate on Jesus as the lamb, and we would find joy in that thought and motivation to walk as his people.

JD: For the joy set before us that more people could come to the savior.

TK: Amen. All right, I’m looking forward to what’s next. Jason, enjoy your day.

JD: Thank you.

JY: Thank you for listening to Gear Talk. Next week we’ll consider another major character in Revelation. For more information about Hands to the Plow and the work we do, visit Also check the show notes for a link to our preacher’s guide to the book of Revelation.

Servant Song 1 – Isaiah 42:1-9

Servant Song 1 – Isaiah 42:1-9

Servant Song 1 – Isaiah 42:1-9

by Jason DeRouchie, Tom Kelby, and Jack Yaeger | A Month in the Servant Songs


JY: Welcome to Gear Talk, a podcast on biblical theology. Today, we’re beginning a new series, a month in the Servant Songs. Over these next weeks, we’ll be looking at the four poems in Isaiah, describing Yahweh’s Servant. Who is he? What does he do? Why does his life matter for me and for the world? As with our month in the Psalms, we’ve created an album cover for this month in the Servant Songs series. Be sure to go to our show notes and download the album cover. Tom and Jason refer to this album cover throughout this podcast. You’ll also find other Jason Derouchie lecture notes on the Servant Songs.

TK: Welcome to Gear Talk, Jason, are you there?

JD: I am here. Good to be back.

TK: It is good to be back. I’m sitting here and I’m looking at a yellow album cover that Mark did and it says a month in the Servant Songs. We’re not together, but Jason, you have the same thing up in front of you, right?

JD: I do and I love it.

Album Cover Overview: Four Pictures of the Servant

TK: This is something if you—on the show notes, you can download a PDF and this is an album cover for what we’re going to be covering for the next four podcast. So, Jason, why don’t you let everybody know what’s coming up?

JD: Alright, the Servant Songs. This is a specific set of poems in the book of Isaiah. Isaiah is the first Old Testament book to explicitly use the language of the gospel in association with the age of the Messiah. And within this book, there are three key titles that are associated with this future figure who will save not only some from Israel but save some from the world. And those three titles are associated with a king, a Servant, and an anointed conqueror. So, early in the book we get this vision of the king. We’re going to talk about him a little bit today. And then as we move on in the book this royal figure becomes embodied in one called the Servant. And then at the end of the book, we read texts like Isaiah 61, which Jesus used to kick off his ministry when he said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, and he has anointed me,”—that’s that word—“Anointed me to bring good news to the poor” (Luke 4:18). So, this figure is an anointed or messianic—that’s what the word “Messiah” means: the anointed one—he’s a an anointed conqueror. So, three different images for the same person. And what we want to do over these next four episodes or so is focus specifically on this middle group, where a Servant person is mentioned. Now from Isaiah 40 to Isaiah 53 the Servant is all—shows up, that term shows up twenty different times, always in the singular, and then after Isaiah 53—think about what happens in Isaiah 53. That is where the Servant actually suffers on behalf of the many and saves a people that become his offspring—after Isaiah 53, from Isaiah 54 to Isaiah 66, the term Servant occurs a number—another eleven times, but always in the plural.

TK: So something changes.

JD: Something changes after this culminating work, that we see realized in the cross, the Servant person gives rise to a sea of servants who follow him and through whom he fulfills his mission. But what’s intriguing here in Isaiah 40 to 53, which is going to be the focus of our next several episodes, the servant, when it occurs those twenty times, always in the singular, sometimes refers to a person and sometimes refers to a people. So we read, for example in Isaiah 41:8, “But you Israel, my servant Jacob, whom I have chosen the offspring of Abraham, my friend; you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, ‘You are my servant, I have chosen you and I have not cast you off” (Isa 41:8–9). Here in this context, talking about a redeemed people, it seems as though God is referring to a people as his servant. And what’s intriguing is that in this whole section, usually the servant people is portrayed as sinful as rebellious, as in Isaiah 42:18 and following. We read this, “Hear, you deaf, and look, you blind, that you may see!” Now when it uses the word “you” both of those instances are in the plural: hear, all of you deaf, look, all of you blind that you may see. And then he says, “Who is blind but my servant, or deaf as my messenger whom I send? Who is blind as my dedicated one, or blind as the servant of the Lord? He sees many things, but does not observe them; his ears are open, but he does not hear” (Isa 42:19–20). And then it specifically says, “But this is a people plundered and looted; they are all of them trapped in holes and hidden in prisons” (Isa 42:22). That’s the judgment of God against his servant, singular, his servant people. But that’s not all that we hear about a Servant in this section. Beginning in Isaiah 42 and stretching all the way to Isaiah 53, there are four key poems that speak of a Servant who is not rebellious, who does exactly what God calls him to do. This Servant is none other than the one we know of as the Christ, and we want to spend these weeks celebrating this particular Servant as he is revealed in these four Servant Songs, and that brings us back to our cover.

TK: So we have this cover and if you can pull it up, it would be great either now. If you’re driving, obviously you can’t do it. But again, go to the show notes, pull up the PDF that Mark created. So, the cover is yellow and in our logo it says Gear. The six gears, remember, symbolize six different sections in the Bible: he Law, the Prophets, the Writings in the Old Testament, in the New Testament, we’d have the Gospels and Acts (history books) and then the Letters and then Revelation. So, six sections, and the second section in our gears, here is yellow, symbolizing the prophets, so this album cover is yellow, symbolizing Isaiah is in the section called the Prophets. Jason. What can you tell us about this section? What books are in this section in the Hebrew ordering of the of the Old Testament?

JD: So Jesus’s Bible had the Law, the Prophets and the Writings. And as you said, this is the middle section of Jesus’s Old Testament. Here it breaks down into two parts. There’s the history books that clarify what happened in the history of the covenant: this is Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings. In Jesus’s Bible, these are called the Former Prophets. And then we move into the Latter Prophets that clarify why Israel’s history went the way it did. So, we get figures like Isaiah in this unit, and he grows out of the prophetic voice in the Old Testament. And we are in our Gear Talk Biblical theology podcast just wanting to cover all six different parts of Scripture and showing how all of them like a sweet moving transmission are just working together so that in the Scriptures we have of a perfectly harmonized, beautiful message that God has given his church that magnifies his Son, that testifies to all that the Father is doing by the Son through the work of the Spirit.

TJ: I love it.

JD: These weeks, a month in these Servant Songs, and as I said, there’s four of them and that’s why on this album cover, we’ve got four different images. It begins down in this bottom left corner with a person in prison. And yet the doors are swung wide open and there’s light intruding into that prison. And in all four of these pictures, the Servant is present, and he’s depicted in all four different poems in different ways. And we tried to capture the place the Servant has in each of these poems by the lighter yellow as it pierces into the darker yellow. And so in this first image what we have is the Servant represented as light piercing into this prison. So Tom, tell me from the first Servant Song, why have we depicted it this way?

TK: Well, we were looking for an image that would capture, if you wanted to summarize it, what the Servant Song was saying and if we went to 42:6–7, and by the way, you can download this also. So we did this with our album cover for the Psalms as well Mark put a circle with the verse numbers on it. So 42:6–7, it says, “I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness”—talking about the Servant, and as Jason said, the obedient Servant. “I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the darkness, those who are—from the prison, those who sit in darkness.” So this is a part of this Servant Song that’s meant to remind us of, oh that’s what the message was of that Servant Song.

JD: And the Servant is that light piercing into the darkness of the prison in order to set a prisoner free. It’s beautiful.

TK: Then if—the way Mark arranged this album cover—if you started at the bottom left and then you move to the right and up, there’s an image of a man shooting a bow and he has a quiver strapped, strapped over his shoulder, and the man isn’t actually the lighter color that Jason was talking about. Instead, it’s the bow, and it’s the quiver. So why do we do it that way, Jason?

JD: Well, because in Isaiah 49, the Servant person actually talks and he says that Yahweh, his God, “made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand he hid me” (Isa 49:2). And then it says, “He made me a polished arrow; in his quiver he hid me” (Isa 49:2). So this Servant is like a an arrow that is ready to be shot from God’s bow to fulfill the exact purpose that he is intended. And when God shoots his arrow of purpose, it always lands where it’s supposed to land. It’s a piercing mission that this Servant has. And so in this image of the archer, what’s highlighted is both the quiver and the arrow, because that’s the role the Servant is playing in at least one of the images within this poem.

TK: Something to notice as I’m looking at this album cover—just the way it progresses—one thing is that the two images on the right side, those Servant Songs are autobiographies, so it’s the Servant speaking. The two on the left side are not the Servant speaking, he’s being spoken about. So it’s a way to kind of divide it and say, OK, the ones on the left, the man in prison, and then, we’re going to get to it, there’s a sheep being led. Those are speaking about the Servant. But the ones on the right, we’re going to get the Servant’s own words in those ones.

JD: That’s right, he is—it’s just amazing that God revealed—he spoke to Isaiah, through Isaiah in such a way that Isaiah is not even present. In fact, the words we hear are the very words of Jesus Christ himself, as if he was present and talking 700 years before he even showed up on the scene. That’s how it’s presented. Very similar to how we described the voice of this suffering, triumphant ruler, when we walked through the Psalms in our month and the Psalms. So that autobiographical approach to the Servant matched by the biographical approach, we saw the same thing in the Psalms, where some Psalms were in first person, where the king, the royal figure is talking about himself. And other psalms it’s other people talking about the king, praying for the king. So very similar pattern that we’re seeing in the Servant Songs compared to what we already saw in the Book of Psalms.

TK: I would say one more thing as I’m looking at the album cover and as the movement starting at the prison. So, the Servant is not the prisoner in that one, but there’s a movement where you can see more progressively in each one that the Servant in doing his job, is suffering. And it’s not really pictured in the first one. It’s spoken of in the second one. You can see it clearly, though, in the third image, where the Servant, the one who’s lit up there, his beard is being pulled. So where do we get that, Jason?

JD: We get it straight out of Isaiah 50:6, where the Servant himself, speaking of himself says, “I gave my back to those who strike and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard, I hid not my face from disgrace, and from spitting.” And we really get an image—even Jesus, in the process of his passion, in the process of his suffering through the crucifixion, what he endured, it’s not only Isaiah 53 that speaks this way it’s already being anticipated in Isaiah 50. And even as we’re going to see in Isaiah 49.

TK: It makes you, just again looking at the image of the prisoner with the open door—the cost to open the prison doors to set us free was tremendous.

JD: It was tremendous, and it would be tremendous if it was, but a man, but here we have the God man who came as God, lowering himself, humbling himself, taking the form and likeness of humans being, tempted in every way as we are, even obeying his Father to the point of death. This is a level of suffering endured by no other person in all the history of the world, because of the level of the cost. And it’s because of this, I believe, that in a in six short hours of his suffering at the cross he could pay for the penalty for all those throughout all time. An eternal penalty that was due, he could pay it and satisfy God’s wrath in that period because of the level to which he lowered himself and suffered as the God man.

TK: I’m thinking of Paul speaking in Thessalonians, and he was talking about persecutors who are stopping the gospel going forth and he said they hate all mankind. And that thought of the person pulling on Jesus’s beard—there, the Servant’s beard—and just saying this is a person who is hating the one, the only one who can open the prison doors.

