Scope and Divisions of Deuteronomy.

Deuteronomy, as the closing book of the Pentateuch, completes and sums up the law, impressing it upon the hearts and consciences of the people by the retrospect of their wilderness-history and the dying appeal of their prophet-lawgiver. It ends, manifestly, the first stage of Israel's history, the foundation and seed-germ of all that is to follow. Joshua is not the last book of a Hexateuch, as some would have it, but a distinct new beginning, as we shall fully see, if the Lord will, when we enter upon it. So also the spiritual, typical sense, which carries with it the highest assurance of inspiration, the power of prophecy, and reigns throughout the historical books, declares. Joshua, the entrance into Canaan, does not speak of our entrance into heaven at death or in resurrection, but of our entering by faith now. In the former way, not the wildest imagination could apply it in any detail; in the latter, it is full of meaning, and pregnant with most important instruction. In this way, it does not succeed, but runs parallel, with the earth-pilgrimage; while Deuteronomy winds up the wilderness-history, giving the moral intelligence and profit of the past as wisdom for the future, as the manifestation at the judgment-seat of Christ will do for our lives here. For the present life has its significance for heaven itself, and the light of heaven must illumine it all, not that we may then forget it, but that it may become a permanent possession.

Deuteronomy has but three main divisions, the second of which is the large part of the book. The first is historic; the second, legislative; the third, in the main, prophetic: —
Div. 1. (Deut. 1 — 4:43.) The righteousness and grace of the Almighty as persuasive to obedience.
Div. 2. (Deut. 4:44 — 30.) The exposition and enforcement of the law.
Div. 3. (Deut. 31 — 34.) The outcome, as revealed prophetically.


Division 1. (Deut. 1 — 4:43.)

The righteousness and grace of the Almighty as the motive to obedience.

The introduction to the "expounding" of the law is most naturally a persuasive to obedience; and this is found where it would be the strongest, in their recent history, fresh and vivid as it was in the memories of the people. They had shown themselves out fully in it; in this way it was a history full of sorrow. But God too had manifested Himself in surpassing majesty, — in holiness and in grace; and the double record might serve, if any thing would, to arouse the conscience and stir the heart, and produce fidelity to One whose favor to them had been so conspicuous, and whose discipline withal so uncompromising. Day by day He ministered to them; day and night His presence had been amongst them: He who slept not nor slumbered was the keeper of Israel; and if He smote, it was because He would not give them up, and could not give up His own character.

The wilderness was the place of education for the land. The word for 'wilderness,' "comes," says, Krummacher, from a word which means both to 'speak' and to 'lead,' so that to be in the wilderness and under leading, in Hebrew, amounts nearly to one and the same thing."* All this long, and in so much of it sad history was not to be without its final profit: the wilderness in this sense was yet to have its harvest, and "blossom as the rose." All its painful experience was to be wisdom for the land. And so with all the lessons which day by day we are all learning. Time is not cut off from eternity in such a way as to make it our joy and profit to forget there what we have passed through here; nor will its scroll be then rolled up and cast aside. No, but it is rather then that its history shall be fully unsealed and stand out as prophecy. And as the assurance of this, between us and eternity, or just as we step into it, we have the judgment-seat of Christ, and "manifestation" at the judgment-seat: "every one of us shall give account of himself to God," says the apostle. (Rom. 14:12.) And again, "For we must all appear" — literally, "be manifested" — before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." (2 Cor. 5:10.)

{*Quoted in Schaff's Lange.}

Many have the strange thought that this does not apply to the Christian, and that so applied it would be contradictory to the gospel, as doing away with the assurance given by God, "their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." (Jer. 31:34; Heb. 8:12; Heb. 10:17.) But this is not a remembrance of sins in the divine sense: nothing is reckoned against the believer all that can be rewarded comes up for reward, all that cannot be rewarded is "loss" as to reward (1 Cor. 3:15,) — no more. The very triumph of God's grace will be seen in this, that, told out in the presence of God, there is no imputation of sins at all. Thus the work of Christ will appear in its full glory; and we shall be manifested, not as unsmiling angels, but as redeemed men. Thus we have our song and our worship. Thus the robes granted us in that day — the "fine linen" which "is the righteousnesses" (in the Revised Version, "righteous deeds") of the saints, — are washed in the blood of the Lamb. (Rev. 19:8, comp. Rev. 7:14; Rev. 22:14, R.V.) Who would exchange these blood-washed robes for the most unspotted record that could be furnished by a creature?

