Reading: Deuteronomy 29 – 31
This morning I was reading in Deuteronomy and was struck by just how clearly certain truths of the Gospel were laid out and revealed early in redemptive history. First, the absolute necessity of regeneration if any will be saved, and second, the way in which the Word of God is held up as the source of transforming grace that we need.
In Deuteronomy 29, Moses says something that almost jars our thinking.
2Moses summoned all the Israelites and said to them: Your eyes have seen all that the LORD did in Egypt to Pharaoh, to all his officials and to all his land. 3With your own eyes you saw those great trials, those miraculous signs and great wonders. 4But to this day the LORD has not given you a mind that understands or eyes that see or ears that hear. (Deuteronomy 29:2-4)
Miracles, signs and wonders demonstrated for the eye to see will never produce regeneration. In fact, the Israelites Moses was speaking to had seen it all (it doesn't get much better than dividing the Red Sea), but they were still utterly dependent upon the LORD to give them spiritual understanding, spiritual sight and hearing.
Jesus spoke of this inability to see to Nicodemus one day (John 3:3). Spiritual seeing and and hearing comes only when the Lord gives us a new inner man, a new heart, or mind and will.1 This is when we are made alive, born-again, or regenerated. We are given God's spirit to live within us. “You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.'” (John 3:7)
Ezekiel refers to this:
I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 11:19)
This is something which God does; it is an act of God's sovereign grace. This act is referred to in the next chapter of Deuteronomy as circumcision of the heart; something God promises to do for them after the prophesied exile (which happened centuries later).
The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live. (Deuteronomy 30:6)
The Lord would have to produce the revival that was needed. Miraculous signs and wonders, while certainly are welcome and can be wonderful, can never produce the needed revival. It is funny how in our day miracles, signs and wonders are almost equated with revival, when in fact it can be, as in the case described here in Deuteronomy that they have nothing to do with each other.
But we are told where real revival comes from right here in Deuteronomy. The original audience of Moses' words may have been tempted to say, “We need more miraculous signs if we are really going to obey you Lord.” But the Lord tells them they are to obey “with all your heart and with all your soul.” Where can this kind of obedience must come from?
11Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. 12It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, "Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?" 13Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, "Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?" 14No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it. (Deuteronomy 30:11-14)
The very words of the covenant themselves will carry with them the power we need to obey it. The very Word we have been given carries God's empowering grace to obey it. We don't need to reach into heaven in order to have empowering revival to transform lives. We don't need to travel the world to receive it. No, it is right here in the Word itself. Pursue Christ in the Word; be revived and empowered right here in the Word of God.
Paul quotes these verses from Deuteronomy as describing “the righteousness that is by faith” (Romans 10:6). And he tells us there that what we are looking for when looking for this empowering to obey, this reviving, if you will, is Christ. Christ is the Gospel; believe the Gospel and you will be saved.
Signs and wonders will never do what only the Gospel can. If you are looking for revival look no further than the Gospel.
What about you? Have you associated miracles and revival in a way that causes you to look with our eyes on the horizon rather than on God's word when in need? Let me encourage you to look not up into heaven, or over the sea, but into God's Word in pursuit of Christ.
Love the Gospel, Live the Gospel, Advance the Gospel,
1The word here is inner in contrast to outer man. Heart is a good translation, but this is not distinction between mind and heart, but rather to say, the unseen part of you...your spiritual person rather than your physical person.