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.