Deuteronomy 32:8-9: Israel Is the Lord's Portion

I showed a brother a verse yesterday that I find fascinating, and he was surprised by it. He's been a Christian for 40 years, and he didn't know about it. Why? Because it only the Septuagint presents the verse the way I read it to him.

Rather than quote the LXX version, I'll let Clement of Rome quote it for you::

For thus it is written, "When the Most High divided the nations, when he scattered the sons of Adam, he fixed the bounds of the nations according to the number of the angels of God. His people Jacob became the portion of the Lord, and Israel the lot of his inheritance" [Deut. 32:8-9]. (1 Clement 29)

What a thought! God divided up the nations and assigned them to ruling angels, but Jacob he kept for himself. This is a tremendous picture of how Israel is God's special possession. In fact, just a bit later in Deuteronomy (32:10), we read, "He guarded him carefully as the apple of his eye."

It is important to understand how this relates to us, to the church of Jesus the Messiah. We who follow Jesus, whose circumcision is of the heart and of the Spirit, we are Israel, the portion that fell, not to the angel but to our Lord Jesus (Rom. 2:28-29). We are the true circumcision, the ones who worship God in spirit, rejoice in the Lord Jesus the Messiah, and have no confidence in the flesh (Php. 3:3).

After quoting Deuteronomy to show that we are the Lord's special possession, versus the other nations that are assigned merely to angels, Clement says:

Seeing, therefore, that we are the portion of the Holy One, let us do all those things which pertain to holiness, avoiding all evil-speaking, all abominable and impure embraces, together with all drunkenness, seeking youthful lusts, all abominable lusts, detestable adultery, and execrable pride. (ibid. 30)

There is always a response, brothers and sisters. When we see who we are and what Jesus does for us, it should always cause us to respond. Look at the kind of responses called for by the apostles in the Scriptures:

Therefore, having these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Cor. 7:1)
You know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things like silver or gold ... but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot ... seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit leading to sincere love of the brethren, love one another with a pure heart fervently. (1 Pet. 18-19,22)

We are his special people, zealous for good works (Tit. 2:13-14). In God's eyes, there are none like us in all the world, and he guards us like he would the ball of his eye.

Where To Go from Here

The rest of my bible commentaries are on the Through the Bible page. There are not a lot of these right now, so I suggest the Articles page, which is my favorite anyway. It is categorized alphabetically by subject.