Saturday, 15 March 2014

(75) March 16: Deuteronomy 26-27 & Mark 15:1-26

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­­
As you read consider how conviction that God would give the land is expressed.

To ponder:
Moses sermon(s) stretches from chapter 5 to 26. Here it expresses utter certainty in God’s promise. We can talk of “when” we receive our inheritance in the same way.
            To mark the possession and settling of the “inheritance,” at the first harvest (and possibly every subsequent feast of Weeks/Pentecost) the firstfruits are to be taken to the tabernacle at “the place” God chooses. The Israelite is to recite given words, declaring to God before the priest that the LORD has brought him to the promised land, and recounting the miracle of how God created and redeemed such a great nation from Jacob - the “wandering Aramean.” The point is that Israel now have a fixed home! The Israelite is then to bow down as he lays the basket “before” the LORD. His household, the Levites and any aliens, should then rejoice in all God had given with a feast. When giving his tithe to the Levite, alien, fatherless and widow in the third year, he is to say to God that he has done this according to his commands, praying God would bless his people in the land from his real “dwelling-place” in heaven. Likewise, preaching to ourselves (and celebrating) our own story of redemption in Christ, keeps us thankful and full of faith.
            The sermon ends with a call to obey, and an affirmation of the covenant: The people have declared the LORD is their God and they will “walk” in his ways; and he has declared they are “his people” and “treasured possession,” that they are to “keep his commands,” and that they will be regarded more highly than any nation and be holy and so set-apart to the LORD. Peter declares these same things whilst reciting how God has redeemed us (1 Pet 2v9-10). And this is the basis for his call that we “abstain from sinful desires” and “live such good lives amongst the pagans” that they come to “glorify God” – ie. regard us highly to his credit. So our obedience is no less important.
            Moses and the elders now command the people to mark the beginning of their life in the land by setting up some stones on Mount Ebal, coating them in plaster and writing the law on them. This may have been the Ten Commandments, the whole book, or just the curses that follow. They are also to make an altar there, offer burnt offerings (for unintentional sin), sacrifice fellowship offerings (marking the peace achieved with God), and eating with joy “in God’s presence.” The sense is that the burnt offerings atone for sins against the laws written on the stones. As our sacrifice, Christ actually embodied the law, making full atonement so we could have fellowship and joy with God.
            Moses and the priests then silence Israel, affirming the need to obey now they are God’s people. Moses also commands that in the centre of the land the tribes are to be split between Mount Gerizim - to bless the people, and Mount Ebal - to curse them. The blessings are not recorded here. The curses to be spoken by the Levites seem to stress sins reflecting God’s main concerns: ie. idolatry, dishonouring parents, stealing people’s inheritance, abusing the needy, withholding justice, sexual immorality, and murder. The promise of curse is of God’s judgement even for “secret” sins (27v15,24), implying direct action from him against those whose sins are not found out by the people. By crying “Amen” to each, the people effectively accept the terms of the covenant. The NT also affirms severe punishment to those who keep sinning having received the gospel and taken their place in the church, for “the LORD will judge his people” (Heb 10v26-31).

Praying it home:
Thank God that our inheritance is so certain we can talk about it as ours, and ponder what will be “when” there. Pray that you and Christians you know would live such good lives that others come to glorify God.

Thinking further:
None today.

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