251.) Deuteronomy 34

April 19, 2010

Moses was buried somewhere around here!  Mt. Nebo, in present-day Jordan.

Deuteronomy 34 (English Standard Version)

The Death of Moses

Question: What is thy only comfort in life and death?

Answer: That I, with body and soul, both in life and death,
am not my own,
but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ;
who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied all my sins,
and delivered me from all the power of the devil;
and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father,
not a hair can fall from my head;
yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation,
and therefore, by his Holy Spirit,
He also assures me of eternal life,
and makes me sincerely willing and ready,
henceforth, to live unto him.

Q/A 1 of the Heidelberg Catechism, 1563

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1Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the LORD showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan, 2all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, 3 the Negeb, and the Plain, that is, the Valley of Jericho the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. 4And the LORD said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, ‘I will give it to your offspring.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.”

5So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD, 6and he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor; but no one knows the place of his burial to this day.

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Psalm 49:15 (New International Version)

But God will redeem my life from the grave;
he will surely take me to himself.
Selah

“And when she (the Church) buries a man, that action concerns me:  all mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated; God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God’s hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to one another.”

–John Donne, Meditation XVII

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7 Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabated. 8And the people of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days. Then the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended.

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Hebrews 3:1-6 (New International Version)

Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house, testifying to what would be said in the future. But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.

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9And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him. So the people of Israel obeyed him and did as the LORD had commanded Moses. 10And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, 11none like him for all the signs and the wonders that the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, 12and for all the mighty power and all the great deeds of terror that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.

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“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”

–Pericles,
quoted in The New Gold Standard, by Joseph A. Michelli

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Music:

Moses was “Going Home.”  The tune is from Dvorak, sung by Libera.

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English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:

monument on Mt. Nebo.    http://student-sites.net/xhtml_projects/LoriA/Images/MtNebo3.jpg

Life and Death.    http://lifeanddeath.baduk.org/media/box.jpg

Christ Church Cemetery, Philadelphia.    http://www.worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/namerica/usstates/pennsylvaniaphotos/philly/christchurch.jpg


250.) Deuteronomy 33

April 16, 2010

“Moses from the Bible” by Marc Chagall

Deuteronomy 33 (English Standard Version)

Moses’ Final Blessing on Israel

1This is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the people of Israel before his death. 2He said,

“The LORD came from Sinai
and dawned from Seir upon us;
he shone forth from Mount Paran;
he came from the ten thousands of holy ones,
with flaming fire at his right hand.

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Hebrews 12:29 (New King James Version)

For our God is a consuming fire.


Spirit of God, descend upon my heart,
Wean it from earth, through all its pulses move;
Stoop to my weakness, mighty as Thou art,
And make me love Thee as I ought to love.

I ask no dream, no prophet ecstasies,
No sudden rending of the veil of clay,
No angel visitant, no opening skies:
But take the dimness of my soul above.

Teach me to feel that Thou art always nigh;
Teach me the struggles of the soul to bear,
To check the rising doubt, the rebel sigh;
Teach me the patience of unanswered prayer.

Teach me to love Thee as Thine angels love,
One holy passion filling all my frame;
The baptism of the heaven descended Dove;
My heart an altar, and Thy love the flame.

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3Yes, he loved his people,
all his holy ones were in his hand;
so they followed in your steps,
receiving direction from you,
4when Moses commanded us a law,
as a possession for the assembly of Jacob.
5Thus the LORD became king in Jeshurun,
when the heads of the people were gathered,
all the tribes of Israel together.

“Jerusalem Windows: The Tribe of Reuben” by Marc Chagall

6 “Let Reuben live, and not die,
but let his men be few.”

.

“Jerusalem Windows: The Tribe of Judah” by Marc Chagall

7And this he said of Judah:

“Hear, O LORD, the voice of Judah,
and bring him in to his people.
With your hands contend for him,
and be a help against his adversaries.”

.

“Jerusalem Windows: The Tribe of Levi” by Marc Chagall

8And of Levi he said,

“Give to Levi your Thummim,
and your Urim to your godly one,
whom you tested at Massah,
with whom you quarreled at the waters of Meribah;
9who said of his father and mother,
‘I regard them not’;
he disowned his brothers
and ignored his children.
For they observed your word
and kept your covenant.
10 They shall teach Jacob your rules
and Israel your law;
they shall put incense before you
and whole burnt offerings on your altar.
11Bless, O LORD, his substance,
and accept the work of his hands;
crush the loins of his adversaries,
of those who hate him, that they rise not again.”

.

“Jerusalem Windows: The Tribe of Benjamin” by Marc Chagall

12 Of Benjamin he said,

“The beloved of the LORD dwells in safety.
The High God surrounds him all day long,
and dwells between his shoulders.”

.

“Jerusalem Windows: The Tribe of Joseph” by Marc Chagall

13And of Joseph he said,

“Blessed by the LORD be his land,
with the choicest gifts of heaven above,
and of the deep that crouches beneath,
14with the choicest fruits of the sun
and the rich yield of the months,
15with the finest produce of the ancient mountains
and the abundance of the everlasting hills,
16with the best gifts of the earth and its fullness
and the favor of him who dwells in the bush.

Exodus 3:1-2 (New International Version)

Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.  There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up.

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May these rest on the head of Joseph,
on the pate of him who is prince among his brothers.
17 A firstborn bull—he has majesty,
and his horns are the horns of a wild ox;
with them he shall gore the peoples,
all of them, to the ends of the earth;
they are the ten thousands of Ephraim,
and they are the thousands of Manasseh.”

.

“Jerusalem Windows: The Tribe of Zebulun” by Marc Chagall

18And of Zebulun he said,

“Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out,

“Jerusalem Windows: The Tribe of Issachar” by Marc Chagall

and Issachar, in your tents.
19They shall call peoples to their mountain;
there they offer right sacrifices;
for they draw from the abundance of the seas
and the hidden treasures of the sand.”

.

“Jerusalem Windows: The Tribe of Gad” by Marc Chagall

20And of Gad he said,

“Blessed be he who enlarges Gad!
Gad crouches like a lion;
he tears off arm and scalp.
21 He chose the best of the land for himself,
for there a commander’s portion was reserved;
and he came with the heads of the people,
with Israel he executed the justice of the LORD,
and his judgments for Israel.”

.

“Jerusalem Windows: The Tribe of Dan” by Marc Chagall

22And of Dan he said,

“Dan is a lion’s cub
that leaps from Bashan.”

.

“Jerusalem Windows: The Tribe of Naphtali” by Marc Chagall

23And of Naphtali he said,

“O Naphtali, sated with favor,
and full of the blessing of the LORD,
possess the lake and the south.”

.

“Jerusalem Windows: The Tribe of Asher” by Marc Chagall

24And of Asher he said,

“Most blessed of sons be Asher;
let him be the favorite of his brothers,
and let him dip his foot in oil.
25Your bars shall be iron and bronze,
and as your days, so shall your strength be.

.

26 “There is none like God, O Jeshurun,
who rides through the heavens to your help,
through the skies in his majesty.
27The eternal God is your dwelling place,
and underneath are the everlasting arms.

Psalm 63:8 (King James Version)

My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.

