Applications of the Basic Things in the Book of Deuteronomy
According to Baxter (1966), there are basic things in the book of Deuteronomy which are very interesting, informative, and useful for Christians’ growth in their daily Christian living. Baxter claims that these basic things are not meant for those people in the olden days alone; he claims that they are much very helpful to Christians as believers of today. He identifies them as follow:
1. The Basic Fact.
2. The Basic Truth.
3. The Basic Requirement.
4. The Basic Pledge.
5. The Basic Differences.
6. The Basic Choices.
1. The Basic Fact
Baxter (1966) states that the basic fact beneath all else (and with which goes the basic command of the law), is that which is declared in Deuteronomy 6: 4 - 5: "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD; And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might" (Deuteronomy 6: 4 - 5). Baxter points out that our Lord Jesus Christ Himself has told us that this is the foundational
Pronouncement and "first commandment" of the law (Mark 12: 29 - 30).
As far as Baxter is concerned, this was the basic fact of Divine revelation to Israel; and this was to be the first article of Israel's religion. He stresses the fact that this is also the basic fact on which Christianity is built, even the solitariness and triunity of God. Baxter encourages Christians, and says that let all Christians understand the fact, that Israel's God is their God: there is no other. He claims that Israel's Messiah is Christians’ Savior: there is no other. To him, Christianity is Monotheistic and Christocentric. He points out that Christians are spiritually fellow citizens with the people of Israel (Ephesians 2: 19). Baxter concludes emphatically that Israel's God is Christians’ God.
2. The Basic Truth
Baxter (1966) states that the basic truth laid down in Deuteronomy is that which is expressed in Deuteronomy 6: 23: "And he brought us out from thence, that he might bring us in, to give us the land which he sware unto our fathers" (Deuteronomy 6: 23).
Baxter claims that here is a tree fold statement of truth. He identifies the first fold, and calls it a fact - "He brought us out". Baxter identifies the second fold, and calls it the purpose behind the fact - "that he might bring us in". He identifies the third fold, and calls it the reason behind both the fact and the purpose - "He sware unto our fathers". Baxter claims that as for the fact - "He brought us out", we see here the power of God; for He brought them out with "a mighty hand" (Deuteronomy 7: 8). He states that as for the purpose - "that he might bring us in", we see here the grace of God; for it was to bring them into a land "flowing with milk and honey" (Exodus 3:17). Baxter observes that as for the reason - "he sware unto our fathers", we see here the faithfulness of God: He was true to His covenant. Baxter supports his observations with a Scripture that says, "Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it" (1 Thessalonians 5: 24).
Baxter claims that yet the words assume a still greater significance when applied to Christian believers. He exclaims that from what an Egypt has God delivered Christians, in Christ! Baxter goes further, and says that God has brought Christians out from the condemnation of sin; for "there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8: 1). Baxter states that the Lord has delivered Christians from the bondage of sin; for "the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death" (Romans 8: 2), he quotes. Baxter claims that in a word, God has provided for Christians in Christ a full salvation from sin. He joyfully quotes, "He brought us out from thence". Baxter asks, “Where does He take us into when He brings, or calls us out from the World of darkness and bondage of sin?” He claims that the Holy Scripture answers this question, ".........that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light" (1 Peter 2: 9).
3. The Basic Requirement
According to Baxter (1966), the basic requirement which God makes of Israel, in Deuteronomy, is that which is found in Deuteronomy 10: 12 - 13. "And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul; To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statues, which I command thee this day for thy good?" (Deuteronomy 10: 12 - 13).
Baxter asks, so what is it that is required of Israelites as they now enter the promised Canaan? Baxter claims that it is this simple basic requirement - "to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul" (Deuteronomy 10:12). Baxter observes, and states that this is the basic requirement, the obligation which comprehends all others - obedience, loving obedience, flowing from the grateful consciousness of covenant relationship and fellowship with this glorious and faithful God.
Baxter stresses the fact that so, this, Christians say, is the basic requirement found here: “and is anything less required of Christians of today?” He asks. Baxter answers for himself, and says, “No, because of our exalted privileges in Christ, privileges which the earthly Israel never knew, we are the more under obligation to obey, in the spirit of love and Godly fear”. He supports his claim with a Scripture that says, - "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me,.........". "If a man love me, he will keep my words,.......". (John 14: 21 -23). Baxter concludes with a prayer for Christians and says that may it ever be to all Christians their supreme delight to hear Lord’s dictates, and obey! He satisfies the prayer with the word of Amen.