JD: That’s right. It’s really much even a recollection of Psalm 2, where you’ve got the nations raging, the peoples plotting in vain and to whom are they plotting against? It is Yahweh and his Anointed, the very one who came to save them is the one they are rejecting, stumbling over. It is intense suffering and it’s depicted for us here 700 years before Jesus even arrives on the Earth. And so it is that God has fulfilled what the prophets proclaimed. What all the prophets proclaimed, that the Christ would suffer, Acts 3:18.

TK: So moving so those two again the arrow and the quiver and the Servant with his beard being pulled, those are autobiographical, then we move back to the left and now I’m looking, Jason, at a sheep being led and the sheep is lit up. And that one we’re saying is biographical.

JD: It is, and here you’ve got the sheep being led, and there’s even a man standing nearby with the knife. So this is intended to recall Isaiah 53:7 where it says of the Servant, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.” We don’t attempt in the album cover to capture everything. What we’re trying to do is get into each of these Servant Songs and capture a key element that depicts the role of the Servant. He is the light piercing into the darkness. He is the arrow ready for God to use as he will. He is the one who is oppressed and afflicted, even his beard is pulled out. He is the lamb that has led to the slaughter, for the salvation of sinners like you and like me.

TK: I want one thing before we move on, and what we’re going to do in this next time is right now is just focus on the first Servant Song. But the logo, where it says Gear Talk, Biblical Theology, just looking at it, the person speaking on the left, he’s—the one gear is lit up, the second gear from the prophets. It’s almost like if I called you, Jason, and I said, Jason, I am thinking about Isaiah 42 and this Servant Song. And in his response, so the person responding, it would be like Jason being able to say, oh I could talk about the Servant from every single section of the scriptures.

JD: That’s right. And I and I anticipate that in some way or another, we’re going to do that in the next several episodes, just showing how really the whole Bible is interrelated. It progresses, it integrates, and it climaxes in Jesus and every single part is contributing to the purposes of God, what we call the whole counsel of God from Genesis to Revelation, from creation all the way to consummation. And these Servant Songs play a key part in that overall presentation of what God is doing in this world, in creation through redemption, through the work of his Servant, his anointed Servant King, by the power of the Spirit. What we’re looking at this ultimate Trinitarian story, it is his story, and we’re going to catch a glimpse of it in these Servant Songs in a beautiful way.

TK: All right. Well, Jason, Are you ready? Should we go to the first one?

Identity of the Servant: A Spirit-Anointed David, Bringing a New Exodus

JD: Let’s do it. So, we’re in Isaiah 42 and specifically we’re looking at Isaiah 42:1–9, but they have an overall context, and part of that context includes a vision of a new exodus. So even if we go to the previous chapter and we look at Isaiah 41:17–20, we read this, “When the poor and the needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the Lord will answer … I will open up rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys. I’ll make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. I will put in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle, the olive. I will set in the desert the cypress, the plane and the pine together.” You have this image of restoration of new-creational transformation, and it really sets the context, then for this vision of what is laid out. God says, “Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations” (Isa 42:1). So, let’s just start right there, Tom. Verse one and already we have a number of recollections that put us within the framework of this whole book. This isn’t the first time that we’ve read about one upon whom the Spirit rests and who will bring justice to nations.

TK: I think this is a remarkable part of Isaiah as well as the—is the vision of a person. First of all, I wrote in my notes as I was reflecting on this, saying that I don’t want to forget this, that the Servant Songs need to produce in us a love for the world. And a love for the nations, because it’s an overriding theme here that the Servant came that, the Servant was sent, the arrow was shot for all the nations for the ends of the earth. But this is—Isaiah has been telling this story from the from the very beginning.

JD: That’s right, you get the nations in Isaiah 2 gathering to this elevated Jerusalem. You get the promise of a virgin-born son whom is a child king in the line of David. In fact, he gets that title in Isaiah chapter 9, along with Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, and the government is on his shoulders and his peace extends to the ends of the earth. It captures in all the nations. And then in Isaiah 11, it’s this figure that we’re told—this royal son that has the spirit of God resting upon him, and within the book up to this point, it’s that figure who we’re told comes from the stump of Jesse. He’s like a shoot of Jesse. Jesse was David’s father, and it’s intriguing—in Isaiah 11, it doesn’t say that it’s from the stump of David. No, it’s from the stump of Jesse, suggesting that the one that we’re talking about is a new David. And that’s exactly how he was portrayed in chapter 9.

TK: That’s really helpful.

JD: The spirit of the Lord is resting upon him. He is like a movable temple and he is, I love this, he’s—God himself says he is my Servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights. This is really an image of—it reminds me of God’s words at Jesus’s baptism when he says this is my son, in whom I am well pleased.

TK: And the same context right there—the Spirit coming down and resting on him. That’s the next thing it says. I have put my Spirit upon him.

JD: That’s right. So, God is delighting in this son, and it really stands in contrast to just the previous chapter where it says of the idols that Israel so often followed, “You are nothing, and your work is less than nothing, an abomination is he who chooses you” (Isa 41:24). God is saying some strong words here as Israel chooses the idols. They are worth nothing. But when God chooses this one, this Servant, he delights in him. He puts his Spirit upon him, and he gives him this ministry of bringing justice to the nations.

The Manner of the Servant: Humble Justice, Gentle Instruction

He describes it in such a beautiful way. This justice image, he says, “He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street” (Isa 42:2). His task is not self-advancing or assertive. He, it says then, “A bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice” (Isa 42:3). So, as he works for the sake of the nations in an unjust world, he is working for the weak. I just love the image: a bruised reed he will not break, a faintly burning wick he will not quench. You might feel like you’re almost lost, like there’s nothing left in you to keep going. Just the light from your candle is so dim. And yet, if you encounter Jesus, he’s not one who will snuff you out. Indeed, it says, “He will not grow faint or be discouraged.” Now you can’t see this in the Hebrew, but the language of growing faint is the same as a faintly burning wick and the language of growing discouraged, it’s the exact same term for a bruised reed. So, he will not grow discouraged even as he works for those who are discouraged. He will not grow faint even as he works for those who are faint. It’s such a beautiful comfort to us in a wearying, cursed world that we have a Servant-savior. He is serving God. And what that service looks like—what is his ministry? To come and give weak people like you and me and like those who are listening—if they will but turn to him, cry out for help, they will find a helper who will work justice and who will not grow faint or discouraged even as he works for those who need courage and who feel like they are faintly burning.

TK: I think this, for the church, is so encouraging because it says here that, verse one, he will bring forth justice to the nations, he is going to accomplish his task and right here it says that “He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law” (Isa 42:4). That if we’re thinking that there should be a—almost like Elijah seems like he thought when he came back after Mount Carmel and went back to Mount Sinai and the Lord said to him, what are you doing here? If we have a thought it’s not working, Lord, your methods don’t work, your gospel doesn’t work, this the Servant is not accomplishing what he said he was going to accomplish. Here, the promise is he will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth. He’s going to do it. He’s doing it right.

JD: He is and it will be accomplished. That is our living hope here. Here it mentions the coast lands that is a picture of the most distant shores. So, we have exploded the bounds of the original promised land. And now we’ve gone global. And these coastlands are waiting for his law. In Isaiah 2 it mentioned how the nations, the peoples of the earth, in the latter days, would gather to a transformed mountain of God to a transformed temple, and it says they would go so that he might teach them his ways so that they might hear God’s law, because out of Zion would go forth the law. And now what we’re learning is that the way that it goes for: as the nations are gathered in, it’s through the teaching of this Servant person. Think about Jesus, “All authority in heaven on earth has been given to me, so make disciples of the coastlands go out and make disciples of all nations” (Matt 28:18–19). And then he says, explaining what that discipleship would look like, part of it is “teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you” (Matt 28:20). So there it is, the instruction, the law that the coastlands are longing for in a lawless world. It’s increasingly feeling that way: unjust, unlawful. Turn to Jesus and find the way, the only way of life and it’s filled with true justice, where the wrath of God is satisfied and where our hope can be that all oppression and all injustice will ultimately be eradicated, because to him is the vengeance. And he will work it through his Servant.

TK: The picture—I’m looking again at the album cover here— the picture of mixing even the picture of the prisoner waiting to be released and it’s almost like that picture—he’s been in the dark so long he can barely open his eyes and imagine what it would be like out in the dark. But that thought of somebody gently leading a prisoner out into the light and saying you are free. Now go and be productive. So, this passage is quoted in Matthew chapter 12. And it’s right after—so Matthew 12:9, Jesus enters a synagogue and it says there’s a man there with a withered hand. And the people are watching, the leaders are watching because they don’t want that man to be healed because they have their own set of rules. And Jesus does exactly what this passage is doing. He sets this man free and then it’s going to go immediately after that, in verse 15, it’s going to say, “Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there, many followed him and he healed them all, ordered them not to make him known” (Matt 12:15–16). He’s not, like Isaiah says, crying aloud in the street. “This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah, ‘Behold my Servant, whom I’ve chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, a smoldering wick he will not quench” (Matt 12:18–20). And you get this picture of this man with a withered hand, and he’s become almost a joke and something that the leaders are only using him as a pawn to, you know, make sure that their ways go forward. But Jesus saying, no I am the one to set you free.

JD: And he brings hope. He brings hope. That depiction in Matthew 12 is just awesome. It not only explicitly identifies the Servant of Isaiah 42 with the Christ it clarifies how Christ’s—this promise for the Christ to work justice—it is holistic. He comes in and he heals a man with this disability. But it wasn’t just a physical ailment. That disability had resulted in an entire life that had been filled with loss and oppression: all the games that he wasn’t able to play as a child, the jobs that he was not able to accomplish as a man, all the ridicule that he had experienced, the ostracization, even within the context, just the fact that you have all these religious leaders, who indeed don’t want him healed and Jesus displaying the heart of God, choosing Jesus for this purpose to be one in whom the broken can hope and find their entire lives transformed. It is such a gift and so truly hopeful for us.

TK: I think that’s a good use of like the healing stories are not intended just to be like a one thing that sits by itself to say, wait a minute that’s a sign he’s the one in Isaiah, and we’re supposed to go to Isaiah and read that and say, OK, this is my Lord. First it was explicitly made. But what was he saying to the people at that moment is—Matthew was saying that they should have been watching him do that. The leaders should have been saying, oh, this is the Servant he’s bringing forth justice to the nations. He’s doing it, but instead they rejected him right there.

JD: Yes, it’s. It is striking.

The Reach of the Servant: The Distant Islands

TK: Well, Jason, let’s move forward from this. This spot, verse four, can you take us the rest of it? So five through 9?

JD: Sure, after we see God declaring that the Servant will bring justice, Yahweh now confirms that this is his ministry. God actually declares, it says, “Thus says God, Yahweh.” And it elevates God right off the bat as the one “who created the heavens, who stretched them out, who gives breath to the people who were on it, who gives the spirit to those who walk in it.” I mean it clarifies right off the bat: if I’m the one choosing the Servant, and if I’m the one giving him the mission, I’m the Creator, so you can be confident—all authority that is needed for this mission to be accomplished is there. He has all power. There’s nothing that can stop this ministry of the Servant from being fulfilled. And then it unpacks and clarifies what the nature of that ministry will be. God says, “I am Yahweh; I have called you in righteousness” (Isa 42:6). So out of God’s passion for right order, he called and set apart the Servant on mission. He says, “I will take you”—and that’s masculine, singular, he’s now talking to the Servant—“I will take you by the hand and I will keep you.” So you have an echo of verse one where it says this is my Servant whom I uphold. God takes pleasure in this one. He will protect him until he fulfills his mission. So I will keep you.