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And he thrust out the enemy before you
and said, Destroy.
28So Israel lived in safety,
Jacob lived alone,
in a land of grain and wine,
whose heavens drop down dew.
29Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you,
a people saved by the LORD,
the shield of your help,
and the sword of your triumph!
Your enemies shall come fawning to you,
and you shall tread upon their backs.”

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Music:

“Fire Fall Down”  by Hillsong United — a worship song for God, who is refining fire and worthy of all praise.

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Marc Chagall, photographed in 1941.

about Marc Chagall and the Jerusalem Windows:

Artist Marc Chagall (1887 – 1985) was born into a Jewish community in the Russian Empire, but spent most of his adult life in France and the United States.  In 1960he began creating stained glass windows for the synogogue of Hebrew University’s Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem.  The twelve windows represent the twelve tribes of Israel.  They were installed in 1962 — each window about 11 feet high and 8 feet wide.  I love the color and the vibrant singing quality of them!

French philosopher Gaston Bachelard said:   “Chagall reads the Bible and suddenly the passages become light.”

_________________________

English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:

Chagall, Moses.   http://fcom.us.es/blogs/tecnicasdegrabado/files/2009/09/marc-chagall-moses-from-the-bible.jpg

fire on the altar.    http://janicefountaineministries.com/000803_1082_0830_osls_op_716x464.jpg

Marc Chagall — “Jerusalem Windows.”  All the  tribes.

http://www.weinstein.com/chagall/jerusalem_windows.html

burning bush.    http://www.fireonyourhead.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/burning-bush-web.jpg

man holding child in his right hand.    http://china.notspecial.org/blogimages/life_uyghur_baby.jpg

photograph of Chagall.    http://en.academic.ru/pictures/enwiki/77/Marc_Chagall_1941.jpg


249.) Deuteronomy 32

April 15, 2010

“He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just.”

Deuteronomy 32 (English Standard Version)

The Song of Moses

30Then Moses spoke the words of this song until they were finished, in the ears of all the assembly of Israel:

1“Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak,
and let the earth hear the words of my mouth.
2May my teaching drop as the rain,
my speech distill as the dew,
like gentle rain upon the tender grass,
and like showers upon the herb.
3For I will proclaim the name of the LORD;
ascribe greatness to our God!

4 “The Rock, his work is perfect,
for all his ways are justice;

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Psalm 19:14 (New International Version)

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

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A God of faithfulness and without iniquity,
just and upright is he.

5They have dealt corruptly with him;
they are no longer his children because they are blemished;
they are a crooked and twisted generation.
6Do you thus repay the LORD,
you foolish and senseless people?
Is not he your father, who created you,
who made you and established you?
7 Remember the days of old;
consider the years of many generations;
ask your father, and he will show you,
your elders, and they will tell you.
8When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance,
when he divided mankind,
he fixed the borders of the peoples
according to the number of the sons of God.
9But the LORD’s portion is his people,
Jacob his allotted heritage.

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from Morning and Evening
–C. H. Spurgeon

“The Lord’s portion is his people.”
– Deuteronomy 32:9

How are they his? By his own sovereign choice. He chose them, and set his love upon them. This he did altogether apart from any goodness in them at the time, or any goodness which he foresaw in them. He had mercy on whom he would have mercy, and ordained a chosen company unto eternal life; thus, therefore, are they his by his unconstrained election.

They are not only his by choice, but by purchase. He has bought and paid for them to the utmost farthing, hence about his title there can be no dispute. Not with corruptible things, as with silver and gold, but with the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord’s portion has been fully redeemed. There is no mortgage on his estate; no suits can be raised by opposing claimants, the price was paid in open court, and the Church is the Lord’s freehold forever. See the blood-mark upon all the chosen, invisible to human eye, but known to Christ, for “the Lord knoweth them that are his”; he forgetteth none of those whom he has redeemed from among men; he counts the sheep for whom he laid down his life, and remembers well the Church for which he gave himself.

They are also his by conquest. What a battle he had in us before we would be won! How long he laid siege to our hearts! How often he sent us terms of capitulation! but we barred our gates, and fenced our walls against him. Do we not remember that glorious hour when he carried our hearts by storm? When he placed his cross against the wall, and scaled our ramparts, planting on our strongholds the blood-red flag of his omnipotent mercy? Yes, we are, indeed, the conquered captives of his omnipotent love. Thus chosen, purchased, and subdued, the rights of our divine possessor are inalienable: we rejoice that we never can be our own; and we desire, day by day, to do his will, and to show forth his glory.

 

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10“He found him in a desert land,
and in the howling waste of the wilderness;
he encircled him, he cared for him,
he kept him as the apple of his eye.
11 Like an eagle that stirs up its nest,

 Bald eagles build the largest nests of any bird in North America.  One nest in Florida measured 20 feet deep and 9 feet across!

that flutters over its young,
spreading out its wings, catching them,
bearing them on its pinions,
12 the LORD alone guided him,
no foreign god was with him.
13 He made him ride on the high places of the land,
and he ate the produce of the field,
and he suckled him with honey out of the rock,
and oil out of the flinty rock.
14Curds from the herd, and milk from the flock,
with fat of lambs,
rams of Bashan and goats,
with the very finest of the wheat—
and you drank foaming wine made from the blood of the grape.

15“But Jeshurun grew fat, and kicked;
you grew fat, stout, and sleek;
then he forsook God who made him
and scoffed at the Rock of his salvation.

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Psalm 18:2 (New International Version)

The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.
He is my shield and the horn  of my salvation, my stronghold.

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16 They stirred him to jealousy with strange gods;
with abominations they provoked him to anger.
17 They sacrificed to demons that were no gods,
to gods they had never known,
to new gods that had come recently,
whom your fathers had never dreaded.
18You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you,
and you forgot the God who gave you birth.

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Isaiah 26:4 (New International Version)

Trust in the LORD forever,
for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.

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19 “The LORD saw it and spurned them,
because of the provocation of his sons and his daughters.
20And he said, ‘I will hide my face from them;
I will see what their end will be,
For they are a perverse generation,
children in whom is no faithfulness.
21 They have made me jealous with what is no god;
they have provoked me to anger with their idols.
So I will make them jealous with those who are no people;
I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.
22For a fire is kindled by my anger,
and it burns to the depths of Sheol,
devours the earth and its increase,
and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains.

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Fire and Ice
by Robert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

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23“‘And I will heap disasters upon them;
I will spend my arrows on them;
24they shall be wasted with hunger,
and devoured by plague
and poisonous pestilence;
I will send the teeth of beasts against them,
with the venom of things that crawl in the dust.
25 Outdoors the sword shall bereave,
and indoors terror,
for young man and woman alike,
the nursing child with the man of gray hairs.
26 I would have said, “I will cut them to pieces;
I will wipe them from human memory,”
27had I not feared provocation by the enemy,
lest their adversaries should misunderstand,
lest they should say, “Our hand is triumphant,
it was not the LORD who did all this.”‘

28“For they are a nation void of counsel,
and there is no understanding in them.
29 If they were wise, they would understand this;
they would discern their latter end!
30How could one have chased a thousand,
and two have put ten thousand to flight,
unless their Rock had sold them,
and the LORD had given them up?
31For their rock is not as our Rock;
our enemies are by themselves.

