Charles Simeon Commentary - Deuteronomy 30:4 - 30:6

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Charles Simeon Commentary - Deuteronomy 30:4 - 30:6

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Deu_30:4-6. If any of thine be driven out unto the out-most parts of heaven, from thence will the Lord thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee: and the Lord thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers. And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.

IN interpreting the Holy Scriptures, it is common with many to dwell almost exclusively upon the literal or historical sense of them, and to confine their meaning to the persons to whom the different parts were immediately addressed, or of whom they spake. But this limits the use of the sacred volume in such a manner, as to render it of little service to us. By supposing that it related only to other persons and other times, we get rid of its authority, destroy its power over our conscience, and learn to set aside every doctrine which we are not willing to receive, and every precept which we do not choose to practise. But there is an opposite error, against which also we ought to be on our guard. Some are so intent on the spiritual sense of Scripture, as almost entirely to overlook the literal. But the primary meaning is often as replete with instruction as any that can be affixed to the words, and incomparably more satisfactory to a well-informed mind. For instance, if we should take occasion from our text to speak of the nature and effects of true conversion, in bringing us to God and renovating our souls, we might speak what was good and useful; but the primary sense of the passage leads us to another subject, which ought to be of equal importance in our eyes, namely, The Restoration and Conversion of the Jews.

In discoursing then on the words before us, we shall notice,

I.       The events to which they relate:—

That which first demands our attention, is, The restoration of the Jews—

[Very much is spoken, in the prophets on. this subject: and though a great part of their declarations respecting it may be considered as having received their accomplishment in the return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, there are some which evidently refer to a period yet future. The Prophet Ezekiel associates it with their acknowledgment of one Prince, whom he calls David [Note: Eze_37:21-25.]. But there was not any prince after the captivity to whom that name can with any propriety be applied in such a view; whereas the Lord Jesus Christ is often spoken of under that name: and therefore it is reasonable to conclude, that the restoration spoken of must take place after the establishment of Christianity in the world. Indeed so strong are the declarations of Scripture upon this subject, that an expectation of the event universally obtains throughout the Christian world. What the precise time will be, we cannot absolutely fix: but we believe that they will be gathered from all quarters of the earth, and possess again their own land, agreeably to the literal expressions of our text: and it is highly probable, that the time is not far distant. As for the objections arising from the difficulty of carrying such a measure into execution, or from the barrenness of the land of Canaan, they vanish the very moment we open the Scriptures, and see what God did for them in former times. If God has ordained it, every mountain will become a plain.]

Nearly connected with this is their conversion to Christianity—

[If we suppose a doubt to arise respecting the former, there exists not even a shadow of a doubt respecting this. The Apostle Paul represents it as assuredly determined in the divine counsels, and infallibly to be accomplished in due season. The people of God in every age may be regarded as one tree, of which Abraham may be considered as the root. The Jews after a time were broken off, as fruitless branches; and the Gentiles were grafted on their stock: and, when the appointed season shall arrive, God will again engraft the Jews upon their own stock, and make both Jews and Gentiles one tree, that shall fill the whole earth. It is by this latter measure that God’s designs of love and mercy to the Gentiles also shall be perfected: for the conversion of the Jews will awaken the attention of the unconverted Gentiles, and be the means of bringing in the fulness of the Gentiles [Note: Rom_11:12; Rom_11:15; Rom_11:23-29.] — — —

The change that will be wrought upon them will not be merely outward, or consisting in speculative opinions; it will reach to their inmost souls; it will produce in them a circumcision of the heart, an utter abhorrence of all sin, and a fervent love to God, as their reconciled God in Christ Jesus: they will “love him,” I say, “with all their heart, and with all their soul.” True indeed it is that they are very far from this state of mind at present: but so were the murderers of the Lord Jesus on the day of Pentecost; and yet in one hour were converted unto God. So shall it be in the day of God’s power; “a nation shall be born in a day;” “a little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: the Lord will hasten it in his time.”]