And who would lose the apprehension of this grace in God for his own soul? or who would not desire to have it displayed before the universe? Who would take away the glory of Christ in this? Who would not rather say, "Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what He hath done for my soul"? (Ps. 66:16.) There, in the ears of the most magnificent assembly ever gathered, God in Christ shall have His fullest praise; and "God will bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil." (Ecc. 12:14.)

How wondrous that day of revelation! All the darkness of God's dealings with us gone forever! All our record His fullest praise! Not His grace alone seen, but His wisdom, righteousness, truth — every attribute glorified forever! What would we miss, if we missed this? And that eternity may be to us the perfect, unchanging happiness which is grounded in holiness — inasmuch as God deals with His reasonable creatures according to the nature He has given them, by argument and proof — how much may depend upon this day of manifestation! His purpose is that "in the ages to come He may show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness to us through Christ Jesus." (Eph. 2:7.)

Deuteronomy, then, as closing at once the history of the wilderness and the first Pentateuch of Scripture, has its fitting place. It is in some true sense the book of the judgment-seat, beginning with this recital of wilderness-history, and at the end expanding into that glorious song," in which (as if already amid the concourse of the coming day) the heavens, along with the earth, are exhorted to hear the words of his mouth! "My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distill as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass: because I will proclaim the name of Jehovah: ascribe ye greatness unto our God. The Rock — His work is perfect; for all His ways are judgment: a God of truth, and without iniquity, just and right, is He."

(1) Israel are now, though still characteristically in the wilderness," at their journey's end. They have taken, to accomplish a few days' journey, the life of a generation. They have come a long distance, with toil and hardship, where faith in God would have easily and long since brought them. Still, over all this God triumphs, using it as a homily for them, and an encouragement to confidence. The forty years of trial are at length concluded, and their inheritance lies before them, the other side of the headlong river which alone intervenes. And now the lawgiver's voice, soon to be heard no more among them, as he and they alike well know, utters itself in a solemn last address, in which the fullness of his heart overflows to the people so long his care. Characteristic of the book are the opening sentences in which Moses' words are emphasized as the subject of it: not now any more Jehovah's words through him, not the law itself properly, but Moses' exposition and enforcement of it. And this is set in the frame-work of the circumstances which set it off and impress one with its significance. The names in the first verse cannot be those of stations on the way hither therefore from Sinai on, although two of them are identical with and two more resemble some of these; but they were not "beyond Jordan, in the Arabah," or in any relation to these such as could warrant the terms used. "Similarity of names," says Keil, "cannot prove any thing by itself, as the number of places of the same name, but in different localities, that we meet with in the Bible, is very considerable." Yet this similarity, where the name is often all we have about the place, may still be quite significant. Certainly the site of this memorable discourse is beyond Jordan and in the Arabah, the deep cleft in which both the river and the sea of salt are found. Suph is not necessarily the sea of Suph or weeds, the common title of the Red Sea; nor Laban Libnah. With Pam). and Hazeroth we are indeed familiar; but Hazeroth ("enclosures") is only the plural of Hazar, of which there are many; while Paran was the name of a wide district. However, we can say little to purpose about these names.

"From Horeb to Kadesh-barnea" (the "sanctuary of the wanderer") is the first stage of the journey, as Moses recites it, a history of unbelief and rebellion, which avails only to illustrate the "vanity of opposition to the power of God. But in the first place we have the land set before them, not in poetical rhapsody, exaggerating the much smaller territory which in fact they possessed, but according to the promise to their fathers, which we have in Genesis 15, and still more fully in Exodus 23:31. But this promise was as the last passage shows, to be fulfilled to them by installments, and as they had faith to lay hold of it and make it their own, — and they had not faith. Yet grace will not be finally defeated of its intent, nor the promise be left unfulfilled; no more than will to us the better promise of a heavenly land, which now we are bidden to make ours, and so little do. This parallel, full of reproof, and full of encouragement to us, we shall have abundantly before us as we go on. Meanwhile, the command is for us, as it was for them, a promise, which individual faith may make much of if it cannot accomplish what that of a host may.

