Today’s Bible reading: Deuteronomy 18-20:20; Luke 9:28-50; Psalm 73:1-28; Proverbs 12:10
Today we being our readings for the month of April. That means that we are 25% of the way through the Bible. The year is flying by.
God gives very specific warnings to Israel about occult practices in Deuteronomy 18 today. Remember, God warns because God loves and God knows. God loves us deeply. But He also knows us and knows what is best for us. After all, He designed us. He won’t control us. So we can choose our behavior. We can choose to heed Gods warnings or not. Heeding the warnings will make life better. Rejecting the warnings will make life worse.
In Deuteronomy 18:10-11 God lists several practices that are forbidden. The first is sacrificing children. Back then unwanted children were burned alive on a metal statue of the false god Molech. The child was tied to the statue then a fire was lit around the metal statue causing it to get hot and burn the child alive. Our modern day equivalent is abortion. Both practices are based on selfishness and are nothing but murder.
Notice that such behavior is on par with occult practices and are abominations. Anyone who engages in witchcraft, or consults stars (astrology), or is a psychic (or fortune teller), or who uses drugs to alter states of consciousness, calls up the dead (necromancy), or is a medium (stands between life and death) is detestable to God. Doing these things is, from God’s perspective, no different than murdering your child.
God promises a prophet in the future who will, like Moses, be a regular guy (Deuteronomy 18:15) from among Israel. The people will be amazed at His teaching (Deuteronomy 18:15) because this prophet will speak the words of God (Deuteronomy 18:18). This is one of many prophetic passages in the Old Testament about Jesus.
But there will be many people who come along claiming to be prophets. God did raise up other prophets before Jesus as we will read throughout the rest of the Old Testament. How was Israel to know who were the real prophets as opposed to being fake? Simple. If what they said came true, they were from God because only God can know and control the future (Deuteronomy 18:15-19)
Deuteronomy 19 discusses cities of refuge – places to which people can run to escape punishment for committing manslaughter. These cities of refuge also point to Jesus and are synonymous with Him. These cities were open to everyone, just like Jesus. People lived in these cities, just as we live our lives “in” Christ. These cities were the only way to escape punishment. Jesus is the only way to escape hell.
In Luke 9:28-36 we read of the transfiguration of Jesus. This was not a miracle. This was the temporary cessation of a miracle – the miracle was that Jesus came from heaven and clothed Himself in a human body concealing His glory. On the mountaintop in today’s reading Jesus temporarily shed His human container to reveal who He really was. What an amazingly cool experience for Peter, James, and John.
Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus on the mountaintop (Luke 9:30). Moses represents those who die and go to heaven. Elijah represents those who do not die but go to heaven. We’ll read more about Elijah later this year. We’ll also read about the Rapture – the point in time where God removes all living believers from the earth and takes them to heaven. Of course, this is dependent on the Rapture not happening before then 🙂
Its interesting to read what they spoke about. They were discussing Jesus’s upcoming crucifixion (Luke 9:31). I’m just speculating but perhaps both Moses and Elijah were encouraging Jesus and offering Him their support.
Jesus heals a boy possessed by a demon in Luke 9:37-43. I’m sure there are people in our world today who are possessed by demons but who are instead diagnosed with a mental illness. It’s interesting that the disciples could not cast out the demon. In Matthew 17 Jesus explained why. Some demons are stronger than others. The reason that the disciples could not cast out this particular demon was that it was too strong for them. They were not close enough yet, in spirit, to God. Getting closer to God comes through prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:21).
Notice how everyone marvels at Jesus’s healing power (Luke 9:43) but Jesus brings everyone back down to earth by reminding them that His mission is not to heal people physically but to heal them spiritually (Luke 9:44). It’s great to be healed of an illness while living. But regardless, we all die someday of something. Our biggest problem is sin, not demon possession, or cancer, or AIDS. Our biggest problem is that our sin requires us to be separated from God for all eternity. That is the problem God came to solve when He came to earth as Jesus. He came to die as payment for the penalty for our sin. When in the grave for 3 days, Jesus was separated from God on our behalf so we don’t have to be.
I found it interesting that the disciples did not understand what Jesus was talking about but where afraid to ask Him (Luke 9:45). How often is this true of us? Rather than risk looking stupid we just don’t bother obtaining the information we need. How true is this of people who don’t believe. They don’t understand yet are unwilling to spend time learning.
In Luke 9:46 the disciples begin to argue about which of them will be Jesus’s “vice president”. They still did not understand that He did not come to overthrow Rome and reign on earth.
The meaning of Luke 9;48 is lost on us today. Back then children were worthless in society. They were considered property. Adults were considered much more valuable than children and would not be seen associating with them. So when Jesus says that “whoever welcomes a little child” He is telling everyone that they need to humble themselves in order to be with Him. Associating oneself with someone who is considered an outcast by society is a sign of humility. It is a way of saying that you (we) are no better (or worse) than that person.
Think of how thrilled a child would have been back then to have been noticed instead of being ignored. To be treated well instead of poorly. What a sense of worth that child would acquire through actions such as those. That is the same excitement we should have when we realize that God wants to be with us. The God of the universe, who created all things including us, wants to be with us. He has not shunned us even though He easily could have. Instead He recognizes us and gives us worth.
Psalm 73 is another Psalm that convicts me and to which I return often. There are many people who achieve wealth and success according to the world’s standard and it is easy, for me at least, to envy them. Things seem to go so easy for them (Psalm 73:4–7).
I often wonder why I bother trying to keep living a life according to God’s will. Sometimes it just seems to bring pain and trouble. (Psalm 73:13-14).
But when I think this way my outlook is too short-term. Such people, who live on earth without God, will live without Him for eternity (Psalms 73:17-18). Then I realize how foolish it is to have thought this way and am quite embarrassed before God (Psalms 73:21-23).
I belong to God. I have His wisdom guiding me. I have a home in heaven waiting for me due to His mercy and grace. There is nothing more valuable than that here on earth (Psalms 73:25).
Not only does God care for human beings, but He cares for animals. When we take care of animals (or anything on this earth, for that matter) we are honoring God (Proverbs 12:10). God has made us the stewards of His creation. We are to take care of the earth and all that is on it. We should not treat anything cruelly.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post