Right on the heels of the request of the elders of Israel for a Mediator (Moses > Jesus) in Deut 5:23-28, which request God determined was “good,” God then advanced the need for Someone (the Holy Spirit) to give His people a new heart (and hence the New Birth), Deut 5:29.
When handwriting or reading Deuteronomy, the request for a mediator is unexpected, but understandable. God used pyrotechnics on the mountain as He recited the Ten Commandments. The people rejected this unbuffered broadcast from God. God’s response was even more startling, “they are right in all that they have spoken.” Deut 5:28. The elders of Israel were requesting a mediator. Without knowing it, the were ultimately asking for the one and only Mediator between God and man, the man, Christ Jesus.
With growing curiosity comes the next verse. In this verse God rhetorically requests a person or Person. Deuteronomy 5:29 begins with the interrogative pronoun מִי (mi, meaning who?), which is translated in the Greek Septuagint (LXX) as τίς (meaning who, what, how). Verse 29 is translated in the Lexham Translation of the LXX, “Who will give them such a heart to be in them?”
“Who will give them such a heart to be in them?”
This verse thematically parallels Ezekiel 36:25-27, speaking of New Covenant new birth:
“Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” Ezek 36:25-27 (NKJV).
The similarities are intense. The Holy Spirit inspired Ezekiel to answer God’s rhetorical question in Deuteronomy 5:29. The who? was the Holy Spirit. He would accomplish a new work “within the heart” of those who received His teaching. This work was to be accomplished by “My Spirit,” said the Lord God. God the Father asked the Holy Spirit to savingly work on His behalf for the sake of His people off the pens of Moses and Ezekiel.
God the Father asked the Holy Spirit to savingly work on His behalf for the sake of His people off the pens of Moses and Ezekiel.
Returning to Deuteronomy 5:29. Some astonishing clarity is communicated from the mouth of the Lord God. First of all, a Giver implies a gift. A gift is unearned and undeserved. A gift is free. It is given by grace alone. Second is the location of this giving activity. God’s request was for this outside party to accomplish His work in “their hearts” (plural) and “within them” (plural). God was requesting inner work—in the heart and soul of the individuals concerned—the dividing of their joints and marrow. The resulting transformation was not the activity of those receiving the heart transplant. They would only receive a new nature and become a new creation by the outside the work of the Holy Spirit.
Third, the first result of this inner change orchestrated by God but accomplished by the Holy Spirit was to give them a fear of God. “That they would fear me.” The implication of this verb appears to be a present continuous. There is the beginning of the fear of God, leading to repentance and faith. Then there is the continuation of the fear of God leading to sanctification and obedience.
Fourth, the Spirit of God residing within the people of God would assist them to “keep all My commandments.” This concept was amplified by Ezekiel in the startling verse, “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” Ezek 36:27. God’s Holy Spirit heart-change within the people of God would "cause" them to observe His commandments!
God’s Holy Spirit heart-change within the people of God would "cause" them to observe His commandments!
Fifth came the blessing, “that it might go well with them and their sons forever.” Consider the two elements in this clause. First, the “good” in this phrase is picked up as the “eu” in the verb “evangelize” and Evangel. The announcement of this good work of the Holy Spirit was and is “Good News”—it is the Gospel of salvation. This message of Good News goes forth that it may “go well” with others. The Hebrew verb יָטַב (to be good) was translated into Greek as the adverb εὖ (good) and the verb εἰμί (to be). Here in Deuteronomy 5:29 comes the “Good” of the “Good News of Jesus Christ"!
Here in Deuteronomy 5:29 comes the “Good” of the “Good News of Jesus Christ"!
The Apostle Paul may have been thinking about Deuteronomy 5:29 when speaking to the jailer in Philippi. The jailer asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Acts 16:30. So Paul quickly answered, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Acts 16:31. In his response, Paul jumped from believing in Jesus to its end result as found in Deuteronomy 5:29, “that it might go well with them and their sons forever.” Thus he said to the Philippian jailer, “and you [yourself] will be saved” adding “and your household.”
God, therefore, right after the giving of the Ten Commandments in Deuteronomy 5, foreshadowed Jesus as Mediator of a better covenant (Deut 5:28) and petitioned the work of His Holy Spirit (Deut 5:29). God explained the basic elements of the gift of the New Birth. He described the gift of salvation from an exterior Giver, who first gives the fear of God, and then the ability to obey His commandments. In the New Covenant, the Holy Spirit answered God's appeal in Deuteronomy 5. He alone gives inner transformation to God’s called people.