(2) Moses next reminds them of the institution of officers for the host to bear with him the burden of so great a multitude. God had fulfilled to them, and under the most adverse circumstances, the promise to their fathers, and already they were as the stars of heaven for number. This necessitated the appointment of those who should be recognized as chiefs and magistrates among them; rule in Israel being thus manifestly service; and they are invited to put their own hands to this work, in choosing from among themselves men that enjoyed their confidence, and deserved the confidence they enjoyed. And they do this, recognizing their need of the yoke, as all men ever have recognized it, spite of all abuses of authority. As Paul says of the magistrate, "He is the minister of God to thee for good" (Rom. 13:4), although, in the time in which he wrote, the abuse was everywhere evident.

We are mutually dependent and need each other's help, not simply against others but against ourselves. In our own cause we are not fit to be judges, and no laws, the world over, would allow this to be; yet there is no office we more naturally assume. Self-interest prompts and urges us to do that for which it is itself the disqualification. How good for us, then, to stand aside and allow those more competent for impartial judgment to give judgment. How good to see ourselves through the keener eyes of others, even sometimes of those not friendly. But in this way to what a height does Paul raise the Christian in that rebuke to the Corinthians, which it makes so keen, — "If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set those to judge who are least esteemed in the Church." (1 Cor. 6:4.) This seems the exact opposite of Moses, nor does he of course mean that it should be literally carried out: "I speak to your shame. Is it so that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?" He would not have those judge who lacked in wisdom; but he considers on the one hand that "the least esteemed in the Church" ought to have an elevation and impartiality of spirit fit for such an office; and on the other, that those whose worldly matters are to be judged should be so above care, as to things of this kind, as to be ready to submit their cause to any of their brethren!

This is no doubt an unattained — we ought not to say, unattainable — ideal. Good it is yet to have the ideal before us. In truth, how blessed to be so before God, so in the joyful consciousness of that supreme will, to which, little as men may mean it, every other bows, as to be able to see in all a Father's hand, and to be subject without reserve to every expression of His will, though it were an enemy's voice that gave it utterance: — "The cup which My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it?"

Good it is thus to serve, — to be in subjection; and it need be no wonder to find, therefore, in this place the mention of an institution by which human will is curbed, and that spirit induced which is true preparation for a divine inherit-. ante: "the meek shall inherit the earth." Israel with their inheritance before them are to cultivate the spirit of heirs.

(3) The incidents of the journey to Kadesh are passed over: "the great and terrible wilderness" is only mentioned to make them realize the power of the hand that led them. Trained to encounter difficulties, as accustomed to see them overcome by the power of God, how ready they might be expected now to face the only foe that was to be feared, when now at Kadesh their next step would be upon the land of so many memories, pledged to them by the full value of Jehovah's name. Unbelief alone could prevail against them; yet how could they disbelieve? So one might indeed argue; but the facts of history and of experience are alike against the argument.

(4) We pass on quickly to the result and now we find, what had not appeared in the history itself, that the mission of the spies was primarily the people's own suggestion. True, Moses had entered into it, and God Himself had sanctioned it; for in Numbers they are sent out at His bidding. It is plain, therefore, that there was nothing wrong in the suggestion, while it does not follow that there was nothing wrong in the motive. Unbelief desires, as we know, to see the way before it, likes to know what there is to meet, and to have its plans beforehand. God might sanction it, as a new witness to them of the goodness of the land, the fruit of which was evidence that could not be denied. But nothing is more senseless than unbelief: if men believe not Moses and the prophets, they will not be persuaded though one rose from the dead. If the Word of God fails, sense and sight cannot avail. There are walled cities and tall men: granted; and the power of God, at how much will one reckon that? Alas, with amazing hardihood, they dare to say that all His goodness and care hitherto have been but hatred, and that He has been at the pains to bring them across sea and wilderness to destroy them at last by the hands of the Amorites!

(5) Plainly, argument is at an end. God can do no mightier wonders, nor convince those to whom love and hatred are indistinguishable from one another. Their unbelief excludes them from the land and ordains a long discipline for their children, whom yet at last He brings in according to His purpose. Their folly and evil cannot change the Immutable: it is only of avail against themselves. The sure Word which had been for them is now their doom; while their fatal unbelief finally stirs even the meek spirit of Moses, and shuts him also out from the land. Once more they rebel when the word is pronounced against them, and will go in without God, who just now could not go in by His help: a mere presumption, presently bitterly rebuked, when the Amorites come down from the hill, and chase them as a swarm of bees might, even to Hormah, the place of the ban. Then they break down in tears as vain before the Lord: His judgment is as faithful as His loving-mercy.

