Serving Jesus through discipleship

Archive for the month “March, 2012”

Capital Punishment

In reading Deuteronomy 21 – 23 today, it struck me how often the death penalty is prescribed. Many actions that were considered immoral were worthy of death. The rationale was so that the evil among the people of God may be purged from them. These “crimes” in twenty-first century America have become common place. Things like adultery, rape and homosexuality, which were punishable by death in ancient Israel are tolerated and even encouraged now. God knew that when sin is allowed to exist, it flourishes, sort of like a weed in the garden. If you don’t get rid of it immediately, soon it will take over.

I am not advocating capital punishment for these crimes. I am just pointing out what happens when sin is tolerated. As Christians we have tolerated sin, and now the sinners will not tolerate us. I don’t believe we can get back what we have lost. The only chance we have of returning to a “moral’ society is the conversion of sinners. The only way that can be accomplished is, as Paul says, “With gentleness and respect”. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to learn to evangelize sinners. This is the only was that this country can return to God’s standard.


Laws of Warfare?

I find it interesting that God gives the people a set of rules concerning warfare. They are not what you would think though. The rules are not only dictating how to fight a war, but who will fight the war.

The first thing God says is do not be afraid of the army that is greater than you (the Israelites). They are to remember that the LORD God is there to fight for them. God is requiring faith, but notice that it is not blind faith. The people have experienced the protection of God. They know He has intervened for them in the past. They must trust that He will keep His promise.

If a man has built a new house and has not dedicated it, he is to leave the battleground, return home and dedicate his house. Again they must have faith that God will fight the battle for them. The same is true for a man that has just planted a new vineyard. He shall not go to war until after he has tasted of its fruit. A man that is engaged to be married, there will be no war for him! And finally if there is a man who is afraid, relieve him also. The people fighting the war shall have complete faith in the LORD.

God wants to be involved in everything that the children do. And it is true with us also. God wants us to partner with Him to accomplish His ends. Many people want God to partner with them to accomplish their ends. Those people will be sadly disappointed.

The Sabbatic Year

It is interesting that God established a Sabbatic year; a year in which all debts would be forgiven. God promised that there would be no poor among the Israelites if they would only obey Him. Can you imagine loaning your friend something, even a large sum of money, and then forgiving that debt at the end of six years.

God knew what that would lead to. In Deuteronomy 15:9 He warns Israel “Beware there is no base thought in your heart, saying, ‘The seventh year, the year of remission is near’ and your eye is hostile toward you poor brother, and you give him nothing; then he may cry to the LORD against you, and it will be a sin in you.”

I think basically what God is saying is “Be generous, lend without thought of getting the object back. I will bless you so that you will lack in nothing.” I also think that is important for us today. We are to be generous. Everything we have belongs to God. We can’t keep it. But we can show people the love of God with everything that we possess. We are not under the law, but if we were, would we be more or less generous?

The Testing of the Lord

In Deuteronomy 13 we find Moses telling the Israelites that the Lord will test them to find out if they love the Lord with all their heart and all their soul. Doesn’t God know all things? He knows what is in a man’s heart, why does he have to test them?

I think He will test the Israelites for the same reason He tests us. He wants to know experientially, how we will respond. Just as important, we will know what is in our heart by examining our actions.

Moses was talking about the Lord testing them by having a prophet work signs and wonders to see if they would obey their God, or be led astray by the prophet. I think today, our tests are much more sinister. It doesn’t take a wonder to get us to stray from our God. In just one generation we have come from abhorring homosexuality to embracing it. Why? To be considered “modern” by our peers. Having a high moral standard is just too old fashioned. The same thing has happened with divorce and abortion in just two generations. The law of God has been subsided by our pleasure. Do we need to wonder how God will react?

The Graciousness of God

Why Does God Test His People?

When we go through a time of trial, we often cry out to God to relieve our suffering. Do you ever stop to think of why God allows the suffering to happen? We might be able to find the answer in Deuteronomy chapter 8. “You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD. … Thus you are to know in your heart that the LORD you God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son.”

We see that God tests His people to humble them. We are so prone to becoming puffed up, to think that when we have good fortune, we did something to deserve it. We have worked hard and the good fortune is the result of our work. What about the other times when we have worked hard and nothing came of it. God wants us to remember that all things come from Him. We are to rely on Him for our daily necessities as well as our wants. When we don’t get what we think we need, our heavenly father is disciplining us for taking Him for granted.

Every prayer list that I have seen is full of requests. We are constantly asking God to do something for us, heal our sickness, protect us while we travel, let us get that new job, or new car or new house. How many prayer lists have you seen that thank God for His many blessings, for the rain and the snow that clean the air, for the beautiful sunsets and sunrises, for the birth of a child? Maybe if we were more thankful, our blessings would be beyond what we could imagine.