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Isaiah 44:8 (New International Version)

Do not tremble, do not be afraid.
Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago?
You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me?
No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.”

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Music:

I would like this song to be my every morning wake-up call!  I just love how GLAD sings  “God Is My Rock.”

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32For their vine comes from the vine of Sodom
and from the fields of Gomorrah;
their grapes are grapes of poison;
their clusters are bitter;
33their wine is the poison of serpents
and the cruel venom of asps.

34“‘Is not this laid up in store with me,
sealed up in my treasuries?
35 Vengeance is mine, and recompense,
for the time when their foot shall slip;
for the day of their calamity is at hand,
and their doom comes swiftly.’

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Hebrews 10:26-30 (New Living Translation)

Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins.  There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies.  For anyone who refused to obey the law of Moses was put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.  Just think how much worse the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God, and have treated the blood of the covenant, which made us holy, as if it were common and unholy, and have insulted and disdained the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to us.  For we know the one who said,

“I will take revenge.
I will pay them back.”

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from The Cost of Discipleship
by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living incarnate.

“Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.

“Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.

“Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘ye were bought at a price,’ and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the incarnation of God.”

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36For the LORD will vindicate his people
and have compassion on his servants,
when he sees that their power is gone
and there is none remaining, bond or free.

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Luke 18:7   (NRSV)

Will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them?

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37Then he will say, ‘Where are their gods,
the rock in which they took refuge,
38who ate the fat of their sacrifices
and drank the wine of their drink offering?
Let them rise up and help you;
let them be your protection!

39“‘See now that I, even I, am he,
and there is no god beside me;
I kill and I make alive;
I wound and I heal;
and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.
40For I lift up my hand to heaven
and swear, As I live forever,
41if I sharpen my flashing sword
and my hand takes hold on judgment,
I will take vengeance on my adversaries
and will repay those who hate me.
42I will make my arrows drunk with blood,
and my sword shall devour flesh—
with the blood of the slain and the captives,
from the long-haired heads of the enemy.’

43 “Rejoice with him, O heavens;
bow down to him, all gods,
for he avenges the blood of his children
and takes vengeance on his adversaries.
He repays those who hate him
and cleanses his people’s land.”

44Moses came and recited all the words of this song in the hearing of the people, he and Joshua the son of Nun. 45And when Moses had finished speaking all these words to all Israel, 46he said to them, “Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law. 47For it is no empty word for you, but your very life, and by this word you shall live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.”

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It’s puzzling that so many Christians try to live the Christian life without reading their Bible, except for sporadic perusals of God’s Word, seeking a pithy  thought for the day.  The Word of God is not merely a source of helpful suggestions, preventative warnings, or inspirational thoughts:  It is life itself!

God gathered the children of Israel at the edge of the Promised Land to review their pilgrimage with Him.  They had spent forty years in a desert because their parents had not trusted God’s word.  Their parents died without seeing the Promised Land because they had not believed God’s word.  Even the revered Moses was soon to leave them because he had not shown proper reverence for God’s word.  Many of them knew those who had been put to death as a consequence of their disobedience to God’s word.  Over the years God’s word had become the most important thing in the life of the Israelites.

God commanded His people to bind His words on their hearts, to teach them diligently to their children, and to regularly discuss them in their homes (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).  So essential was His word that it was to hold a prominent place in the daily lives of His people.

Our reverence for God’s Word is revealed not only by what we say but also by what we do.  Spending more time reading and studying  the words of people rather than the Word of God, reveals our hearts’ condition.  To blatantly disregard God’s Word is to reject life itself.  To obey God’s Word is the surest way to experience all that God has in store for us.

from Experiencing God Day-by-Day
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby

Are you sharing this blog, DWELLING in the Word, with your friends?  Please do!  We are eager for others to join us in our thoughtful reading  of the Word of God!

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Moses’ Death Foretold

48That very day the LORD spoke to Moses, 49“Go up this mountain of the Abarim, Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, opposite Jericho, and view the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the people of Israel for a possession. 50And die on the mountain which you go up, and be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother died in Mount Hor and was gathered to his people, 51 because you broke faith with me in the midst of the people of Israel at the waters of Meribah-kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin, and because you did not treat me as holy in the midst of the people of Israel. 52For you shall see the land before you, but you shall not go there, into the land that I am giving to the people of Israel.”

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English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:

El Capitan, Yosemite (California).    http://www.astronomynotes.com/nature/images/yosemite8.jpg

Quite a rock!  “Star of Africa” diamond, 530 carats, mounted on the Royal Scepter and on display at the Tower of London.    http://www.internetstones.com/image-files/cullinan-i-diamond.jpg

I belong to Jesus.    http://gospelgifs.com/clipart/images/chapel/belong1.gif

eagle nest.    http://www.philadelphia-reflections.com/images/eagle.jpg

rock arch over turquoise water (Malta).    http://www.internationaleducationmedia.com/malta/gallery/Rock%20formation%20and%20ocean%20uid%201014845.jpg

rocks and “baby” rock (India).     http://www.thehindu.com/2009/02/04/images/2009020458540201.jpg

fire and ice.   http://www.ua.com.ua/photo/images/ice&fire.jpg

wind-carved rock canyon (Arizona).    http://images.timnhanh.com/photo/pictures/20070704/wind_and_sea/source/165142thewave,pariacanyon-vermilioncliffswildernessarea,arizona.jpg

Bonhoeffer.    http://trinitypastor.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/bonhoeffer1.jpg

He cares for you.   http://www.heartfeltwishes.co.uk/images/PU90%20He%20cares%20for%20you.jpg

Study the Bible with us.    http://www.uvaldebaptist.org/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderpictures/LOGO/biblestudy.gif


248.) Deuteronomy 31

April 14, 2010

Deuteronomy 31 (English Standard Version)

Joshua to Succeed Moses

1So Moses continued to speak these words to all Israel. 2And he said to them, “I am 120 years old today. I am no longer able to go out and come in. The LORD has said to me, ‘You shall not go over this Jordan.’ 3The LORD your God himself will go over before you. He will destroy these nations before you, so that you shall dispossess them, and Joshua will go over at your head, as the LORD has spoken. 4And the LORD will do to them as he did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, and to their land, when he destroyed them. 5And the LORD will give them over to you, and you shall do to them according to the whole commandment that I have commanded you. 6 Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

7Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land that the LORD has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall put them in possession of it. 8It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

The Reading of the Law

Reading the Torah at the Western Wall in Jerusalem

9Then Moses wrote this law and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel. 10And Moses commanded them, “At the end of every seven years, at the set time in the year of release, at the Feast of Booths, 11when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place that he will choose, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. 12 Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law, 13and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as you live in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.”

Psalm 119:33-35 (King James Version)

Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end.

Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.

Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight.

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Joshua Commissioned to Lead Israel

14And the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, the days approach when you must die. Call Joshua and present yourselves in the tent of meeting, that I may commission him.” And Moses and Joshua went and presented themselves in the tent of meeting. 15And the LORD appeared in the tent in a pillar of cloud. And the pillar of cloud stood over the entrance of the tent.