4. The Basic Pledge
Baxter (1966) claims that it is important to understand that Israel entered Canaan under the conditions set forth in the Sinai covenant, the precepts, terms, and issues of which are rehearsed to the new generation of Israel in the book of Deuteronomy. Baxter states that but the thing to grasp here is this, that the Sinai covenant is not the last word between God and Israel: it is not the end of God's dealings in covenant relationship with His chosen people. He observes, and says that No; there is another covenant relationship between God and Israel which stands outside, and goes beyond the Sinai covenant, a covenant to the force of which there is no end: that is the Abrahamic covenant. Baxter claims that nothing can destroy this covenant between God and Israel, which was not only sealed with blood, but confirmed with a Divine oath (Genesis 22: 13-18). He states that No, not even can Israel's unfaithfulness nullify it! Baxter points out that it is an unconditional and everlasting covenant to Abraham and his posterity; and it is in connection with this Abrahamic pledge that Christians have the crowning demonstration of the Divine faithfulness to Israel.
Baxter observes the fact that likewise in relating to the believers today; the basic pledge Christians have is in eternal salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord. He claims that nothing can destroy this Christ's pledge of salvation between Jesus Christ Himself and His believers. Baxter states that the Christ's pledge of salvation was sealed with blood of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 9: 14). To him, the Christ's pledge was also confirmed with a Divine oath (Matthew 17: 5). Baxter claims that the Lord Jesus Christ helps His believers to walk in this Christ's pledge of salvation even unto the end of the World (Romans 8: 26 - 27; Matthew 28: 20). He observes, and says that moreover, the Christ's pledge of salvation is everlasting covenant; he invites us to hear what the Lord Jesus Christ Himself says concerning this, and he quotes, "For God so loved the World, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3: 16).
5. The Basic Differences
According to Baxter (1966), in the book of Deuteronomy there are two basic differences which the book emphasizes, between the Old dispensation and the New, between the Old Testament and the New Testament. He invites us to take a look at them:
(i) Place versus Person
Baxter claims that one of the great differences between the Old Testament and the New is that in the Old Testament the emphasis is upon a place, whereas in the New Testament the emphasis is upon a person. He gives an example, and says that for instance, under the Old dispensation there was one special place of sacrifice, of worship, of the Divine presence (Deuteronomy 12: 10 - 14). Baxter notes that this emphasis on a place gave focus to the religious life of the nation of Israel; it fostered the sense of national unity; it was suited to the nature of the Old dispensation; and without doubt, it took a deep hold on the thought of the people.
Baxter states that in the New Testament, this localization of the Divine presence, and of worship is gently but completely superseded. He claims that the emphasis is transferred from a place to a person. To him, it is no longer a material temple, and a locality but a spiritual presence having the attribute of universality. Baxter claims that this transference of emphasis may be seen in the Lord's dealing with the Samaritan woman at the well of Sychar (John 4: 20 - 26). He emphasizes that it is no longer God in a temple merely, but in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. He claims that the same transition from place to person is seen in the account of Ethiopian eunuch and Philip (Acts 8: 27 - 39). Baxter states that the last utterance of the Lord Jesus Christ before His ascension is a finally renewed emphasis on this change from place to person; he claims that the Lord declares, "........., Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the World. Amen" (Matthew 28: 20).
(ii) Curse versus Blessing
Baxter discovers that another great difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament is that in the Old Testament the emphasis is placed on curse whereas in the New Testament the emphasis is placed on blessing. He gives an example, and says that for instance, under the Old dispensation, it is discovered, that the Law, although in itself holy, can only administer a curse upon such as Adam's fallen sons, if they are placed under it, because of the perversity of their nature (Deuteronomy 27: 15 - 26).
Baxter observes that in the New Testament, through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, curse is changed to blessing for the believers of today. He claims that the Holy Scripture says, "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree" (Galatians 3: 13). Baxter emphasizes that as a result of God’s grace; the Lord Jesus Christ releases blessings on the believers of today (Matthew 5: 3 - 12; and various Scriptures in the New Testament).
6. The Basic Choices
According to Baxter (1966), in his study of the book of Leviticus, he discovered that the first giving of the Law wound up with a solemn warning of the punishments which would follow Israel's infidelity to the covenant (Leviticus 26: 1 - 46). He observes that the same kind of ending marks the second giving of the Law in the book of Deuteronomy. He claims that now this second giving of the law, running through Chapters 12 to 30., winds up, in Chapter 27 to 30 of the Book of Deuteronomy, with renewed and most solemn warnings regarding the alternatives before the nation of Israel. Baxter emphatically concludes that the nation is called upon to make basic choices.
Baxter observes that in the same trend, Christians discover that the believers of today are also called upon to make basic choices. He gives an example, and says that for instance, the Lord Jesus Christ offers Christians basic choices in the book of Matthew. Baxter points out that the Lord seriously declares, "Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:" "And everyone that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: .........." (Matthew 7: 24 - 27). Baxter concludes that thus, Christians are called upon to make basic choices.
Looking at those analyses being made so far by Baxter, we have discovered that all the six basic things found in the book of Deuteronomy are related to Christians as believers of today. Praise the Lord!
Baxter, Sidlow J. Explore The Book. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966.
All Scriptures quoted above are from King James Version Bible.