This Week's Focus Passage

Strive to do the things that are clearly revealed

Focus Passage: Deuteronomy 29:29

‘Things that are revealed belong unto us, that we may do all the words of this law’

One of the passages of the Word of God that has become ‘famous;’ so much so that it would be surprising if it were not available as a refrigerator magnet is Deuteronomy 29:29, which is virtually never cited in its completeness. We may well be unsurprised to see the words, ‘The secret things belong unto the Lord our God,’ emblazoned on said refrigerator or as a plaque on the wall of a friend’s home or on a wall in one of our country’s seminaries. What would indeed be a surprise, however, would be to see such a ‘banner’ with the second half of that verse displayed anywhere at all. The reasons for this would not be very far to discover. The sad fact is that ‘the secret things belong unto the Lord’ has become something of a hanger upon which we may freely take a rest from ‘searching the Scriptures’ when confronted by any serious difficulties in understanding. This is surely a two-edged sword that should be swung both left and right. While we must be quick to recognize that there are many things in the Word of God that we simply may not know; things hidden from us; mysteries that may be revealed sometime in the future whenever God so pleases; yet we must not use this reality to avoid the labor of digging deeply into the mine of God’s Word for that pure gold of His truth. May God help us to make use of every tool and privilege that He has provided His people for plumbing its depths.

The second part of this 29th verse is, we fear, not so well known as the first part. Rather than providing any sort of cushion, or pillow, for our ignorance or for our ease, it informs us that ‘the things that are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.’ Yes, we ought not to be overly concerned about the ‘secret things,’ yet the things that have been revealed ought to greatly concern us. Not only is this half of the verse not so well known, but its teaching does not seem to be known or understood or followed. If it is known, it may be that it is not understood; we wish to be charitable here. Yet there are cases where it may be understood and for whatever reasons—again we wish to be just as charitable as possible—it is not followed. To put it into the words of a faithful friend from back in the corridor of time, ‘It’s not the things that I don’t know that bother me; it’s the things that I do know, and yet don’t do them.’ Is this not the issue inculcated in this second portion of Deuteronomy 29:29? This text speaks of things most surely know among us; things that have been more plainly revealed unto every one willing to ‘read the directions.’ These things belong unto us and to our children forever; that’s a long time and a lot of things to have belonging to us. The verse continues by emphasizing just how they belong to us, and it is in this—part B of the verse—where the proverbial rubber meets the proverbial road. They—the things revealed—belong to us very simply, ‘that we may do them;’ ‘that we may do all the words of this law.’

Christ has taught us clearly as recorded in Matthew 7 with respect to the difference between many who only hear the word, and those who strive to do what they hear. The passage in question is preceded by the statement of our Savior in 7:20, ‘Therefore by their fruits ye shall know them.’ This powerfully suggests that as He continues to speak, the subject will continue to be the good tree and the corrupt tree; one bringing forth good fruit, while the other brings forth evil fruit. So then, He pursues this matter of discourse, changing the figures from a good tree and a corrupt tree into those of a foolish man and a wise man, in verse 24:

Every one therefore that heareth these words of mine, and doeth them, shall be likened unto a wise man, who built his house upon the rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon the rock. And every one that heareth these words of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and smote upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall thereof.

The cataclysmic distance between the wise and the foolish man is apparent. The wise man responded actively to that which he had heard; the foolish man failed to do so. The house of the first fell not, while the house of the second fell terribly.

The difference pointed out by Christ is the difference that, in following his brother’s teaching, James brings forward in his epistle, insisting in language unequivocal, ‘But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deluding your own selves.’ The things of which Moses has spoken are the things revealed and they belong unto us that we may do them, namely, ‘all the words of this law.’ These ‘words of this law’ are the same words to which James alludes, speaking of them as ‘the perfect law,’ and, ‘the law of liberty.’ It is not sufficient to hear these words; they must be adhered to as well. Every so often, a news report informs the public of an attorney being charged and found guilty of misuse of funds, bribery, extortion, or perhaps even something so ‘trivial’ as driving under the influence. Now such men, members of the bar, have not only heard the laws which speak loudly against these crimes, but they, as lawyers, know them perfectly well. So what is the problem? Simple; they know them but they don’t do them, and unless our court system fails, ‘great will be the fall thereof’ of such offenders.

The professing church of Jesus Christ, at large, burns up much time and energy in seeking to know things that have not been revealed to us. Evidently, it is contrary to human nature—perhaps the philosophy of American independence—to admit that there are things we don’t know. But we should concern ourselves with things that have been plainly revealed, and strive to do them, to God’s glory.

David Farmer, elder,

Fellowship Bible Church


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