16And the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, you are about to lie down with your fathers. Then this people will rise and whore after the foreign gods among them in the land that they are entering, and they will forsake me and break my covenant that I have made with them. 17Then my anger will be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them and hide my face from them, and they will be devoured. And many evils and troubles will come upon them, so that they will say in that day, ‘Have not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us?’ 18And I will surely hide my face in that day because of all the evil that they have done, because they have turned to other gods.

19“Now therefore write this song and teach it to the people of Israel. Put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the people of Israel. 20For when I have brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to give to their fathers, and they have eaten and are full and grown fat, they will turn to other gods and serve them, and despise me and break my covenant. 21And when many evils and troubles have come upon them, this song shall confront them as a witness (for it will live unforgotten in the mouths of their offspring). For I know what they are inclined to do even today, before I have brought them into the land that I swore to give.” 22So Moses wrote this song the same day and taught it to the people of Israel.

Psalm 145:6-7 (New Living Translation)

Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue;
I will proclaim your greatness.
Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness;
they will sing with joy about your righteousness.

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23 And the LORD commissioned Joshua the son of Nun and said, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall bring the people of Israel into the land that I swore to give them. I will be with you.”

24When Moses had finished writing the words of this law in a book to the very end, 25Moses commanded the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, 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. 27For 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! 28Assemble 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. 29For 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.”

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Music:

The song “Be Strong and Take Courage” –  written by Don Moen — has been a mainstay in my life.

.
Be strong and take courage
Do not fear or be dismayed
For the Lord will go before you
And His light will show the way

Be strong and take courage
Do not fear or be dismayed
For the one who lives within you
Will be strong in you today

Why don’t you give him all of your fears
Why don’t you let him wipe all of your tears
He knows, He’s been through pain before
And He knows all that you’ve been looking for

Nothing can take you out of his hand
Nothing can face you can’t command
I know that you will always be
In His love, in His power you will be free!

_________________________

English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:

poster of verse 8 by Dallas Drotz.    http://rlv.zcache.com/deuteronomy_31_8_poster-p228160084190019482t5ta_400.jpg

verse 6.    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2660/3932499919_b797ce225c.jpg

the Torah at the Western Wall.    http://www.jerusalemperspective.com/rotatingphotos/Men_touching_Torah_Scroll_at_Western_Wall.jpg

reading the Bible.    http://arachnerd.files.wordpress.com/2008/03/reading-bible-blue.jpg

painting of people singing at church by Rodrico Brown, age 13.     http://www.ournationsresilience.org/images/brown.jpg


247.) Deuteronomy 30

April 13, 2010

God gave the Israelites — and us — clear directions to get us all to a wonderful future.

Deuteronomy 30 (English Standard Version)

Repentance and Forgiveness

An open future . . .

The fundamental demand of the law (to love God with all one’s heart and soul) is presented as the ultimate fruit of God’s grace in the human heart.

1 “And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the LORD your God has driven you, 2and return to the LORD your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you today, with all your heart and with all your soul, 3then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the LORD your God has scattered you. 4 If your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there he will take you. 5And the LORD your God will bring you into the land that your fathers possessed, that you may possess it. And he will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers. 6And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.


7And the LORD your God will put all these curses on your foes and enemies who persecuted you. 8And you shall again obey the voice of the LORD and keep all his commandments that I command you today. 9 The LORD your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your cattle and in the fruit of your ground. For the LORD will again take delight in prospering you, as he took delight in your fathers, 10when you obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that are written in this Book of the Law, when you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

_________________________

Music:

Janis Joplin prays for blessings in  “Lord, Won’t you Buy Me a Mercedes-Benz?”

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The Choice of Life and Death

An open word . . .

Keeping the law is not impossibly idealistic, impracticable, unachievable.  Obedience to the law is not the means of achieving salvation, but the response to a salvation that was already experienced.

11“For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 13Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 14But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.

Romans 10:5-9 (New Living Translation)

For Moses writes that the law’s way of making a person right with God requires obedience to all of its commands.  But faith’s way of getting right with God says, “Don’t say in your heart, ‘Who will go up to heaven’ (to bring Christ down to earth).  And don’t say, ‘Who will go down to the place of the dead’ (to bring Christ back to life again).”  In fact, it says,

“The message is very close at hand;
it is on your lips and in your heart.”

And that message is the very message about faith that we preach:  If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

_________________________

An open choice . . .

Life, in the end, is not found in the law itself, but in the God who gave it; for ultimately, the Lord is your life.

15“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. 16If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you today, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 17But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. 19I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life,

that you and your offspring may live, 20loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”

_________________________

The Christian life is not difficult.  The same Christ who lived a perfect, obedient, and sinless life stands prepared to live it again through you (Galatians 2:20).  God’s will is not hard to discern.  He has given us the Scriptures, which reveal His will, and He has placed his Holy Spirit with us to guide us to His perfect will in every situation (John 16:13).  Our greatest challenge will be to wholly commit our lives to follow God’s will obediently as He reveals it.

Moses gathered the Israelites around Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim before they were to enter the Promised Land.  There, God described what they had to do in order to obey Him.  God gave detailed instructions so there was no mistaking what was expected of them.  Then God asked them to make a choice.  If they chose to disobey His commands, they would face His wrath.  If they chose to obey, they would receive His blessing.

God’s Word comes to you in the same way.  It is not too complex to understand.  You don’t have to struggle to discern God’s will about adultery or forgiveness or honesty.  God’s word is perfectly clear.  The question is, how will you respond?  Nowhere in Scripture did God excuse disobedience because His instructions were too vague or complex.  Condemnation came because they knew exactly what God wanted them to do, yet they chose not to do it!  God, through his Holy Spirit, will always give you sufficient revelation and strength to take the next step with Him.  If you are uncertain about what God is asking of you, make sure that you are obeying all that you do know, and through your obedience, God’s next instruction will become clear.

from Experiencing God Day-by-Day
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby

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Music:

Another prayer for blessing.  “Spirit of the Living God, Fall Afresh on Me.”

This chorus was written in 1926 by Dan Iverson, a Presbyterian evangelist.  Once when he was ministering at First Presbyterian Church in Orlando, he wrote this song and introduced it at the start of one of his  meetings.  He never got to his sermon.  Instead, the congregation sang this chorus for forty-five minutes.  On the basis of this hymn and the work of the Holy Spirit, some 400 people came forward, seeking to follow Jesus in a new way.

As we listen, may the Lord grant us hearts that eagerly cry to be broken, melted, molded, and filled — all to the glory of God!

_________________________

English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:

Future sign.    http://ergonomicedge.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/the-future.jpg

red heart.    http://www.polyvore.com/cgi/img-thing?.out=jpg&size=l&tid=8866035

You can do it.   http://www.chroniclebooks.com/images/items/0811846/0811846350/0811846350_large.jpg

Choose Life.    http://www.trailblazerswyd.org/Donations/Choose_Life/choose_life_logo%20recent.jpg

boy reading Bible.   http://www.houseofhopeghana.org/images/Sebastian%20reading%20Bible.jpg


246.) Deuteronomy 29

April 12, 2010

Deuteronomy 29 (English Standard Version)

The Covenant Renewed in Moab

Historical Review

1 These are the words of the covenant that the LORD commanded Moses to make with the people of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant that he had made with them at Horeb.