2. In the next section we find Israel upon the road in their strange roundabout journey, in which we have already traced them, round Mount Seir. But the path itself is little touched upon: what we have rather is their different relation to the different nations by which they pass, — Edom, Moab, and Ammon on the one hand, and the Amorites on the other. The one, they are strictly forbidden to meddle with the other, they are bidden to make war upon, and their land becomes Israel's first possession. So, we may be sure, is it important for us to know, as we travel on, what to contend with, what simply to pass by. All this in Israel's history is still to be our lesson; we may be confident as ever, and shall find our confidence justified, that "the things that happened unto them happened unto them for types."

(1) First of these nations we have the "children of Esau, who dwelt in Seir," and we have already got more than a hint of the typical meaning. Esau and Seir have a natural connection. "Esau" means "hairy," "rough," and so does Seir; which for this reason is one of the words for "goat," — a "shaggy one." This last significance is striking enough, the goat standing in its fundamental meaning for the sinner, as in the Lord's use of it. The wild nature of Esau thus is shown in its affinity to the "far-off country" to which he belongs. Edom has thus another sign that it is Adam, if disguised, as in the child of God the flesh is often well disguised. And Edom lies here in Seir, as we have elsewhere seen, right across (as we might imagine) the whole path of progress. This is emphasized by Israel's attempt to pass through Seir, a passage which is refused and has to be given up. God's way is "round," not across it, and "by the way of the sea," under the shelter of the serpent of brass. This is the way of death, the way of the cross: "in the Arabah," God's furrow of death, cut through the land from sea to sea, we find our track, and no Mount Seir to stop us.* But the truth is further emphasized for us here. Esau is not to be dispossessed, — the flesh cannot be, — nor even warred against. Mount Seir is given them for a possession. It is the lesson of the sea, which is given its place on the third day of the six in which the earth was built up; or, again, the lesson of Cain, marked by God for life, not death. The flesh abides still in the believer, and has its place from God — therefore its use, as we may boldly say. What use has Esau in his stronghold at Seir? Just as a needful barrier, to force Israel into the path by the sea; so has the flesh its use to destroy self-confidence, to make the cross a daily necessity to us, to teach us to abide in Christ, and find our sanctification in occupation with Himself. If self-occupation could in Satan change an angel to a devil, worthy is it of God to make the ineradicable evil in us a means of turning our eyes from ourselves to Him, by whom, as we behold His glory, we are changed into the same image, from glory to glory!

{*Those who may yet find this unintelligible are referred to notes on Num. 20:14-21 and Num. 21:4-9 for explanation.}

With the men of the flesh, the children of this world, we may have traffic, as we pass on heavenward: contend with them we may not; their land is not ours; our possessions are elsewhere, — a good land, which forbids coveting any other.

(2) Passing Edom, the children of Israel find themselves in the neighborhood of the brother-tribes descended from Lot, as to whom they are equally forbidden to make war upon them or to possess their land. "I have given Ar," says Jehovah, "unto the children of Lot for a possession." What is represented to us, then, by these children of Lot? Their descent is naturally the first thing which should help us. They are the posterity, in a way of shame and sin, of one who stands as the typical opposite to Abraham, the man true to the divine call. He is the man, who, though himself "righteous," is yet a settler in the world, sunk into it, ignoring what it is for God, saved through the fire at last, but never restored to the place from which he had departed. The child of Lot is the child of the "cover" under which Lot walked, and according to the inevitable tendency from bad to worse, inheriting the evil only, — alien and hostile to Israel and to Israel's God. His territory is outside Israel's, though a border-land, and which is named from its chief city Ar, which means but "city," carrying us back to that which one of old had gone out of the presence of the Lord to build. (Gen. 4.)

All seems to speak of that which is the natural result of the true church sinking into the world, — a profession which is but the world, alien and hostile to the true people of God, characterized largely by the principles of confederacy, mutual interest, etc., which the city, as it now exists, implies. In Moab, the "city" covers, as it were, the country. Thus we need not wonder that their God is not Jehovah. For Moab God is Chemosh, the "vanquisher," as the mere professor goes with what in fact is prevalent, what has gained the day. In Ammon he is Moloch, — i.e., "king," — in fact, whether or not in right. Nay, rather, fact is right: not God is King, — reigns because He is divine; but the king is God — is divine because he reigns. And this is no strange thing among men: the sect of Herodians has always been a large one. Hence again, (for this is a system connected in all its parts,) to both Chemosh* and Moloch they sacrificed men: humanity is immolated at such shrines constantly.

