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What the Bible says about Singleness of Heart
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Deuteronomy 27:11-26

Looking at the underlying commonality of the Ebal-curses—that they focus on secret sin—we may conclude that the six tribes on Ebal represent those church members whom we could call “wolves in sheep's clothing,” in whom God finds unrepented sin, individuals living a secret life, closeted in some way, hypocrites.

Conversely, we may conclude that the six tribes atop Mount Gerizim symbolize those people in God's church who exhibit sincerity and wholeness of heart, unwavering commitment to keeping the principle inherent to the Feast of Unleavened Bread—and, by extension, living their entire lives—“not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (I Corinthians 5:8).

Those on Gerizim, unlike their fellows on the Mount of Cursing, represent individuals who break their bread with “singleness of heart” (Acts 2:46), fully committed to abandoning all sin, no matter how stubbornly closeted it may have been at one point in their lives, no matter how tenacious its addiction, no matter how much carnal pleasure it might bring. On Gerizim stand, symbolically, those of God's people who, recognizing the damnation of the charade, have firmly rejected living a double-life. Those who so shun sham and find no pleasure in the mask really do stand on the Mountain of Blessing!

Charles Whitaker
Unity and Division: The Blessing and the Curse (Part Five)

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

Ephesians 6:5-8

Ephesians 6:5-8 provides a clear sense of the attitude a Christian must strive to have about work. A major reason for this instruction is that the attitude and way we work is a visible expression of our gratitude for what Christ has done for us, and our work is a major means of glorifying God. We are thus to labor in our employment, as well as carry out our Christian responsibilities, with singleness of heart. Our minds are not to be divided because of the reality that God's calling has made us laborers for Christ.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Two): Works


 




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