And then it says, “I will give you as a covenant to the people, a light for the nations to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. Behold the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them” (Isa 42:6–9). So, we often think of Jesus being the instrument who brings about the New Covenant, and that is true. But the new covenant that you and I are a part of, that makes up the Christian Church today—that covenant is only possible because it’s not only that Jesus accomplished the covenant, he is the covenant. We have no participation in this relationship with God unless we are in Christ, who embodies the covenant. That’s what God says. I will make you as a covenant for the people. But it’s not only the people of Israel, his saving work is like a light piercing the darkness for the nations with a mission of opening blind eyes and setting prisoners free.

TK: Do you, Jason, do you think John the Baptist’s dad, for instance, do you think he had this passage in mind when he was speaking about the ministry his son would perform and thanking the Lord for what would happen based on John’s birth?

JD: Absolutely. And Luke 1:68–69 and then 79. Yeah, Zachariah, he simply says, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; he’s visited us and redeemed his people and raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David.” He’s talking about the coming of Jesus. And then he gives the mission of that one who is coming: “To give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death to guide our feet into the way of peace.” I absolutely think Zechariah has Isaiah 42:6–7 on his mind, and he sees it being fulfilled in the one that his son, John the Baptist would preempt and foretell and declare, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). Jesus’s ministry is an eye-opening, prisoner-freeing ministry and within the Gospels he does it both physically and spiritually. So often he heals the blind eyes and then, right after that he—this happens in John’s gospel, he heals a man who is blind and then immediately after that he says, Do you see? And he’s talking about spiritual sight. When he talks to John the Baptist in Luke 11. John says, are you the one? And Jesus—he recalls for John’s followers, all kinds of ministry that he’s doing that’s directly growing out of—oh, is it Luke 11, or is it, no, it’s in Matthew 11 where he recalls for John’s followers all this ministry that directly grows out of what he is doing in Isaiah. I’m getting all mixed up where it’s found it’s not in Matthew 11.

TK: It’s I’m not looking there right now. I’ve my Bible still, Isaiah, but it’s all over. What you’re talking about and you’re thinking of the passage where John’s John is questioning, and Jesus says go tell him all the things that are happening.

JD: And then he specifically says to John, “Blessed are those who are not offended by me” (Matt 11:6). And I think his point is John is still in prison and John is wondering, are you the one? You’re supposed to set me free. And Jesus came, yes, setting captives free, and he came opening blind eyes. But he didn’t set every captive free and he didn’t open every blind eye. But one day he will, for all who are in him. And so blessed are those who, even in the midst of their suffering, hope in the one who has promised to do it completely. I think that was his point.

TK: Jason, can we—we’re going to need to wrap up right here. Can you give a thought about—so we have verse 5 where it says, “Thus says God the Lord,” and then he defines himself, the things he does. Then he’s going to talk about the Servant and then he ends talking about himself again. So verse eight, “I am the Lord, that is my name.” So kind of that, that package of the Lord talking about himself. Then saying this is what I’m doing with the Servant and then talking about himself again. As people who love God’s word, maybe preaching, teaching, raising children—what do we do with that? Like, where does our focus go? What is God wanting us to focus upon?

JD: What’s amazing to me is that in the ministry of the Servant, there is no glory that is being taken away from God. In the elevation of the Servant, God’s glory is being defined. Indeed, what we read is when we move from darkness to light, what happens is we receive “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ,” 2 Corinthians 4:6. That’s what I see happening here. God is declaring, as I work through the Servant, know this, I am working for my glory and I will not give glory to any other. I am the one who will be exalted, and he is going to be exalted through the work of Jesus by the Spirit as John testifies. What the Spirit is doing is to bring glory to the Son, so God the father from Genesis to Revelation, is operating through his Son by the Spirit. All of redemptive history, the story of salvation from the point of the fall to the time of ultimate consummation is being worked by the father. The father is working it through the person of Jesus, by the power of the Spirit, and we see all those elements in this passage. We see the Spirit, we see the Son, and we see the Father all operating to the ultimate end of bringing God the greatest glory. So I think this is how it’s always supposed to be. We need to end our parenting. We need to end our sermons. We need to be working for the glory of God in the face of Christ. And we do so by the power of the Spirit. Would you add anything else here in conclusion of today’s podcast?

TK: I would say that in reading this, hopefully myself, hopefully you, Jason, hopefully anyone listening—we’re not hearing it as a person like you would study something external to you, but I would be able to read this with thankfulness in my heart and realize I am that prisoner that he brought out and I have experienced his gentleness with me, repeatedly, and I will continue to experience that. And it gives me hope. This passage gives me hope for the days ahead because he is, we might grow weary, but the Servant is not growing faint. He, like you said, he’s not a candle about to go out. He’s not a weed that’s about to break in half and fall over. He’s going to finish his job.

JD: Yes, he is. And in the process, we will be helped. And the Helper will be glorified. We will be saved and the Savior will be magnified. God’s working for his glory is matched by his working for us, and we magnify him most when he satisfies us most, we magnify his greatness. Working for his glorious ends when we receive all that he is supplying to us through his Servant savior

TK: Amen. Receive it and love it like reading this and saying I love his work.

JD: Amen.

JY: Thank you for joining us for Gear Talk. If you haven’t done so already, go to our show notes and download the album cover and the lecture notes for our month in the Servant Songs series. Next week, Jason and Tom focus on the second Servant Song. Hope you can join us.

Servant Song 4 – Isaiah 52:13-53:12

Servant Song 4 – Isaiah 52:13-53:12

Servant Song 4 – Isaiah 52:13-53:12

by Jason DeRouchie, Tom Kelby, and Jack Yaeger | A Month in the Servant Songs


JY: Welcome to Gear Talk, a podcast on biblical theology. This is the fourth and final episode in our a month in the Servant Song series. There are four Servant Songs in Isaiah, and last week we talked about the third Servant Song. This week Jason and Tom talked about Servant Song number 4. Our text is found in Isaiah 52:13–53:12. We’ve created an album cover for this month in the Servant Song series. Be sure to go to our show notes and download the album cover. Tom and Jason refer to this album cover throughout this podcast. You’ll also find other Jason DeRouchie lecture notes on the Servant Songs.

Review of Earlier Servant Songs

TK: Welcome to Gear Talk. I’m Tom and I’m with Jason.

JD: Yes, glad to be back with you, Tom.

TK: I am very glad, and I’m really excited about today’s subject. We are in the fourth of the Servant Songs in Isaiah.

JD: We’ve looked at Isaiah 42 and seeing God talk about his Servant and the mission that he has to the weary and the broken to be a covenant for the people, and a light to the nations to set free the prisoner who is bound. What hope! And then we looked at Isaiah 50, sorry, Isaiah 49:1–13 and we saw that the Servant is actually named Israel and he creates a new people who—his mission is to save Israel the people and that’s too small of a thing. He’ll also extend God’s salvation to the ends of the earth. Then we learned he would be one who’d be abhorred by the nation, and that’s picked up then in Isaiah 50:4–11, where the Servant—again he talks and he notes that he is one who morning by morning met with his Father as a disciple at his feet to gain words that could ultimately meet the needs of the weary. Yet he was one who was rejected by many, who was spit upon, whose beard was pulled out. And yet, in the courtroom of God, he’s declared righteous. And so it really raises a question for the reader—you can either surrender to the Servant and obey his teaching that he’s gaining from the father, or, in the midst of your darkness, you can keep trying to build your own fire and create your own light. But ultimately the Servant himself declared it will result in your torment. So that’s where we’re at.

TK: He says, This you shall have from my hand” (Isa 50:11)—a side of Jesus that maybe people don’t talk about very often. Psalm 2 does the exact same thing. At the end of it, it says, “Kiss the son, lest he be angry and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all those who take refuge in him” (Ps 2:12). It’s the same two categories we’re finding at the end of Isaiah 50.

JD: That’s right. The Savior, who comes in his first appearing will return. Yet when he does, he will be a warrior who will judge all who have stood against him. His wrath will be quickly kindled in that moment, and there will be no turning back. So, the call is decide now. Surrender to the King. Surrender to this royal anointed Servant because there’s good news, there is good news for those who surrender. And this just sets the stage for where we’re going today, “How beautiful upon the mountain are the feet of him, who brings good news”—that’s the word gospel, and it’s directly associated with this Messiah; I believe that’s the him “who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation and declares to Zion, ‘Your God reigns’” (Isa 52:7). So, this Servant, who is about to be exalted through his own suffering is the very one whose feet are beautiful and brings good news to people like you and me, if we will but surrender and recognize God is the king. I’m not the king.

Structure of the Song

TK: So this next Servant Song starts in Isaiah 52:13, and in the Hebrew you wouldn’t find a note that says Servant Song Four at this point, but you can just notice the text—we talked about it in the last podcast just saying reading slowly and just watching what Isaiah’s doing as he writes. It says, “Behold my servant shall act wisely.” Right there we say, OK, we’re back to the subject right here of the Servant here, “He shall be high and lifted up” (Isa 52:13). Just as we read slowly, we’re going to see something that in verse 53, though, “who has believed what he’s heard”—or chapter 53—“who has believed what he’s heard from us” (Isa 53:1). So we’re going to see some speakers change in this Servant Song and what it just means is we slow down and we read it carefully.

JD: That’s right. We want to be those who slow down. God’s going to open talking in the first THREE verses and then the prophet’s going to carry us from the beginning of chapter 53 all the way into the middle of verse 11. And then Yahweh is going to talk again and end the unit. So Yahweh’s words will frame the prophet’s words. in the midst of it, the focus, though, remains on this Servant person whose substitutionary sacrifice is going to save many and many, not only from one people, but from all the nations.

TK: We have an album cover for this. You can download it in our show notes, and we have an image from each of the four Servant Songs. It’s arranged, kind of—there’s two images on the left side, two on the right. The first one is from Isaiah 42 and it shows light pouring into a prison and there’s a man who looks like he’s been there for some time. And you’re just thinking, wow, that one’s going to be able to walk free. The light is based on a verse from Isaiah 42. That’s a picture of the servant. Then the next one is an arrow and a quiver. And then someone with his beard being pulled. Here, the image from this one is of a lamb, and just a comment I wanted to make about the way the album cover is put together. If you look at the two images on the left-hand side, the lamb and the man in prison, those ones are biographical. And the ones on the right are both autobiographical. So they’re kind of, as you start being able to picture in your head, I think I could picture the four Servant Songs based on this album cover and how they’re working and even who would be speaking. So even—you just said it here—ok, I know in this new one it’s not the Servant speaking. It’s like you said, Yahweh starting, then the Prophet, then returning back to Yahweh.

JD: That’s right. And yet the focus is on the one who in our picture is depicted as a lamb headed to the slaughter. We have the one leading the lamb, and then we have one like a priest who’s got the knife in his hand, ready to take this unblemished lamb as a substitute sacrifice for the sin of the one who is leading it. And that’s the role that Christ plays on behalf of the many.

