Law

The LORD gave his people laws so they would live rightly

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Read: Deuteronomy 5

Moses summoned all Israel and said:
Hear, Israel, the decrees and laws I declare in your hearing today, Learn them and be sure to follow them. The LORD our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. (Deuteronomy 5:1-2)

Reflect:

As Moses begins his second sermon, having described the events and the God which brought the people to the edge of the promised land, he turns to the topic of the Israelites’ lives and behaviour once they enter this promised land. The LORD had made a covenant with Israel at Horeb, and that covenant needed to be kept in the promised land as in the desert.

The law Moses now expounds (in very similar words to Exodus 20) can be divided into two categories: the peoples’ relationship with the LORD their God (5:6-15) and the peoples’ relationships with each other (5:16-21, with a small mention of relationships with servants in 5:14 with respect to the Sabbath observance).

Actually, this is an interesting difference, because here in 5:14 the law is explained. The Sabbath was given so that they and their servants might rest. This is why Jesus Christ maintained that it was lawful to do good on the Sabbath, even if that took effort (Matthew 12:12), because the Sabbath was made for man and not vice versa (Mark 2:27).

crux:

The LORD gave his people laws so they could live rightly with him and with each other in the promised land.

Respond:

LORD God Almighty,

You are God. By definition, by your very identify you are Creator and Controller, law maker and righteous law-keeper. You are just and merciful, holy and kind.

Thank you for giving your people rules to live by for a relationship with you. And than you for providing a way for us to be forgiven and reconciled to you when, inevitably, we broke your rules.

Thank you that these ten commandments still instruct us today. They may no longer demand obedience because Jesus fulfilled the law completely on our behalf. But they do tell me that you care about the way I pursue a relationship with you; you care about the way I treat other people. Thank you for showing me a better way to live my life, a way to love you and love others, by caring about your glory and their good.

Please help me to love you totally and to love my neighbours well. Thank you that I was able to love my son well today.

Amen.

Winner

The LORD wins every battle he fights

Read: Deuteronomy 2

“Today you are to pass by the region of Moab in Ar. … I have given it as a possession to the descendants of Lot.” (That too was considered a land of the Rephaites, who used to live there; … They were a people strong and numerous, and as tall as the Anakites. The LORD destroyed them from before the Ammonites, who drove them out and settled in their place.) (Deuteronomy 2:18, 19b-20a, 21)

Reflect:

It must have been encouraging to the people to hear that the Ammonites had driven out the people “as tall as Anakites” from Ar before settling there. If the Ammonites could do it – or rather, if the LORD would do it for the Ammonites – surely the Israelites had nothing to fear as they entered their promised land.

Their parents may have feared Anakites 40 years ago, (Numbers 13:31-33) but Moses reassured them this day. If God could choose to establish Esau and Lot’s descendants in lands of their own, they could trust the LORD to establish them in their own land, Anakites or no!

Then Moses went on to remind them of their defeat of Sihon, erstwhile king of Heshbon. Again, if God would give them power to defeat Sihon’s army, surely he would do the same for any remaining opposition as they conquered the rest of the land he had promised to them.

crux:

The LORD wins every battle he fights.

Reflect:

LORD God Almighty,

You are strong and powerful, a mighty warrior who fights to provide your people with the blessings you have promised to them.

Thank you for fighting for me so I may enter your promised land of rest and provision, bounty and flourishing, the kingdom of your Son.

LORD, sometimes I am tempted to forget that you are strong, to forget that you are mighty. Please help me, in those times, to look back on the many ways you have fought for my benefit in the past. Please help me to recall that what you have begun in me, you will carry on to completion. Please help me to recognise the way you have blessed others and delight in your provision for them, as well as seeking your blessing for myself.

Thank you that in answer to our prayers, you brought A to KYB today. Please continue to comfort her by your Spirit, to uphold her in your love and to forgive her by the blood of your Son.

Amen.

Recount

The LORD’s plans prevail even when his people fail

Read: Deuteronomy 1

In the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses proclaimed to the Israelites all that the LORD had commanded him concerning them. (Deuteronomy 1:3)

Because of you the LORD became angry with me also and said, “You shall not enter it, either.” (Deuteronomy 1:37)

Reflect:

In Deuteronomy, Moses is recorded giving a series of sermons. I think I’ve read that there are five, but there isn’t total agreement about where each sermon begins or ends. My Bible translation (NIV 2011) does not include speech marks because the quotations are too extensive, basically being the whole book. Instead, the beginning of Moses’ first sermon is delineated with a line break.

Moses preaches these sermons before the people enter the promised land. It seems Moses’s first sermon is not chronological, but categorical in its order. He begins by recounting the major events that have brought the people to this place:

  1. God told them to leave Mt Horeb (aka Mt Sinai) and go to the promised land.
  2. Moses decided the people were “too heavy a burden for me to carry alone” (1:9) so leaders of the twelve tribes were appointed. He apparently gave no thought to the fact that God was actually carrying the burden for him. This may relate to Exodus 18:25-26, which is recorded before Moses received the law and the people left Mt Horeb.
  3. The people reached the edge of the promised land.
  4. The people asked to send spies into the land so (in similar style to point 2) twelve spies were appointed by Moses, including Caleb.
  5. The people refused to go into the promised land, grumbling in fear, despite Moses’ reassurance.
  6. The LORD refused to let Israel into the promised land.
  7. Moses blames the people because the LORD won’t let him enter the Promised Land either (even though his own disobedience was to blame, Numbers 20:6-12; again, this event is out of chronological order, but fits with a prior category topic).
  8. The people are told by the LORD to wander for 40 years.
  9. The people unsuccessfully attempt to enter the promised land and weep before the LORD.
  10. The people wander for 40 years.

This story makes me think of God’s steadfast faithfulness as he patiently waits for me to repent and fall in with his plan.

crux:

The LORD’s plans prevail even when his people fail.

Respond:

LORD God Almighty,

Your people failed you when they refused to enter the Promised Land because they were afraid; but your plans to teach them to trust you prevailed as they wandered in the desert and ultimately as the disciples learned to trust Jesus.

Moses failed you when he struck the rock twice, dishonouring you and your miraculous provision; but your plan to be the only sovereign authority of your people prevailed with Moses’ death and ultimately with Jesus’ birth.

I have failed you many times; yet your plan to rescue me from my sins and reign as Lord over my life has prevailed with the resurrection of Jesus and the coming of your Holy Spirit.

Your plans prevail because you are in charge of the universe. Sometimes, this means your people face your judgement. Thank you for Jesus, who has faced your wrath for my sake.

Amen.