Guest Post by Joshua Torrey
As many know, I am in the process of listening to the Bible through in the NASB. This will be my fourth time through the Torah in 365 days. I’m starting to feel like David when I say I love God’s law. However, I’m also beginning to see the foolishness of ignoring the Torah in interpreting the Scriptures.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the further the church has gotten from the time of Christ the further we have gotten from His hermeneutic. So likewise we have departed from the hermeneutic of Peter, Paul and John. For them their writing grew out naturally from the Old Testament. They quote it presuming the church’s acceptance and understanding. The obscure and the common are placed before the church in the epistles and gospels.
With each pass through the law I catch something new. My understanding of the NT grows as the paradigm of apostolic interpretation grows finer and clearer. Most specifically that occurred this time around when I heard a particular portion of Deuteronomy,
6 These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. – Deuteronomy 6:6 (NASB)
The LXX of this passage is a little clearer when it says ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ σου; the literal rendering meaning “in your heart.” The LXX even goes so far as to say “and in your soul” (καὶ ἐν τῇ ψυχῇ σου). Far from making the commandments of God an external and fleshly thing, this verse is a promise from God that His commandments are a spiritual thing; spiritual things that He places in our hearts because of His covenant. It is on the basis of His covenantal relationship and commandments that these “words” are secured upon our hearts.
Now for some this exposition still does not make this passage stand out. Others might begin to see some similarities with other Scriptural passages that speak about the law being on hearts.
In debate on the new covenant, Jeremiah 31 has quite possibly been the most important passage. This is unfair since texts like Isaiah 59:21 make very clear statements concerning the spiritual nature of the covenant and the inclusion of offspring (infants). To add to the unfortunate nature of this passage’s importance, individuals on all sides have often dipped into the well of modern individualistic interpretations. This has proven disastrous with respect to interpretations of “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it” (Jer 31:33). Many, ignoring the obvious spiritual background of Deuteronomy 6:6, have presumed that this is uniquely spiritual. This presumption has benefited the individualistic interpretation and provided significant groundwork for a Baptistic perspective of the new covenant.
But is this passage truly unique given what we’ve just read in the giving of God’s law? The book of Deuteronomy is ultimately concerned with the hearts of God’s people. God’s law has always been concerned with our hearts. God desires for His people to have a heart that follows Him (Deut 5:29). God has been focused on the circumcision of hearts in the giving of His law (Deut 10:12-16). In fact, He even promises it within the context of His law (Deut 30:6). It is only within this context that God’s law can be considered “not too difficult” (Deut 30:11 NASB). These promises associated with God’s law are not novel to the New Testament or the new covenant, neither is the writing of the law upon the hearts of God’s people.
So what do we learn? When God sends down His Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2), He sent His Spirit upon the hearts of His Covenant people. The promise of Isaiah 59:21 was fulfilled. The promise Jeremiah 31 was fulfilled. The typology of Deuteronomy 6 was fulfilled,
21 “As for Me, this is My covenant with them,” says the Lord: “My Spirit which is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your offspring, nor from the mouth of your offspring’s offspring,” says the Lord, “from now and forever.” – Isiah 59:12 (NASB)