Isa 52:13–15: The Servant Will Prosper, Sanctifying Many

TK: So, Jason let’s talk about those first three verses in Isaiah 52:13–15. It says, “Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. As many were astonished at you—his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—so shall he sprinkle many nations. Kings shall shut their mouths because of him, for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard, they understand.” What verses or thoughts jump out to you in this first chunk.

JD: Well, right off the bat. God is talking to a group, this “you,” and I think that “you” is Israel, who in just the previous verses, in verses 11 and 12 God talks about the new exodus that Israel will experience. Yet here, he says, “My servant will act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. As many were astonished at you,”—Israel, that is, in their own rebellion, in their own exile, in their own experience of the curse—just as many nations looked at you and said while they are accursed people, so too, “his appearance was so marred beyond human semblance and his form beyond that of the children of mankind.” So we’re getting this picture of one who is related to Israel, just as they experienced a curse, he experienced a curse. But that’s not where the passage opens. It opens by declaring “My servant will act wisely,” that is, the Servant is going to prosper in a significant way and will be high and lifted up and shall be exalted. So, on the one side, we might think what is—what exactly does this mean? Is it an image of like as Moses was lifted up? As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so would the Son of Man be lifted up? Or is this more like in Philippians chapter 2, where, because Jesus obeyed to the point of death, now God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name?

And I think it’s the latter element and the reason is because of two passages in Isaiah. First in Isaiah 6:1, it uses the exact same verb when it says, “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord.” And John 12 tells us the one Isaiah was seeing was Jesus himself in all of his glory, “I saw the Lord sitting upon the throne, high and lifted up.” And then in Isaiah 57, “The one who is high and lifted up, the one who is holy and who inhabits eternity, says, ‘I dwell in the high and holy place” (Isa 57:15). I think we’re envisioning here the Servant, after all that we’ve read, having a mission to save, to reach the broken, a mission that will include pain and rejection, a mission where he will be completely declared right by God. The ultimate end is declared in verse 13. “He will be high and lifted up.” On the other side of his perfect obedience will become a beautiful exaltation, as Paul says in Romans chapter 1 that God has highly, no, that’s Philippians chapter 2. God has highly exalted him and given him a name that is above every name. In Romans chapter 1 what we read is that through the resurrection, “he was appointed the son of God in power” (Rom 1:4)—declared to be, identified as the son of God in power. It happened through his resurrection from the dead. That’s, I think what we’re going to see—we’re going to see a retelling of his suffering and a depiction of his resurrection unto absolute sovereignty. When he receives the reward for all of his labor, that’s where we’re going in the Servant Song.

TK: And we start right with this prospering right here.

JD: That’s right. His prospering—it’s just declared right off the bat; he is one who will be elevated by God and will prosper fully like a garden that is flourishing in a new creation. That’s who he will be. That’s what his life will generate. “Unless a seed is planted in the ground and dies, it cannot bear fruit” (John 12:24). In this passage, that seed is planted, and it bears much.

TK: Would you say that the start then of verse 14—it says, “As many were astonished at you,” and we had just said this is Israel: “His appearance was so marred beyond human semblance”—that he’s wanting us to keep this to Israel’s in mind, even as we read this? That that phrase there is not a throw away phrase. He’s wanting us to remember this is Israel saving Israel.

JD: You really see it because Israel has endured the curse, and now he’s enduring the curse and there’s a parallel. Their exile, spiritual exile continues all the way to the cross event until he overcomes the sin problem. And so yes, I think you have that parallel of Israel’s experience of curse is followed by his experience of curse as he identifies with them fully in their sin. But what’s amazing is it’s not only the “you” of Israel, the many are mentioned, and the many is clarified in verse 15 and following, “So shall he sprinkle many nations. Kings shall shut their mouths because of him for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand.” This idea of sprinkling, that’s straight out of the Old Testament law where sprinkling points to cleansing from sin. And cleansing for the purpose of holiness. It’s how things are purified: through blood. So the priest would sprinkle blood, and that which they sprinkled that blood on would become pure and upright. Here’s what we read in Hebrews chapter 9, “If the blood of bulls and goats in the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Heb 9:13–14). This is a blood sprinkled upon us that cleanses us wholly. As the writer of Hebrews says in Hebrews chapter 10:22, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience.” That sprinkling happens through the blood of Christ. It really captures his mission. Why did he experience the curse? That not only the you, that is, Israel might be sprinkled, but it says so he might sprinkle many nations.

TK: What do you make of like when we’re reading along and we see poetry that reads like “Kings shall shut their mouths because of him” (Isa 52:15). And I read a statement like that and I say what, what is the prophet saying there? Like, what’s the image that’s supposed to come to mind? What are you thinking, a king shutting his mouth? What was he talking—what was he doing?

JD: Well, rather than instructing or warning or guiding, he stands in awe. It’s verse 14, “Many were astonished at you,” But then Isaiah explicates why it is that they shut their mouth. These kings will be quiet “for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand” (Isa 52:15). This points us right to Romans 15 where Paul says, “I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written, ‘Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand” (Rom 15:20–21). So, we’re truly talking about the mission of Jesus. Ultimately, through his offspring who become servants, the Servant gives rise to servants who carry out his mission, and that mission is to go to people who God’s word was never given to. The Jews had the revelation. The rest of the world didn’t. And yet, even though they were never told to be hoping in the Messiah, that there would ultimately be an answer out of their darkness and out of their sin problem, what they were never told about they know about. What they had never even considered seeing, now they see. They understand. So, what you have here is Gentiles, even the highest-level Gentiles, surrendering to a higher king because he is being high and exalted. So you can either bow down to Jesus ultimately as a prisoner of war, or you can surrender now to him as it says in Psalm 2, “Kiss the Son lest he be angry in the way. But blessed are those who find refuge in him” (Ps 2:12). And here we’re getting a picture of kings who are themselves recognizing good news, Good news has come: our God reigns. So they’re surrendering their kingship to a greater kingship and it’s beautiful.

TK: So we and the church then and the and the mission of the church is wrapped into this— the Kings hearing what they hadn’t heard before, that’s happening even right now. We are part of this story being told.

JD: Right, exactly it—we see it again in Jesus words in John 12. “Though he had done many signs before, the Jews, they still didn’t believe, so that the word.” Sorry, that’s jumping into our very next verse. I was jumping ahead of us. What were you going to say?

TK: It’s Ok. No, I just—it’s stunning. What I was just saying was this thought the implications of this chapter, even the working out of this chapter, not reading it as somebody who’s holding it at arms distance. Saying that was really amazing that that happened 2000 years ago or that Isaiah prophesied this so many years before Christ came. But it’s saying, no what we’re reading about right here, directly impacts our life at this very moment.

JD: We are among the very nations who are sprinkled clean and that changes our lives. It changes everything. Even though I, as a Gentile, didn’t receive the Old Testament scriptures. It wasn’t given to me. I didn’t grow up in that tradition. All of a sudden all of that history, all of that revelation, becomes mine. It becomes filled with words of hope, and that’s what we’re reading right now. The very words that the Jews had been given, the Gentiles have received. And here you and I are two Gentiles proclaiming, I hope, to Jews and Gentiles alike, that Jesus is the answer.

TK: And any wisdom we would have on our own—we’ve had to shut their our mouths because of what he did. We have nothing, nothing to say, like Paul said, but Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Cor 2:2).

Isaiah 53:1–3: Isaiah Announces the Servant as the Arm of Yahweh

So Jason, we get we get a switch in chapter 53. It starts, “Who has believed what he’s heard from us and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” (Isa 53:1). First of all, what’s the shift there? And then can you talk a second about this statement or this description, the arm of the Lord.

JD: “Who has believed what he has heard from us?” In verse 13 of the previous chapter, God talked about “my servant shall act wisely. My servant will be high and lifted up.” But now the Lord is being talked about. “Whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? Who has believed what he’s heard from us?” It seems as though we have a shift. Now the Prophet is talking, and he’s talking about a group that has not listened. And so he’s not talking about the kings in the previous verse who had not been told, but see, who had not heard but understand. He’s saying, “Who has believed what he’s heard from us,” and that us he’s including—it’s like there’s a group, a band that has heard good news and this takes us back actually to the previous chapter in verse 7, the Servant, the very one that we’re talking about, is the proclaimer of good news. “How beautiful upon the mountains of the feet of him, who brings good news, who publishes peace and brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation.” He shows up, declaring “to Zion your God reigns” (Isa 52:7). But the very next verse says there’s watchmen on the wall. They hear what the words of the Messiah are declaring, “The voice of your watchmen—they lift up their voice together, they sing for joy, for eye to eye they see the return of Yahweh to Zion” (Isa 52:8).

So I think Isaiah is counting himself among the good news proclaimers. He’s gotten a glimpse that God wins his victory through the Messiah, and he’s declaring alongside of others, “Who has believed what he’s heard from us?” Certainly, Isaiah’s own audience is not listening. God, the very people that Isaiah said, “I live among a people of unclean lips.” Then he goes on and his mission is to keep telling his people: keep looking but don’t see; keep listening but don’t hear (Isa 6:9). His mission is a mission of judgment to a people who are hard hearted. It says in Isaiah 29—it’s as if I bring a scroll to those who are read, and I say read the scroll and they say, sorry I can’t read it: it’s like a scroll that is closed. That’s what his audience is like, “Who has believed what he’s heard from us?” His audience is not listening. And what’s amazing is that Jesus’s audience didn’t listen, right. So now we go to the verse that I started to jump into, John 12:37. This is what John says, “Though Jesus had done many signs before the Jews, they still did not believe in him, so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled. ‘Lord, who has believed what he heard from us and to whom has the arm of the Lord, been revealed?’ Therefore they could not believe.” Or Paul, in that very amazing passage where he says, “How are they to preach unless they are sent?” And then he says, “How beautiful are the on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news” (Rom 10:15). And I’ll just say right there. He does something that’s directly related to our passage, he quotes Isaiah 52:7 that said, “How beautiful are the feet of him who brings good news?”

TK: He made it plural.

JD: He made it plural because he sees himself as one of the watchmen who, after he’s heard the good news from the Messiah that our God reigns, he becomes one of the new voices singing for joy and declaring our God reigns. So, Paul takes what was originally the beautiful feat of the Messiah and now declares—now it’s the beautiful feat of the church. But he goes on. How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news? And then Paul says of his unbelieving Jewish audience, “But they have not obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed what he heard from us.’ So faith comes from hearing and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom 10:16–17). So Paul’s audience is just like Isaiah’s audience, Isaiah says, “Who has believed what he’s heard from us?” The answer is no one’s listening God, my Jewish contemporaries are not listening. Jesus’s contemporaries weren’t listening. Paul’s contemporaries weren’t listening, and so because of that, Paul says, I’m going to the Gentiles now.

