Monthly Archives: January 2013

Deuteronomy 30: We Have the Information

I read the Bible through about three years ago, but I have to admit that I did not remember anything special about Deuteronomy 30. I wish I had because I think I just found some of my favorite Bible verses.

Deu 30:10  If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.

Deu 30:11  For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.

Deu 30:12  It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?

Deu 30:13  Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?

Deu 30:14  But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.

Deu 30:15  See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil;

The reason that I love this passage so much is because it speaks to one of the biggest misconceptions about Christianity.

God tells us everything we need to know to make a decision. We know the truth about Jesus, we know what He came to do and we know what our response needs to be.

We are not operating with incomplete information. Yes, there are certain things that are hard to wrap our heads around. For example, we know that God is an infinite being, but we really cannot comprehend infinity. In our world, everything has a definite beginning and end. It is hard to think about something that is defined as being undefined.

It is even hard to comprehend the concept of the Trinity. We know that there is a Father, Son and Holy Spirit. However, it is a little bit harder to think about how there are three distinct beings who also operate as one.

Our salvation is not predicated on the fact that we understand infinity or comprehend the exact nature of the Trinity though. There are certain things that we will probably not understand, but that is okay. Look back at verse 10. The important part for us is to listen to God, keep His commandments, and follow Him with all of our hearts.

We are not judged on unfair criteria. Everything that we need to know in order to accept the free gift of salvation is in the Bible. That decision will determine our eternal home. If you want to know a little bit more about this particular decision, you can check out my newest page. It is the most important decision you will ever make.

Deuteronomy 29: The Choice to Follow God

God doesn’t mess around. Particularly, He gets incredibly angry when people begin to follow other gods. This is illustrated pretty clearly in Deuteronomy 29.

Deu 29:24  Even all nations shall say, Wherefore hath the LORD done thus unto this land? what meaneth the heat of this great anger?

Deu 29:25  Then men shall say, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them forth out of the land of Egypt:

Deu 29:26  For they went and served other gods, and worshipped them, gods whom they knew not, and whom he had not given unto them:

Deu 29:27  And the anger of the LORD was kindled against this land, to bring upon it all the curses that are written in this book:

I wrote a piece a few days ago about how it is important to keep your promise to God, and it really should be a serious and intentional commitment rather than just a flippant phrase.

That is what is happening here. God is saying that if the people of Israel do not follow through on the promise they made to Him, all of the curses listed back in chapter 28 could very well fall on them.

I know what you’re probably thinking. How could a loving God do this? Why would He ever punish anybody?

Part of the answer to that lies in the fact that God is just. He needs to follow through on His word, and it needs to apply to everyone equally. If anybody, even His chosen people of Israel, starts messing up, the consequences are the same.

If He was not just, then it would be impossible for Him to be the Judge of all eternity.

Another part of this answer lies in the fact that it any type of punishment would be the people of Israel’s own fault. There was definitely a way that they could follow God and avoid all of these problems. It isn’t like they had to guess what God wanted. Through the first five books of the Bible, God communicated His law to the people of Israel.

This also shows the justice of God again. The people of Israel really had to decide what they wanted, but they were working with very complete information. They could follow God, or they didn’t have to. They knew the consequences of both.

Deuteronomy 28: Do You Want Blessings or Curses?

Deuteronomy 28 is an incredibly long chapter, and if I was an Israelite, I think I would have been pretty terrified.

The first roughly 14 verses explain what will happen if the people follow God and do not wander off. The final 54 verses talk about what will happen to them if they don’t pay attention to God, and it does not sound pretty.

I am going to give you the middle few verses where we transition from the blessings to the curses.

Deu 28:13  And the LORD shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the LORD thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them:

Deu 28:14  And thou shalt not go aside from any of the words which I command thee this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.

Deu 28:15  But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:

What is obviously the difference between receiving the good and bad outcomes?

Listening to God makes the difference. We can see this over and over again through many Bible stories. When people listen to God, He blesses them. For example, when Jonah finally decided to listen to God and go preach in Nineveh, his ministry was so blessed that the entire city was saved from destruction.

What happened when Peter listened to Jesus to walk to Him on the water? While he was listening and trusting God, he was able to do it. He then started to fall because he lost his focus, but while he was only paying attention to God, he was blessed.

