Monday, February 23, 2015

The Great Mini Prophetic Time-line for Israel: Deuteronomy 30:1-9

One of the most important prophetic timelines in the Bible is given in Deuteronomy chapter 30. It is no mistake that the LORD gave Moses this prophecy at this exact time since they are about to enter back into the land He promised to them.   This phenomenal annotated prophecy surprisingly gives the future of Israel’s possession of the land. This section of scripture is in the larger context of the Land Covenant (Num. 34:1-12; Deut. 29:1-30:20 ) given by God to Israel.

    The story starts with Abraham in Genesis chapter 12. Abraham is told to leave the land of Ur and travel to “the land that I will show you” (12:1).  The promise made to Abraham that day included the promise of the seed, the land, and the blessing (12:1-3). The rest of the book of Genesis tells the story of Abraham’s offspring as they move in, out, then back into the land of Canaan – the land promised. 

Indeed, as Genesis reveals, the seed of Abraham sojourned in the land living in tents (cf. Heb. 11:9-10). The LORD tells Isaac “Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you, and I will bless you, for unto you, and unto your seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father (Gen. 26:3).     

    As the story goes, the book of Exodus opens with the children of Abraham having been made slaves in Egypt and for the next 430 years their bondage was hard as their lives were made bitter with bondage (Ex. 1:14; 12:40).   At the end of Moses’ life and the 40 year wilderness wondering, the LORD again affirms His promise to Abraham regarding the land of promise in Deuteronomy 29:1-30:20.        

The Old Testament scholar Dr. Unger provides the following seven prophetic declarations:
1.    Dispersion of Israel for disobedience and apostasy (30:1; cf., 28:63-68)
2.    Israel’s future conversion while in the dispersion (30:2)
3.    Second advent of Christ (30:3; cf., Amos 9:9-14; Acts 15:14-17)
4.    Restoration of the land (30:4; cf., Isa. 11:11-12; 35:1-2; Jer. 23:3-8; Ezek. 37:21-25)
5.    Israel’s future national conversion (30:6; cf., Hos. 2:14-16; Rom. 11:26-27)
6.    The Judgment of the nations, Israel’s oppressors (30:7; cf., Isa. 14:1-2; Joel 3:1-8; Mat. 25:31-46)
7.    National prosperity of the millennial nation (30:9; cf., Amos 9:11-14)

While some scholars declare this promise is part of the Moses covenant that is conditional upon obedience, it is clear that this section is prophetic and unconditional in scope. Notice, for example how the section starts:

“Now it shall come to pass, when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the LORD your God drives you” (Deut. 30:1).    

“Now it shall come to pass” is prophetic not conditional. The next clause describes what was described in chapter 28, the blessing and curse, will come upon them in history, and it has not come upon them yet! Was this fulfilled with the Assyrian and Babylon exiles from the land, or does this speak of the dispersion by Rome after 70 AD? In reality, Israel lost sovereign control of the Land with the Babylonian exile and they never again possessed the Land until 1948!  Notice verse 1 does not list a specific nation of dispersion, but “nations” plural.  This is the Jewish diaspora! The diaspora that existed since the Assyrian exile in 722. 

Verse 2 prophesies a yet future national conversion that is repeated by the apostle Paul in Romans 11:26: “all Israel will be saved.”  Notice, verse 2 does not say “if” you obey, rather, “you return”:

"and you return to the LORD your God and obey His voice, according to all that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul,” (Deut. 30:2)

Verses 3 through 5 speak of the second coming of Christ as He will re-gather them to the Land of promise in belief:

“that the LORD your God will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the nations where the LORD your God has scattered you. If any of you are driven out to the farthest parts under heaven, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you. Then the LORD your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it. He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers.  ” (Deut. 30:3-5)

Verse 6 speaks of the New Covenant and their national conversion.

“And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.” (Deut. 30:6) 

Verse 7 describes Christ’s second coming judgment of the nations for their treatment of His people Israel:

“Also the LORD your God will put all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you..” (Deut 30:7)

Notice verse 8 describes unconditional obedience to the Lord.

“And you will again obey the voice of the LORD and do all His commandments which I command you today.” (Deut 30:8)

Finally, notice the national prosperity that will come in the millennial rest of the kingdom described in verse 9:

“The LORD your God will make you abound in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your land for good.” (Deut. 30:9a)

What is most incredible about this little prophecy is that Joshua has not yet entered the land of promise and conquered it, yet God gives them this far prophecy.  In essence, the LORD tells them He is with them always – no one can take them out of His hands. He is God, there is no other, He alone will do this, and He will not share His glory with any other. What a blessing we have in His word as it describes the absolute sovereignty of God over all. His promises are sure.