Sunday, March 26, 2017

March 26: Deuteronomy 5 – 6; Psalm 68:19-35; Proverbs 11:29-31; Luke 7:11-7:35



Overview

            Deuteronomy: Moses tells the people at Mount Hoerb that God made a covenant with the people who are still alive. He then repeats the Ten Commandments. These are the words the Lord spoke to them out of fire, cloud, and darkness. They were afraid to listen any more to the Lord or they might die, so they asked Moses to go near and hear. Then they would do as he told them.
            The Lord heard them and agreed. He would have liked it if they always had a mind to obey so that it would go well with them. He let the people return to their tents but Moses was to stay near and receive the commandments. He was told not to turn away from them so that all may go well and live long in the land they were to possess.
            Moses continues to tell the people the commandments, statutes, and rule that he was commanded to teach. They will enable them and future generations to fear the Lord. Then they will prosper in the land of milk and honey.
            The Lord is one and they are to love the Lord and teach their children everything they have been taught. It is to be a daily, ongoing task for them.
            When they enter the land they are given with cities, houses, fields, wells, and everything they didn’t provide for themselves, they need to be careful not to forget the Lord. They had better not go after other gods or the Lord will destroy them.
            They are not to test the Lord as they did at Massah. They are to keep all the Law and do what is right so they can go into the land and drive out the inhabitants.
            In later years, when their descendents ask about the Law, they are to explain that the Lord brought them out of Egypt and gave them the land. The Law is to teach them to fear the Lord for their own good and for their righteousness.
            Psalm: The Lord is the God of our salvation in a physical sense because the rebukes and wipes out the enemy. He is seen as the King who leads Israel. This is seen in the procession going into the temple led by musicians and all the tribes of Israel. His power has been seen in working for Israel. The temple represents that power and kings bring him gifts. They come from Egypt and Cush, but the evil ones, God will vanquish. All the kingdoms of the earth will praise God who lives beyond the heavens and gives power and strength to his people.
            Proverbs: People who cause problems in their families can’t keep them together. They end up like fools, servants to the wise. The righteous have life and seek souls. They are repaid on earth and so are the wicked.
            Luke: Jesus came to a town called Nain along with his disciples and a great crowd. A young man had died and was being carried out. Jesus brought him back to life and gave him back to his mother. Everyone was fearful and praised God. Jesus’ fame spread.
            John the Baptist’s disciples came and asked if Jesus was the one of if John should look for another. While they were there, Jesus was healing people. He told the men to return and tell John what they saw and heard. He said that a person is blessed if he isn’t offended by Jesus.
            After John’s people left, Jesus asked the crowd why they went out to see John in the wilderness. Was it curiosity, to see royalty, or because he was a prophet. Jesus said he was more than a prophet but the one who was to prepare his way. No one is greater than John, yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than him.
            Luke explains that the people who were baptized by John demonstrated that God is right. The Pharisees and other who weren’t, demonstrated that they had rejected God’s purpose for them.
            Jesus then compared this generation to children who complain that others won’t play their games with them. The Pharisees didn’t like John the Baptist and said he had a demon. They don’t like Jesus because he didn’t do as they wanted either by associating with tax collectors and sinners. Wisdom is shown in those who follow it.

What Stood Out

            Deuteronomy: “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deut 6:7).
            Psalm: “Rebuke the company of spearmen, the multitude of the bulls, with the calves of the people, till every one submit himself with pieces of silver” (Ps 68:30 KJV).
            Proverbs: “Whoever captures souls is wise” (Prov 11:30).
            Luke: “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard” (Luke 7:22).

