D'varim/Deuteronomy 17:14 When you come to the land ... and you take possession of her and you dwell in her
Although it is impossible to see in translation, since English uses the pronoun 'you' indistinguishably for both 2nd person singular and 2nd person plural, all three verbs in this phrase are singular in number. Similarly, despite the first verb being in prefix form - normally indicating an incomplete action - and the other two verbs being in affix form - normally indicating a completed action - the context of the phrase requires that they be translated in what a 'tensed' language like Latin or Greek would call Future Perfect. Moshe is talking about completed actions in the future; from where he is, the events have yet to take place, but he is talking about a time when those actions - entering, taking possession and dwelling - have been completed. Our people, acting as one, would have fulfilled that part of their mandate and instructions by being firmly in residence in the land thatHaShem promised to our Fathers to give them. In practice, although Moshe was speaking in generalities - i.e. not of a particular time that he could see in detail - his instructions about choosing a king did not become necessary until nearly the end of the life and ministry of the prophet and judge Samuel.
Many times in the book of D'varim Moshe speaks in this I-know-it's-going-to-happen way that shows both the power and frustration of prophecy. He knew that something was going to happen, the general shape and size of the matter, and possibly some timescale indicators; he didn't know many details, specific times or how many times the overall picture of his words would be played out. Yeshua said, "Yes indeed! I tell you that many a prophet and many a tzaddik longed to see the things you are seeing but did not see them, and to hear the things you are hearing but did not hear them" (Matthew 13:17, CJB). It brings to mind a picture of people crowding around a knot-hole in a wooden fence, each taking it in turn to peer through the hole at something they cannot quite see, but can make out the shape, outline and colour with some movement, or perhaps seeing a short series of snatches of a film or video. Rav Sha'ul spoke of seeing "through a glass darkly" (1 Corinthians 13:12, KJV) or "obscurely in a mirror" (CJB).
But now, at least in one important respect, things have changed: the writer to the Hebrews tells us: "In days gone by, G-d spoke in many and varied ways to the Fathers through the prophets. But now, in theacharit hayamim, He has spoken to us through His Son ... This Son is the radiance of the Sh'kinah, the very expression of G-d's essence" (Hebrews 1:1-3a, CJB). For us there is no doubt, no uncertainty - we see and know G-d clearly in Yeshua, for He is the exact representation of G-d.
Further Study: Shemot 33:17-23; John 14:8-11
Application: Do you have difficulty connecting with G-d or feel that you can't understand Him? Do you struggle through a fog of ideas and feelings when you think about G-d? Focus on Yeshua for, as the Son, He shows and reveals the Father to us.
© Jonathan Allen, 2005
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