Wednesday, March 29, 2017

March 29: Deuteronomy 11 – 12; Psalm 70; Proverbs 12:4; Luke 8:22-39


            Deuteronomy: Israel is to love God and keep his Law. They are to consider what he did to the land of Egypt and their army when he drowned them; what he did to Israel in the wilderness; what he did to Dathan, Abiram when the earth swallowed them.
            Therefore, they are to keep the Law, take possession of the land, and live long in it. The land isn’t like Egypt that had to be irrigated. The rains come as the Lord watches over it all year long.
            If they obey, the Lord will continue to do that. They are not to be deceived and follow other gods. They are to keep God’s words on their hearts and minds. They will dispossess greater nation as the Lord will make those nations fear Israel.
            Moses tells the people that the Lord is going to set before them a blessing and a curse. The blessing is if the obey and the curse if they don’t. When they enter the land, the blessing will be announced from Mount Gerizim and the curse from Mount Ebal.
            Israel is to destroy all the places and objects of worship in the land when they conquer. They worshiped under every green tree but Israel is to worship where the Lord makes his habitation. They are to bring their sacrifices there, eat, and rejoice before the Lord. They are not to do as they were doing before entering the Promised Land. They must be careful not to sacrifice at any place other than where the Lord chooses within their new territory.
            They may continue to kill and eat meat wherever they want as long as they don’t eat the blood. The blood must be poured out on the earth. They may not eat any of their vows, tithes, or other offerings in any place except where the Lord has chosen. If they obey, it will go well with them.
            Psalm: David asks God to help him and do it quickly. He wants his enemies to be routed, confused, and put to shame. He asks that all who seek the Lord will rejoice in salvation and extol God. However, he is needy and wants saved, now.
            Proverbs: A wonderful wife is a blessing to her husband but one who is shameful is a pain.
            Luke: One day, Jesus decided to go across the lake. He falls asleep in the boat and squall hits them, swamping the boat. The disciples wake Jesus telling him they are going to drown. He calms the storm and they wonder just exactly who he is.
            They went on to the Gerasenes where a demon-possessed man met them. He fell at Jesus’ feet asking not to be tortured, calling Jesus the Son of the Most High God. After Jesus asked, he revealed his name was Legion because many demons were in him. They begged not to be sent to the Abyss, but to go into a herd of pigs. Jesus let them go. The herd rushed in to the sea and drowned.
            The herdsmen told the town people who came out and found the man clothed and in his right mind. This frightened them so they asked Jesus to leave. The man wanted to go with Jesus but he told the man to go and tell what God had done for him. And he did.

What Stood Out

            Deuteronomy: “He will give the rain for your land in its season” (Deut 11:14).
            Psalm: “Make haste, O God, to deliver me!” (Ps 70:1).
            Proverbs: “A wife of noble character is her husband's crown” (Prov 12:4 NIV).
            Luke: “And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss” (Luke 8:31).


            Deuteronomy: I’ve said that I wouldn’t make a good farmer. A farmer has to trust the Lord for good weather. Sure, some trust irrigation, but even that can fail in times of drought. I was reminded of this when Moses reminded Israel about the difference between the land of Egypt and the Promised Land. Even in ancient times, Egypt irrigated its fields. But the land of Israel wasn’t like Egypt. The Lord provided the necessary rain for them as long as they were obedient. From everything I read in the Bible, I get a very different picture of Israel than the one I can see in pictures of the current nation. The Bible talks of forests and green pastures, not barren rocky hills. It says that the land was watered by the rains. It was flowing with milk and honey.
            Today’s Israel is producing an abundance of food but it is because of irrigation. Without that irrigation, it would be more like the land during Elijah’s ministry with three and a half years of drought. The king and his servant went surveying the land to find enough grass so they wouldn’t have to kill their horses and mules (1 Kings 18:5).
            The point is, disobedience destroyed the land flowing with milk and honey. The curse that was set before Israel is still in effect today despite the abundance brought by irrigation. They don’t trust the Lord for good weather because they are self-sufficient. They trust in themselves and their technology but not in the Lord.
            When I look at current Israel, I can see a lot of myself. It shouldn’t be that way with me or them. I’m looking forward to the day when all my self-sufficiency will be over and we are all face to face with Jesus. That will be the day when Israel will also be trusting in Jesus.
            Psalm: I’ve heard people say you shouldn’t ask God to give you patience because he will give you trials to build that patience. I wonder if anyone told David. He asks for deliverance on his timetable, not on Gods. I can picture someone riding swiftly on a horse pursued by a band of outlaws. They are firing at him as he hunches over in his saddle trying to dodge the bullets. His cry is the same as David’s, “Help me now! Lord.” There are always appropriate times for prayers for immediate deliverance. We just need to make sure that we aren’t asking when we really need to ask for the ability to honker down and have patience.
            Proverbs: This proverb can go both ways. It can apply to either a husband or a wife. When the two are looking out for each other’s interests instead of their own (Phil 2:3-4), they have a marriage that is a blessing to both. When one strays from the way the Lord has designed for their relationship, the other is grieved and heartbroken.
            Luke: I had a discussion with a friend last night about demonology. The Bible tells us a lot about demons and Satan or the devil in particular. But the important thing to remember is that we know much less about demons than we do about God. The reason is that demons don’t want to save us from eternal punishment but God does. Therefore, God has revealed more to us about how to be saved and how God does it than he does about demon who would rather keep us from that knowledge.
            So, it is puzzling when we encounter these instances when Jesus directly confronts the demon world. We learn very little about demons and that is probably the point. If we become too absorbed in learning about them, we may become distracted from the main message of the Bible, which is salvation. However, this case involves salvation because the man was possessed by a legion of demons. If we look at this literally, then it would be between 3,000 and 6,000 demons.[1] Mark 5:13 reported that the demons entered about 2,000 pigs. It doesn’t take a legion of demons to keep someone from salvation. It only takes one sin if someone is trusting in the Law for salvation (James 2:10). Since the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23), then even one sin keeps us from salvation.
            The answer to sin is in Jesus’ death and accepting that free gift of salvation (Rom 6:23). What is the alternative? The demons had already been judged and salvation was not available to them. So they begged not to be tormented or thrown into the Abyss before their time. The obvious alternative to salvation is a place even demons fear.
            The demons knew their destiny but most people don’t know where they are going after they die. The demoniac had a close encounter with these evil spirits and Jesus freed him. After healing people, Jesus had previous told them not to tell anyone. But Jesus told the restored demoniac to go and tell what God had done for him. I think this points out the significant difference between telling people that God healed us from pain versus praising him and telling others about how we were saved.


            I said I wouldn’t make a good farmer making it sound like I didn’t have enough trust in God. So there is always more room for trusting God in my life. The most important trust is in Jesus for salvation.

[1] Merrill Frederick Unger, The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, s.v. “Legion,” (Chicago: Moody, 1988), Biblesoft.

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