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CHAPTER VII.

DEUTERONOMY.

CONSECRATION.

Keynote: Rom. xii. 1, 2.

THE book of Deuteronomy is a book of consecration. It shows us God's redeemed people standing a second time on the borders of the land of promise, and consecrating themselves afresh to Him, as a preparation for going in and possessing it. “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,” iv.1.

It is the consecration of a redeemed people that is prefigured here. It is not the surrender which the sinner is required to make before he can know the forgiveness of his sins; but it is the surrender required from the Christian, who already knows this, and who is seeking to enter into the full possession of the gifts and privileges of the Christian life. It answers to Rom. xii. 1 : “I beseech 96 you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.”

No such scene as this took place when the Israelites stood on the border of the Red Sea. The only point then was deliverance out of Egypt in the quickest way possible. And the surrender called for was only that they should consent to turn their backs on Egypt with its “fish, and cucumbers, and melons, and leeks, and onions, and garlic,” and should follow the Lord their God as He led them out into a land they knew not. “Repent and believe the Gospel,” turn your backs on the old life of sin and begin the new life of faith, is the New Testament expression of this stage in their experience.

As long as the Israelites were in Egypt they could not keep God's law, because they were Pharaoh's slaves; and they had to be delivered in order that they might be able to keep it. But being delivered, and having been made God's people, they were then ready to hear the law and to consecrate themselves to obey it. And with us likewise, the first step in our experience must be, deliverance out of Satan's kingdom, and the new birth into the kingdom of God's dear Son; for the carnal mind, we are told, “is not subject to the 97 law of God, neither indeed can be.” The consecration, therefore, which is set before us in this book, can never precede the new birth, but must always follow it.

And, in fact, as a general thing, many points exercise our hearts before we come to this consecration, -- how to be safe from the destroying angel; how to be delivered out of Egypt; how to have access to God; how to be led through the wilderness; how to overcome the enemies there. Until at last we come in our experience, as Israel did, a second time to the borders of the land of promise, and our souls begin to long to know something of the power of Christ's resurrection, and to live, even now and here, in “heavenly places.” And at this point the need for consecration presents itself before us. We realize that unless we are in very truth wholly the Lord's, He cannot lead us into the land of our inheritance. Not that there has been no consecration of ourselves previously. There may have been one or many; there must be, in fact, a measure of consecration in the heart of every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. The law had been given to Israel just after their deliverance out of Egypt, and they had promised to obey it (see Ex. xix. 5-8). But now that they were about to enter Canaan, it was necessary that a deeper consecration should be made, which should have especial reference to their conduct in the land, and the conditions of their relationship with the Lord there. “These are the statutes and judgments which ye shall observe to do in the land which the Lord God of thy fathers giveth thee to possess 98 it, all the days that ye live upon the earth,” xii. 1. And however it may have been as regards former consecrations in our own experience, I am sure we shall find that, when we seek to enter into the “land of promise,” a renewed surrender will be necessary, and that it must be of a far deeper and more heart-searching character than any former one has ever been.

It is necessary to keep all this clearly in mind in order to understand the conditional character of the book of Deuteronomy. We meet here continually with the word “if,” “All these blessings shall come upon thee and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God,” xxviii. 2. “But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all His commandments that all these curses shall come upon thee and overtake thee,” xxviii. 15. The blessings of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ are so unconditional, and His gifts are so free, that we are apt to think there are no “ifs” to be found in it any where, and that the introduction of any conditions are always a mistake of legality. But while it is true that forgiveness is a free gift, bestowed without money and without price upon all who need it and will take it, it is also equally true that holiness of heart is a gift with conditions. No sick man can be healed by a physician, be he ever so skilful, unless he will submit himself to that physician's prescriptions and obey his orders. And no soul can be cured of the dreadful malady of sin, until it is willing to surrender every 99 sin, and submit itself to the Lord's commands against it. Conditions do necessarily come in here. Obedience to law has its inevitable blessings, and disobedience its inevitable curses. And the consecration set forth in Deuteronomy is no legal demand of so much surrender for so much blessing, but is simply the necessary state in which blessing can be bestowed. And it remains to be as true now as it was then, that, “if thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, and walk in His ways,” the Lord “shall establish thee an holy people unto Himself as He hath sworn unto thee,” xxviii. 9. “But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God to observe to do all His commandments,” that “the Lord shall send upon thee cursing, vexation and rebuke in all that thou settest thine hand unto for to do,” and “thou shalt grope at noonday as the blind gropeth in darkness, and thou shalt not prosper in thy ways: and thou shalt be only oppressed and spoiled evermore, and no man shall save thee,” xxviii. 29.

