This post is also available as a podcast: https://anchor.fm/teague-mckamey/episodes/The-Gospel-of-Deuteronomy-e1ivj7i
Earlier this year, the Lord took me through Deuteronomy. Typically, I read through a book (maybe more than once) to get the flow of it. Then I do a slow reading, maybe looking up words, camping on phrases, and doing more in-depth study. All through this process, I tune into the Holy Spirit. Where does He want me to slow down? Is there a word or phrase He wants me to spend time on? What is He saying to me about Jesus?
I read through Deuteronomy about three times, then went through it slowly. Nothing. I went through slowly again. The Lord opened a couple chapters but I’m used to God showing me Himself through a whole book. Since this was so different, I asked the Lord about it.
God’s answer was to show me something about the book of Deuteronomy as a whole. I have rarely, if ever, had God speak to me through a big picture view of a whole book. What the Lord shared with me, though, was wonderful to me. Below is the big picture view of Deuteronomy God gave me. I pray it is a blessing.
Deuteronomy communicates much the same relationship as John chapters 13-17. Deuteronomy tells Israel to remain in the land—a land full of fruit and all they need—by keeping God’s commandments, and promises He will dwell among them in the temple. In John 13-17, Jesus tells His disciples to remain in Him by keeping His new command (love each other), and promises He will live in them, making them fruitful.
In a table, the parallels look like this:
|Remain in the land||Remain in Me|
|Keep God’s commands||Keep the new command (love)|
|God dwells among Israel in the temple||I will remain in you|
|The land is full of fruit & everything needed||You will bear much fruit|
Both sections of scripture depict union between God and His people. Union with God answers everything about the human condition and is the desire of God’s heart. Deuteronomy invites us—in fact urges us—to enter into union and not to leave it. Deuteronomy teaches that oneness with God brings rest from labor and enemies, satiety, security, fruitfulness, blessing, and sharing God’s likeness. Outside of oneness is slavery, harassment from enemies, lack, insecurity, unfruitfulness, curses, and being unlike God.
The old covenant phrases this union more conditionally. God’s people would remain in the land, and God would remain among them, IF they kept His commands. But Deuteronomy also speaks about the commands as if they were intended to be kept in the land, not outside it. So they had to remain in the land to keep the commands, and they had to keep the commands to remain in the land.
In John 15, the union is, perhaps, more clear. Apart from Jesus we can do nothing. Only if we remain in Him will we bear fruit. But we remain in His love if we keep His command to love. Remaining in Him and Him in us is not conditional but interdependent. To keep His commands, we must remain in Him, and Him in us. To remain in Him and Him in us, we must keep His commands. This isn’t showing conditionality as through if/then statements. It is talking about the reality of union from each side.
As an example, a branch lives if it stays connected to the vine inwardly and outwardly. If the branch is outwardly torn from the vine, it also loses the inward flow of nutrients through the plant’s venation. But if the inward flow of nutrients stops, the branch will wither, and the outward connection will also be lost. Both must be maintained for union to exist.