{*The Moabite stone has shown us this as to Chemosh.}

Between Moab and Ammon it is harder to distinguish. "The near relation between the two peoples indicated in their origin," says Grove, "continued throughout their existence: from their earliest mention (Deut. 2) to their disappearance from biblical history, the brother-tribes are named together. (Comp. Judges 10:6; 2 Chron. 20:1; Zeph. 2:8, etc.) Indeed, so close was their union, and so near their identity, that each would appear to be occasionally spoken of under the name of the other … They are both said to have hired Balaam to curse Israel (Deut. 23:4) … In the answer of Jephthah to the king of Ammon the allusions are continually to Moab (Judges 11:15, 18, 25), while Chemosh, the peculiar deity of Moab (Num. 21:29), is called 'thy god' (24.) The land from Arnon to Jabbok, which the king of Ammon calls 'my land' (13), is elsewhere distinctly stated to have once belonged to a 'king of Moab.' (Num. 21:26.)"

On the other hand he notices that but one city of Ammon (Rabbah) is spoken of, and that the allusions to the habits and circumstances of civilization, so common in connection with Moab, are absolutely wanting in regard to Ammon. The Ammonites have the fierce habits of marauders, cruelty to their enemies. (1 Sam. 11:2; Amos 1:13; Jer. 41:6-7; Judges 11:7, 12), "as well as a suspicious discourtesy to their allies, which on one occasion (2 Sam 10:1-5) brought all but extermination on the tribe. (12:31.)" "Taking the above into account," he says, "it is hard to avoid the conclusion that, while Moab was the settled and civilized half of the nation of Lot, the Bene-Ammon formed its predatory and Bedouin section. A remarkable confirmation of this opinion occurs in the fact that the special deity of the tribe was worshiped, not in a house, nor on a high place, but in a booth or tent designated by the very word which most keenly expressed to the Israelites the contrast between a nomadic and a settled life (Amos 5:26)."

In Moab, we may perhaps see, then, the mere quiet worldling, satisfied with the gains of his profession; in Ammon, the heretic raider upon Israel's possession. We have had a type of this nature in the Philistines of the sea-coast, Israel's enemies on the other side; but these are nevertheless different in what they represent. Every form of spiritual existence, good or evil, we may expect to find embodied in these types, which so vividly picture the life and warfare of the people of God.

It may at first sight seem strange, however, if this be true, that God should have distinctly provided a place for Moab and Ammon, and not suffer Israel to dispossess them. We have seen, however, the same to be the case as to Edom, and how the fact answers to the type. As to the tares in the field too, which would correspond essentially to Ammon, the word is, "Let them grow with the wheat unto the harvest," which is very similar to what we have here. If we find, too, that Lot's children have their use, and that they have been the means of destroying certain giants, the Emim and the Zamzummim, out of the lands which they have occupied, this is true also of Edom and the Horites, and the Avvim before the Caphtorim, who seem to have become united with the Philistines. It is no new thing for God to overrule the growth of one evil for the destruction of another, that the world may be at least more tolerable for those that inhabit it. Those that mean nothing less than to serve God are thus compelled to do it; just as "He maketh the wrath of man to praise Him, and the remainder of wrath He will restrain." (Ps. 76:10.)

As to these giants, of whom little except the names remains, even the names are at present too uncertain in their interpretation to be able to say anything reliable about them. Vocabularies of this sort need to have more of the intelligence of faith in them, before questions such as these can receive any proper treatment. In the meantime we must perforce be content with marking them as questions remaining for the patient explorer of the Word in a time to come, — if indeed there shall be for it time to come! For the end is surely near at hand.

(3) The war for possession is now about to begin, God's threatening as to the former generation being now accomplished, and the hindrance to occupation of the land removed. They are therefore encouraged to go forward, doubting nothing.

3. Possession, as we see plainly here, begins this side Jordan. Israel are directly bidden to possess themselves of the land of the Amorites, which is in fact a good land, and worthy of God to give. So with us: "godliness hath the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." (1 Tim. 4:8.) Yea, says the apostle, "all things are yours, whether … the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come, all are yours; and ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's." (1 Cor. 3:21-23.) Here it is plain that we have possessions both sides of death, both banks of Jordan, yea, and Jordan itself.