You asked about this arm and it is amazing, “To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed in Isaiah?” The arm of the Lord is the great instrument by which God acts. This reaches all the way back to the first exodus. God accomplished his deliverance with his strong arm, and so we read in Isaiah 52:9–10 “Break forth into singing, for the Lord has comforted his people and redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations and all the lands of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” God’s arm is the instrument by which he delivers. We see it similarly in Isaiah 59, God sees that “There was no man, and he wondered there is no one to intercede. Then his own arm brought him salvation, his righteousness upheld him” (Isa 59:16). The question before us, though, is how does this arm relate to our passage? And here’s what’s beautiful. Here is what is amazing. Isaiah says, “To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised. He was rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isa 53:1–3). Who are we talking about? Who’s the “he” that was despised and rejected by men? Tom. Who’s the he?

TK: The whole way through our Servant Songs, we’d say it’s the Servant.

JD: It’s the Servant. And we would say this is Jesus, right? But when we look at how the he shows up in verse two, what’s preceding it, it says “he grew up before him.” So we have two individuals. The “he” who is like a child growing up before his father. And then we go to the previous verse to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before him. Well, the him must be the Lord. Well, who’s the he? The only he that I can recognize in the context is the arm. God’s arm is a person. It’s as if when God rolls up his sleeves, we see Jesus in action. Jesus is the savior. Jesus is the victor. This is why in Isaiah 59, right after it says his own arm brought him salvation, that is Yahweh’s arm, Jesus, brought him salvation and his righteousness upheld him. “He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; and put on garments of vengeance for clothing and wrapped himself up in zeal as a cloak” (Isa 59:17). Who is this warrior. It’s the arm of God. It is Jesus and that armor that we just read should remind us of Ephesians, chapter 6, the armor of God. Well, it’s our armor that we wear: the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness. It’s our armor because it was first the Messiah’s armor. He is God’s strong arm. He is the instrument by which God saves. He was the one Jesus who saved Israel at the Exodus (Jude 5), and it is Jesus who saves God’s new people through the new exodus.

TK: So we have these images. We have the image, you just said, almost like God rolling up his sleeves. And you’d say, what are you looking at? A powerful arm. Who’s the powerful arm that’s going to go to work? It’s the Servant. And then in verse two, we have “He grew up before him like a young plant and like a root out of dry ground.” We’re changing some images there. So what do you see in that verse?

JD: Yeah, it’s surprising because we’ve got this image of power that all of a sudden moves to this image of weakness, right? And yet that’s where the Messiah’s portrait began in the book. A virgin will conceive a son and will name him Emmanuel, Isaiah 7:14. Isaiah 9:6. He will be a child king who will sit on the throne of David forever, and he will be called wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of peace. He’s a child in Isaiah chapter 11 when we read that “a wolf will dwell with the lamb and a leopard will lie down with the young goat, a little child shall lead them” (Isa 11:6) We’ve got to be thinking it’s the child king, right? He looks weak. He looks small and then it goes on to say “the cow and the bear will graze; their young shall lie down together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the whole of the cobra” (Isa 11:7–8). Don’t just think this is talking about any child. This is the exact same word that we read—that’s translated as young plant in Isaiah 53:2. This is a suckling. The nursing child is a suckling that plays over the hold of the Cobra.

TK: It doesn’t even say plant in 53:2. He grew up before him like a suckling, correct?

JD: A suckling? Yeah, it’s something small. It’s something needy. And yet out of that neediness, God will display amazing power. But this plays into the whole idea in 1 Corinthians chapter 1 how the cross is foolishness to most of the world (1 Cor 1:18). When they look at God’s way of saving, they don’t want anything to do with it. And yet it is the only way. The path to glory is the path of suffering.

TK: So what? So we have the “High and lifted up” in 52:13 and then here he’s despised and rejected, and no one sees it in him. And then Isaiah says in 53:3 at the end of the verse, “He was despised, and we esteemed him not.” Who’s the we there?

JD: Yeah, I think that Isaiah is identifying his own self and other followers. He’s identifying himself with Israel, the rebellious Israel who had not listened originally, who did not hope like they should hope. And yet, ultimately, he’s among those who have surrendered. But I think that’s the most likely referent to the “we.” “We” is all the world that wasn’t hoping in the Messiah. That was the original “we” that wouldn’t think of his suffering. It’s even like the disciples in the New Testament who didn’t want to accept that Jesus had to die. And Peter’s declaration makes Jesus say, “Get behind me Satan” (Matt 16:23) because Peter didn’t understand that the path was one of suffering unto triumph. The sins of man had to be paid for. And Jesus knew what it would take. He would have to die a sinner’s death in order to save sinners.

Isaiah 53:4–9: The Servant Afflicted to Justify the Many

TK: Which brings us right to verses 4 through 6. This this is the part that says, “Surely he’s borne our griefs carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted” (Isa 53:4). So we have a this is what he did. And then this is what we thought. So he was carrying our griefs and ourselves—we thought God was judging him.

JD: Right. He—it looks like he is bearing God’s curse. It’s as if we were Job’s three friends who are saying you must have sinned. You’ve got the problem. It looks like God is punishing him. And yet it says “He was wounded for our transgressions; crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed…. [God] lays upon him the iniquity of us all” (Isa 53:5–6). This is some of the clearest verses in all the Bible speaking about the substitutionary nature of the Servant’s suffering. He only gains victory for us by identifying wholly with us in our curse and in our sin. It’s like in John chapter 3 “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up” (John 3:14). The irony of identifying Jesus, the Son of Man, with the elevated serpent, who’s the embodiment of all curse and the embodiment of all that is hostile to God—“God made him to be sin, who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21). In the words here—so that by his stripes we might be healed, so that through his chastisement we might experience peace (Isa 53:5). This is the great exchange, our sins put upon Christ, his righteousness ultimately counted to us, so that we might experience peace and healing.

TK: So, who is the “our” here? “Surely he has borne our griefs.” Because earlier we read about a people who were walking by their—in the last Servant Song—walking by their own light. They made their own torches. They refused to walk in the light given by the Servant. And he says, “You will lie down in torment” by my hand (Isa 50:11). So there’s a there’s a—the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Who’s the group we’re talking about?

JD: Yeah, the us, all the us again. This is those who have heard good news, who have recognized their desperate state, and then, they’re the Watchmen. This is the many that were astonished in verse 14 at the suffering of the Christ, and it’s the many who are sprinkled. So Isaiah is just a part of a group, but it’s a group bigger than ethnic Israelites, and it’s also a group smaller than all ethnic Israelites.

TK: Because there’s some who utterly reject this.

JD: That’s right, they’re those, I mean, they’re the very ones who are wounding him, who are crushing him, who are putting chastisement upon him and striking him. They’re the ones who were rejecting the King of kings, and many of them were the ethnic Israelites along with Pontius Pilate and Herod and the Romans, doing exactly what God’s hand had purposed and predestined to take place (Acts 4:27). The all here, not all without distinction, but rather an all that is inclusive of every type of person. All of us who have heard all of us who have been sprinkled, all of us who have seen and surrendered, standing in awe, ww—that’s the all I believe. For whom all…

TK: Yep, all who fall in this category.

JD: That’s right, “all we, like sheep have gone astray” (Isa 53:6), and yet it’s the all and the many that are identified with Jesus in his suffering. We’re gonna see it very clearly shortly, in a passage from the New Testament. But I’m not going to go there until we hit verse 11.

TK: OK, so we have the Lord laying on him the iniquity of us all (Isa 53:6), and then we get we get the lamb imagery which we have in our album cover. “He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, like a sheep that before it shears is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment, he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?” And then we read this, which would be familiar to those who’ve read the gospel accounts, “They made his grave with the wicked and with the rich man in his death, although he had done no violence and there was no deceit in his mouth” (Isa 53:8–9). Jason the lamb imagery—after you read a passage like this, does it change how you read for instance, the imagery from the law of Moses, for instance, about the lambs? Should it change how I see the lambs there?

JD: Well, I think we’ve got to see, honestly, what is happening with every sacrifice is war. You have a wrathful judge, justly wrathful, who is punishing iniquity and his wrath in order to make things right. That is, to establish righteousness once again. The only way that can happen is by his rightly killing the sinner or a substitute. This is why every lamb had to be recognized as unblemished so that it was clear this lamb is not dying because it’s sick or because it has failure, but rather this lamb is dying because it’s standing as my representative. It’s on my behalf. And so every time we read like Leviticus 1–7 and we see all the pattern of sacrifice in Israel, we should be thinking that it was pointing to this. And what this is within this chapter is a divine war against sin in order to save real sinners.

TK: With a perfect sacrifice.

JD: With a perfect sacrifice. “Stricken for the transgression of my people” (Isa 53:8).

TK: I’m thinking of a passage, Psalm 34. It’s a Psalm of David, and there’s a spot there, it says in 34:19, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones not one of them is broken.” And David does something in this Psalm. He’s talking about a righteous one, but he quotes something that said about the Passover lamb, but he applies it to a righteous person. So already, even before Isaiah, a transfer is being made from the lamb to a coming righteous one. So this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this in God’s word.

JD: No, the pattern of substitution and the pattern of what we would call imputation, that is God counting something that is not to someone—he counts our sins to Jesus. This, even though he was not a sinner. And he counts Jesus’s righteousness to us, even though we are not. And yet he does so by faith. And because it’s by faith and we’ve confessed our sins, he then, in turn, because of what Jesus did, is indeed “faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

TK: Verse nine—it says, “they made his grave with the wicked with a rich man in his death” (Isa 53:9). Passages like this you think right away that, well we saw that (like I mentioned in the gospel accounts) they buried Jesus in a rich man’s tomb. And we have a couple ways of thinking about this. One is to take this verse and go forward into the Gospels, which is good and right to do that. But the other is to say that that happened so that we would know—we would have a hook to go into Isaiah 53 and say, am I reading this right? Does this really apply to the Lord Jesus? And we’re not just looking for this one verse then. Finding that—where Jesus is buried there—is sending us back to Isaiah 53 and telling us read this whole account because Jesus’s death and resurrection—this whole Isaiah 53 is about that. So I’m super thankful for things like this where you’ll get something in the Gospel accounts and you’ll say, OK, that came straight out of Isaiah. It’s sending me back there and giving me the confirmation I need. Yep, this is about what I thought it was about. This is about the Lord Jesus.

Isa 53:10–12: The Servant Creates Offsping

JD: Amen. That’s a really good process of reading our Bibles. And then we’ve got this reaffirmation, “No violence had he done and there was no deceit in his mouth” (Isa 53:9). This is simple reaffirmation of what we already saw of the servant in Isaiah chapter 50. Within the courtroom of God, he is indeed completely blameless. “Yet it was the will of Yahweh to crush him” (Isa 53:10). There’s so much here, Tom. But to consider what does God delight in—and in this text, God’s delight, his purpose, his will was to crush his Son, to put him to grief, not randomly, but for a purpose. God’s will was to crush his Son “when his soul makes an offering for guilt.” There he is: he’s the lamb on the altar, being punished for sin. It says when this happens, under the crushing hand of God—crushed for our iniquities by the purpose of God—it says three things: “he shall see offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of Yahweh will prosper in his hands” (Isa 53:10).

He just died. He was the offering for guilt. But now it says if he will do this, he will see. This is resurrection, Tom. He will see. And what he will see is offspring. We know that Jesus in his body never married and never had kids, and yet what he sees is offspring. And in this text that offspring is motivating him. Not only will, on the other side of his resurrection, he see offspring, it says his days will be forever, they’ll be prolonged. And God’s will will prosper in his hand. Now at this it just pauses and restates something that it just said, “Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied” (Isa 53:11). So, what will he see in verse 10?