The Commandment

Deuteronomy chapter 6 starts of “Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the LORD your God has commanded me to teach you …” In chapter 5 Moses recalled to the Israelites memory the ten commandments which God wrote on the tablets of stone. So why did He say this is the commandment? One commandment along with many statutes and judgments.

Jesus said it when asked “What is the greatest commandment?” Jesus’ reply and God’s commandment to Israel is, “You shall love the LORD you God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Then He goes on to say: “These words which I cam commanding you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them to your and 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 up.”

It is apparent that God wanted to constantly remain in Israel’s mind at all times. I believe he wants that from us as well. We see what that disobedience has done. Our nation has forgotten God! No! Our nation has rejected God. We have rejected the principals on which this country was founded. Think of all the things that we have substituted for God in our daily lives. Can we, as a nation, ever get back to God or is the road too hard?

“You shall love the LORD you God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

God’s Anger Toward Moses

My reading for today is Deuteronomy 3 and 4. What stood out most for me today is that once in chapter 3 and once in chapter 4 Moses tells the people that because of them, God is angry with him and would not let him cross over into the land.

It is true that Moses became frustrated and angry with the people Israel and the his frustration and anger precipitated his disobeying God. Still it was his sin! Moses was the one that chose to disobey God. IT sounds to me like Moses is blaming the people for his transgression. But isn’t that just like us. When we do something that we aren’t supposed to, we try to justify our actions by shifting the blame onto someone or something else. Adam and Eve did it in the Garden and mankind has been doing it ever since. God just wants us to admit that we are sinners, confess our sin and we will be forgiven.

We need to remember that even though we are forgiven, our sin still has consequences. Moses’ consequence is that he was not allowed to enter the promised land. We know that his sin did not separate him from God because god was still with him through the rest of the desert journey. We also know that Moses entered heaven because he was on the mount of transfiguration with Jesus and Elijah.

The Israelites wandered the desert for 40 years because they were disobedient. All of the disobedient people died in the desert. Moses didn’t get to enter the land because he was disobedient. The pattern that God punishes sin is evident. That is why we need a savior. That is why we need Jesus.

Reviewing God’s Provision

After defeating the Midianites, east of the Jordan, Moses recapped all that God had done for his people. Remember that the last time that Israel was in the position of getting ready to cross the Jordan, the spies that Moses sent into the land came back with a report that caused Israel to lose heart and grumble against God. God became angry at them because of their lack of faith and swore that none of them would enter the land. So the people wandered in the desert for 40 years until all of the people over 20 when they failed to obey the Lord were dead.

I believe that Moses retold the story of their journey was to ensure the people would remember that God had taken care of them all of their lives. That He had promised that He would give them the land, and that there would be negative consequences for disobedience.

It is the same today! We seem to have forgotten that God has taken care of us all of our lives. We seem to think that we have accomplished all the things that have made our lives better. We have come to rely on ourselves rather than God for our daily needs. As we Read Deuteronomy 1 we need to realize that God is our provider and that there are consequences for disobeying God. Remember the greatest commandment is “Love the Lord with all you heart, all your soul, all your strength and all your mind. In doing keeping this commandment, we will become humble and give God that glory that is His. Anything else is disobedience and will be dealt with.

It is good to daily remember what God has done for you, thank Him for His provision and pray for forgiveness for any ungratefulness.

The Cities of Refuge

It is interesting how the Lord provided safety to the person who might accidentally kill someone. First He specifies what murder is. In the case of murder there is no defense and the murderer shall forfeit his life. For the person that accidentally takes a life, He provides a way in which the manslayer may continue to live, at least until he stands trial before the congregation.

What I don’t understand is that the manslayer shall live in the city of refuge until the death of the high priest. At this time he shall return to the city of his possession. So, the manslayer lives in the city of refuge to be protected from the avenger of the person that he killed. I get that. But when the high priest dies, is he no longer protected? Is his victim’s avenger able to extract vengeance now? That isn’t what the text says, but what happens after that is undefined.

The Judgement of God

As the Israelites prepared to enter the land, God gave them a stern warning. “If you do not drive the inhabitants of the land, … as I plan to do to them so I will do to you.”

The Canaanites were being dispossessed because of their wicked ways. God’s plan was to punish these people and give the land to His chosen people, a people that were holy unto Him. To maintain their holiness, and because sin pollutes, God wanted His people to have nothing to do with the people being driven out. The Israelites were to drive them out completely. If God’s people failed to obey His command, He warned then that they would suffer the same punishment as the Canaanites.

Apparently God wanted the inhabitants of the land devoted to Him.

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