2 And Moses summoned all Israel and said to them:

“You have seen all that the LORD did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, 3the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs, and those great wonders. 4But to this day the LORD has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear. 5 I have led you forty years in the wilderness. Your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandals have not worn off your feet. 6 You have not eaten bread, and you have not drunk wine or strong drink, that you may know that I am the LORD your God.

Matthew 6:31-32 (New Living Translation)

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.”

_________________________

7And when you came to this place, Sihon the king of Heshbon and Og the king of Bashan came out against us to battle, but we defeated them. 8We took their land and gave it for an inheritance to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of the Manassites. 9 Therefore keep the words of this covenant and do them, that you may prosper in all that you do.

Reciprocal Relationship


10“You are standing today all of you before the LORD your God: the heads of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, all the men of Israel, 11your little ones, your wives, and the sojourner who is in your camp, from the one who chops your wood to the one who draws your water, 12so that you may enter into the sworn covenant of the LORD your God, which the LORD your God is making with you today, 13that he may establish you today as his people, and that he may be your God, as he promised you, and as he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.

John 6:67-69 (New International Version)

“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.  We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

_________________________

14It is not with you alone that I am making this sworn covenant, 15but with whoever is standing here with us today before the LORD our God, and with whoever is not here with us today.

Fundamental Demand


16“You know how we lived in the land of Egypt, and how we came through the midst of the nations through which you passed. 17And you have seen their detestable things, their idols of wood and stone, of silver and gold, which were among them. 18Beware lest there be among you a man or woman or clan or tribe whose heart is turning away today from the LORD our God to go and serve the gods of those nations. Beware lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit, 19one who, when he hears the words of this sworn covenant, blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall be safe, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart.’ This will lead to the sweeping away of moist and dry alike.

Hebrews 12:15 (New Living Translation)

Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God.
Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.

_________________________

20The LORD will not be willing to forgive him, but rather the anger of the LORD and his jealousy will smoke against that man, and the curses written in this book will settle upon him, and the LORD will blot out his name from under heaven. 21And the LORD will single him out from all the tribes of Israel for calamity, in accordance with all the curses of the covenant written in this Book of the Law.

Public Consequences


 

22And the next generation, your children who rise up after you, and the foreigner who comes from a far land, will say, when they see the afflictions of that land and the sicknesses with which the LORD has made it sick— 23the whole land burned out with brimstone and salt, nothing sown and nothing growing, where no plant can sprout, an overthrow like that of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, which the LORD overthrew in his anger and wrath— 24all the nations will say, ‘Why has the LORD done thus to this land? What caused the heat of this great anger?’

25Then people will say, ‘It is because they abandoned the covenant of the LORD, the God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them out of the land of Egypt, 26and went and served other gods and worshiped them, gods whom they had not known and whom he had not allotted to them. 27Therefore the anger of the LORD was kindled against this land, bringing upon it all the curses written in this book, 28and the LORD uprooted them from their land in anger and fury and great wrath, and cast them into another land, as they are this day.’

Psalm 103:8-14 (The Message)

God is sheer mercy and grace;
not easily angered, he’s rich in love.
He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold,
nor hold grudges forever.
He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve,
nor pay us back in full for our wrongs.
As high as heaven is over the earth,
so strong is his love to those who fear him.
And as far as sunrise is from sunset,
he has separated us from our sins.
As parents feel for their children,
God feels for those who fear him.
He knows us inside and out,
keeps in mind that we’re made of mud.

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29“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”

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Music:

The plan of salvation — praise God! — is no secret, but has been revealed to us in flesh, in water, in bread and wine, in Scripture.  Buried and raised with Christ, we have nothing to fear!  The old hymn “‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus”  is sung by the Altar of Praise Men’s Chorale.

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English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:

Deuteronomy ancient treaty.   http://storylineframework.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/intro3.jpg

history.    http://school.discoveryeducation.com/clipart/images/history.gif

flip flops.   http://www.sweetpeascreations.com/files/Flip_Flops_large.jpg

shaking hands.    http://www.cod.edu/course/Information/MRKT2200F5/bnsshake.gif

No life away from you.    http://www.fci.crossnet.se/images/nolifeaway.jpg

Love the Lord your God.   http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_vYUdDoV60jk/RycLFJBQYbI/AAAAAAAAAFs/FBM2Gq1ed8Q/s400/button_gold_love_the_lord.jpg

tree root.    http://people.csail.mit.edu/jaffer/TreeRoot.jpg

desert wilderness.    http://d2eosjbgw49cu5.cloudfront.net/outdoor-weblog.com/imgname–tips_to_surviving_in_the_desert—50226711–30458503.jpg

Romans 8:38-39.    http://tokev.tripod.com/publicpictures/cross.jpg


245.) Deuteronomy 28

April 9, 2010

Do we long to be obedient to God, wherever he sends us?

Deuteronomy 28 (English Standard Version)

Blessings for Obedience

1“And if you faithfully obey the voice of the LORD your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. 2And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the LORD your God. 3Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. 4Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. 5Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. 6Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.

Psalm 121:8 (New Living Translation)

The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
both now and forever.

_________________________

7“The LORD will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before you. They shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways. 8The LORD will command the blessing on you in your barns and in all that you undertake. And he will bless you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. 9 The LORD will establish you as a people holy to himself, as he has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in his ways. 10And all the peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they shall be afraid of you. 11And the LORD will make you abound in prosperity, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your livestock and in the fruit of your ground, within the land that the LORD swore to your fathers to give you. 12The LORD will open to you his good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands.

_________________________

Acts 14:17 (Contemporary English Version)

But God showed that he was there by the good things he did. God sends rain from heaven and makes your crops grow. He gives food to you and makes your hearts glad.

_________________________

And you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. 13And the LORD will make you the head and not the tail, and you shall only go up and not down, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, being careful to do them, 14 and if you do not turn aside from any of the words that I command you today, to the right hand or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.

_________________________

Reflections:

People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.

D. A. Carson, For the Love of God

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Music:

Twila Paris sings, “Where He Leads Me, I Will Go.”

_________________________

Curses for Disobedience

Think what will happen to you if you deliberately choose the path of rebellion and disobedience.  Choices bring consequences.

15“But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you. 16Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the field. 17Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. 18Cursed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. 19Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out.

_________________________

Gracious God,

We dishonor your law by our failure to proclaim it as an essential part of the Christian life, the fruit of a living faith.

We sinners need to hear about the the love of Christ and our need to trust in Christ.  But we also need to learn that our own response to your love is to live in obedience to your will and your law.

_________________________

20“The LORD will send on you curses, confusion, and frustration in all that you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and perish quickly on account of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken me. 21The LORD will make the pestilence stick to you until he has consumed you off the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 22 The LORD will strike you with wasting disease and with fever, inflammation and fiery heat, and with drought and with blight and with mildew. They shall pursue you until you perish. 23And the heavens over your head shall be bronze, and the earth under you shall be iron. 24The LORD will make the rain of your land powder. From heaven dust shall come down on you until you are destroyed.