TK: He’s going to see offspring.

JD: He sees offspring and now it says when he sees those offspring, he is satisfied. And Tom, I just want to jump into Hebrews chapter 12. What is that joy set before him that moved Jesus to enter into the cross, despising its shame? Isaiah 53, says the joy that motivated Jesus to persevere through his suffering was the joy of a community, a people. On the other side of the cross event some from every tongue and tribe and people and nation would be gathered with new identities, new birth certificates, declaring Jerusalem as our mother. This one was born there. That one was born there (Psalm 87). Jesus becomes the groom of a new bride, a New Jerusalem with Jews and Gentiles gathered to the city. We are the offspring of this union. And we are the joy. And as a church, as we send forth missionaries and as we see those missionaries endure suffering, to what end? It’s the same end. The joy is the hope of seeing more and more offspring of the Messiah.

TK: That’s what it says in it says in Isaiah 49, so the second Servant Song, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob to be bring back the preserved of Israel. I will make you as a light for the nations that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth” (Isa 49:6)—offspring everywhere.

JD: I love it. And all those offspring, as we will see in Isaiah 54 and beyond, are the servants. the Servant gives birth to servants and those servants take up his mission. How does it happen? “Out of the anguish of his soul, he shall see and be satisfied.” Then it says this, “By his knowledge shall the righteous one”—so there he is. He’s righteous. God has declared him righteous (Isaiah 50). By his knowledge—he knows what he’s doing. He recognizes his mission; he knows what he’s come for. He is that sharp arrow in the quiver of God, ready to be put in the arrow for this precise moment. “By his knowledge, shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous” (Isa 53:11). There’s the many again, the many nations who are sprinkled are the many who are accounted righteous. The righteous one accounts many righteous, even as he bears their iniquities.

TK: Yeah. So, they didn’t start righteous.

JD: No, they didn’t. And that’s why Isaiah can talk about the all the “we,” the “us.” Our transgressions are the ones that he bore. He bears the iniquities of the many in order that the many may be counted righteous. And that language of the many and the language of the righteous, Paul picks up in Romans chapter 5 and I just draw our attention here. “Therefore, as one trespass [of Adam] led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness”—there it is, by the righteous one—“leads to justification of life for all men. For as by one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners,”—the many were made sinners—“so by the one man’s obedience, the many will be made righteous” (Rom 5:18–19). That’s what Paul’s talking about. This is Paul’s gospel, and he is celebrating it. The many here are many nations and already Isaiah was envisioning a global people as the offspring of this new-covenant worker.

TK: So we we’ve got him and he’s won a victory and won a people, and it says, “Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many and he shall divide the spoil with the strong” (Isa 53:12). Who are the strong Jason.

JD: Well, the many is the nations and the strong are those who have been made strong or numerous. A multiplied group is what it could also mean here. It’s the group that have been saved; it’s the group that he died to redeem, and it’s possible this is actually to be just tweaked in its wording so that the many and the multitude or the strong are actually the spoil he gains and the reward that he claims. So that it’s not just that that he gains a portion with them, but he gains a portion in them. That the spoil is indeed the strong itself. But regardless, this is the group that he has saved. Why? “Because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors” (Isa 53:12). There it is. Right there he is one even now, Tom, who is standing before the father interceding on our behalf. John says “I write this whole book to you so that you will not sin. But if we do sin, we have an advocate with the father, Jesus Christ the righteous one” (1 John 2:1)—straight out of Isaiah 53. This is amazing hope.

TK: I think that’s a great reminder too. We can read this in Isaiah 53. We can read the gospel accounts and think the story of Christ has been done and he accomplished it. And it’s almost like he’s out of the picture. But that’s not what it says here. It says he will see his offspring. He shall prolong his days and the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. So the idea is he won a victory and he’s still working after this point. So making intercession even today.

JD: Yeah, right where we started. Right now, he is high and lifted up and exalted, and from that context of having all authority in heaven and on earth, he is working the will of his Father. The will of God is prospering in his hand as he works it out through his church by the power of the Spirit. It’s happening even now, and Isaiah envisioned it 700 years before Jesus. It is so hopeful and life-bringing. The portrait of the gospel in these Servant Songs is so rich and it demands just pausing and resting and celebrating.

TK: Amen. A man pausing, resting, celebrating and proclaiming. Do you know this story? Jason. This has been sweet. I look forward to hopefully someday we’ll get back in Isaiah because just looking at the start of Isaiah 54, there’s a lot coming up that’s pretty sweet in this book.

JD: Oh my goodness, there’s a lot that’s preceded and a lot to follow that is so sweet. But this month in Isaiah’s Servant Songs has been very special.

TK: Very good. All right, well may you and I, Jason, and may all those who are hearing here find our rest and our joy in the Servant and may we—like we read Paul and Barnabas—may we take up his mission as well. Amen. Blessings. We will see you next time.

JY: Thank you for joining us for Gear Talk. If you haven’t done so already, go to our show notes and download the album cover and the lecture notes for our month in the Servant Song series. Hope you can join us next week.

Servant Song 3 – Isaiah 50:4-11

Servant Song 3 – Isaiah 50:4-11

Servant Song 3 – Isaiah 50:4-11

by Jason DeRouchie, Tom Kelby, and Jack Yaeger | A Month in the Servant Songs


JY: Welcome to Gear Talk, a podcast on biblical theology. This is the third episode in our month in the Servant Song series. There are four Servant Songs in Isaiah, and last week we talked about the second Servant Song. This week, Jason and Tom talked about Servant Song number three, our text is found in Isaiah 50:4–11. We’ve created an album cover for this month in the Servant Song series. Be sure to go to our show notes and download the album cover. Tom and Jason refer to this album cover throughout this podcast. You’ll also find other Jason DeRouchie lecture notes on the Servant Songs.

Servant Song Three Album Cover

TK: Welcome to Gear Talk. I’m Tom.

JD: And I’m Jason. Good to have you all back.

TK: All right, Jason, we are in week three of our Servant Songs. So what’s the Servant Song?

JD: The Servant Songs are four poems in the book of Isaiah, the second half of Isaiah, all of which are saturated with a picture of the gospel. These are—all of them include the term servant and apply it to Jesus as the Messiah. The first and last of these four Servant Songs are biographical with God talking about his Servant and the two inner poems are autobiographical, where we hear the actual voice of the Christ himself. So we thought it would be great to spend a month in these songs that celebrate the person and work of the Messiah Jesus.

TK: And we have an album cover which you can download from our show notes. I’m looking at it right now. Our creative director, Mark Yeager, did this. It’s yellow—we’ve chosen that color, it signifies the second part of the Old Testament in our gears. That’s why it’s called Gear Talk. The second part, the Prophets—we have this yellow album cover. It has four different pictures on it, and they’re arranged—if you were looking at the album cover with a man in prison in the lower left-hand corner, and then an archer shooting an arrow that’s lit up like it’s almost going counterclockwise, so that would be almost at 3:00. And if you get just next to it—but we’re kind of moving up towards the top—you have a man pulling another man’s beard and then at the very top you have someone leading a sheep and someone else with a knife in their hand. So, these are all representative of all four of the Servant Songs, so this one Jason that we’re in the third one today, we have a man pulling somebody’s beard. What’s going on here?

JD: Well that that image comes directly out of our third Servant Song here in Isaiah 50:4–11. And specifically, it comes out of verse 6, where the Servant declares, “I gave my back to those who strike, and I gave my cheeks to those who pull out the beard. I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting.” So, he’s testifying to the suffering that he endured, the intense persecution that he experienced as part of his mission to save. So, the image is just one image out of the entire song that helps represent the role the Servant was playing.

TK: And a stunning thing about it is his beard is being pulled and you see this person doing it, but that’s who he came to save.

JD: It is.

TK: So, it’s not just an enemy, it’s also the—if you want to say it—the target. It’s why he came to earth.

JD: Yeah, the very ones he came to save are the very ones who were rejecting him as their Messiah.

Reading and Interpreting in the Prophets

TK: So, Jason, before we look at verses 4 to 11, I have a question about reading the Prophets in general. And for those of us who preach or teach and reading our Bibles devotionally whatever, it seems like the prophets switch subjects a lot or it’s hard to track at times. Do you have a strategy that you use when you’re reading to know? Like what we’ve said is 4 through 11 are of a Servant Song, how would we know that if we were just reading along and we’re reading verses one to three in Isaiah 50—like how do we find these changes?

JD: Well, in many prophetic books you have introductory statements like, “Thus says the Lord,” and in fact in Isaiah 49 we get one of those in verse 22, so we know there’s an a fresh beginning happening. But the same thing happens in Isaiah 50:1, “Thus says the Lord.” We can still be reading in that section and all of a sudden it seems as though there’s even a different voice speaking. Yahweh is speaking at one instance, sometimes it’s the voice of his prophet. In this instance, it’s the voice of the Messiah himself and it just demands careful, slow reading to—even tracking key things like pronouns that are small words that are referring to nouns. And we’ve got to figure out to whom is this pronoun referring. And in this instance, when we open up our Servant Song (“The Lord has given me”), we have to ask ourselves who’s the me because it’s not the Lord himself. Either the prophet is talking or someone else is talking. And as we walk through the song itself and it’s in verse 10 that the individual is clarified, it is the Servant, Yahweh’s Servant who’s actually doing the talking here.

We have to just keep reading and wrestling. And that’s why, boy, a preacher needs to be able to bathe himself.—it’s a blessing that we gather once per week because a preacher needs to take the time to wrestle hard with his Bible open. Spending time in the biblical text itself, even before you ever look at what a study Bible says, or what commentators say, to be able to have that level of conviction, I think I understand what’s going on here. But it often takes very careful reading and then seeking confirmation. Have I indeed gotten this? Am I discerning this rightly? A key confirmation often comes by looking at the cross references and considering how other biblical authors actually interpreted the very passage that we’re looking at. Did they consider who the reference was and clarify for us who the passage, whom the passage is speaking about?

TK: That’s really helpful. So 50:1 says, “Thus says the Lord.” So, these are Yahweh’s words. And we’re going to assume that stays the same until some signal says that’s changed. And that’s what we find in verse 4. “The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught.” So right away, as a reader, I’m saying something changed here we have a new speaker.

JD: We have a new speaker. Intriguingly, within a book that often identifies this royal child—this is the first half of the book—with God himself. And so it could be that the thus says the Lord—I mean all of this is still God’s word, and God is speaking, whether through the Prophet whether on his own accord or through the voice of, in this instance, the Messiah himself. Yet, it’s very clear that now Yahweh is being talked about in third person (how we would word it grammatically), whereas there is another one, the me, that is in first person. So yes, the voice has shifted even though all of it is God’s word.

TK: That’s helpful. I think just that thought even of slowing down even if I’m trying to figure it out like OK, it seems like something has changed here, slow it down and see if I can piece it together. And you even said in in your mind you might be holding out a couple of options of who’s the me, “The Lord God has given me.” I might be thinking it might be Isaiah, it might be the Servant, I’m going to read a little further and hopefully figure out who it is.

