Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Railroad tracks near our place in Bannalec

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan for Mar 8, Dt 28-29

Today's readings are Dt 28-29.

The last few chapters have dictated the guidelines for holiness and holy living among God's people. We should avoid making them into strict, situationally precise regulations, but see them as godly principals that can be applied to a wide variety of circumstances.  

For instance, Dt 24:20 says, "When you beat your olive trees you shall not go over them again. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless and the widow." This is not a gardening guideline that pertains only to olive trees. It is an admonition not to exhaust your resources on yourself but to use some of them to help the needy. It's a warning against stinginess and a reminder that God's people have been delivered from being slaves who lived in circumstances where everything they had, including themselves, belonged to someone else. The judges appointed in each of the towns would use this rule and the others like it as examples of how the law should be applied in a wide variety of circumstances.

In summary, we see that there are great blessings for obedience and great curses for rebellion. The blessings are awesome! The curses are devastating! Understanding the laws as examples helps us to see that obedience will be measured by the spirit of the law rather than by the letter. Likewise, disobedience will be determined by the attitude of the heart, not by technically conforming to a statute.  Neither will disobedience be excused by slipping through some imagined loophole. In the final analysis, it all gets down to the heart. Does it want to please God or itself?

What we will see, as we move forward, is that Israel is utterly incapable of being obedient to all the laws and statutes stated in these chapters. Indeed, because of their inability to obey, the curses fall upon them, time and again.

We should see this also: regardless of their disobedience, God sends redemption and exhibits His grace. Ultimately, as faithless as Israel is, God fulfills His promise and sends the Redeemer. That redeemer comes bringing the gift of salvation to those who stumble and fail at being holy. This gift is a perfect image of His grace.

Oh, the magnitude of God's grace! Oh, how it applies to you and me! God does not seek our perfection. He only seeks our desire to please Him, even when we fail.

The key verses in all this are found in Dt 29:18-20. These verses tell us that our hearts must be right before God to receive His fullest blessing, provision, and protection. We cannot appropriate them if we have hearts that are self-centered and self-righteous, claiming privilege and entitlement regardless of what we do or say. God wants a people who "hunger and thirst for righteousness." He will bless those who do! He does not demand perfection from us—but, He does require that we strive to lead holy, Christ-centered lives.

We see only a shadow of all this in Deuteronomy. God is laying a foundation for His plan of redemption. What the Jews know is this, there are worldly and practical consequences for disobeying God. There are blessings for obedience.

Ultimately, what God reveals about Himself in these guidelines is that His paramount blessing will come from obedience to acknowledging His only Son as Savior and Lord. Disobedience that that most crucial of all guidelines will result in the harshest of all punishments, eternal torment. God is laying the foundation for this teaching in this early part of the Bible. The civil/moral/sacred guidelines we see here are a portent of the ultimate eternal guidelines we see in Christ. 

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