Consecration is therefore, if we only understood it, not a sacrifice demanded, but a privilege bestowed. It is the only pathway there is to the unspeakable and inestimable blessings promised to the believer; and the Lord who calls us into this pathway knows that He is calling us to something that will make for us almost a Heaven upon earth. I speak strongly, but none too much so I am sure. To be wholly the Lord's, does bring to the soul spiritual blessings that answer, step by 100 step, to the temporal blessings which followed obedience with the children of Israel. Read the book of Deuteronomy with this thought in mind, and see how wonderful are we similitudes. First of all the land into which obedience was to bring them: “For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey; a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack anything in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass,” viii. 7-9. And again, the Lord thy God will give thee “great and goodly which thou buildest not, and houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not,” vi. 10, 11.

How exactly these descriptions answer to those rich spiritual possessions, and that blessed land of spiritual rest and joy, into which the obedient soul enters now.

Take also the blessings that “follow and overtake” the obedient in vii. 12-16 and xxviii. 1-13: “The Lord shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thy hand unto.” “Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out.” Thy enemies shall be conquered, vii. 16; thy diseases shall be healed, vii. 15; thou shalt have riches in abundance to 101 bestow on all who need, xxviii. 11, 12; the Lord shall love thee with a peculiar love, vii. 13; and shall fulfil His promises to thee, vii. 12; and finally, and best of all, He shall “establish thee an holy people unto Himself as He hath sworn unto thee,” if only thou wilt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, and walk in His ways, xviii. 9.

Take on the other hand the curses which it is declared in xxviii. 15-68 will surely “come upon and overtake” those who “will not hearken” unto the voice of the Lord; and notice the marvellous similitude there is between them, and the spiritual loss and suffering which we all .know invariably comes upon and overtakes the disobedient soul now. When such spray, the heaven seems to have become as brass, xxviii. 23; their spiritual enemies smite them and cause them to flee, v. 25; spiritual diseases of all kinds prostrate and afflict them, and even the old “diseases of Egypt” from which they had hoped to have been delivered, return upon them, and the old temptations of their unconverted days again overcome them, verses 27, 60; spiritual blindness overtakes them, and they “grope at noonday” and cannot find their way, verses 28, 29; their strength fails, v. 32; their work is fruitless, and they have no stores to give to others who are in need, verses 38-44; and, in short, the Lord's word to such a one is the same as to disobedient Israel of old, that thou salt “find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the Lord shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and 102 sorrow of mind; and thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life.”

But that this consecration was not to be looked upon as a painful demand; can be seen from the continual exhortations to rejoice throughout this book, see xii. 7, xiv. 26, xvi. 14, 15, xxii. 11, and from the word of warning in xxviii. 47, 48, “Because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things; therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies, which the Lord shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and He shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until He have destroyed thee.”

Faber says,--

“God's will on earth is always joy,

Always tranquility.”

And the soul that has learned to know God can say, Amen, to this with eager gladness. For the will of God is the will of love, and the will of love can never be anything but richest blessing to the loved one. We all know this, even in our poor meagre human experience of love. We know that where we love, our will towards the object of our affections embraces and demands only their blessing and their happiness. Our own happiness is as nothing in comparison, and our only trouble is that we cannot find ways enough in which to express and pour out our love. We know that the one question of 103 our hearts is not, “What can they do for me?” but, “What can I do for them?” Their good is our good, their sufferings are ours, and every joy that lights up their faces lights ours as well. Would they submit themselves utterly to our will, and let us have our way with them in all things, how infinitely happy we would make them if we could, along what smooth pathways we would lead them, and how tenderly we would guard them from danger or pain. And if this is true of our paltry human love, what must it be with the infinite, unspeakable and unknowable love of God? If therefore, we have ever been able to trust ourselves gladly to an earthly lover, or to surrender our wills to the call of human affection, surely we might with a fearless devotion abandon ourselves to the dear disposal of our Lord and Saviour and might say to Him with the gladdest joy, “Thy will be done, Thy will be done, Thy will be done on earth as it is done in Heaven.”

I confess that to me these words are among the sweetest ever put into mortal lips-- “Thy will be done on earth as it is done in Heaven.” It is the perfect doing of God's will that makes Heaven what it is, and to have His will done perfectly here would turn this earth into a Heaven also. And in so far as it is done in any individual life or by any individual heart it does bring Heaven down into that heart and life, and makes that man dwell in a perpetual kingdom. For he does indeed “always reign who sides with God,” since God's way is his way, and God's will is his.