JD: That’s exactly right. And often for me that’s exactly how it was. I took 2 1/2 years to walk through a number of these key passages in Isaiah in the context of my Sunday school class teaching for one hour, week after week after week over 2 1/2 years. And for me it was exactly that. I wasn’t—I didn’t regularly have commentaries open, it was just me and the text, wrestling, trying to understand the flow of thought, who was doing the talking. And then upon that slow reflection, I was able to shape material that I could then serve my people with.

TK: And you’ve said it before we talked about it on an earlier podcast, but for people who they don’t know Hebrew, for instance, they are able, they are fully able to do this, correct?

JD: God’s given us some great translations and it’s I think it’s always good if you’re an English Bible only teacher to have a few different translations open week after week as you’re wrestling just to ensure, are all the translations reading the Hebrew—or the Greek text before in the New Testament—reading the Hebrew text in a comparable way. And sometimes we’ll see, oh, the NIV and the ESV or the ESV and the New American Standard actually differ at this point. And then it lets us know, ok, there’s a question point here and it might move us to dive in and consider what a commentator has to say, or to reflect more deeply on that passage. But yes, we’ve got great translations that have been shaped by godly men and women who want us to hear rightly the very word of God, and so the careful eye can let us find diamonds and not just rake leaves.

The Servant is a Devoted, Learning, Listening Disciple

TK: That’s really helpful. All right. So what do you find in this third Servant Song? It says, “The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught” (Isa 50:4). What are we getting here, Jason?

JD: Well, it’s, I mean, it’s just amazing. Right off the bat, you have a disciple, a disciple of Yahweh, that is, he is one who has been taught God. He says, “He has given me a tongue of those who are taught,” so he is a teacher. And that right there is a reminder of chapter 49, the second Servant Song, where it said the Servant declared, “He made my mouth like a sharp sword” (Isa 49:2). He has a word-based ministry that’s direct and piercing. Now we learn God is the one who’s given me a tongue of those who are taught. So he’s a disciple who’s been taught, and now he’s able to instruct others. It says God’s given me this tongue “that I may know how to sustain with the word him who is weary” (Isa 50:4). And that all of a sudden makes me remember Isaiah 42, the first Servant Song where it mentioned that the Servant himself will not break a bruised reed and he will not quench a faintly burning wick (Isa 42:3). He’s come to help the broken to help the needy, and he’s gonna do it through his words of life.

And so we have this individual who’s a disciple of God himself. He has been taught by the Lord, so that in turn, he may teach others. It reminds me of Jesus saying things, “I have much to say to you … but he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him,” that’s John 8:26. Or John 15:15, “All that I have heard from my father, I have made known to you.” Earlier in John chapter 7, the Jews are marveling at Jesus and they actually say, “How is it that this man has learning when he has never studied,” right? And then Jesus says explicitly, “My teaching is not mine, but is his who sent me” (John 7:15–16). So here is Christ, who has been growing as a disciple at the feet of God himself and this is challenging to me, what I read next, “Morning by morning he awakens, he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught” (Isa 50:4). We have so many who think I don’t need to spend time with God, I’m good. I can start my day and just get started. Jesus himself, who is God in the flesh—what this verse testifies is morning by morning God awakened him in order to teach him. He spent time with God, listening to God’s word in the morning. It’s a challenge for all of us. The God man himself needed morning devotions. May we be those who seek to hear from God, following the Messiah himself.

TK: It reminds me—two different spots, but it reminds me of first of all, Psalm 5:5 where it says, “Give attention”—verse two—“Give attention to the sound of my cry, my king and my God, for to you do I pray. O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.” And I don’t know if the—it’s the best idea of preparing a sacrifice, but that the idea there is I am sending my prayers to you as a sacrifice of incense, really. And I’m watching to see what you’re going to say and what you’re going to do. So, way back in the Psalms—but even the same thought, we have one story from Jesus’s childhood and the one story is him in the temple when he’s 12 years old. And he’s asking questions of the Jewish leaders, which is really an amazing thing because we could think he’s quizzing them like he already knows everything and he’s trying to catch them in something wrong. But that idea of no, he genuinely is being taught and hearing.

JD: That’s right. He is a man of the word of God, and it didn’t just come to him. He as the God man grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and with man. You already mentioned Psalm 5. I think of Psalm 119:47, “I rise before dawn and cry for help. I hope in your words.” Mark 1 we read, “And rising very early in the morning while it was still dark, Jesus departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed” (Mark 1:35). What we’re seeing there is the working out of what Isaiah—what he said was true in Isaiah 50. These are his words. He’s just—we’re getting pulled in to the inner life of the Christ. And he’s telling us it came to me morning by morning. That’s when I was taught. He’s a disciple of his father, and he learned it morning by morning.

TK: And you’re right, that is something we saw earlier. Paul and Barnabas applying Servant Songs to themselves. I think the same thing here, saying, Lord, would you open my ears? And I pray that they would be awakened and I wouldn’t be dull to you. Jesus saying, “He who has ears, let him hear.” Clearly he was thinking there are people in the crowd who couldn’t hear because in a spiritual sense, they had no ears to hear their ears needed to be awakened. So what is He hearing Jason? Or you’re thinking something? No.

JD: No. Well, it was exactly that. What is he hearing? It’s really a comfort to me, Tom, and I hope it’s a comfort to our hearers. Why? I mean, there’s actually a motivation clause. “The Lord has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with the word him who is weary” (Isa 50:4). Jesus said, “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me” (Matt 11:28–29). So, he becomes the teacher—frame, gentle and lowly in heart and you’ll find rest. That’s why—I mean it was God has taught me that I may know how to sustain with the word it. It’s so comforting. So, the Father is the initiator here and he’s calling Jesus as his ultimate disciple in order that we, as Jesus’s followers, might find sustaining grace in a very hard and difficult world.

I think about Jesus in John 17 when he prays to the Father, he says, “I don’t ask that you take them out of the world, but that you would guard them from the evil one…. Sanctify them in your truth, your word is truth” (John 17:15, 17). So, Jesus wants us to be protected. He wants us to be helped, and he knows that it’ll come through the word of God. “Did you receive the spirit,” Paul says, “by the works of the law or by hearing with faith”—and it’s clear, that’s the answer. And so, “If you began with the Spirit, why would you continue on with the flesh?” (Gal 3:2–3). May we be a people who are serious about seeking the Lord to hear his voice and to be motivated, like Jesus was, to be able to sustain those who are weary. We need to be filled up so that we have something to give. When we meet others who need to be filled up and giving them our words will mean very little. What they need is the sustaining word of the living God, and Jesus is the ultimate model of this for us.

The Servant Suffers to Accomplish God’s Purposes

TK: That’s right. Here, he’s saying he opened my ear, and he opened it to something that was certainly not pleasant as you go further here, verse 5: “The Lord has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I turned not backward. I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting” (Isa 50:5–6). Why would the Lord call him to do this, Jason?

JD: It is the means by which he experienced the—by which we experience our great redemption. He lowers himself, humbling himself, experiencing the full weight of the curse, the full weight of darkness and brokenness, the full weight of rejection in order that God might fulfill his ultimate purposes of saving a broken world. He has to get to the cross. And he gets to the cross unjustly. So he enters in, under the purposes of God, God opens his ear with words of salvation. But what we remember is that “the word of the cross is folly to the world, but to us are who are being saved, it is the power of God” (1 Cor 1:18). Here’s what his mission is. He comes with words of hope and life. He was not rebellious. He heard, and it overflowed in a life of obedience. He did not turn backward, it says, even unto the point of intense trial and suffering and persecution.

TK: Do you think, as you ponder this and you think about his ear being open to God’s words, when he knew that the Messiah was going to suffer, part of his ear being opened as he’s reading the, what we call, the Old Testament—for him it would have just been his Bible. His ears are open to the message he’s seeing there. Hey, this is about me. This is what I am facing here.

JD: He’s getting his marching orders from the word of God itself through prophets like Isaiah. God clarified for the Christ who he was and what he was supposed to do. And so it is that he enters in. And reflecting on passages like this and reflecting on what they witnessed, apostles like Matthew testify, they spit in his face. They struck him. Some slapped him. Or they released for themselves, Barrabas, having scourged Jesus, delivering him up to be crucified, they were striking his head with a reed, spitting on him, kneeling down in homage of him. Or Luke—the men were holding Jesus in custody. What were they doing? They were mocking him as they beat him. Jesus knew this was where he was headed.

And what’s amazing is that we are the body of Christ, and Jesus had to endure his own cross before he enjoyed his crown, and so we too, as the body of Christ, have to carry our cross. We must expect it. Suffering is expected for the saint in order that we might enjoy our resurrection. I’m thinking specifically of two texts. Here’s Paul in Philippians chapter 2, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not did not count equality with God a thing to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the very form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. Being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:5–8). Or Peter in 1 Peter 2:22, he says, “To this you have been called because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example so that you might follow in his footsteps.” It’s just amazing. Or again, Hebrews chapter 12 when it says, “For the joy that was set before him, he endured the cross” (Heb 12:2). And then it says, don’t grow weary in well doing, but keep your eyes on Jesus, who for this joy endured the cross.

We keep our eyes on him and follow in his pattern. That’s not all that Jesus was. He was much more than a pattern. He was our substitute, who bore the penalty of God’s wrath upon himself in order that we might be declared righteous. But along with providing our pardon and being our perfection, he is also our pattern. What we’re seeing here worked out in his ministry here in this Servant Song, is a path of suffering that becomes a path for us again, “To this you have been called because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example. You also should follow in his steps.” May God help us.

TK: I’m looking again at the album cover Mark created and the picture of the man pulling the Servant’s beard and, based on everything we’re talking about, you could look at that picture and say that’s the church right there. We are walking in the same footsteps and so as we read these things and meditate on it and say, wow, the Servant needed open ears if he was going to make it. In the same way if we’re following in the footsteps of the Lord, we need open ears. We need to come to him every day and say, Lord, I have to hear you very clearly for what you’ve called me to.

JD: That’s right.

TK: The picture is harder to look at. It’s hard enough to look at, but it’s harder to look at when you say wait a minute, that’s a picture of also us. That’s the church.

JD: Many throughout the world have endured, been enduring the sufferings parallel to those of the Christ for centuries. But here in the US for so long, we’ve had government in place that sets forth principles and laws that are just, that are upright, that are good. But increasingly, that’s not the case. And the church in the West is increasingly going to be feeling what it means to be maligned, what it means to identify with the sufferings of Christ and follow him in his example. May God help the church. And it will only happen, we will only be helped by being grounded in the book, by being the kind of disciple that Jesus was, filling ourselves so that we in turn can be poured out.

The Servant Endures for Joy

TK: Amen. Moving forward, Jason. He’s going through these things. And just reading it, you wonder how much can he take? Is he going to make it? And we read in verse 7, “But the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I’ve set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame” (Isa 50:7).

JD: Yes, that reminds us of the first Servant Song where God just declared, “He will not grow faint or be discouraged until he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law” (Isa 42:4). But it also reminds you of the second Servant Song and Isaiah 49:4, where he says, “I’ve labored in vain. I’ve spent my strength for nothing and in vanity.” Yet he declares, “My right is with Yahweh, my recompense is with God.” And here he declares again, “I have not been disgraced, I have set my face like flint” (Isa 50:7). It reminds me of Luke chapter 9, where Jesus—actually where where we learn of Jesus, “Although the people did not receive him.” It well, sorry, it says, “The people did not receive him because his face was set toward Jerusalem” (Luke 9:53). That sense of mission he had come to die that many might live.