_________________________

We dishonor your law by living as though faith is more important than love.

While you restore us and heal our broken lives by the gift of faith, faith is a means to our actually becoming more loving people.  It is not an end in itself, and to treat faith as the goal of life is to miss the point, the goal of love.  The immediate fruit of a living faith ought to be our loving and reconciling actions toward others.

_________________________

25 “The LORD will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You shall go out one way against them and flee seven ways before them. And you shall be a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth. 26And your dead body shall be food for all birds of the air and for the beasts of the earth, and there shall be no one to frighten them away. 27The LORD will strike you with the boils of Egypt, and with tumors and scabs and itch, of which you cannot be healed. 28The LORD will strike you with madness and blindness and confusion of mind, 29and you shall grope at noonday, as the blind grope in darkness, and you shall not prosper in your ways. And you shall be only oppressed and robbed continually, and there shall be no one to help you. 30 You shall betroth a wife, but another man shall ravish her. You shall build a house, but you shall not dwell in it. You shall plant a vineyard, but you shall not enjoy its fruit. 31Your ox shall be slaughtered before your eyes, but you shall not eat any of it. Your donkey shall be seized before your face, but shall not be restored to you. Your sheep shall be given to your enemies, but there shall be no one to help you. 32 Your sons and your daughters shall be given to another people, while your eyes look on and fail with longing for them all day long, but you shall be helpless. 33A nation that you have not known shall eat up the fruit of your ground and of all your labors, and you shall be only oppressed and crushed continually, 34so that you are driven mad by the sights that your eyes see. 35The LORD will strike you on the knees and on the legs with grievous boils of which you cannot be healed, from the sole of your foot to the crown of your head.

_________________________

We dishonor your law by living as if faith were designed to excuse us from holiness of heart and life.

Living “under your law” does not means that we are obliged to observe special ceremonies, to conform to particular traditions, or to keep every commandment in order to deserve or win your love.

We are called to obey your law, gracious God, not because we fear you but because your love has filled out hearts to overflowing.

_________________________

36“The LORD will bring you and your king whom you set over you to a nation that neither you nor your fathers have known. And there you shall serve other gods of wood and stone. 37And you shall become a horror, a proverb, and a byword among all the peoples where the LORD will lead you away. 38 You shall carry much seed into the field and shall gather in little, for the locust shall consume it. 39 You shall plant vineyards and dress them, but you shall neither drink of the wine nor gather the grapes, for the worm shall eat them. 40You shall have olive trees throughout all your territory, but you shall not anoint yourself with the oil, for your olives shall drop off. 41You shall father sons and daughters, but they shall not be yours, for they shall go into captivity. 42 The cricket shall possess all your trees and the fruit of your ground. 43 The sojourner who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower. 44 He shall lend to you, and you shall not lend to him. He shall be the head, and you shall be the tail.

_________________________

Lord, you call us to declare both your promises and your demands.

_________________________

45 “All these curses shall come upon you and pursue you and overtake you till you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that he commanded you. 46They shall be a sign and a wonder against you and your offspring forever. 47 Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things, 48therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the LORD will send against you, in hunger and thirst, in nakedness, and lacking everything. And he will put a yoke of iron on your neck until he has destroyed you.


The composer Joseph Haydn was once criticized by some of the religious people of his day for being too cheerful.  “I cannot help it,” he replied.  “When I think of the Divine Being, my heart is so full of joy that the notes fly off as from a spindle.  And as I have a cheerful heart, I am sure God will pardon me if I serve Him cheerfully.”

On the other hand, as early as A.D. 390. famed theologian Chrysostom preached that the world is not a theater in which to laugh and that it is not God who gives us the chance to play, but the devil.  Centuries before, Plato and Aristotle had debated the nature of laughter.  The value of humor and its close relatives, laughter and cheer, have been attacked, discussed, and defended for many centuries.

Perhaps it will be sufficient for our understanding here to know that although the Bible is not a textbook on humor and never actually uses the word, yet a merry heart is endorsed at least three times in the Book of Proverbs alone (Proverbs 15:13, 15; 17:22).  The Hebrew word used in these verses means “joyful” and even “gleeful.”

A severe judgment is passed against the Israelites in Deuteronomy 28:47-48 because they had not served the Lord joyfully and gladly in their time of prosperity.

Recognizing God as the creator of all good gifts, and recognizing the many ways in which humor benefits all of us, we can acknowledge that laughter is a gift from God and that it is all right for us to use the gift joyfully.

–Dotsey Wiseman Welliver in Stones of Remembrance

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49 The LORD will bring a nation against you from far away, from the end of the earth, swooping down like the eagle, a nation whose language you do not understand, 50a hard-faced nation who shall not respect the old or show mercy to the young. 51It shall eat the offspring of your cattle and the fruit of your ground, until you are destroyed; it also shall not leave you grain, wine, or oil, the increase of your herds or the young of your flock, until they have caused you to perish.

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Empower us to honor and uphold your law of love, dear God, not because we fear the consequences of a broken, sinful life but because your gifts of grace, mercy, and faith have transformed us into a loving people.

from Praying in the Wesleyan Spirit
by Paul Chilcote

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52“They shall besiege you in all your towns, until your high and fortified walls, in which you trusted, come down throughout all your land. And they shall besiege you in all your towns throughout all your land, which the LORD your God has given you. 53And you shall eat the fruit of your womb, the flesh of your sons and daughters, whom the LORD your God has given you, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemies shall distress you. 54The man who is the most tender and refined among you will begrudge food to his brother, to the wife he embraces, and to the last of the children whom he has left, 55so that he will not give to any of them any of the flesh of his children whom he is eating, because he has nothing else left, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemy shall distress you in all your towns. 56 The most tender and refined woman among you, who would not venture to set the sole of her foot on the ground because she is so delicate and tender, will begrudge to the husband she embraces, to her son and to her daughter, 57her afterbirth that comes out from between her feet and her children whom she bears, because lacking everything she will eat them secretly, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemy shall distress you in your towns.

58“If you are not careful to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and awesome name, the LORD your God,

Psalm 119:30-31 (New International Version)

I have chosen the way of truth;
I have set my heart on your laws.

I hold fast to your statutes, O LORD;
do not let me be put to shame.

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59then the LORD will bring on you and your offspring extraordinary afflictions, afflictions severe and lasting, and sicknesses grievous and lasting. 60And he will bring upon you again all the diseases of Egypt, of which you were afraid, and they shall cling to you. 61Every sickness also and every affliction that is not recorded in the book of this law, the LORD will bring upon you, until you are destroyed. 62Whereas you were as numerous as the stars of heaven, you shall be left few in number, because you did not obey the voice of the LORD your God. 63And as the LORD took delight in doing you good and multiplying you, so the LORD will take delight in bringing ruin upon you and destroying you. And you shall be plucked off the land that you are entering to take possession of it.

64“And the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other gods of wood and stone, which neither you nor your fathers have known. 65And among these nations you shall find no respite, and there shall be no resting place for the sole of your foot, but the LORD will give you there a trembling heart and failing eyes and a languishing soul. 66Your life shall hang in doubt before you. Night and day you shall be in dread and have no assurance of your life. 67 In the morning you shall say, ‘If only it were evening!’ and at evening you shall say, ‘If only it were morning!’ because of the dread that your heart shall feel, and the sights that your eyes shall see.

