Thursday, April 6, 2017

April 6: Deuteronomy 29 – 30; Psalm 78:1-31; Proverbs 12:19-20; Luke 11:37-12:7


            Deuteronomy: Moses gathers all Israel and speaks to them. They have seen what the Lord had done taking them out of Egypt, sustaining them in the wilderness, giving them the land of Sihon and Og. They are now standing before the Lord along with sojourners and slaves. The Lord is establishing the covenant with them and others who are not standing there.
            They have all seen the detestable things that the other nations do. They are warned: beware that no one among them thinks he can be outwardly compliant but in his heart be stubborn. The Lord will know and single him out. He extends this to all Israel and explains that when the land becomes desolate and people ask why, they will be told it is because they went after other gods.
            When the people are scattered in other nations, remember the blessings and curses, and turn back to the Lord, he will bring them back and make them more prosperous than their ancestors. He will give them a heart to obey the Lord. Those who persecute Israel will receive the curses. Israel will be blessed.
            The commands are not too hard, mysterious, or far away. The word is near them so they can do it. Israel is given a choice to obey and receive life and blessings or disobey and receive curses and death. They are urged to choose life for them and their offspring by loving and obeying the Lord.
            Psalm: Asaph is about to teach Israel things that they have heard from long ago about God’s deeds. They are not to hide these things but tell them to the coming generations. God’s laws and commandments included telling the next generation so they would hope in God and not be stubborn like their ancestors.
            Their ancestors turned back from keeping the Law. They forgot how God had taken them out of Egypt and sustained them in the wilderness with miracles. They forgot how he led them in a cloud by day and fire by night.
            They continued to sin and rebel by asking for food not trusting that God could provide for them in the wilderness. The Lord was angry and struck them with fire. However, he did provide manna for bread and birds for meat. They ate their fill but God killed some of the strongest because of their sin.
            Proverbs: Telling the truth is a mark of eternity but lies are temporary. Lies are in the hearts of those who want to do evil. Planning peace brings joy.
            Luke: A Pharisee is surprised that Jesus didn’t wash before dining with him. So Jesus tells him that Pharisees clean the outside but not the inside, which is full of greed and wickedness. He says they are fools and they should give from their hearts and they would be clean on the inside. They tithe on little things but neglect justice, love of God, and caring for others. They honor themselves and want that from people. They are filthy on the inside but don’t know it like unmarked graves. 
            A lawyer says Jesus was insulting them also. So Jesus lays into them about the way they heap legalism on people. They build tombs for the prophets killed by their ancestors while doing essentially the same thing as their ancestors. They have hidden true knowledge in their legalism and they prevent others from knowing God.
            Thousands gathered to hear and were trampling each other. Jesus warns his disciples first to beware of the Pharisees’ hypocrisy. Hypocrisy will be uncovered eventually, even what is said in secret.
            Jesus tells them not to fear people who can physically kill you, but fear God who can kill you and also send you to hell. But also remember that God cares for you more than birds and he knows when one bird falls. He knows the number of hairs on your head. You are more valuable than birds.

What Stood Out

            Deuteronomy: “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’” (Deut 29:19).
            Psalm: “I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old” (Ps 78:2).
            Proverbs: “Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment” (Prov 12:19).
            Luke: “Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light” (Luke 12:3).


            Deuteronomy: In my younger years, I was just like this person who believed in his heart that he was OK and would be safe, yet he was walking in sin. I reasoned that God had to be fair and judge on the curve. I looked at those around me and hoped that I was just a little above average on the good versus evil spectrum. I was outwardly compliant in most areas but inwardly was a rebel. Little did I know that God doesn’t judge on a curve and that one sin is all it takes to miss the mark of God’s perfect standard (Matt 5:48, Rom 3:23). It didn’t sink in that what was in my heart was just as bad as what I did outwardly.
            Israel was given the clear choice to choose life by loving and obeying God. I didn’t recognize this for myself for many years. It is true that we must make the choice to love and obey God through our Lord Jesus. It is also true that we can’t make that choice until God gives us the faith to do it (Eph 2:8-9). Just as God said he would give them a new heart, he has done that for me and will do it for you as well, if you ask. Two days ago, the reading in Luke ended with this promise. “How much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13). Having the Holy Spirit is having eternal life. You need to ask but can’t hold out in your heart thinking that you can continue in your old ways rebelling against God. It has to be true repentance when you ask.
            Psalm: Why does Asaph say he will talk about dark things? The NIV says they are hidden things. It reminds me of the story of Aslan in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis. The witch calls upon deep magic from the dawn of time to claim the blood of Edmund who became a traitor. Aslan also reminds the witch that he can be the substitute for Edmund. Aslan is killed and then resurrected. He says that witch only knew the magic from the dawn of time but “if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned,”[1] she would have know that Aslan could substitute himself for Edmund. The story is an allegory for Christ’s death for all of our sins.It is built on the concept that there are things that only God knows from before time began. These are the secret things that belong to the Lord, but not the things that have been revealed to us (Deut 29:29).
            When we look at Genesis 3:15, we see that Jesus will bruise Satan on his head and Satan will bruise Jesus on his heel. So Satan knows his time is limited but he also thinks he can kill Jesus. What Satan didn’t know is what is revealed to us, and that is that before time began, Jesus’ plan was to die for us because he also choose us (Eph 1:4, Rev 13:8). This was planned before Satan came into existence. Jesus’ resurrection was most likely hidden from him as evidenced by the many times the disciples didn’t even understand when Jesus told them.
            Proverbs: A person who lies must have a good memory. When a lie is told, the person must remember who heard it and what it was. If he doesn’t, it will catch up with him. When a person is truthful, he doesn’t have to worry about who heard what when. There are no alternative facts, just the truth and that makes it so much easier to remember.
            Luke: We’re still talking about what’s in a person’s heart. It is in Deuteronomy, Proverbs, and Luke today. God had warned Israel about doing one thing in on the outside but being rebellious in their hearts, The Pharisees and scribes were essentially doing that. They had so many outward laws and regulations that it took experts to tell people how to live. But Moses said the word was near to them. It wasn’t that difficult.
            They were lying when they told others what they needed to do to please God. It was so bad that they had to write their lies down. I’ve heard they had over six hundred things listed that they could or couldn’t do on a Sabbath if they wanted to keep from working.
            If Jesus pronounced woes on them, what must it be like for us if we try to be good enough to pass based on the curve? If we have that kind of attitude, then we are in the same boat as the Pharisees and scribes. Our hypocrisy will become known. Our secret sins will be announced to the world. That may be an exaggeration, but God does know them and he is the one who counts. We need to fear him instead of what people think or do. It is the kind of fear that leads to salvation, repentance, and a love of the Lord instead of rebellion and covering up or sins.


            It is too easy to be caught up in doing all the right stuff and forget what Jesus has done to save me. It is too easy to be rebellious and think it is OK. Even for a saved person, we can fall into these traps and go astray.

[1] C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in The Chrionicles of Narnia, (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1998), 185.

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