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the elders of Israel, and Moses commanded them saying, At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles, when all Israel is come to appear before the Lord thy God, in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy
. stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the Lord your God, and observe to do all the words of this law. And that their children, which have not known anything, may hear, and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as ye live in the land whither ye go over Jordan to possess it."
This book also contains a very remarkable song, the preliminaries of which are set forth in the thirty-first chapter (verses 14-22 and 28-30). The song itself is recorded in the thirty-second chapter (verses 1-43). This song is to be sung in the day when the judgments contained in this book are to be poured out in the last of the latter days upon the rebellious house of Israel. This song in the Book of the Revelation in chapter fifteen is called the “song of Moses and the song of the Lamb,” which song will be sung by the hundred forty and four thousand who will in that day be redeemed out of all the tribes of Israel. Of the things contained in this song, and their application, we will speak more particularly when we reach that part of our subject where these things obtain. But touching this song Moses said Kyerses 28-30), “Gather unto me all the elders of your tribes, and your officers, That I may speak these words in their ears, and call heaven and earth to record against them. For I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt yourselves, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you, and evil will befall you in the latter days because ye will do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger through the work of your hands. And Moses spake in the ears of all the congregation of Israel the words of this song, until they were ended.”
With reference to the evils which will befall the house of Israel in the latter days, the period in their history to which this song and the second law have special reference, Moses said also, as it is written in the fourth chapter (verses 30-31), “When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the Lord thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice, for the Lord thy God is a merciful God, he will not forsake thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers, which he sware unto thee.”
THE FORMER DAYS
The reference which is made by Moses in these two passages to the “latter days ” should indicate to the careful reader why the law was given in two parts, so as to be known as the first and second law, or first and second covenant. The house of Israel has two periods of existence as a people and a nation under the law of Moses, which are known in the Scriptures as their former days and their latter days. Their former days began with their deliverance from the bondage of Egypt and, with the ten tribes, terminated when the king of Assyria captured Samaria, and carried them away captive, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river Gozan, in the cities
of the Medes. With Judah they terminated when the Romans, about fortynine years after Shiloh had come and suffered, made war upon Judah and destroyed their place and nation. Thus terminated the former days of the kingdom of Israel, which had continued for a period of about fifteen centuries under various vicissitudes of fortune. They had provoked the Lord God of Israel to anger until there was no remedy, until he had cast them out of his sight, as he testified unto them by his servants the prophets. This dispersion has now continued for more than eighteen centuries.
The first part of the Mosaic law applies mainly to the people of Israel during their former days, but while the second law, contained in the book of Deuteronomy, has also a partial and primary application to the government of the children of Israel in their former days, yet its special and principal application is to the whole house of Israel in the latter days; for the blessings and the cursings contained in the book of Deuteronomy, the evils and the terrible judgments written therein, have in the past history of that people been but partially fulfilled. But Jesus said, " It is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than for one jot or one tittle to pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." Therefore all the curses and all the judgments contained in this second book of the law, which when carefully read and considered are enough to make one's ears tingle, yet will all most certainly be literally fulfilled. And that this second law applies to the second period of Israel's history, subsequent to the first appearance of Christ in the world, may be seen by the manner in which Paul shows, first, the righteousness which is of the law, and second, the righteousness which is of faith (Rom. 10: 5-8), saying, “For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, that the man which doeth these things, shall live by them.” It should be noted here that this quotation is from the first part of the law, the fifth verse of the eighteenth chapter of Leviticus; but when he speaks of the righteousness of faith, from what book and from what law does he cite his proof? We reply, from the thirtieth chapter of the Book of Deuteronomy (verses 11-14), saying in his letter to the Romans, " But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into the heavens (that is, to bring down Christ from above)? or who shall descend into the deep (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead)? But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth and in thy heart, that is the word of faith which we preach.” Thus when Israel is dwelling again in their own land in the latter days under the second law, they will not need to look forward to Christ's coming as a matter of promise, for it will in that day be a historical fact, so that they will not need to say, Who shall ascend into heaven? or descend into the deep?" but the word will be nigh unto them, as Moses testifies in the second part of the law.
THE LATTER DAYS
The latter days of Israel are future to the days in which we now live, and they will commence with the second exodus of the whole house of Israel from among all nations where they are dispersed, and whence they will be gathered again after the manner that they were brought up out of Egypt, with a high hand and an unlifted arm; and after being disciplined again in
the wilderness, as aforetime, they will be reinstated in the holy land under the second law, as contained in the Book of Deuteronomy, and under the administration of judges as of old; for they had judges for about 450 years, until Samuel the prophet, when they demanded kings to rule over them, as they will again do in the latter days, when God will again give them kings, some of whom will eat the Aesh of the fat, and tear their claws in pieces.”
They will at first be a righteous and holy people, and as the result, all the blessings promised in the second law will be realized by them. They will become very numerous and wealthy; they will lend to all nations and borrow of none, and they shall rule over many nations, and they (the nations) shall not reign over them. And after they have dwelt long in the land and waxed fat, they will again forget the Lord and corrupt themselves, and turn back to the iniquities of their ancestors who refused to obey the voice of God and went after other gods. And when they turn aside again out of the good way, they will proceed from bad to worse, despising God's law; they will walk after the imaginations of their own evil hearts, and will transgress his laws, change his ordinances, and break his everlasting covenant. They will turn again to worship the works of their own hands and the idols of the heathen, and will again be driven to worship the sun, moon, and stars, and burn their own children in the fire to Molech, and defile God's holy house which will be rebuilt on their return from the present dispersion, and will fill his courts with their idols, and set up in the temple the abomination that maketh desolate. They will exceed the wicked deeds of their ancestors, and fill to its full the cup of their iniquity; and because of their falling away, God "will send them strong delusions, that they may believe a lie.” He will send his curse upon them, even obduracy of mind, blindness and hardness of heart, as he did upon Pharaoh and his people, that he may pour out upon them all the vials of wrath, as it is written in the second law, and afterwards by his servants the prophets, and finally in the book of the prophecy of Christ, the Book of the Revelation. Moreover the house of Israel will in the latter days be divided, as they were in the days of Rehoboam, into two hostile and warring nations, struggling together in deadly conflict, known as the house of Israel and the house of Judah. These nations fill some of the places in the Book of the Revelation assigned by modern commentators and writers to Gentile powers but which can be clearly shown to be as is here stated.