Job 7:4 (New International Version)

When I lie down I think, ‘How long before I get up?’
The night drags on, and I toss till dawn.

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68And the LORD will bring you back in ships to Egypt, a journey that I promised that you should never make again; and there you shall offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but there will be no buyer.”

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“The Christian Alphabet – A.”   Art by Mark Lawrence.

Romans 3:21-31 (New Living Translation)

But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago.  We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.  Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.  For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood.

Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith.  So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.

There is only one God, and he makes people right with himself only by faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles.  Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law.

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English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:

urban – rural.    http://gatherine.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/urban-versus-rural.jpg

Come In – Go Away doormat.    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_abGRa1b0BJc/RqZ5l40GO1I/AAAAAAAAFMg/sNnxWxs6UQg/s400/come_in_go_away.jpg

Holiness.   http://www.spurgeon.org/images/pyromaniac/TeamPyro/e-s_041.jpg

Be Happy.   http://fc03.deviantart.net/fs25/f/2008/185/d/8/Be_Happy___Bugs_by_pincel3d.jpg

cannot sleep.    http://www.scientificamerican.com/media/inline/blog/Image/Can_tSleep.jpg

Mark Lawrence’s Christian Alphabet “A.”    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2104/2114534977_f3c74f90a4.jpg


244.) Deuteronomy 27

April 8, 2010

Mount Gerizim, left, and Mount Ebal, right.

Deuteronomy 27 (English Standard Version)

The Altar on Mount Ebal

1Now Moses and the elders of Israel commanded the people, saying, “Keep the whole commandment that I command you today. 2And on the day you cross over the Jordan to the land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall set up large stones and plaster them with plaster. 3 And you shall write on them all the words of this law, when you cross over to enter the land that the LORD your God is giving you, a land flowing with milk and honey, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you. 4And when you have crossed over the Jordan, you shall set up these stones, concerning which I command you today, on Mount Ebal, and you shall plaster them with plaster. 5And there you shall build an altar to the LORD your God, an altar of stones. You shall wield no iron tool on them; 6you shall build an altar to the LORD your God of uncut stones. And you shall offer burnt offerings on it to the LORD your God, 7and you shall sacrifice peace offerings and shall eat there, and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God. 8And you shall write on the stones all the words of this law very plainly.”

The Temple Institute in Jerusalem commissioned an altar according to the directions given in the verses above—made with stones (collected from the Dead Sea) which had neither been cut nor touched with iron.

Curses from Mount Ebal

9Then Moses and the Levitical priests said to all Israel, “Keep silence and hear, O Israel: this day you have become the people of the LORD your God. 10You shall therefore obey the voice of the LORD your God, keeping his commandments and his statutes, which I command you today.”

11That day Moses charged the people, saying, 12“When you have crossed over the Jordan, these shall stand on Mount Gerizim to bless the people: Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin. 13And these shall stand on Mount Ebal for the curse: Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali. 14And the Levites shall declare to all the men of Israel in a loud voice:

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As a teacher myself, I love how God uses many methods to get his lessons into the hearts and minds of the people:  laws, examples, stories, experiences.  Can you imagine the crowds listening — in stereo from the two hilltops! — to this list of curses and blessings, and by their “Amen” agreeing with God’s evaluation.

And over and over again (another good teaching tool — repetition!), the first thing God says is the First Thing:  “I AM the Lord your God.  You shall have no other gods.”  It was so important, in God’s mind, to drill that into their heads!  One of the most poignant and telling verses in all the Bible, I think, is 2 Kings 17:15 — They worshiped worthless idols, so they became worthless themselves.

God help us, as we read these curses, to thank Jesus for becoming a curse for us and setting us free from our sins, free to be obedient and worthy of our calling!

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15 “‘Cursed be the man who makes a carved or cast metal image, an abomination to the LORD, a thing made by the hands of a craftsman, and sets it up in secret.’ And all the people shall answer and say, ‘Amen.’

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Acts 19:26

Gods made with hands are not gods.

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16 “‘Cursed be anyone who dishonors his father or his mother.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

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Mark 10:19

Honor your father and mother.

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17 “‘Cursed be anyone who moves his neighbor’s landmark.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

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Luke 12:15

Be on your guard against all kinds of greed.

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18 “‘Cursed be anyone who misleads a blind man on the road.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

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Ephesians 4:32

Be kind and compassionate to one another.

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19 “‘Cursed be anyone who perverts the justice due to the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

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Matthew 23:23

Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.

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20 “‘Cursed be anyone who lies with his father’s wife, because he has uncovered his father’s nakedness.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

21 “‘Cursed be anyone who lies with any kind of animal.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

22 “‘Cursed be anyone who lies with his sister, whether the daughter of his father or the daughter of his mother.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

23 “‘Cursed be anyone who lies with his mother-in-law.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

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Ephesians 5:28

In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

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24 “‘Cursed be anyone who strikes down his neighbor in secret.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

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Romans 12:18

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

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25 “‘Cursed be anyone who takes a bribe to shed innocent blood.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

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Proverbs 17:23 (New International Version)

A wicked man accepts a bribe in secret
to pervert the course of justice.

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26 “‘Cursed be anyone who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

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John 14:15

If you love me, keep my commandments.

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Music:

Every “Amen” the Israelites called out was an affirmation of the lyrics of this song –  “I Will Worship,”  sung here by Ingrid Dumosch and the London Fox Singers.  The back-and-forth between the men and women singers in this song reminds me of the back-and-forth between the priests and the people in our chapter of Deuteronomy today.

_________________________

English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:

Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim.     http://www.jerusalemperspective.com/rotatingphotos/Mt%20Gerizim%20and%20Mt%20Ebal%20from%20east,%20tb%20n011300.jpg

altar of unhewn stones.    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/static/blogs/20091225122343.jpg

teacher.    http://www.free-clip-art.com/members/content/gallery/Education_Clip_Art/1004teacher.gif


243.) Deuteronomy 26

April 7, 2010

“Give of your best to the Master”

Deuteronomy 26 (English Standard Version)

Offerings of Firstfruits and Tithes

Covenant Grace:
The land and the fruits of the land are gifts from God.

1“When you come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance and have taken possession of it and live in it, 2 you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from your land that the LORD your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket, and you shall go to the place that the LORD your God will choose, to make his name to dwell there. 3And you shall go to the priest who is in office at that time and say to him, ‘I declare today to the LORD your God that I have come into the land that the LORD swore to our fathers to give us.4Then the priest shall take the basket from your hand and set it down before the altar of the LORD your God.

5“And you shall make response before the LORD your God, ‘A wandering Aramean was my father. And he went down into Egypt and sojourned there, few in number, and there he became a nation, great, mighty, and populous. 6And the Egyptians treated us harshly and humiliated us and laid on us hard labor. 7Then we cried to the LORD, the God of our fathers, and the LORD heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. 8And the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great deeds of terror, with signs and wonders. 9And he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. 10And behold, now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground, which you, O LORD, have given me.‘ And you shall set it down before the LORD your God and worship before the LORD your God. 11And you shall rejoice in all the good that the LORD your God has given to you and to your house, you, and the Levite, and the sojourner who is among you.

