Surviving Jehovah M’Kaddesh by Cleaving to Jehovah Sidkenu
The holiness of God, with respect to the near proximity of the people to the LORD, was the real and present danger of the situation, and that’s why survival is a central theme of the book of Deuteronomy. The LORD is front and center on stage, and everything else is peripheral. Survival, as an achievement of grace in the immediate presence of Jehovah, is the same thing as perseverance; because even though their Fathers were truly converted as authentic believers, they didn’t survive for their failure to persevere in the faith (Heb. 12:15). Therefore, God wanted the Children of the Exodus Generation to better understand what faith is essentially, and how to discern its wellbeing sensibly in the spiritual biology of their souls, for only then would they be enabled to stay strong in faith with perseverance.
“Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers giveth you. Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. Your eyes have seen what the LORD did because of Baalpeor: for all the men that followed Baalpeor, the LORD thy God hath destroyed them from among you. But ye that did cleave unto the LORD your God are alive every one of you this day.” – Deut. 4:1-4
The surviving Children of the Exodus Generation lived because when and if they fell into sin, they repented, instead of continuing in the provocative sin that brought them low (Prov. 24:16), while those who were carried away in the rampant wickedness of whoredom and idolatry at Baal-peor did so as a result of continuing in presumptuous sin. The ethics of perseverance forbid the continuance of provocative sin in the soul, stopping such episodes from continuing long and repeatedly without cessation (Ps. 68:21). Baal-peor was an ominous sign of the future for this generation. The outbreak of sin at Baal-peor was so great, and the people so vulnerable, something drastic had to happen to get their attention. They needed something comparable to the 40 day restoration period that Jesus had with His disciples after the resurrection, and in the aftermath of their apostasy (Jn. 16:31-32), when Jesus came to them and expounded “the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God” that they couldn’t hear or understand theretofore because of their deafness and unbelief (Acts 1:3).
Even so, Jehovah was discerning the same subconscious working of spiritual blindness that can and does exist in true believers who are “cleaving” to the LORD and surviving, howbeit scarcely (1 Pet. 4:17-18), fearing for their eventual apostasy if these ways of blindness and deafness aren’t discovered by the believers and amended on a heart level. This is to discern a dangerous degree of unbelief in true believers; or, a dangerous degree of blindness in true seers; or, a dangerous degree of deafness in true hearers; all of which amounts to a dangerous degree of wickedness in a truly righteous people; or, all of which amounts to a dangerous degree of rebellion in true followers of the LORD. In order to repent of these unseen ways of rebellion, these truly righteous people need to behold the horrifying reality of their unsanctified ways.
“…thou art a stiffnecked people.” – Deut. 9:6
“…ye have been rebellious against the LORD.” – Deut. 9:7
“Ye have been rebellious against the LORD…” – Deut. 9:24
“…be no more stiffnecked.” – Deut. 10:16
It’s true! The people were behaving like their Fathers, who were stiffnecked and rebellious, by dangerously veering off the path of perseverance to their own demise; and, if justice was served in full (Ex. 32:10, Num. 14:11-12, Num. 16:21, 45), they deserved to die. Therefore, in this respect, they shouldn’t say or believe that they continued in the Covenant as survivors because they were totally deserving; or, with respect to the current estate of things, they shouldn’t’ say or believe that they are proceeding forward to inherit the Promised Land in the stead of their Fathers because of their righteousness and uprightness. Why? Because of what the catastrophe at Baal-peor was signifying about the future, according to the foresight and all-discerning eyes of Jehovah.
“Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that he may perform the word which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Understand therefore, that the LORD thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness; for thou art a stiffnecked people.” – Deut. 9:5-6
However, let the reader understand: God’s plan was to teach them to “be no more stiffnecked” (Deut. 10:16). In whatever measure the Children of the Exodus Generation were undeserving of the Promised Land (Deut. 9:5-6), they were certainly more deserving than those who had died theretofore, as boldly stated in Deuteronomy 4:1-4; remember, that’s the whole reason why they survived and the others didn’t in the first place. However, because of unknown degrees of unbelief in these believers, as depicted in the lives of the Apostles in the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ, their blindness could potentially persist into mounting personal offenses that lead into apostasy and death. The all-discerning eyes of Jehovah were discerning this in the Children of the Exodus Generation. Therefore, the survivors thereunto needed to realize the way of survival thereafter with perseverance, lest such provocations continue and the generation is eventually lost. Even though they were currently undeserving (Deut. 9:5-6), and meanwhile more deserving than the dead (Deut. 4:1-4), they needed to learn to become worthy or else they would soon die. This is the only path of survival moving forward (Num. 32:23). Deuteronomy was a necessary rescue mission that proved 100% successful, enabling Israel to make the following confession to their children: namely, that it was for their “righteousness” as obedient overcomers that they were ultimately preserved alive as survivors!
“Then thou shalt say unto thy son, We were Pharaoh's bondmen in Egypt; and the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand: And the LORD shewed signs and wonders, great and sore, upon Egypt, upon Pharaoh, and upon all his household, before our eyes: And he brought us out from thence, that he might bring us in, to give us the land which he sware unto our fathers. And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is at this day. And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as He hath commanded us.” - Deut. 6:21-25 [Ps. 18:20-26, 32:1-2, 119:1-8, 125:4]
This passage illustrates the transformation that was taking place in Deuteronomy, as just one among well over 25 times survival is directly spoken about in book of Deuteronomy. Herein, we see the absolute necessity of an attainable “righteousness” that ensures the survival of the people with perseverance (Ps. 18:20-26, 32:1-2, 119:1-8, 125:4). The Children of the Exodus Generation loved God, but they needed to learn to “love…alway” and without repeated episodes of rebellion (Deut. 11:1). They feared God, but they need to learn to “fear…always” (Deut. 5:29, 6:24). Things needed to be different “now” and from here on out (Deut. 10:12). Therefore, they needed to “understand” what they had not seen or understood about God and thereby perceive the shallowness and insufficiency of their faith in God theretofore (Deut. 9:3); so that through sanctification they would become what they were meant to be in the righteousness of Jehovah Sidkenu.
What else but Deuteronomy could produce this change? Evidently, as in Horeb, but only now in the plains of Moab (Deut. 29:1), the LORD was showering divine wisdom upon the people as rain from heaven to revive and vouchsafe a whole generation in a newly ratified Covenant.
“And Moses called all Israel, and said unto them, Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and keep, and do them. The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The LORD made not this Covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.” – Deut. 5:1-3
Were these just empty words uttered by Moses? No! Do you detect an erroneous hopefulness in Moses that Israel would hear, learn, keep, and do what was obviously undone by the Exodus Generation? God forbid! Therefore, as readers, I plead for the beholding of all that the day of Deuteronomy brings! For, it is true that the appointed time had come for Israel to cross over Jordan to inherit the Promised Land by war and conquest (“this day” – Deut. 9:1-2), and the people were fundamentally compromised by sin; moreover, by interpretation, this meant that the people were being spiritually incapacitated by sin acting as a blinding and deafening force upon their souls. However, further clarification about the day is given when Moses spoke of the real time problem, declaring:
“Yet the LORD hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day.” - Deut. 29:4
This must be one of the most wrested verses in the Law by conservative evangelical readers among Gentile believers today. Therefore, I urge every reader to part with the pet doctrines of our time (Isa. 29:10-14). For, a proper understanding of this statement would indicate that the story of the day doesn’t end with the prevalence of blindness in Israel, but rather a heart perception of truth that empowers perseverance in the Children of the Exodus Generation. For, in speaking Deuteronomy 29:4, the LORD wasn’t bringing the issue of blindness to the forefront to declare the problem unsolvable. Rather, Jehovah was providing a real time solution to the problem to wit, before the salvific exercise of Deuteronomy was over, it could be said:
“Ye stand this day all of you before the LORD your God…That thou shouldest enter into Covenant with the LORD thy God, and into his Oath, which the LORD thy God maketh with thee this day: That he may establish thee to day for a People unto Himself, and that he may be unto thee a God, as he hath said unto thee, and as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” – Deut. 29:10-13
Apparently, when the LORD spoke of Israel’s blindness and rebellion persisting “…unto this day” in Deuteronomy 29:4, it was a statement of victory rather than an admission of defeat. Jehovah wasn’t acknowledging that Israel’s blindness would persist beyond “this day” (Deut. 29:4). Rather, “this day” marks the end of the generational backsliding according to Deuteronomy 29:10-13; statedly, the LORD was putting an end to their blindness and rebellion by entering into a Covenant with them and establishing them as a People unto Himself. Therefore, in context, the LORD was declaring victory on this day (with the intent to provide the hope of perseverance to all future generations!) – because hereunto the reoccurring problem of backsliding persisted in the Children of the Exodus Generation, and through the converting power of Deuteronomy their backsliding was healed (Ps. 19:7; Jer. 3:22, Hos. 14:4).
