Grants

The LORD grants his people perfect rest through Jesus Christ

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Read: Deuteronomy 28

The LORD will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven. (Deuteronomy 28:7)

Reflect:

The thing about Bible reading is that the more you do it, the more you get out of it. Even a simple, short passage like this single verse has more to it than a surface reading would suggest.

The basic interpretation is that the LORD would ensure that Israel’s enemies will be defeated, as the first sentence states clearly. From the second sentence, the enemies would approach from one direction, but after they are defeated they would scatter:

from one direction = unity, cohesion
flee … in seven = disunity, disarray

There’s a bit more depth here; though it takes careful reading and biblical thinking to see it. It has to do with significant numbers in the Bible story. The word seven becomes, through the course of the Bible, shorthand for the seventh day of creation. On the seventh day God rested from the work of creating. Upon this seventh day pattern, God ordained sabbath rest for all his people.

seven (7) = sabbath; perfect completion, peace, rest, no work

So, while the enemies approach together and leave scattered, the more important concept here is that God will grant his people sabbath rest from their enemies. This is rest from work, rest from the struggle to achieve, rest from the battle to overcome. Far more than the temporary amelioration of hostilities, this is true, eternal rest.

So what’s the Jesus connection? It is Jesus Christ who grants this true and complete rest from our enemies: from Satan and his demons, from our past sins, from our character flaws, from our sinful nature. It is Jesus who grants rest from the battle with our enemies, within and without. It is Jesus who grants rest from the struggle to win our own salvation, because he provides it for us.

crux:

The LORD grants his people perfect rest through Jesus Christ.

Respond:

LORD God Almighty,

You are a good, good God. You are a good, good Father. This is who you are.

You take great delight in granting good things to your people who are called by the Name of your Son Jesus Christ, the Christians. We are your new covenant people, the people redeemed and rescued by your only Son Jesus, whom you sent to die in our place.

LORD, you saved me from out of the clutches of the enemy Satan, that liar and deceiver. He fled before me because you drove him away. You have kept me safe, LORD, and you have granted me the sweet restoration and refreshment of fellowship with your people in Wichita, in Indianapolis and now here in Toronto.

LORD, may I long abide in the peace you have granted to me. Keep me safe from my enemies. Keep me safe because Jesus has defeated sin and death so I have nothing to fear. Make me a hope dealer.

Amen.

Law

The LORD gave his people laws so they would live rightly

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.

Religion

Jewish religion is fulfilled by Jesus, God with us

Read: Matthew 12

“I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would have not condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” (Matthew 12:6-8)

Reflect:

Jesus is greater than the temple. Up until this time, the temple was the symbolic dwelling place of God, the ritual meeting place of God with his people. But now: Immanuel! God was with his people in person.

Again, Jesus hints at his identity with a reference to Hosea 6:6, which calls God’s people to acknowledge him. It is God whose presence makes the temple great, not the other way around.

Jesus is greater than the Sabbath. He is Lord of the Sabbath, in authority over it. At this time, the Sabbath had become not so much a designated period of rest but a time to be cautious of all that was forbidden on that day. But now: Immanuel! God, who instituted the Sabbath at the time of creation, was with his people.

Jesus was able to establish “it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath” (12:12). If the Pharisees acknowledged God as Hosea and Jesus admonished them to, they would not condemn people innocent of wrongdoing, people who did good on the Sabbath. They too would find their rest and peace in Jesus.

crux:

Jewish religion (both place and practice) is fulfilled by Jesus, God with us.

Respond:

LORD God Almighty,

You designed the temple and provided the materials and the skilful, Spirit-filled workers to build it. You ensured the tabernacle erected in Moses’ time would be replaced by the temple Solomon caused to be built. You brought Ezra, Nehemiah, Zechariah, Joshua and Zerubbabel back from exile to rebuild a temple for your glorious name. You even used Herod, an ungodly Idumean, to redecorate your temple and make it shine with gold.

Yet all this was just building up to the time when your Son Jesus Christ would dwell in the Promised Land, when he would talk face-to-face with your chosen people, when he would bring joy and healing with his very presence.

LORD, help me to feel this same joy. You know I am tired today, but my physical weakness has no bearing on my spiritual strength.

Help me to focus on Jesus and all he has done and won for me: my election and regeneration, my justification and adoption, the indwelling of the Spirit within me and my new life in Christ, my sanctification and the glorification for which I look forward with hope. These are true treasures, far greater than the temple.

Amen.