Yet we may make very serious mistake none the less, as the two and a half tribes certainly did. What more natural for them than the language we have heard them use, when God had said to them, "Begin, take possession"? But Israel's land must be apportioned by lot; and they do not wait for the lot. The country suits them: it is fit for cattle, and they have cattle; thus, like Lot of old, they cannot trust God to choose for them, — they must choose for themselves. And they do choose peremptorily: they will not go over Jordan, — which they modify presently by undertaking to go and fight to give their brethren possession of the land which for themselves they refuse: to that refusal they hold fast.

The spiritual explains the natural here as so often elsewhere. As heavenly men the world belongs to us; but only to use as heavenly men. Gilead and Bashan may be ours as a dependency, but Canaan is the land of our inheritance and of our hearts. The world is ours, only as we are Christ's. It belongs to us, and therefore we do not belong to it.

(1) The victory over Sihon, and the meaning of the whole history, so far as we could learn it, have been considered already. What is emphasized here, as suited to Moses' purpose, is, that God gave him into their hand, even the stubbornness which refused passage to the advancing host being of Him, the iniquity of the Amorites being now full, and so the ban upon them being dwelt on also, by which Israel became simply the executioners of the divine judgment. It was with them neither lust of possession nor passion for destroying which brought on Sihon and his people this merciless extirpation. The mercy was for the world, in rooting out of it a virulent evil. The indictment against them is given elsewhere; and the execution of God's sentence put into Israel's hand was well calculated to impress them with a sense of divine holiness which should not leave them.

(2) The significance of Og and the conquest of Bashan has also been considered; nor does it seem possible here to add to it.

(3) The whole subject of the land will come before us, if the Lord permit, in the consideration of the book of Joshua, and we shall defer till then any attempt to read the significance of what we find here. That there is significance everywhere, we must not doubt: what Canaan was to Israel ought for us to find its parallel in spiritual import, surely. What must not this land, "the glory of all lands," "where the eyes of the Lord are continually," furnish to a believing study of it? Nothing has been done in this way as yet: has it been attempted? Shall we not find here certainly that "in all labor there is profit," and that "the soul of the diligent shall be made fat"?

(4) After the apportionment of the land already acquired, Moses reminds the people of the obligation of those entering into possession of it to take part with their brethren in the future conquest; to which Joshua also is encouraged with the assurance that the present success is but an earnest of the future. Jehovah is with them in unchanging strength and faithfulness.

(5) And then, once more, he who had been Jehovah's instrument in bringing them out of Egypt seeks, with all the longing of his soul, to be permitted to go over Jordan, and see the good land beyond it. But there is no repentance with One who never speaks in haste, nor can mend what He speaks: Moses is refused, for the sake of the people, who must learn in him God's ways; but he is granted Pisgah, for there is no breach between holiness and love; and he shall see the land, with God.

4. The admonition follows, given by this experience. The history has a moral, as all man's history, indeed, when read aright; as all will be proved when it is first fully told out and accented right. Israel is a sample, not an exception: it is thus alone that it can have any voice for us, or be other than words spoken into the air.

(1) The voice preaches obedience; but obedience is only that when it is uncompromising loyalty, never tampering with the statute-book. There must be no addition, which would exalt man's word to God's; no subtraction, reducing God's word to man's. For this there must be a single eye, so that the vision, shall not be blurred: the commandment itself is light as it is life. This, experience had shown to Israel: where were the men that went after Baal-peor? But those who clave unto Jehovah lived. And what nation beside had ever such perfect statutes? What wisdom and understanding would be theirs who kept them!

(2) The people had met God, and they had His word: — two things that must go together for us also if we are to be adequately furnished for the path. The example of Job shows us the necessity of the first, for one beyond all others of his day in blamelessness of character. It was when his eye saw God that he came to abhor himself in dust and ashes. It is here man's will is broken, with his pride, and God's will becomes all in all to him. Then God, who is a consuming ire, speaks out of the midst of the fire, and the written Word becomes the record of a living Voice, which has spoken, and which speaks to us. Nothing can possibly take the place of this real meeting with God, — this being face to face with His Majesty. Neither for Israel nor yet for Job was this a falling into a Father's arms, — the gospel had not been spoken, save in parables. But now there is a danger of God being lost in the Father, rather than (as He should be,) manifested in the Father. How much lack there is, among those too who have well learnt the gospel, of that broken spirit, — so priceless a thing with God, — and which is the unfailing consequence of having met God! For one who has done this, it is henceforth "God and the word of His grace:" the sweet and wholesome, childlike, not slave-like, "fear of God" will accompany the "comfort of the Holy Ghost," and the issue will be a persuasive witness for God, by which, as in the beginning, the Church will be "multiplied." (Acts 9:31.) It is the glory of God in the face of him that has been with Him.