Further clarity about what it meant to “become” the People of the LORD in this instance, or what it meant for the LORD to “establish” Israel as a holy People unto Himself on this day, had already been given in the prior chapters of Deuteronomy (“become” – Deut. 27:9-10; “establish” – Deut. 28:9-10). This attests to the people attaining a worthiness that vindicates the righteousness of God to preserve them alive and recognize them as His family, the sons and daughters of Jehovah (Deut. 32:5-6, 18-20).
“And Moses and the priests the Levites spake unto all Israel, saying, Take heed, and hearken, O Israel; this day thou art become the People of the LORD thy God…” – Deut. 27:9-10
The book of Deuteronomy is not a failed attempt to secure and persevere these beloved souls of Jehovah. All that is said about “this day” makes this clear to the reader. The LORD was not hiding from them the truth that they so desperately needed, nor was He refusing to give to Israel the healing medicine of the soul that would make their hearts better (Deut. 29:4). Explicitly, and openly, Moses said: “…this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off” (Deut. 30:11). The people were destined to give a resounding “AMEN” to the grand scheme of the Covenant, as depicted in Deuteronomy 27:9-26; therefore, when the choice was put before them on this fateful day of restoration and glory, the people had eyes to see and ears to hear! Credit should be given where it is due: Deuteronomy illuminated what was dark and enlightened what was blind to the eyes. David’s heart sang for joy upon discovering this very thing about the Law, saying: “…the commandment of the LORD pure, enlightening the eyes.” (Ps. 19:8)! Accordingly, when Moses said, “SEE”, their eyes were wide open to behold what God was directing them to look upon (Deut. 30:15)! Conclusively, when Moses said, “CHOOSE”, the people made the right choice (Deut. 30:19)! Why? Let Moses explain.
“For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.” – Deut. 30:11-14
In a revival of faith, through a fresh washing of the eyes that Israel might see clearly (2 Pet. 1:9; Rev. 3:18), the Children of the Exodus Generation were destined to persevere in faithfulness. They were destined to learn how to “cleave” unto Jehovah with perseverance so that they might live as becometh the royal pedigree unlike their Fathers (Deut. 30:19-20; Eph. 5:3, Php. 1:27, 1 Tim. 2:10). Remember, in the aftermath of Baal-peor, Jehovah knew that the Children of the Exodus Generation had resumed the dangerous course of their Fathers. For, evidently, the same fearless simplicity that allows for repeated provocations was ensnaring their souls. However, marvelously, and quite unexpectedly, the LORD rescued them from the onset of this spiritual condition of rebellion by virtue of Deuteronomy. Yonder, in the Plains of Moab, Jehovah put an end to their backsliding by securing this generation in the way of peace.
As for us, as readers, our goal is to discern in Deuteronomy the communicable virtue of inward religion and thus derive from it the Doctrine of Perseverance, because at the giving of these sermons from Moses the people were indeed rebellious, while thereafter they were perseverant. Literally, during the narration of Deuteronomy, whilst the transformation process was taking place in real time, God identifies the vital turning point of transformation where the people are established in the Doctrine of Perseverance: THIS DAY!