Friday, April 7, 2017

April 7: Deuteronomy 31 – 32:27; Psalm 78:32-55; Proverbs 12:21-23; Luke 12:8-34



Overview

            Deuteronomy: Moses tells Israel he is 120 years old and he will not go into the Promised Land but the Lord will go before them. Joshua will lead them and the Lord will defeat the inhabitants just as he did for Sihon and Og. Therefore, they are not to be afraid but be strong and courageous.
            Moses wrote the Law and gave it to the priests who carry the Ark of the Covenant. He commanded them to read the law to all of Israel every seven years when the remission of debt takes place. They are to read it at the Feast of Booths when all Israel assembles. This includes all aliens and children so that all will know and fear the Lord.
            The Lord tells Moses he is about to die. He is to come before the tent of meeting with Joshua so the Lord may commission him. He tells Moses that after he dies, the people will prosper and then go after other gods in the land. So Moses is to write a song that God will give him to be a witness against them when they do it. Moses wrote the song and taught it to Israel.
            The Lord then commissioned Joshua telling him to be strong and courageous and he would be with Joshua when he takes the people into the land.
            Moses finished writing he Law and gave it to the priests to put beside the Ark of the Covenant. It will be a witness against them because Moses says he knows they will rebel after his death. Israel is assembled and he spoke the words of the song.
            The song calls upon nature to hear the words. It proclaims the greatness of the Lord and his faithfulness. It says the people will become corrupt and act not like the Lord’s children. They are to consider the past when God gave them the nation and divided it. They became his people. God cared for them in the desert and guided them. No foreign gods helped him.
            But they grew fat and forsook the Lord sacrificing to demons and gods they never knew. The Lord saw it making him jealous. So the Lord will make them jealous with a foolish nation. God will punish Israel with fire, disaster, beasts, hunger, plagues, and pestilence. Their enemies will kill young and old but not wipe them out lest they think they were doing it and not the Lord.
            Psalm: Asaph continues his indictment of Israel. They continued in sin and disbelief. God made their lives miserable and they returned to him as their rock and redeemer. Then they only paid lip service to God but he was faithful and atoned for them instead of destroying them. He remembered they were but flesh. They continued to test him in the desert; they forgot about his power. They forgot all the plagues he brought upon Egypt, when he took them through the Red Sea, and drove out the nations before them.
            Proverbs: Nothing bad happens to righteous people but wicked people are always in trouble. God hates lying but delights in faithfulness. There are times when we should not tell everything we know like a fool who babbles everything.
            Luke: Jesus continues to teach the crowds. He explains that he will acknowledge before the Father those who confess him and reject those who reject him. A person can speak ill of Jesus and be forgiven but can’t blaspheme against the Holy Spirit and be forgiven.
            When put on trial for Jesus, the Holy Spirit will give you what to say so don’t worry about it.
            Someone asked Jesus to tell his bother to divide his inheritance with him. Jesus responds by telling a parable about a man who had much. He built barns to store it so he could retire and enjoy it for many years. Instead, God calls him a fool because he will die prematurely. He is a fool because he is storing up for himself but isn’t rich toward God.
            Jesus tells his disciples not to be anxious about their needs for food or clothing. God feeds birds and clothes flowers, which are burned up the next day. How much more will God take care of you? God know you need these things. So seek his kingdom and he will provide these needs.
            Don’t be afraid because God is giving you the kingdom. Sell your stuff and give to the needy. This will provide treasures in heaven that will not perish. Where your treasure is, there is where heart will be also.

What Stood Out

            Deuteronomy: “So I will make them jealous with those who are no people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation” (Deut 32:21).
            Psalm: “He remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that passes and comes not again” (Ps 78:39).
            Proverbs: “No ill befalls the righteous” (Prov 12:21).
            Luke: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Luke 12:34).