TK: Those who walked before were afraid, and those who were behind were astonished or something, something like that. Everyone is afraid as he marches to his death. The picture we’re looking at the the man pulling the beard. This whole thing you’d say, who is the stronger one? And you just assume, well, it’s the people who are pulling the beard or it’s the one spitting or whatever. But what we’re realizing is, no, actually, it’s the one whose beard is being pulled. He is the strong one because of God.

JD: Well, it’s just amazing. I was meditating recently on how is it that Jesus—how the writer of Hebrews could say he was tempted in every way that we are yet without sin. The one who really knows temptation, the one who really feels its power is the one who doesn’t give in, but who maintains, even amidst all the pressure—he doesn’t break. Jesus, more than any other person on the planet, knew temptation. He knew the challenge in a way that you and I haven’t even experienced because we’re too weak; we’re too prone to wander; we too easily give in when the pressure comes. Yet Jesus never gave in. He trusted his father completely. Yes, because he was tapped in to the source of greatest power, he indeed was the stronger one, and he willingly gave up himself. He willingly gave up his back to striking, his cheeks, to having the beard pulled out, his face to disgrace and spitting willingly. And at any moment the temptation was there. Give in, give up. And yet, as he said at Gethsemane, “Not my will but yours be done.” What a savior, Tom, what a savior.

TK: I could call legions of angels, but I am not doing that because I see something ahead of me, “For the joy set before me” (Heb 12:2). That’s why I’m doing this.

JD: That’s right.

The Servant is Made Righteous and Makes Offspring Righteous

TK: So we get to, he says, “He who vindicates me is near, who will contend with me?” (Isa 50:8). He’s saying God is the one who’s raising me up.; who could be contending with me then? “Let us stand up together. Who is my adversary? Let him come near to me.” So now we’re almost getting a face off, if you will. And he’s saying I want my adversary to come up and see if he will stand and what’s going to happen to this one who comes against me.

JD: It is awesome, very literally. In the Hebrew where it says, “He who vindicates me is near,” it’s very literally “He who declares me righteous.” And this is—as we’re going to see in the fourth Servant Song—this is the righteous one. God has declared him righteous. It makes me think of 1 Timothy chapter 3, where in that summary thesis statement of the entire book it says, “[Jesus] was manifested in the flesh, vindicated”—that is declared to be right—”by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up into glory” (1 Tim 3:16). That vindication by the Spirit happens at his resurrection. And the point is death couldn’t hold him. No accusations could be made. He indeed was blameless.

It’s texts like, “He became sin who knew no sin”—no sin whatsoever,—”so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21). Jesus himself in John, 8 says, “Which one of you convicts me of sin if I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?” (John 8:46). Or Pilot’s wife right before the crucifixion, Matthew 27:19, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today.” Or how about the thief on the cross? “We indeed are being condemned justly,” he says, “for we are receiving the due rewards of our deeds. But this man has done nothing wrong” (Luke 23:41). Or, amazingly, even Judas, the one who betrayed Jesus, Matthew 27:3–4, “When Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind. He brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.”

TK: Right.

JD: Jesus was the righteous one, and it’s only because he was the righteous one that we, in turn, can be counted righteous. Now let—within the whole flow of Isaiah, there’s four texts that really bring this together, and it it helps us understand the significance of the fact that no one could accuse him. First off, in Isaiah 45:24–25, God promises—this is what we read—he promises to justify all the offspring of Israel. And we have to ask ourselves, who’s Israel, in light of our study of Isaiah 49. God Promises to justify all the offspring of Israel, “Only in the Lord, it shall be said of me, our righteousness and strength”—God is the one who is righteous—”to him shall come and be ashamed all who were incensed against him. In the Lord, all the offspring of Israel shall be justified and shall glory.” Now, because all the offspring of Israel shall be justified, this suggests to me we’re not talking about the nation of Israel who are the offspring of Jacob.

TK: Yeah, they’re not painted that way.

JD: They’re not painted that way. So then we read in Isaiah 49, the Servant himself declares, “God said to me. You are my servant, Israel,” and then God gives him the mission to save Israel and the nations. Isaiah 49:3, 6. So the Servant person is Israel, and God has promised to justify all the offspring of Israel. Now what we read is God will justify Israel the person. The Servant was already called Israel in Isaiah 49, so now we’re reading about the Servant and he declares, “The one who declares me right is near, who will contend with me. Let us stand together. Who’s my adversary? … Behold the Lord. God helps me. Who will declare me guilty?” (Isa 50:8–9). No one is the answer.

TK: It’s a courtroom scene right there, and he’s been declared innocent.

JD: That’s right. And then, as we’re going to see in the very final Servant Song in Isaiah 53, what we read is, “He will see”—upon his death he will rise from the dead—”he will see his offspring” (Isa 53:10). And then it says, “Out of the anguish of his soul … and by his knowledge, the righteous one, my servant, will make many to be accounted righteous” (Isa 53:11). So there it is. We’ve come full circle. Now we understand God’s promise to justify, to declare right all the offspring of Israel. Israel is indeed Israel the person, and his offspring are not biological offspring, but Jews and Gentiles who identify with him by faith.

Jesus was innocent and because of his innocence, there is now no condemnation for those of us who are in him. As God says, the very one “who did not spare his own son, but gave him up for us all. How will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?” Just like no charge could be brought against Jesus, now no charge can be brought against us if we are in him. “It is God who justifies. Who is it to condemn? Christ Jesus died for us”—he’s the one who died—”More than that, he was the one who was raised and is now at the right hand of the of God interceding for us” (Rom 8:32–34). So this is this is the beautiful structure of Isaiah and the significance of the fact that this Jesus—who’s enduring the suffering, who’s meeting with God morning by morning, so that he has something to give to the weary—this very Jesus is perfect. And that’s how we know—I mean, when I got up to this point in the Psalm, I knew, oh, this isn’t the prophet, right? The prophet couldn’t say, “I was not rebellious. I did not turn backward.”

TK: Right. In fact, he said that, and in Isaiah 6, he says, “I come from a people of unclean lips.”

JD: “I am a man of unclean lips and I come from a people of unclean lips; yeah, but my eyes have seen the King, Yahweh of hosts” (Isa 6:5). That’s right. So this is not the prophet. And so we have to say, I think we’ve read about this one before. There’s a number of connections that we’ve seen with Isaiah 49 and Isaiah 42. This is none other than the Servant. And now here at the end, the last two verses, this is exactly what we’re told: he is indeed the Servant.

Make a Choice: Listen or Be Condemned

TK: And we have a we have a choice to make, really, here as we’re hearing this message. So we have. God fearers in verse 10 and then those who would say I reject the light the Servant brings, I will walk by my own light in verse 11. Is that fair?

JD: That’s right. Yeah, it is fair. We’ve got these two different groups, those who are going to see their neediness and follow someone greater than them, or those who are going to, by their own cunning, their own efforts try to give them what they need to make it through the dark. So this is what we read in the ESV, “Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of his servant? Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the Lord, and rely on his God” (Isa 50:10). So that’s the one option you can trust, you can look beyond yourself and trust in God and obey the teaching, the voice of the Servant even as he follows the instruction of his Father. That’s one option. And then verse 11 says, “Behold, all you who kindle a fire who equip yourself with burning torches, who walk by the light of your own fire, and by the torches that you have kindled! This you have from my hand: you shall lie down in torment.”

TK: So I say I don’t need your light. I will make my own light. And we get this warning right here.

JD: That’s right. You can either accept the light that has entered into the world—thinking all the way back to Isaiah chapter 9, where it said, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of deep darkness on them, a light has shined” (Isa 9:2). And then it says, “To us a child is born to us, a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isa 9:6). He is the light that has entered into the world, and Matthew opens his gospel in Matthew chapter 4:15–16, quoting those very verses, declaring Jesus as this light. So you can either recognize, I’m in darkness and accept the light that God supplies, or you can try to make your own way through the darkness by producing your own light. But Jesus says, the Servant says, if you choose to do this, it’s my judgment on you.

TK: This you have from my hand you shall lie down and torment.

JD: That’s right. It somewhat reminds me of Jonathan Edwards sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of the Angry God,” where he says hell is not something outside, hell is something that is inside. The fires of hell are already burning in the unbelieving world. And what happens over time the the extension—the extendedness of one’s callousness, one’s refusal to surrender one’s hardness of heart, that fire within, begins to blaze more and more and more, until ultimately it will consume us forever in the final judgment. And those who try to build their own torches to make it through the darkness of this world, Jesus says it’s not only that your sin is worthy of judgment, your sin is judgment. This you have from my hand, you shall lie down in torment.

TK: That thought of I have my own light, thinking no, actually that’s the—like the example you used from the Jonathan Edwards sermon—that’s actually the light of hell right there that you are relishing in yourself. This is my light. I reject what the Servant did. I will walk by myself. I think that that thought of Lord help me read these things like the Servant. Would you give me an open ear?

JD: And would you would you let me identify myself as one who is weary rather than self strong.

TK: Right, with my own torches.

JD: It it reminds me of Paul—as we wrap up this this particular podcast—it reminds me of Paul in 2 Corinthians chapter 1 where he says, “I don’t want you to be unaware (ignorant) of the affliction we experienced in Asia, we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we had the sentence of death upon ourselves. But that was to make us not rely on ourselves, but on God who raises the dead” (2 Cor 1:8–9). That purpose statement that was—so that we would—that was to make us rely not on ourselves, but on God. Satan is not one who wants us to rely on God. So that wasn’t his purpose. The enemies that were persecuting Paul, that wasn’t their intention, that he would rely on God. This is a purpose statement from God, and Paul is wanting the Corinthians to recognize it.

Paul has been saved for twenty years at this point, when he’s written 2 Corinthians. Since he met Jesus on the road to Damascus, and yet he says in all of these years of sanctification, God still almost had to kill me to weed out my self-reliance so that I would trust not in myself but on the God who raises the dead. And it says that—raises the dead—because Paul was expecting the very real reality that he could be martyred right in this instance. We have a God who comes for weak people, not for strong people. It’s the not the healthy who need a physician but the sick.

TK: The bruised reeds and the smoldering wicks.

JD: That’s right. May God help us look to him for light and not keep trying to make our own fires. It’s not going to help us. It’s not going to help us live in and through the darkness. We’ll either be tormented or we will experience full joy for the longest amount of time—on the other side of this season of cross bearing.

TK: Amen. Well, we look forward to moving to the last Servant Song in Isaiah 52—I think it starts in verse 13 through 53—because it it really does round round out the messages. We’ve needed all of them, because they’ve all contributed, but this last stage that we’re coming up to explains how this righteousness that he has is is granted to God’s people—the weary. All right, Jason, we’ll see you next time.

JD: All right.

JY: Thank you for joining us for Gear Talk. If you haven’t done so already, go to our show notes and download the album cover and the lecture notes for our month in the Servant Song series. Next week, Jason and Tom focus on the fourth Servant Song. Hope you can join us.

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