Now, unfortunately, the other side is just as true for the same two men. When Jonah didn’t listen to God, he was eaten by a giant fish for temporary correctional services. When Peter didn’t listen to Jesus and denied him at Jesus’ trial, he was understandably upset. He would not have had to experience that pain if he would have listened to God.

The Bible is overflowing with people who either listened to God and were blessed or failed to listen and suffered because of it. I think that we all would prefer the list of blessings rather than the list of curses. You know how to make it happen.

Deuteronomy 27: Spiritual Blindness

Deuteronomy 27 is not a very uplifting chapter. Essentially, it is a list of curses that will be held against people if they commit certain types of offenses. I want to pull out one in particular for you today because I think that there can be a few applications drawn from it.

Deu 27:18  Cursed be he that maketh the blind to wander out of the way. And all the people shall say, Amen.

I do have to think that the original intent of this verse was literal. If people cannot see a where they are going, it is not nice or helpful to try to divert them from that path.

However, I can’t help but think about those who are spiritually blind.

2Co 4:4  In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

There are millions of people who are spiritually blind in the world, and I can’t help but think how much worse it is to lead them off of the path. The path I’m referring to is naturally Jesus Christ who is the Way.

As Christians, we are supposed to be guides that help people find God. If people ask us questions, we are supposed to point them towards salvation through the death of Jesus Christ.

Mat 5:14  Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

Now, if you’re blind, you are surrounded by darkness. You cannot see anything. However, if you were to get your vision back, light would probably be the first thing that hit your eye.

It is not that hard to see how this all fits together. We need to make sure that we are leading people the right way. It is not a good thing to drive people away from God. In fact, when they see the way we live, they should notice that there is something different. Even though this passage is probably talking about literal blindness, we need to consider what we are doing for those who are spiritually blind.

Deuteronomy 26: Give with the Right Attitude

Deuteronomy 26 is a chapter based around tithing. However, it is not just about giving our money to the church. It should be done with a certain attitude as well.

Deu 26:5  And thou shalt speak and say before the LORD thy God, A Syrian ready to perish was my father, and he went down into Egypt, and sojourned there with a few, and became there a nation, great, mighty, and populous:

Deu 26:6  And the Egyptians evil entreated us, and afflicted us, and laid upon us hard bondage:

Deu 26:7  And when we cried unto the LORD God of our fathers, the LORD heard our voice, and looked on our affliction, and our labour, and our oppression:

Deu 26:8  And the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders:

Deu 26:9  And he hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this land, even a land that floweth with milk and honey.

Deu 26:10  And now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land, which thou, O LORD, hast given me. And thou shalt set it before the LORD thy God, and worship before the LORD thy God:

We need to understand why we are worshiping God in this way but also in general. The people of Israel understood that they would have been in Egypt forever if God had not intervened and helped them. Also, everything that had been given to them since was a direct gift from God.

They realized that because of all the great things that God had done in their lives, it was appropriate to offer a portion of it back.

Now, I know that some of you are probably thinking that your life is not so great. Maybe things are not going quite as well as they went for the Israelites. Maybe you do not feel particularly blessed right now.

Keep in mind that even though this passage highlights some great things that happened to the Israelites, they also had their own share of difficulties. After all, they wandered around in the desert for 40 years. It was because of their stubbornness, but it still must have been a challenging time.

I hope that we can persevere through as this passage suggests. I hope that we are always cheerful and thankful as we give to God. It could be about tithing, but it could be about giving our time or anything else

Deuteronomy 25: Be Fair with God

It is so interesting how the Bible is so theoretical yet so practical at the same time. In Deuteronomy 25, it seems as if God realizes that people will often times cheat for any advantage they can.

Deu 25:13  Thou shalt not have in thy bag divers weights, a great and a small.

Deu 25:14  Thou shalt not have in thine house divers measures, a great and a small.

Deu 25:15  But thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure shalt thou have: that thy days may be lengthened in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

God wants us to treat people fairly. If we agreed to sell someone 10 yards of fabric, our yardsticks better be 36 inches long. We can’t try to shave a little off and give our neighbor is 35.5 inches. That wouldn’t be ethical.

