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What the Bible says about Principle of Reciprocity
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Deuteronomy 30:1-10

God's regathering of national Israel to the Land of Promise is a major theme of Scripture. (For examples, see; Isaiah 27:12; Jeremiah 16:14-15; Jeremiah 23:7-8; Jeremiah 50:4-5, 19-20; Ezekiel 36:33; Amos 9:11-15; compare Romans 11:11-36.)

Considering only the Pentateuch, Deuteronomy 30:1-10 by far contains the fullest revelation of God's commitment to regather scattered Israel to the Promised Land. (Deuteronomy 4:30-31 also touches on the topic.) Remarkable in this passage is the repetition of the Hebrew verb shuv, which means "to return," "to restore," "to reverse," or "to revoke." It means "to go back.” Its first use is in Genesis 3:19, where God speaks of Adam's retu?rning to the dust of the ground.

In this passage, sometimes God does the returning, and other times Israel does it. This interplay between actors—God and Israel—reveals a basic principle underlying the relationship between God and His people, the principle of reciprocity. To be dynamic and growing, a relationship with God requires action on the part of God and man. The various uses of shuv in Deuteronomy 30:1-10 illustrate this reciprocity, an interplay of actions and reactions.

  1. Verse 1: Collectively, the peoples of Israel will “call [shuv] to mind” not only the blessings they have enjoyed as a result of obeying God but also the curses they suffer when they disobey Him. They will come to recognize the cause-and-effect relationship between obedience and blessings and between rebellion and curses. In this verse, shuv carries the idea of bringing to mind, or remembering.

    Importantly, however, other scriptures show that it is God, not humans, who initiates the process of repentance. In II Timothy 2:25, the apostle Paul points out that God grants repentance; it is a gift from God. In John 14:26, Jesus teaches us that a function of God's Holy Spirit is to “teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” Christ will kickstart the whole regathering process by bringing Deuteronomy 28, which specifically relates blessings to obedience and curses to disobedience, to the mind of His scattered people.

  2. Verse 2: The people “return [shuv] to the LORD.” This is clearly something the people do in response to God's initiating repentance. The idea is that distressed Israel will turn to God, that is, repent, as the people reflect on the blessings they once enjoyed and on the curses they are now experiencing.

  3. Verse 3: As a result of Israel's repentance, God will “bring you back [shuv] from captivity,” the captivity they have suffered during the time of Jacob's Trouble (Jeremiah 30:7; Matthew 24:21). God here uses shuv in a general sense, meaning to “restore your fortunes” (Christian Standard Bible) or “reverse your exile” (Complete Jewish Bible).

  4. Verse 3: God is more specific in the next clause of verse 3. He does not “restore” by returning Israel to the lands of her exile. Rather, He will “return” for the purpose of gathering His people. The Living Bible has it, “He . . . will come [shuv] and gather you. . . .” Upon His return to earth (Zechariah 14:4), Christ will personally turn His hand to the task of regathering His people Israel to the Promised Land.

  5. Verse 8: Israel “will again [shuv] obey” God. The translators of the Common English Bible lay stress on Israel's repentance by translating shuv as “change”: “You will change and obey.” Frankly, shuv may have double meaning in verse 8, referring 1) to Israel's repentance, a change of mind and action, and 2) Israel's physical returning to the Promised Land. The folk will follow Christ as He leads them to the land, just as He led their ancestors so many centuries earlier, carrying them on metaphorical eagles' wings (Exodus 19:4) out of Egypt at the time of the Exodus.

  6. Verse 9: God, pleased at Israel's new spirit of obedience, “will again [shuv] rejoice” over His people. He will return to a state of joy. Compare Isaiah 62:5; 65:19; Jeremiah 32:41; and Zephaniah 3:17.

  7. Verse 10: As a sort of postscript, God reiterates what He said in verse 2, that Israel's repentance, her “turn[ing] to the LORD,” must be absolutely sincere, “with all your heart and with all your soul.” Such singleness of mind and purpose must be the bedrock of any relationship with God. Compare Deuteronomy 4:29; 6:5; and Matthew 22:37.

Deuteronomy 30:1-10 may be the most concentrated exposition in the Scriptures of the reciprocity God expects in His relationship with His people. There, transaction after transaction illustrates the action-reaction interplay between God and His people.

Charles Whitaker

Haggai 2:11-14

God is teaching us through Haggai that the uncleanness of this world can be transferred from one person to another, but holiness cannot!

In like manner, preparedness for God's Kingdom cannot be transferred from person to person, because in this lesson, it represents something internal—a matter of the heart. It is an intangible spiritual thing that accrues as a result of spending long periods of time learning, understanding, and honing one's spiritual skills. It is too late when a skill is needed immediately, and it is not there.

The same is true of character. It cannot be borrowed or lent. We cannot borrow a relationship with God. It is non-transferable as holiness is non-transferable. This teaches us that opportunity knocks, and then it passes.

The foolish virgins of Matthew 25 failed to face the possibility that the bridegroom might come later than expected. When they were awakened by the shout, there was no time to do anything except to fill their lamps.

Nobody can deliver his brother. Each person within his relationship with God determines his own destiny. The Laodicean's faith has become perfunctory (Revelation 3:15-19). He attends church and is involved socially with brethren, but in daily life and private times, he merely goes through the motion in much the same manner as the Israelites in Amos' day (see, for instance, Amos 5:1-27).

God shows that those unprepared are not admitted to His Kingdom, but this should not be construed as a callous rejection of a person's perhaps lifelong desire. For, unless the Laodicean repents, he has rejected the Kingdom of God on a daily basis—day after day declining to do God's will, even though it is in his mind to desire the Kingdom. He is not taking care of business, so God gives the Laodicean what he shows by his life what he really wants.

This is the principle of reciprocity. It is similar to an unmarried person who, despite surface appearances to the contrary, never makes preparations for his or her coming marriage. Suppose a man meets a woman who could become his future mate, but even though there may be admiration on his part, the relationship never develops because the woman does little or nothing to show her own admiration. A Laodicean is like this woman, rarely showing any affection for God, too busy to deepen the relationship.

We have to seek God—that is our part. It cannot be casual. It has to be zealous. Is that not what God says to the Laodicean? "Be zealous and repent" (Revelation 3:19).

John W. Ritenbaugh
Laodiceanism and Being There Next Year


 




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