Alas! how grievous it is that any one should ever 104 have a different thought from this. And yet we all know how common it is, even for Christians, to look upon consecration as a stern demand, and to shrink from the will of God as from the worst evil that could befall them. I knew of a Christian teacher once who was asked by one of his friends to speak on the subject of consecration. “Oh do not ask me to do that,” was his shuddering reply! “Do you know what consecration means?” he continued. “It means that all that is bright and pleasant in your life will be taken out of it, and that every hard and sad thing you can conceive of will come into it. It means that you will have to do impossible things, and that your ease and comfort will be gone forever.” How little could such a soul have known about the Lord whom he was trying to serve! Sometimes children misjudge their parents in this way, and expect from them only harshness and stern demands. But where such is the case, it argues, either a very cruel parent, or a very naughty child, and the universal instincts of the human heart condemn it. How is it then that we can so calmly misunderstand and misjudge our Lord, whose will can be nothing but goodness and love, since He Himself is these and these only?

Oh, dear friends, if this has been the thought of any one of you, if your heart has been afraid of your Father's will, and has hesitated to consent to it, confess your sin now with shame and sorrow, and begin from this time forward to say to Him a continual, “Yes,” throughout all the range of your being.

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*Thy wonderful grand will, my God,

With triumph now I make it mine,

And faith shall cry a joyful, Yes!

To every dear command of Thine.”

The book of Deuteronomy may be divided into three parts. The first eleven chapters contain mostly exhortations to obedience, with the motives of love and gratitude that should urge to it. Moses here beseeches the people, as Paul did the Romans, “by the mercies of God,” to present themselves a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, which he proves is but their “reasonable service.” He begins with a narrative of their past experiences, chaps. i., ii., iii., and on the ground of the Lord's gracious dealing with them and their own unfaithfulness, he urges them in chap. iv. to take heed to themselves and keep their souls diligently, “lest,” he says, “thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life; but teach them thy sons, and thy sons' sons,” v. 9. In chaps. v. and vi. he reminds them of the ten commandments, and shows them that they are still binding, and still full of infinite blessing. “Ye shall walk in all to ways which the Lord your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess,” v. 33. In chaps. vii.-xi. he reiterates over and over, in the most touching language, God's love and care for them, declaring to them how He had chosen them to be “a special people unto Himself 106 above all the people that are upon the face of the earth," vii. 6. And showing them that this was not because of their own greatness or goodness, but because the Lord loved them, and because He "would keep the oath which He had sworn," vii. 7, 8. He exhorts them to "remember all the way" by which the Lord had led them, viii. 2, and sets before them the blessings to which He was bringing them, viii. 7-9.

In chapters xii. to xxix. are given the new commandments which were made necessary by the new position they were about to occupy as God's peculiar people, dwelling in a land of enemies. These had especial reference to their worship, chapters xii., xvi., xvii., xxvi.; their utter separation from all evil, either of idols, chap. xiii.; or of unclean food, chap. xiv.; or of moral sin, chaps. xxi., xxii.; or of natural defilement, chap. xxiii.; and their dealings in love and grace with one another, chaps. xv., xxiv., xxv. Chap. xxviii. sets before them the blessings that follow obedience, and the curses that follow disobedience. Chapter xxix. is the personal application to the consciences of the people of all that has preceded. Chapters xxx. and xxxi. are prophetic of their backsliding, and contain a blessed message of God's restoring love. Chapter xxxii. is Moses' song, which was to be taught to the children of Israel, to be in their remembrances as a continual witness against them when the days of their failure should come, see xxxi. 19- 22. Chapter xxxiii. contains the revelation of the wondrous blessings the Lord had still for His people, although 107 He knew their weakness and their foolishness, and fore- saw their wanderings; blessings sure to come at last, though they may have to tarry long because of the hardness of their hearts. "Happy art thou, O Israel; who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency! And thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee; and thou shalt tread upon their high places," xxxiii. 29.

Chapter xxxiv. gives us the death of Moses, preceded by his view into the promised land from Pisgah's height; and closes with God's testimony concerning him, that "there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face."

That Moses could not enter the promised land seems to me significant of the fact that the law can have nothing to do with the soul that is "seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." Moses was in a very especial way the representative of the law, as we are told "the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ," John i. 17. And to make the picture complete, we may well believe that Moses must die before Joshua could lead the people in. The very opening of the book of Joshua implies this, for we read there that the Lord spake unto Joshua, saying, "Moses my servant is dead: now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them."

