Sunday, April 2, 2017

April 2: Deuteronomy 21 – 22; Psalm 74; Proverbs 12:11; Luke 9:51-10:12



Overview

            Deuteronomy: If a person is killed and no one knows who did it, the elders and judges of the nearest town will have to make atonement by killing a heifer as specified. They will ask the Lord not to hold the people guilty who had nothing to do with it.
            A man may marry a woman taken captive during war. He must give her time to mourn her parents for a month. If he no longer delights in her, he may let her go but can’t make her a slave.
            The inheritance of a man is to go to his firstborn son regardless of which wife has the child, a loved wife or an unloved wife.
            If parents have a rebellious son who will not listen to his parents though they try, they are to take him to the elders. They must testify that he is a glutton and drunkard. He must be stoned to purge the evil from Israel. It is a deterrent to others.
            If a person who is put to death is then hung on a tree, it must not be over night. He must be buried the same day because he is cursed by God.
            A series of laws are given regarding: stray animals or lost articles; cross dressing; taking birds from nests; safety of house roofs; sowing mixed seeds; yoking different animals together; blended fabrics; and tassels on garments.
            Laws are given for sexual morality: potential adultery discovered upon marriage; homosexuality; adultery; rape in the city; rape in the country; rape or consensual sex outside of marriage; a man can’t marry his father’s wife.
            Psalm: Asaph is wondering why God’s anger is against Israel. He explains how the country has been ravished and the sanctuary burned. He says there is no prophet in the land to tell how long it will be before God acts for his people. He remembers how God is eternal and is sovereign over all things and he is Creator. He asks God to remember the scoffing of God’s enemies who revile his name. He asks God not to let his people go to the beasts but to take care of them. He asks God not to forget those who rise up against the Lord.
            Proverbs: People who work hard have plenty but those who follow worthless ambitions lack sense.
            Luke: Jesus is determined to go to Jerusalem because the time of his death is near. He goes through Samaria but the people of a village didn’t welcome him. The disciples and John want to call fire from heaven on the village but Jesus rebukes them and goes on to another village.
            On the way, one man comes and says he will follow Jesus anywhere, but Jesus says he doesn’t even have a place to sleep. He tells another to follow him, but that one wants to bury his father first. Another wants to follow him but also wants to say good-by to his family. Jesus says that whoever puts his hand to the plow and looks back is not fit for the kingdom of God.
            Jesus sends out seventy-two disciples ahead of him. He tells them to pray for labors for the harvest because there are few workers. He is sending them out as lambs among wolves. They are not to take anything with them but let the places they stay provide. They are to stay in one place in each town. They are to heal the sick, and tell them that the kingdom of God has come near. If they reject the disciples, they are to shake of the dust and tell them that the kingdom has come near. It will be more tolerable for Sodom in the judgment than for that town.

What Stood Out

            Deuteronomy: “So you shall purge the guilt of innocent blood from your midst, when you do what is right in the sight of the Lord” (Deut 21:9).
            Psalm: “Why does your anger smoke against the sheep of your pasture?” (Ps 74:1).
            Proverbs: “Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread” (Prov 12:11).
            Luke: “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51).

Insight

            Deuteronomy: Everything under heaven is seen by God and we must give account (Heb 4:13). So it is interesting that the Lord asked people to make atonement for an unsolved murder. The elders of the nearest town had to swear that they didn’t know who did it and that they had no part. It isn’t like God didn’t know who did it. This act of atonement wasn’t for God’s sake, it was for the people of the land. It was to make sure that the judges were acting honestly and doing what they should be doing to find the responsible person. It was to make sure that there were no bribes to cover up the murder.
            Repeatedly, the Lord finishes giving a law and tells Israel that judgment must be carried out as specified to purge the evil from the land and as a deterrent to others. Since this murder is unsolved, there would be no deterrent if they ignored it. So they need to make sure that everything is done to solve it before “washing their hands” of it.
            Unfortunately, in our society, too much gets swept under the rug. Many people are released on technicalities of the law, especially if they can hire a good lawyer. How are we to approach things in light of this? We need to simply be honest and do what we can in cooperation with law enforcement and reporting things when we see it. We should admit our own guilt and not try to get out of it, whether it is a ticket that we deserve or something worse. We should remember that even though we may cover up our guilt and never be discovered by others, God still knows and we are accountable to him. We can go to the Lord and find forgiveness because Jesus has atoned for our sins.
            Psalm: When we read this Psalm the next time, we will have just finished reading Isaiah and starting Jeremiah. Isaiah tells of the criminal state of Israel before the Babylonian invasion. Jeremiah is the prophet who watched and warned Judah before and after Babylon destroyed the temple in Jerusalem. They both tell the people over and over what they are doing wrong. God uses them to warn and rebuke but the people just keep on doing the evil they’ve been doing for years.
            So here is this Asaph, maybe not the same person who wrote other Psalms, he is complaining that he doesn’t know how long God will let Israel’s enemies destroy the nation. He even says there is no prophet to tell them. He sounds like the nation has done nothing wrong. It should be obvious to him. Isaiah and Jeremiah both told them God is punishing the nation for their idolatry and wickedness.
            When our sin catches up to us and we are suffering the consequences, we should not ask God why. If we are that callous to our sin, then we are in deep trouble just as Judah was. It is time to ask if we really are saved or not. It is time for eternal salvation and obedience before physical salvation.
            Proverbs: This should be straightforward. When we are diligent to work to our ability and it is God honoring-work, the Lord will bless us. It doesn’t mean there will never be times of testing and trials. If we don’t work for God’s glory (1 Cor 10:31), we are simply foolish and it will catch up with us sooner or later.
            Luke: I always like this passage where Jesus has set his face to go to Jerusalem. He knows what it will take to provide redemption for mankind. He is ready and has the culmination of this eternal plan in sight. If we were just a thousandth as focused on eternity and doing the Father’s will as Jesus, we would be unstoppable for the kingdom.
            The crazy thing is when John asks if they should call down fire on those who have briefly opposed Jesus. Jesus isn’t going to let a little thing like some obstinate Samaritans slow him down. But the disciples are not focused. They are also a bit scatterbrained at this point. Previously, they didn’t have enough faith to cast a demon out of a boy. Now, they think they have enough faith to call fire down from heaven to devour a village. They aren’t following what Jesus has in mind. Jesus said we are to love and pray for our enemies (Matt 5:44), but the disciples are ready to burn them alive. They are just plain out of it.
            Are we ever that way? Do we get so upset with things that don’t go our way that we are willing to do something that Jesus has specifically condemned? It probably happens more than we realize. I could list a few things like our thoughts, speech, and action in traffic, but it would be better to just think about that for a while.

Application

            I don’t want to be like Asaph and wonder why things are going wrong when it is a result of my sin. I want to be focused on God’s kingdom and eternally important things and what gets in the way of that. Like not taking time to study God’s word, pray, and develop a relationship with Jesus.

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