Such being the prophetic import of the words, let us proceed to notice,

II.      The reflections which they naturally suggest—

The present dispersed state of the Jews from which they are in due time to be recovered, is a most instructive subject. We cannot but see,

1.       What witnesses they are for God—

[The very person who brought them out of Egypt was inspired to foretell both their present dispersion, and their future restoration. The event has come to pass; and now for nearly eighteen hundred years have this people been scattered over the face of the whole earth, and are preserved a distinct people in every place. The treatment they should meet with was most circumstantially foretold: the hardships they should undergo [Note: Deu_28:53-57.], the oppression they should endure [Note: Deu_28:29.], the contempt in which they should be held [Note: Deu_28:37.], the conviction which they themselves, in common with all mankind, should feel, that their sufferings were inflicted by God himself on account of their iniquities [Note: Deu_29:21-28.]; all, I say, was foretold; and all is come to pass: and they are living witnesses of the truth of God, and of the divine authority of that book which they profess to have been inspired by him. They may be even said to be witnesses also of the truth of Christianity, which is founded on the Jewish Scriptures, and is altogether the completion of them. What therefore God said to them in the days of old, may with yet augmented force be applied to them at this time, “Ye are my witnesses, that I am God [Note: Isa_43:12.].”]

2.       What warnings they are to us—

[Who that sees the present state of the Jews, and compares it with the predictions concerning them, must not acknowledge that God abhorreth iniquity, and will surely punish it even in his most highly favoured people? Methinks the sight of a Jew should produce this reflection in every mind. The Jews, because they were descended from the loins of Abraham, and had been distinguished by God above all the nations upon earth, imagined themselves to be safe: but when they had filled up the measure of their iniquities in the murder of their Messiah, the wrath of God came upon them to the uttermost. Let not Christians therefore imagine that the name and profession of Christianity will screen them from the wrath of God. The sentence of exclusion from the heavenly Canaan is gone forth against all who reject the Lord Jesus Christ: and it will assuredly be executed upon them in due time: for “how shall they escape, if they neglect so great salvation?” Our inquiry must be, not, Am I instructed in some particular tenets, or observant of some particular forms? but, Am I “circumcised in heart, so as to love the Lord Jesus Christ with all my heart, and with all my soul?” This is the point to be ascertained; for “if any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, he will be anathema maran-atha:” he will be accursed; and God himself will for ever inflict the curse upon him.]

3.       What encouragement we have to seek their welfare—

[Notwithstanding God has given so many promises respecting them, the Christian world for many hundreds of years have scarcely thought them worthy of the smallest attention. Christians have been anxious for the welfare of heathens, and have sent missionaries into every quarter of the world to instruct them: but for the Jews they have felt no interest whatever: they have left them to perish without so much as an attempt for their conversion. But what base ingratitude is this! To whom are we ourselves indebted for all our privileges, but to Jews? Who wrote, and preserved with such wonderful care, the Scriptures of the Old Testament? or who wrote the New Testament, but Jews? Who died to redeem our souls from death and hell? a Jew. Who at this moment makes intercession for us at the right hand of God? a Jew. Who manages every thing in heaven and earth for our good, and is a fountain of all spiritual good to our souls? a Jew. Of whom were the whole primitive Church composed for the first six or seven years? Jews. Who went forth with their lives in their hands, to convert the Gentiles; and to whom are we indebted for all the light that we enjoy? they were Jews. Have we then no debt of gratitude to them? And have we not reason to blush when we reflect on the manner in which we have requited them? Blessed be God! there are at last some stirred up to seek their welfare [Note: Preached in 1810.]. Let us unite with heart and hand, to help forward the blessed work. From what we see of their blindness and obduracy, we are apt to despond: but “the Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save:” he can as easily engraft them in again upon their own stock, as he could engraft us upon it: and he has therefore engrafted us upon it, that we might exert ourselves in their favour, and be instrumental in restoring them to the blessings they have lost [Note: Rom_11:30-31.]. Let us at least do what we can, and leave the issue of our labours unto God.]