Insight

            Deuteronomy: God knows exactly what is going to happen in the future. There are no maybes with him. He explains again that Israel will abandon the Lord and seek other gods. It comes when they prosper, not when they are in distress. However, at the beginning of the song that the Lord gave Moses is an interesting prediction that is easy to overlook unless you are a Gentile. In Deuteronomy 32:21, the Lord says he will make Israel jealous by some unknown people, a foolish nation.
            That is us! We are the nation that God described. One of the reasons that God has brought Gentiles into his family is to make Jews jealous of our relationship with him. It’s not the only reason, but it seems to be the craziest one I’ve ever seen. Paul brings this up in Romans 10:19 and then explains that God hasn’t given up on Israel. He tells us that if Israel’s rebellion means salvation for the rest of mankind, how much more will the world be blessed when Israel is brought back into God’s family.
            We owe our very salvation to Israel. God’s entire plan is being fulfilled and part of it was taking care of Israel even though they were rebellious. He made sure that even when Jesus came they would still reject him so that he would be crucified for our sins and bring salvation for us and for any who would turn to him. Praise the Lord.
            Psalm: God’s compassion and restraint against sinful mankind is demonstrated in this Psalm. Israel is a picture of what all of mankind has done in testing God and going after idols, rebelling and sinning. Yet in the middle of all this, God atones for our sins. He is the one that atones because we can’t atone for ourselves. Only Jesus is sinless and can be the atoning sacrifice for us (1 John 2:2).
            God isn’t expecting superhuman things from us. He knows that we are made of flesh and our lives are brief (Ps 78:39). He compares our brief lives on earth to the flowers of the field that last only a few days (Ps 103:15). When the wind blows, they are scattered. We should think more about how fragile we are. If you look at a twisted car after a wreck, it’s a wonder that anyone can survive. When a landslide occurs, we are totally helpless. This should give us reason to turn to God because he is superhuman. He determines the lengths of our lives and we should be thankful for every day he gives us. For the unbeliever, it is another day to find salvation in him. For the Christian it is another day to honor and glorify him in obedience and love until he calls us home. It is a day to witness to his goodness and salvation.
            Proverbs: I’m quite sure that many people scratch their heads over different proverbs. Today’s is no exception. “No ill befalls the righteous” (Prov 12:21). What do you mean? Is God saying a righteous person never has anything bad happen to him? That’s what some prosperity preachers claim. That means that if anything “bad” happens, it is a result of their sin. God is punishing them. God is up there ready to thump a person who sins because we know that a righteous person never has anything bad happen to them.
            How do we reconcile this? The definition of a proverb helps: “In the early stages of social intellectual growth, when men begin to observe and generalize on the facts of human life, they clothe the results of observation in the form of short and pithy sentences.”[1] We must always remember that a proverb is a generalization not an absolute. It isn’t trying to make a hard and fast rule with no exceptions since it is short and pithy. This doesn’t mean that there are no absolute truths or that the Bible is contradictory.
            The other way to reconcile this particular proverb is to look at the rest of Scripture. One verse will suffice though others agree. Jesus said that some people will be persecuted for righteousness’ sake (Matt 5:10). We can’t ignore Jesus’ teaching. He says they will be blessed because of it. The translation is that what we consider ill, God often considers a blessing. What we think is bad is often for our good (Rom 8:28). From a human perspective, we think Proverbs 12:21 is often false, but from God’s perspective, it is always true. We need to think more like God does.
            Luke: Pastor Bob Morehead told a story of a man who passed by his church while it was under construction. He wanted to donate a considerable sum to the project even though he had never attended the church. The man started attending regularly. He was asked why he was attending because he didn’t confess faith in Jesus. He said he wanted to see how his money was being used. He eventually did confess faith in Jesus.
            This is a good example of what Jesus was talking about when he said our hearts will be where our treasure is. The man who built his barn to store his treasure wanted it all for himself. He had no regard for others, just his own pleasure. God called him a fool. Jesus related taking care of the needy with storing treasures in heaven. If we are really seeking God’s kingdom, then we should be able to determine how much we believe this by looking at our finances. I’m not going to say how much should be given to the church and how much should be given to the poor. Neither will I say how much should be spent on food, clothing, and housing. That would turn it into legalism and be just like the Pharisees. Simply look at your finances and let them tell you where your heart is.

Application

            God demonstrates his care for us in these readings. All he wants is for us to love and obey him. He wants me to seek his kingdom first. In gratitude for his salvation and love of him for who is as well as what he has done, I need to seek his kingdom more.


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

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