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.