(3) After such a manner, then, as the day permitted, these two things appear in Israel's history. They were a people separated to God as His possession. He was toward them a jealous God, because of His love to them. They were to be His alone; and He was to be for them separate from all else, not confounded with any imagination of man's, or likeness of any thing in heaven or earth, who can be represented by nothing but Himself. For us, Christ as the "image of the invisible God" has only emphasized, not lessened, this unapproachable glory. God is indeed brought near; but if He draw near, the more we realize our nothingness in His presence.

We are His: if Israel were brought out of Egypt, the iron furnace, we are the subjects of a more wondrous and spiritual redemption. For Israel, this was the first argument of the law; for us, it is that which above all speaks of His title to us.

(4) But even as he speaks of that separation to Jehovah, which the love He had to them claimed at their hands, and in which lay all their glory and felicity, the shadow of the future sweeps over the soul of the prophet-lawgiver; and he sees their departure from Jehovah, their idolatry, to which God must give them up, only to enjoy it, not in the land which was devoted to Him, but scattered in that of strangers. There they would realize the miserable bondage they had chosen, until with their whole heart they should seek again the God of their fathers: seek, then to find; for such is the mercy of Him against whom they have rebelled, and His faithfulness to the unforgotten covenant.

Thus, before their actual possession of the land of promise, they are warned of how, though not forever, they will lose it. And so the Church, from the very beginning, was warned of like departure, the seeds of which already were found in the apostle's days, and would develop into a darker apostasy than that of Israel. Only the end here is the removal of her candlestick upon earth, while the true saints are caught up to heaven, that "Israel" may "bud and blossom, and fill the face of the earth with fruit."

(5) God with them, that was their glory. Had any other nation heard His voice out of the fire kindled by His presence, enabled to hear it and to live? Had any other people been taken to be His own, plucked out of the grasp of another nation with such a hand of power, with signs and wonders and mighty deeds? The question implies that there could be but one answer then. Now, we can speak of God more marvelously displayed, — of a salvation greater and more wondrous. How pregnant, then, should be for us Moses' conclusion here: "Know therefore, and consider it in thy heart, that Jehovah He is God, in the heavens above and in the earth beneath: He, and none else"! Do we always act as though we believed it? Are His commandments kept in simplicity, as if we did? Absolute obedience, is it so common among us yet? And this is the measure of faith, and of the love by which faith works.

5. This part of Deuteronomy is closed with a significant act on the part of Moses. He sets apart three cities of refuge for the land already in possession on the east of Jordan. The spiritual meaning of these cities of refuge has been already considered in general here we shall find it extended and developed in a way full of the deepest interest to every spiritual mind. How full of interest that which, penetrating beneath a comparatively unattractive surface, discovers to us the thoughts of God, then hidden, (and of necessity hidden,) when the events passed into history, but preserved for us, nevertheless, in the record of them by the hands of those who, led of the Spirit, thus immeasurably transcended their own knowledge! Here, it is evident that it is the inner meaning that must illumine the history, and that those who stop short of this lose all the power of the history. We shall be easily content, for the sake of showing, as God may grant, this inner meaning, to be counted romancers and fabulists by the many (alas!) with whom divine history is nothing more than history, and with whom their "immanent deity" is too impartial to favor an Israelite chronicler beyond a Greek or Roman historian. Science may, for the purpose of anatomy, rejoice in the carcass rather than the living form; but for us, the breath of the Spirit of life is in these pages, and we will not give them up to that which, having used its knife upon them, will restore them to us in a state fit only for the charnel-house.

These cities of refuge, set at intervals through the land of Israel, are a garrison for it from God, which even still, in ruin, as the land is, watch over it, as ministers of unchanging grace, and prophets of now near-coming glory. This people of God, separated to Him in the wonderful way attested by their annals, — what, after all, has been their condition for many and long centuries of subjection to hostile races? They have been strangers and wanderers, Cain-like, and indestructible as Cain, — a nation surviving even in death, but as if to perpetuate only the memory of the doom under which they lie, — the doom of an awful fratricide. Such is, in fact, their condition, — a condition hopeless to most yet, though it may be now with a streak of gray dawn widening upon it. But these cities of refuge have all the time been watch-towers set to face eastward, ramparts round prostrate Zion, upon which the watchmen hold not their peace, and give Him no rest, till He establish it again, — yea, till He make it a praise upon earth. (Isa. 62:6-7.)

