Discovering Faith in the Spiritual Biology of the Soul in the Day of Deuteronomy
Despite being truly “saved”, why did the Exodus Generation backslide? A diligent search would prove that it was for the same reasons the Apostles of Jesus Christ backslid at the crux of the Messiah’s earthly ministry in the Garden of Gethsemane. Therefore, in speaking to the Apostles with the intent to put an end to their backsliding and ultimately secure their souls in perseverance, the Son of God drew from the ancient reservoir of holy doctrine first set forth in the Law (Duet. 32:2). The infinite wisdom of the Son of God had no better wherewithal to penetrate the heart and explain the vitality of faith, than to draw upon the language of Deuteronomy.
Whether in speaking to the Apostles in private instruction, or in open air preaching to the lost while putting a difference between the saved and unsaved (Mal. 3:18, Matt. 15:13-14), and all throughout various moments of triumph and tragedy in the perseverance or backsliding of the disciples, the Son of God spoke of the spiritualty of true religion in a terminology that originates from the Law. Some of those instances, surveyed in detail in the former section, were vital moments where Jesus of Nazareth was identifying a growing onset of spiritual deafness in the Apostles; a kind of personal offense against biblical truth that would eventually lead to a sudden and unexpected apostasy, like what happened in Gethsemane, if the truth spoken by Christ continued to be unheard.
Deuteronomy to the Children of the Exodus Generation
The Earthly Ministry of Jesus Christ to the Apostles
Eyes / See(n) x 26 (Show x 6)
Ears / Hear / Hearken x 34
Heart x 31 (Soul x7)
Hidden x 1
Know x 10 (Mind x2)
Consider x 2
Understanding x 3
Remember x 7 (Forget x 10)
Foolish / Unwise x 2
Faith / Believe x 3
Perceive x 1
Learn x 6 (Doctrine / Wisdom x 2)
Eyes / See x 14
Ears / Hear x 19
Heart x 6
Hardened x 3
Hid x 3
Know x 3
Consider x 1
Understand x 14
Remember x 2
Fools x 1
Faith / Believe x 5
Perceive x 3
[Matt. 11:25, 13:9-18; Mk. 6:52; Mk. 8:16-21, Matt. 15:15-17, 16:6-12; Lk. 18:31-34, 24:44-48; Lk. 18:31-34, Matt. 16:21-27, Lk. 9:21-22, 43-45, Matt. 17:22-23, 20:18-19, 21:38-39, 26:2; Lk. 18:31-34; Lk. 24:25-27; Jn. 16:25-33, Mk. 16:9-14, Lk. 24:25-27, 44-48]
In speaking of faith in God, or in the word of God, the Lord was speaking about the people having a personal heart perception of knowledge that is spiritual in nature and penetrating to the soul. This is something completely different than the head knowledge of intellectuals. Therefore, when divine truth was spoken, or the word of God declared, and yet it was unrevealed to any listening bystanders on account of their unbelief, the poor souls were blind and deaf to the spiritual reality of what was being preached and therefore incapable of truly understanding the message. However, as stated before, the primary use of this language pertains to the discovery of unbelief present within true believers, like the Apostles, or like the Children of the Exodus Generation, to assess the faith of true disciples who are in danger of backsliding and eventual apostasy.
Christ, as the Great Physician, demonstrated the proper use of this language as one wielding surgical tools for the souls of redeemed men. In a piercing and cutting way, with precision, while apparently drawing from Deuteronomy, this language was used to identify the real presence of unbelief in believers, or the real presence of unholiness in saints, by illustrating the threat of danger it presents to the soul in how the unbelief affects the spiritual biology of the person (Heb. 4:11-13). Faith affects the heart, and the heart affects the eyes and ears; therefore, when the heart is hardened through unbelief, the eyes and ears are proportionately blinded and deafened (Heb. 3:12-13). When the sensory receptors of the spiritual man are injured in this way, the soul is increasingly bereft of the ability to feel and experience the truth of the word of God. Even if the truth is plainly spoken and abundantly declared, it is still mysterious to the hearer and unknown in spiritual reality. In other words, it is hidden from their understanding. They cannot know it. In respect to backsliding saints, even what they know in actuality at present will be lost if the problem of sin is left undealt with (Rom. 8:13, Rev. 3:1-6). If sin grows in its blinding force upon the soul, even the things formerly known and understood simply cannot be spiritually recollected – the soul loses the power to remember the truth or consider what is necessary to persevere in the faith (2 Pet. 1:9, 2:21; Heb. 10:35, Gal. 3:1).
The terms utilized by Christ to analyze and diagnose the growing problem of unbelief in the Apostles originated in the Law when Jehovah was diagnosing the problem of backsliding in the Exodus Generation with the intent to cure it from persisting in the Children of the Exodus Generation. In both cases the cure was successful. Unlike their Fathers, the Children of the Exodus Generation (with apostolic courage!) went on to become one of the few faithful and perseverant generations of biblical Church History. This is the story of the Law.
“What is written in the Law? how readest thou?” – Lk. 10:26
There is converting power in the storyline of the Law. For, this is a message of tragedy and triumph spanning two generations, where the love of God prevailed at last! History bears witness that Jehovah is a God of second chances. The first chosen generation failed, but the second prevailed against all odds. How? Uniquely, through the powerful message being conveyed in Deuteronomy; or, in other words, through “The 2nd Giving of the Law”, the Children learned from the mistakes of their Fathers. Therefore, evidently, lifechanging wisdom resides in this testimony. True enlightenment comes to blinded backsliders at the keeping of these commandments (Ps. 119:18, Prov. 1:23).