Insight

            Deuteronomy: The Ten Commandments and the rest of the commandments, statutes, and rules passed on to Israel by Moses is often called “the Law.” In these passages, the Lord often repeats the purpose of the Law. It is to help the people to fear God so that all may go well with them. If they depart from the Law, especially by worshiping other gods, then the Lord will punish them. This punishment is against the nation as well as individuals. This is the crux of the covenant God made with Israel: follow the Law and it will go well in the land they are to possess, disobey the law and you will be destroyed and evicted from the land.
            The importance of this is reflected in the Shema (Deut 6:4-9), called the “creed of the Jews.” It is prayed every day, morning, and evening.[1] If we were to take just these verses seriously, we would be doing ourselves and our children a huge favor. We would twice daily remember that there is no other God. He would be first place in our lives, as we would remember to love God with everything we have. We would tell our children about him every chance we got. When we sit in our houses and watch TV, we would filter everything through the Law. It would give us opportunities to tell our children what is right and wrong, how the Lord views the stuff on the “box.” The same would apply to driving down the street, explaining how things went at work or school. It would reflect on how we greet and respond to each other at breakfast or when we go to bed at night.
            Psalm: Some of the symbology in the Psalms is hard to understand. I often read along agreeing with the praises of God or understanding the problems of David. Then I hit verses where David asks something odd, like rebuking the beasts (Ps 68:30). When I looked at some commentaries, it made more sense because they used the King James Version in the translation. They go on to explain that the beasts in the reeds (ESV) refers to crocodiles and the bulls are leaders of populous nations represented by the calves. These will submit themselves to the Lord and bring tribute.[2] Since Egypt and Cush are mentioned in the next verse, David may have been speaking about these countries.
            After trying to understand these verses, they disrupt the beginning of this reading and the ending, it is clear that all nations will one day bring tribute to the Lord. They are not bringing it to Israel, but to God. This will all happen in the millennium reign of Jesus. We can all look forward to being part of this procession that glorifies the Lord. In fact, we can do that even now every time we gather for worship. We can bring our tribute to him as part of worship. It is fitting that our worship includes a monetary offering as well as prayer, worship, and teaching.
            Proverbs: If a person is following the Shema and teaching their families about the Lord, then there will be solidarity in the family. However, the one who cause problems in his family by ignoring God’s Law will disrupt them and cause problems just like a tornado tearing though a house. Seldom, if ever, do children look back at the dysfunctional family life of alcoholics, drug addicts, criminals, workaholics, or others and have fond memories. They often ask advice columnists like Dear Abby how they can maintain their distance from toxic relatives.
            On the other hand, people who live righteously are like trees producing good fruit. While it is true that some children rebel, the general rules is that, their families are close and have good memories. Add to that, a person who seeks to bring others to the Lord has even more wisdom.
            Luke: Jesus performed some of the most dramatic miracles of this ministry in this section of Luke. He raised a dead man, healed the blind, deaf, lepers, and the good news was preached. So what was John’s problem? Why did he ask if another was to come after Jesus? He baptized Jesus, heard the Father bless him and the Spirit come upon him. He had the prophecies of his own father so he knew he was the forerunner of the Messiah. Looking back at John’s preaching, it is evident that he believed the Messiah was going to do more than heal people. While he may not have understood what baptizing with fire meant, he believed Jesus would clean house in Israel and it would bring salvation as well as destruction (Luke 3:16-17). Besides, John is in prison. He may have thought Jesus would bring the kingdom and he would be freed. Jesus’ answer is right out of Isaiah 29:18, 35:5-6. John would recognize these as messianic prophecies. He was telling John that he is the Messiah, but these other things must first take place.
            We can be like John when we are anxious or impatient while waiting for God. It is at these times, we need to go back to Scripture to have a better picture of the Lord. We can become like the Pharisees who saw Jesus and didn’t like what they saw because he didn’t fit their concept of the Messiah. If we are wise, we will keep on waiting for Jesus’ return, seeking souls, teaching the next generation, and putting God first in our lives.

Application

            I want to be a wise person. I want to do more capturing souls for Jesus. I want to daily remember and do the instruction in the Shema.


[1] Albert Barnes, Barnes’ Notes, (Seattle: Biblesoft, 2005), Deut 6:4, Electronic Database.
[2] Ibid., Psalm 68:30.

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