They are His pledge, in view of what has in fact come to pass, that what He has foreseen cannot thwart His purposes, nor their sin His long-foreshown grace. Preach they may in sackcloth, but it is good tidings that they preach, of a place of security even for homicides, — for those for whom His plea shall yet avail, "They know not what they do."

Thus alone can their blessing come — can the favor which of old distinguished them be again shown them; thus only can God be with man at any time. The Crucified is our shelter from the avenger, and the pledge of full possession of our destined inheritance; and the more we contemplate the type here, the more we shall see the features of Christ and of our blessing in Him.

Six cities gird the whole land, — the land as far as Israel in the past enjoyed it: in their number thus speaking of the victory of divine grace over and in them. Three only are here: Jordan dividing equally the six into two threes, the number of testimony and that of the divine fullness. This victory is indeed such a witness: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as they are for the first time fully made known in the New Testament, so it is in personal activity in our behalf that they are manifested.

At present, we have only three to consider: first, for the Reubenites, Bezer, in the wilderness, in the table-land. "Bezer" means "fortification," a place enclosed, sometimes a "store" or treasure so enclosed. The application to our Lord scarcely needs enlarging on. God's enclosure can never be a mere defense; it must be planted, like the first garden, with "every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food." Or, better than all, when we are thus shut up, He makes us a garden enclosed," out of which for Him north wind and south alike make the spices to flow out. In Him, we are not merely with evil and enemy shut out; we are shut in with blessing.

And this for the Reubenite, self-willed, impetuous against restraint as we have seen him, — a restraint which shall overcome and hold him fast, remould, deliver him from himself, make him fruitful. Blessed be God!

Bezer is "in the wilderness;" and it is even in this world that this great gift is made our own. The life-boat is needed for the seas, the armor for the battle; and "as He is, so are we in this world."

Bezer is also "in the level country," — the mishor, — a word which in Isa. 11:4 and Mal. 2:6 is used for "equity." It is indeed thus that Christ has become a refuge for us, — no mere escape, but righteousness.

Next, we have Ramoth in Gilead for the Gadites. Ramoth" means heights," as "Gilead" a "rocky" region. As security would be attained in a level country by a simple enclosure, such as we find in Bezer, so in a rocky district the natural place of security would be a height. The plural form may be, in Hebrew, only intensification. And here it seems scarcely possible to miss the application. Christ our refuge is indeed exalted to a height which renders it impossible for any earthly thing to assail or threaten our security in Him. In Him, risen out of death and ascended to heaven, we are "risen together," and "seated together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." No difficulties of the rough path we tread can affect for a moment our perfect peace in Him whose path is ended in the joy of victory and His work accomplished. Heaven can be no surer to us when we are in it than in Christ having gone in for us, our Representative Head. And this, how comforting for the Gadite assailed by a troop, and yet thus able and certain to conquer in the end! Jacob's wondrous prophecy, we can see, accompanies us all through, and, as a foundation, governs all the superstructure.

We have yet one of these cities remaining, — "Golan in Bashan for the Manassites." To Golan is assigned very diverse meanings: we take, as always in these eases, that which is in most harmony with its context, and has thus the sanction of fullest significance. The idea suggested by Bashan, the kingdom of Og, we have already considered (Num. 21:33-35). It speaks of pleasure, in a had sense — luxury, sensuous pleasure, with which even the common acceptation of "Bashan" as rich soil" is not discordant. It contained then, probably, — does now certainly, — some of the richest land in Syria. "Golan," in keeping with all this, means joy," — even that which expresses itself in bodily movement, "exultation." We rejoice in Christ Jesus," says the apostle: "boast," or "exult," is the better term. What more needful for a Manassite, especially, as here, one who has failed in steadfast purpose, than Christ in that character as a "refuge" from himself? Let us not make light of joy, if it be right joy, — that is, joy in the right Object; but let us remember that joy even in salvation is not enough, and may fail us in the time of need. Only that joy in Him "whom, having not seen, ye love, in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice" is "joy unspeakable and full of glory." (1 Peter 1:8.)

Thus if our life-history, like that of Israel, afford us little material for boasting in ourselves, these cities of refuge fittingly remind us of what is our security and our full resource. Like the Nazarite with his vow fulfilled, the end of our course shall only make our divorce from self complete, and Christ in absolute attainment our occupation forever. Amen.