“The Law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.” - Psalms 19:7-11
Jesus Christ, the Messiah of the Jews, agreed with the lovely sentiments of David recorded in Psalm 19:7-11 in respect to the Law. Jesus spoke about the Law as a Romantic Love Story of redemption by which God offers to mankind Eternal Life (Lk. 10:25-28, Mk. 12:28-34). This fact is abundantly communicated in Luke 10:25-28, when a Lawyer answered correctly concerning the divine intent of the Law.
“And, behold, a certain Lawyer stood up, and tempted Him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.” - Luke 10:25-28
The Son of God affirmed, and did not deny, the virtuous offering of Eternal Life contained in the Law, despite how most interpreters today read the Law differently. This explains why Paul said that the Law was “ordained to Life” (Rom. 7:10). Jesus said, “this do, and thou shalt Live”, in answer to the Lawyer who inquired after an inheritance of “Eternal Life”, because the reading of the Law is a love story depicting the liveliness of a Soul Religion in the hearts of redeemed mankind (Deut. 30:20). In other words, it empowers them inwardly, as true Jews (Lk. 1:6, Rom. 2:28-29), to “love” God with “all” the heart and “all” the soul! For, this is the essence of true spirituality in the salvation of God throughout all ages.
“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for He is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.” - Deuteronomy 30:19-20
Accordingly, in it being a Soul Religion of love, its words have penetrating spiritual power. It had to be in order to meet the need of those to whom it was originally given (Deut. 11:1-9). The time, place, and people to whom the LORD was speaking in real time makes the reading of the Law an eye-opening experience of wonder and awe. This would explain why David was so focused in prayer to the LORD concerning the spirituality of the Law in Psalm 119, because he clearly understood how things must be divinely revealed to the soul for any individual reader to profit. Truly, this was the common denominator in all of David’s prayers: “Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law.” (Ps. 119:18)! For, evidently, the Children of the Exodus Generation were on the same course of backsliding as their Fathers, until the book of Deuteronomy intercepted them. The spiritual needs of Israel at the time, with the proper historical, geographical, and contextual understanding in mind, enables readers to discover the converting power of Deuteronomy (Ps. 19:7-11).
Upon crossing the brook Zered at the annihilation of all the rebels in the Exodus Generation (Deut. 2:13-16, Num. 21:12), and after triumphing over Sihon and Og (Num. 21:21-30, 31-35), the newly purified Church in the Wilderness was blessedly righteous and totally pure insomuch that they couldn’t be cursed (Acts 7:38, Num. 22:12, 23:7-8). Statedly, the people were morally identified in prophecy as “the righteous” (Num. 23:10) among whom God dwelt because the LORD had not beheld “iniquity” or “perverseness” in them (Num. 23:21). Statedly, they were unstoppably blessed and unconquerable in war according to the standards of holiness later reiterated in Deuteronomy 23:1-14, which is an elaboration of Leviticus 26:3-9. However, this blessed estate is only irreversible as long as the moral integrity of the people is perseveringly uncompromised by iniquity (Num. 23:20-21); as long as Israel remains “righteous” in holiness, which is to “dwell alone” in separation (Num. 23:9, Deut. 32:12, Ps. 81:8-16, Isa. 43:11-12; 2 Cor. 6:17-18) from all other toxic nations or peoples who are engrossed in iniquity, inundated with abominable customs, and doomed to die because of it (Num. 24:23).
Upon discovering this, Balaam made a last-ditch effort to survive the inevitable doom of falling as a sinner under an Israelite blade. Even though he couldn’t curse Israel by divination, he knew that if Israel’s moral integrity could be compromised then God would curse them. A forbidden connection to an unclean people is all that it would take for Israel to forfeit all. So, Balaam counseled Balak to go out to Israel in peace rather than for war, with a hidden agenda to entice them to sin against Jehovah. They conspired to use the daughters of Moab as an allurement, to make an occasion for idolatry and whoredom (Num. 25:1-18), and the plan proved successful (Neh. 13:26). This infamous and diabolical plan was later called, “the Doctrine of Balaam” (Num. 31:16, Rev. 2:14). The people paid dearly for this catastrophe. The sudden death of the 24,000 Israelites who joined with Baal-peor was only the beginning (Deut. 4:1-4, Josh. 22:17-18), unless the LORD could bow the heart of Israel in an unprecedented way to forbid the clear onset of generational backsliding. This situation was urgent. The foretold annihilation period in the Wilderness was rapidly coming to an end, which means that there wasn’t much time left.
“And your children shall wander in the Wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness. After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise.” – Num. 14:33-34
The journey to this critical juncture was long and tumultuous. They buried their Fathers in the howling Wilderness until the foretold moment of their sweet release would finally come; and, with respect to the giving of Deuteronomy, the people were fast approaching 40 years with only months remaining. Meanwhile, they weren’t ready for the wars of Canaan!
“Hear, O Israel: Thou art to pass over Jordan this day, to go in to possess nations greater and mightier than thyself, cities great and fenced up to heaven, A people great and tall, the children of the Anakims, whom thou knowest, and of whom thou hast heard say, Who can stand before the children of Anak!” - Deuteronomy 9:1-2
Why wasn’t Israel ready for the wars of Canaan? Certainly, it wasn’t so much about the coming battles that they would face. The problem at hand had nothing to do with the height, strength, and fortitude of their formidable adversaries. Rather, their intimacy with God was in question. They weren’t ready to face the temptations of war with so great an adversary when things are not well in their souls. As the late Ravenhill once said, “A man who is intimate with God is not intimidated by man.”. This wasn’t ever about surviving a war, merely, inasmuch as it was about surviving Jehovah M’Kaddesh (Ex. 31:13, Lev. 20:8, Ezek. 37:28); that’s why their rebellious Fathers never even made it out of the Wilderness in the first place, much less win the battle they endeavored to fight against the Amalekites and Canaanites (Num. 14:42-45).