Under God's blessing in the latter days they will become a nation great, wealthy, powerful and populous; Jerusalem will then become the metropolitan city of the whole earth. But when they kick and turn suddenly unto their former ways of rebellion, then will begin that thoroughly classified system of evils which will rapidly succeed one another until they are destroyed, and left few in number, whereas when these evils began they were as the stars of the sky for multitude. The suddenness of their revolt the Lord refers to by the hand of Jeremiah in these words, saying, "And the Lord said unto me, A conspiracy is found among the men of Judah and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They are turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers which refused to hear my words, and they went after other gods; the house of Israel, and the house of Judah (the two houses being divided again) have broken my (second) covenant (as contained in the book of Deuteronomy) which I
made with their fathers. Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil (the evil which Moses said should befall them in the latter days) upon them which they shall not be able to escape, and though they cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them. Then shall the cities of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem go and cry unto the gods unto whom they offer incense, but they shall not save them at all in the time of their trouble. For according to the number of thy cities, were thy gods Judah; and according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem, have ye set up altars to that shameful thing, even altars unto Baal ” (Jer, 11:9-13).
THE EVILS WHICH BEFALL THEM IN THE LATTER DAYS These evils, be it distinctly understood, Moses says shall befall the whole house of Israel “in the latter days," for Moses spoke these words to the whole twelve tribes, and the evils which are to overtake them, the Lord has concentrated and embodied into a song which Moses spake in the ears of all Israel, until they were ended. In this song he says of his people in that day, “For they are a nation void of council, neither is there any understanding in
O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end! How should one (Gentile) chase a thousand (Jews), and two (Gentiles) put ten thousand (Jews) to fight, except their rock (the rock of the Jews) had sold them."
And now that there may be no mistake about the things set forth in this song having their fulfillment and application at the judgment, we will read from Deuteronomy (32: 35-38) as follows: "To me belongeth vengeance, and recompense; their foot shall slide in due time, for the day of their calamity (of their trouble — Jeremiah) is at hand (that is, it will be at hand in that day where it applies), and the things that shall come upon them make haste. For the Lord shall judge his people, and repent himself for his servants, when he seeth that their power is gone, and there is none shut up or left. And he shall say, Where are their gods, their rock in whom they trusted, which did eat the fat of their sacrifices, and drank the wine of their drink offerings? Let them rise up and help you, and be your protection." Now Paul, having quoted from these words and applied them to the time of the judgment, gives assurance that this is the true interpretation of the words of this song (Heb. 10: 30).
In the twenty-eighth chapter (verse 25) of the Book of Deuteronomy it is written, “ The Lord shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies; thou shalt go out one way against them, and fee seven ways before them, and shalt be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth; and thy carcase shall be meat unto all fowls of the air, and unto the beasts of the earth (such as the lion, the leopard, the bear, and the wolf), and no man shall fray them away." Again in continuance it is said, “The Lord shall smite thee with the botch of Egypt, and with the emerods, and with the scab, and with the itch, whereof thou canst not be healed. The Lord shall smite thee with madness, and blindness, and astonishment of heart, and thou shalt grope at noon day 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.” (Verse 45) Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee and shall pursue and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed, because thou hearkenedst not unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded thee; and they shall be upon thee for a sign and for a wonder, and upon thy seed for ever. 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."
1 See Jer. 5:6; Zeph. 3:3; Ez. 22: 24-27; Dan. 7:4-6; Rev. 13:1-2.
THE NATION OF FIERCE COUNTENANCE
( (Verses 49-52) “The Lord shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth, a nation whose tongue thou canst not understand, a nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor show favor to the young. And he shall eat the fruit of thy cattle, and the fruit of thy land, until thou be destroyed; which also shall not leave thee either corn, wine, or oil, or the increase of thy kine, or focks of thy sheep, until he have destroyed thee. And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst, throughout all thy land, which the Lord thy God hath given thee."
The terrible result of these close sieges is shown as follows (verses 53-59), And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters, which the Lord thy God hath given thee, in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee. So that the man that is tender among you, and very delicate, his eye shall be evil toward his brother, and toward the wife of his bosom, and toward the remnant of his children which he shall leave, so that he will not give to any of them of the flesh of his children whom he shall eat, because he hath nothing left him in the siege, and in the straitness wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee in all thy gates. The tender and delicate women among you, which would not adventure to set the sole of her foot upon the ground for delicateness and tenderness, her eye shall be evil toward the husband of her bosom, and toward her son, and toward her daughter, and toward her young one that cometh out from between her feet, and toward her children which she shall bear, for she shall eat them for want of all things secretly in the siege and straitness, wherewith thine enemy shall distress thee in thy gates. If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book (Deuteronomy), that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, the Lord thy God; then the Lord will make thy plagues wonderful, and the plagues of thy seed, even great plagues, and of long continuance, and sore sicknesses and of long continuance."
THE PLAGUES AND DISEASES OF EGYPT
The plagues of Egypt have a significance to the rebellious house of Israel which they will fully realize in the day of their tribulation when they shall corrupt themselves in the latter days, and revive in their land the idolatry of