.

James 1:17 (New American Standard Bible)

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

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Covenant Obedience:
The law is kept only when the poor are cared for.

12“When you have finished paying all the tithe of your produce in the third year, which is the year of tithing, giving it to the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, so that they may eat within your towns and be filled, 13then you shall say before the LORD your God, ‘I have removed the sacred portion out of my house, and moreover, I have given it to the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, according to all your commandment that you have commanded me. I have not transgressed any of your commandments, nor have I forgotten them. 14 I have not eaten of the tithe while I was mourning, or removed any of it while I was unclean, or offered any of it to the dead. I have obeyed the voice of the LORD my God. I have done according to all that you have commanded me. 15 Look down from your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless your people Israel and the ground that you have given us, as you swore to our fathers, a land flowing with milk and honey.’

“Widows and Orphans” by Kathe Kollwetz, an early 20th-century German anti-war artist.

James 1:27 (Contemporary English Version)

Religion that pleases God the Father must be pure and spotless. You must help needy orphans and widows and not let this world make you evil.

_________________________

Covenant Blessing:
Israel is God’s treasured possession; Israel will walk in His ways.

16“This day the LORD your God commands you to do these statutes and rules. You shall therefore be careful to do them with all your heart and with all your soul. 17 You have declared today that the LORD is your God, and that you will walk in his ways, and keep his statutes and his commandments and his rules, and will obey his voice.

James 2:14-18 (The Message)

Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?

I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, “Sounds good. You take care of the faith department, I’ll handle the works department.”

Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove.

_________________________

18And the LORD has declared today that you are a people for his treasured possession, as he has promised you, and that you are to keep all his commandments, 19and that he will set you in praise and in fame and in honor high above all nations that he has made, and that you shall be a people holy to the LORD your God, as he promised.”

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Music:

“The chapter comes to a close with the reminder that obedience to the law was not an end in itself.  Nor was it merely the means of keeping Israel secure in the land. Ultimately there was a missionary purpose to the law.  Just as it had been founded upon the basis of God’s redeeming grace in the past, so it was motivated by the vision of God’s name being known and honored among the nations in the future.  Thus the law is framed between grace and glory — as Paul wrote:  ‘so that all nations might believe and obey him—to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ!  Amen!’ (Romans 16:26-27).”

from New International Biblical Commentary:  Deuteronomy
by Christopher Wright

“Go Ye into All the World”  sung by the SoundForth Singers.

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English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:

basket with fruits and vegetables.    http://hostedmedia.reimanpub.com/TOH/Images/healthy/special-diet/FruitsVeggiesBasket.jpg

gift.    http://www.debwebonline.com/Mercy_in_Jesus/JAMES1_17.JPG

Kollwitz.    http://www.voiceseducation.org/Portals/2/The%20Great%20War/Art%20of%20the%20Great%20War/widows%20and%20orphans.gif

Nolan Ryan, pitcher, Baseball Hall of Fame.     http://img.allposters.com/6/LRG/9/936/Y9TX000Z.jpg


242.) Deuteronomy 25

April 6, 2010

Mr. Rogers was an ordained Presbyterian minister who hosted “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” a television show which helped children learn to become happy and productive citizens.  These laws in Deuteronomy had the same intent for the people of Israel.

Deuteronomy 25 (English Standard Version)

1“If there is a dispute between men and they come into court and the judges decide between them, acquitting the innocent and condemning the guilty,

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Proverbs 17:15 (New International Version)

Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent—
the LORD detests them both.

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2then if the guilty man deserves to be beaten, the judge shall cause him to lie down and be beaten in his presence with a number of stripes in proportion to his offense. 3 Forty stripes may be given him, but not more, lest, if one should go on to beat him with more stripes than these, your brother be degraded in your sight.

4 “You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain.

Proverbs 12:10 (New American Standard Bible)

A righteous man has regard for the life of his animal,
But even the compassion of the wicked is cruel.

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Laws Concerning Levirate Marriage

5 “If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the dead man shall not be married outside the family to a stranger. Her husband’s brother shall go in to her and take her as his wife and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her. 6And the first son whom she bears shall succeed to the name of his dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out of Israel.

Mark 12:18-27 (New Living Translation)

Then Jesus was approached by some Sadducees—religious leaders who say there is no resurrection from the dead. They posed this question:  “Teacher, Moses gave us a law that if a man dies, leaving a wife without children, his brother should marry the widow and have a child who will carry on the brother’s name. Well, suppose there were seven brothers. The oldest one married and then died without children.  This continued with all seven of them, and still there were no children. Last of all, the woman also died.  So tell us, whose wife will she be in the resurrection? For all seven were married to her.” So the second brother married the widow, but he also died without children. Then the third brother married her.

Jesus replied, “Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God. For when the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage. In this respect they will be like the angels in heaven.

“But now, as to whether the dead will be raised—haven’t you ever read about this in the writings of Moses, in the story of the burning bush? Long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, God said to Moses, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’  So he is the God of the living, not the dead. You have made a serious error.”

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7And if the man does not wish to take his brother’s wife, then his brother’s wife shall go up to the gate to the elders and say, ‘My husband’s brother refuses to perpetuate his brother’s name in Israel; he will not perform the duty of a husband’s brother to me.’ 8Then the elders of his city shall call him and speak to him, and if he persists, saying, ‘I do not wish to take her,’ 9then his brother’s wife shall go up to him in the presence of the elders and pull his sandal off his foot and spit in his face. And she shall answer and say, ‘So shall it be done to the man who does not build up his brother’s house.’ 10And the name of his house shall be called in Israel, ‘The house of him who had his sandal pulled off.’

Miscellaneous Laws

11“When men fight with one another and the wife of the one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand of him who is beating him and puts out her hand and seizes him by the private parts, 12then you shall cut off her hand. Your eye shall have no pity.

13“You shall not have in your bag two kinds of weights, a large and a small. 14You shall not have in your house two kinds of measures, a large and a small. 15A full and fair weight you shall have, a full and fair measure you shall have, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. 16For all who do such things, all who act dishonestly, are an abomination to the LORD your God.

Proverbs 16:11 (Contemporary English Version)

The LORD doesn’t like it

when we cheat in business.

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17 “Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you came out of Egypt, 18how he attacked you on the way when you were faint and weary, and cut off your tail, those who were lagging behind you, and he did not fear God. 19Therefore when the LORD your God has given you rest from all your enemies around you, in the land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance to possess, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven; you shall not forget.”

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Music:

Mr. Rogers sings his famous theme song, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

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English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:

Mr. Rogers.    http://www.qcms.org/images/mrrogers_image.gif

feeding a horse.    http://brigitam.activerain.com/image_store/uploads/7/7/3/3/2/ar120396992723377.jpg

bride and groom.   http://www.clker.com/cliparts/2/f/f/e/1220159552131545910Bride%20and%20groom.svg.hi.png

business ethics question.    http://www.simplydumb.com/files/2008/03/business-ethics.gif


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