The Witnesses

Deuteronomy 31:26–29 (ESV)

26 “Take this Book of the Law and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against you. 27 For I know how rebellious and stubborn you are. Behold, even today while I am yet alive with you, you have been rebellious against the LORD. How much more after my death! 28 Assemble to me all the elders of your tribes and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears and call heaven and earth to witness against them. 29 For I know that after my death you will surely act corruptly and turn aside from the way that I have commanded you. And in the days to come evil will befall you, because you will do what is evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger through the work of your hands.”

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:20)

I have written about this verse of Matthew before, discussing that this has nothing to do with effectiveness of prayer, but rather prayerful consideration when exacting church discipline. For if it dealt only with prayer itself, it would contradict the very essence of individual petitions to our Lord.

In our study verses of Deuteronomy, we see a clear allusion to this same principle in the words of Moses as he delivers his final words to the nation before he is to ascend Mt. Nebo and die, to be buried by God Himself.

“Where two or three are gathered” has its roots in the Laws Concerning Witnesses from Deuteronomy 19:15 and has additional NT application in 1 Timothy 5:19; John 8:17; and 2 Corinthians 13:1.

Here, Moses outlines the witnesses to his commandment for the nation to serve as a binding instrument that they obey the Lord God after he has departed them. As Moses finished writing down the words of this law, he instructed the priests to place this copy beside the Ark of the Covenant to remain as a witness. Remember, inside the ark were the stone tablets from the Sinai covenant (The Ten Commandments).

Moses had no illusion that Israel would be faithful and as our text shows, boldly proclaimed his prophecy of future rebellion in addition to what they are currently doing.

So, in this example we see Moses utilizing multiple witnesses to serve against not only the elders and officers, but the entire nation. In v. 28, the calling of the heavens and earth—a common request in ancient times to ratify an agreement—would serve as a witness against the elders and officers. Earlier, in v.26, the copy of Deuteronomy beside the ark serves as a witness to the priests; and back in Deuteronomy 31:21, the Song of Moses (Deuteronomy 32) would serve as a witness against the entire nation.

What about us today?

As believers, we also have multiple witnesses against our own sin, for nothing is hidden from God (Psalm 69:5; Jeremiah 16:17-18; Hebrews 4:13). As the Holy Spirit indwells within us, we have the conviction of when we sin. We recognize our relationship with God is no longer harmonious. When we read or hear the Word of God, we reflect on our own inadequacies towards our Savior as our weaknesses are brought to light. And we also see the power of witness when we commune with our Lord in times of thoughtful and reflective prayer.

Enjoy the times of conviction and be glad there are witnesses to bring you back to a faithful relationship with God.