It may seem strange to insist upon a perfect obedience 108 to the law, and then to talk about the law being dead. But it is a fact in experience that complete surrender to any law, always makes the soul free from that law. The law-abiding citizen who has no thought of breaking the laws of his country, is as free from those laws as though there were none. The law is dead as far as he is concerned, because it demands only that which he himself thinks is best and right, and which therefore he wants to give; and for him in effect here is no law. But he is made free by obeying the law, not by disobeying it. And so also it is said of the Christian who has submitted himself fully to the law of God and who walks in the Spirit, "that against such there is no law," Gal. v. 23. If the law is written in our hearts, we shall not need it in outward code; and we shall "walk at liberty" as the Psalmist says, just because we seek God's precepts, and keep His law continually, Ps. cxix. 44, 45.

In chap. xxvi. we have given us what might be called the process of consecration. The believer comes here before the Lord bringing the first-fruits of his land as a free will offering, and confessing his standing and his possessions, "I profess this day unto the Lord try God, that I am come unto the country which the Lord sware unto our fathers for to give us." See also verses 5-10. No doubts are here. "I am come;" "He hath brought;" "He hath given." Doubts are fatal to consecration. The soul must be assured that it belongs to the Lord, before it can consecrate itself to His service. But being thus assured, and acknowledging it, the path 109 is simple, and is clearly laid down in verses 16-19. In verse 16 we have the command. In verse 17 the surrender to obedience. And in verses 18, 19 the Lord's acceptance. We avouch the Lord to be our God, and that we will walk in His ways and keep His commandments; and He at once avouches us to be His peculiar people, and declares that we shall keep His commandments, and that He will make is an holy people. Our part is to surrender ourselves to Him, and His part is to accomplish the work.

To pass through the experience of Deuteronomy therefore, brings the soul out into a large place, into a land of liberty and rest, and joy. and blessings innumerable; and I would entreat every one of my readers, before turning to another chapter of this book, to surrender themselves, gladly and unconditionally to the sweet will of God, to be its captive forever!

"Thy beautiful sweet will, my God,

Holds fast in its sublime embrace

My captive will, a gladsome bird

Prisoned in such a realm of grace.

O lightest burden, sweetest yoke,

It lifts, it bears my happy soul;

It giveth wings to this poor heart

My freedom is Thy grand control.

Upon God's will I lay me down

As child upon its mother's breast,

No silken couch, nor softest bed

Could ever give me such sweet rest."

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It may be that you have not hitherto looked upon God's will in this light, and have shrunk from abandoning yourselves to its control. What words can I use, dear friends, to make you see that it is the one only desirable thing in earth or Heaven; and that to be all the Lord's, and entirely at His dear disposal is Heaven begun below? No human words can tell this story, for it hath not entered into the heart of man to conceive the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But to every surrendered soul He will reveal them by His Spirit, and you shall know the fulfilment of that wondrous promise of our Lord's, "He that hath My commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and manifest myself to him. * * * If a man love me he will keep my words, and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him," John xiv. 21-23.

Joseph Cook in one of his scientific statements concerning conscience says, "It is fact of experience that whenever we submit utterly, affectionately, irreversibly to the best we know, that is to the Innermost Holiest of conscience, at that instant, and never before, there flashes through us with quick, splendid, interior, unexpected illumination, a Power and a Presence not ourselves; and we know by the inner light that God is with us in a sense utterly unknown before."

Surely for such an end as this any surrender could be nothing but joy. Try it, dear reader, and see if all I 111 say is not true and infinitely more that I cannot say. And thus going step by step with the children of Israel through the book of Deuteronomy, let us be prepared in Joshua with them to cross the Jordan and go in and take possession of the promised land.


Texts on the consecration of the Redeemed soul:  Rom. xii. 1, 2Ex. xix. 5; xxii. 221 Sam. xv. 22Jer. vii. 23Rom. vi. 132 Cor. vii. 11 John iii. 3Heb. vi. 11 Thess. iv. 1-4Col. iii. 1-52 Cor. vi. 14-181 Cor. vi.20;  Matt. x. 37-39; xvi. 24, 25Luke xiv. 26- 33;  Mark viii. 34, 35Neh. viii.; ix. 38; x. 1, 28, 292 Kings xxiii. 3Num. vi.Matt. vii. 21.

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