Today’s Bible reading: Deuteronomy 5-6:25; Luke 7:11-35; Psalm 68:19-35; Proverbs 11:29-31
In Deuteronomy 5 Moses reminds the people of the covenant (agreement) God made with them at Mount Sinai. Like any agreement, both parties (in this case God and Israel) promised to do certain things. This agreement was not made with the people who were currently alive but with their ancestors. Nevertheless, God’s promises were still binding and He would continue to fulfill them with this current generation and subsequent generations (Deuteronomy 5:3).
The Ten Commandments are repeated in this chapter after having been originally given in Exodus 20.
The point of God’s commands for us is not so He can control us. He could control us by His inherent power if He wanted to. No, God’s commands for us are for our benefit (Deuteronomy 5:29, 6:3). If we follow them things will go well for us. If we don’t, then they won’t. It’s pretty simple in concept. The hard part is keeping God’s commands. We don’t because we are sinful. That is why we need a savior.
God tells Israel the way to keep the commands He has given them is to repeat them over and over (Deuteronomy 5:7-9). The word “repeat” is bit vague here and I think that is intentional. Repeat can mean to either tell them to ourselves over and over in our mind or aloud. But it can also mean to do them over and over in practice. I think both are necessary. We need to meditate on God’s word (this is a common theme throughout the Bible) but we also have to intentionally do the things God tells us. They aren’t going to just happen. These are things that go against our sinful nature. We have to make them happen.
Notice too that we are to teach them to our children. I spend a lot of time around high school kids. From what I can tell it seems that the values God has tried to teach us have all but been extinguished in this generation. Although I was an atheist at their age I can recall that back then at least there was some attempt by most people to live lives that adhered to God’s values even if the values themselves were not attributed to God. But now, just one generation later, these values are almost nowhere to be found and are even mocked. It’s very scary how fast our society has crumbled.
When asked what the most important commandment was Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:5 “Love the Lord your God with all your heat, all your soul, and all your strength”.
God knows the future and He knows how frail our will power is and how strong is the sin that is within us. So He is constantly warning us and Deuteronomy 6:14 is a good example. He knew that it would be tempting for Israel to worship the gods of the people they were conquering. Sure enough, as we will see, Israel gives in to these temptations and falls away from the true God. We need to see God’s commands as warnings from a loving, caring Father and not as nagging demands from someone who is a control-freak.
Jesus shows His compassion for us human beings and our struggles on this earth in Luke 7:12-15. The only son of a widow had died. This put the woman in a very troublesome situation as, without a husband or a son to take care of her, her future would be nothing but poverty. So Jesus raised the boyfrom the dead and gave him back to his mother. God is not just interested in our eternity. He is also interested in what is happening here on earth. After all, earth is just as much a part of our existence as is eternity. We are eternal beings and may spend much less time here on earth. But that doesn’t make our present circumstances any less important to God.
When we are in discouraging situations it is easy to lose sight of Jesus. This precisely what happened to John the Baptist in Luke 7:18-23. John was in prison at this time and was apparently doubting that Jesus was the Messiah. But our circumstances never change who God is.
Yet John the Baptist was correct about Jesus all along even though he may now have doubts. John was given a very special place in history. He is the only prophet who was prophesied about. This was in Malachi 3:1 which Jesus quotes in Luke 7:27. But the Pharisees, who should have known the Old Testament better than anyone, had rejected John’s message. So Jesus compares them to selfish children who want others to behave according to their expectations (Luke 7:31-32). The religious leaders didn’t approve of John (Luke 7:33) nor Jesus (Luke 7:34). But Jesus confirms that what is right is verified by the changed lives of those who are followers of Him (Luke 7:35).
Psalm 68 continues today. This Psalm celebrates the victories that God gives us in our lives. It is God who bears our burdens (Psalm 68:19) and rescues us from being consumed by our enemies (Psalm 68:20). Note that this Psalm refers to human enemies of Israel at the time but today can refer to any enemy whether human or spiritual.
God is always on the side of the weak being oppressed by the strong. When the weak cry out to God He will hear and come to their rescue and in the process humble the oppressors (Psalm 68:28-31). For this reason we should praise Him and tell everyone how awesome He is (Psalm 68:33-35).
Proverbs 11:29 tells us that someone who creates trouble in their own family will inherit the wind (i.e. nothing). But someone who lives a life according to God’s will (as best he or she can) will create future generations of wise people (Proverbs 11:30) who are filled with life.
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