Israel 2016

Israel 2016
Roman architectural influence in Bet Sean, Israel

Monday, February 27, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan for Feb 28, Dt 3-4

Today's readings are Dt 3-4.

The defeat of Og is described (Dt 3:1-10) in more detail than we saw in Num 21:33-35. We learn that Og was a powerful king, ruling over a large nation (Bashan). Apparently, he came from a race of giants, the Rephaim. The Rephaim is a group shrouded in some mystery. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word is used to describe them as giants at times (Dt 2:11; 1 Chron 20:4), as spirits of the dead at others (Is 24:14-19). Whether they were angelic beings or normal humans is unclear. If they were angelic, they have apparently been removed from god’s protection and blessing. Further conjecture is unproductive as the text reveals little more. What is apparent is that they were taller than average men. As such, we can surmise that Og was very tall, perhaps taller than nine feet and the last of his kind (Dt 3:11). His bed was huge, 19' x 10' and made of iron, a bed befitting a very big king.

Aside from having to deal with a clearly stated biblical truth--giants roamed the earth at one time--we learn a lesson about God. Even the most powerful people and nations cannot stand against God and His sovereign plan.

Og's land, Bashan, is given to the tribes who want to remain in the land East of the Jordan, as long as they continue to fight with the rest of Israel’s army in the invasion of Canaan (Dt 3:12-22). We see God's design for warfare in that the women and children are to stay behind in the captured cities while the men do battle (Dt 3:18-20). 
Israel's conquest of the Transjordan (the region east of the Jordan River)

Moses pleads to go into the Promised Land. It is interesting that, for the second time, Moses blames the people for his offense against God, instead of taking responsibility for his own actions (Dt 3:23-26).

This is hardly the type of behavior expected from a man of God! Yet, there can be some comfort in knowing that Moses had his weak moments. It doesn’t excuse Moses’s immature accusations and sometimes bad attitude, but, isn't it good to see that God uses ordinary, flawed people like you and me, to accomplish the work of His kingdom? When He works through our human frailty and weakness, as He did with Moses, He gets the glory, and we get the blessing!

Dt 4 tells us that God’s word is to be obeyed and is complete in and of itself. Man can neither add to it nor improve upon it nor should he try (Dt 4:2). It is a unique document in all of history and is marked by the wisdom of God Himself (Dt 4:4-9). How could we make it any better?

As a way of impressing upon His people the reverence they should have for His word, God reminds them of the remarkable manner in how they first received it (Dt 4:9-14). It came as “words from the fire,” a phrase that will be repeated again.  His word should be handed down from generation to generation, treated with respect and cared for as coming directly from Him to His chosen people as a teaching that will help them live lives that are centered on God.

As such, there should be no higher priority in their lives than their Father in heaven (Dt 4:15-31). Obeying His word and striving for its truth and beauty are outward acknowledgments, ongoing testimonies that He alone is God (Dt 4:32-40). God’s people should be walking, talking witnesses to His glory, living in a manner that reflects His mercy (Dt 4:41-43) and portrays His justice, holiness, and sovereignty over all creation, even those who don’t believe in Him (Dt 4:44-49).

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