Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Arc de Triumph

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan for Mar 9, Dt 30-31

Today's readings are Dt 30-31.

After receiving a stern warning against falling away from God and His commandments in Dt 29:16-29, Israel hears that there is a remedy for rebellion. It is described in Dt 30:1-10—confession and repentance. Dt 30:11-20 makes it crystal clear that heartfelt confession and turning away from evil will net God’s blessing. Again, we get a glimpse of God’s ultimate and perfect plan of redemption. Those who turn toward Him and confess their sins with a contrite heart will receive His greatest blessing, eternal life. Those who refuse to do so will receive His strongest curse, eternal condemnation. However, these chapters in Deuteronomy are not the plan in its perfection. They are God’s temporal provision for His people for this time in their history. Nonetheless, we learn another valuable lesson about how God functions in His relationship with His children; confession and repentance bring blessing.

God prescribes a periodic reading of the Law in Dt 31:9-13. The Law is an ever-present reminder of the call to holiness and the Jews' long history of struggle with God's commandments. It is also an ongoing and powerful reminder of His faithfulness and grace. 

Immediately prior to their entry into Canaan, Israel receives a new leader, Joshua, and a song, The Song of Moses (Dt 31:14-28). The change in leadership indicates that God is their primary leader, although He appoints godly men to work through. The people God chooses to lead are neither perfect nor permanent. That they age and die proves them to be human and are not to be venerated as anything more. That they lead shows that God uses human vessels through which He accomplishes His work. Their human frailty and imperfection is an ongoing reminder that His people are dependent upon God and no one else. The song God gives, as are all songs given by God, is designed to be a simple way to for them to recall their history, memorializing their sin and His grace.   

Why does Israel continue to fall away? We are learning that it is impossible for them to be obedient. Their humanness incessantly causes them to take God for granted, pursue their own self-interests, rebel against His laws and, generally, fail at every chance they get to become the holy representatives of God they want to be. 

In the final analysis, Israel, like us, is entirely dependent on God's grace rather than their own capability to live perfect lives. God consistently shows them His grace. It is becoming more evident with each stumble they endure, that the grace the Jews receive is not because of who they are, but because of who God is.

The strength the Jews possess is not in their own capability. Their ability to lead holy lives invariably fails them. Their most spiritual attribute is on display whenever they repent and turn back toward God. Their recognition of their own sin and their remorse over it is what God uses to refine them and bless them. 

That's what God wants from His people - a desire for holiness. As we watch the Jews struggle with their desire to please God and the tension it produces with their desire to please themselves, we gain an appreciation for their tenacity. But, we also begin to develop an appreciation for the grace of God.

The Jews need it, and so do we. 

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