Even if the other person doesn’t notice that we did this, if we act with the intent to cheat them out of something that should rightfully be theirs, it is our problem.

To tie this to a slightly larger theme, think about what Jesus told the people about paying their taxes to the Roman Empire.

Mar 12:17  And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.

Again, we are supposed to give to the people who own what we have. Paying taxes is part of our obligation as citizens, so we need to be honest with them. Even more importantly though, we need to give God what He deserves.

God essentially deserves everything in our lives, so that it is tall order. However keeping with this theme of this post, we need to be fair with everyone. That includes God.

Deuteronomy 24: Help the Poor

Deuteronomy 24 gives us a nice image of charity. God was essentially telling the people of Israel that they needed to leave some of their harvest for the poor among them.

Deu 24:19  When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands.

Deu 24:20  When thou beatest thine olive tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow.

Deu 24:21  When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow.

Deu 24:22  And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt: therefore I command thee to do this thing.

Historically speaking, this tradition brought about the marriage of Ruth and Boaz which was important. They were in the lineage of Jesus.

However, from a charitable perspective, God is essentially saying that because you have lots of food, you do have an obligation to help the poor. Specifically, you are supposed to help the poor that would not have other means of finding food.

God wants us to be generous. This is a mandate; we are also supposed to give freely and help those around us. Because of who we are as Christians and what we say we believe, we should willing to help those around us even if it is not convenient.

I like to think about Jesus and His generosity. When He was on earth, the people always came to speak with Him or be healed. I am sure that he must have gotten tired every now and then, but he constantly gave of himself to help others.

Maybe in this coming year we can all try to help those around us.

Deuteronomy 23: Promises to God Are Serious

Promises have become a part of our everyday vernacular. It is not hard to promise somebody something, and we use those phrases quite often.

Deuteronomy 23 warns us that any promise of God is something that we should take very seriously.

Deu 23:21  When thou shalt vow a vow unto the LORD thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the LORD thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee.

Ideally, we should follow through on every promise we make, but promises made to God obviously carry a little more weight.

Perhaps this is why James counsels us not to enter into any type of oath.

Jas 5:12  But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.

Yes, I have no doubt that we should commit to things that we would want to do for God. Some obvious examples are giving up certain sins or committing to work in the ministry.

Both of these are excellent things, but we need to really make sure that it is something we are willing to follow through on before we literally promise God that we will.

Ecc 5:4  When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed.

Ecc 5:5  Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.

I know that this might be a little bit too late to be helpful, but I am sure that some people made promises to God in lieu of making a New Year’s resolution. However, the Bible makes it very clear that these types of promises are a big deal.

I am not discouraging them whatsoever, but I would say that you need to know what you’re really saying and the weight of your words.

Deuteronomy 22: Do unto Others…

Deuteronomy 22 tells us that we need to care for our neighbors and act with general courtesy. Sometimes, I feel like we miss out on this today.

Deu 22:1  Thou shalt not see thy brother’s ox or his sheep go astray, and hide thyself from them: thou shalt in any case bring them again unto thy brother.

Deu 22:2  And if thy brother be not nigh unto thee, or if thou know him not, then thou shalt bring it unto thine own house, and it shall be with thee until thy brother seek after it, and thou shalt restore it to him again.

It seems like common courtesy. If your friend loses something, you should bring it back to him. If you don’t know where it belongs, you should keep it in good condition until someone comes looking for it. Then, you should be willing to give it back.

It seems pretty simple, right?

Unfortunately, I think that we sometimes run into a more finders keepers mentality. I know that that’s a very elementary school statement, but when people find something, there are many times when there will not give it back.

In my mind, the best way to handle situations like this roll back to one of the most well-known Biblical passages in the world.

Luk 6:31  And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.

If you lost something, wouldn’t you want someone to bring it back? At the very least, wouldn’t you want someone to take your property in good order? And, if you ever found it at the other person’s house, wouldn’t you want them to give it back to you because it is rightfully yours?

I think that all of these answers are relatively self-evident, and I know that this is a pretty basic post. However, being a good neighbor and friend to all of those around us will help us live the way that God intended us to live with each other.

Deuteronomy 21: Forgiven

Everything in the sacrificial system had a purpose. As you particularly saw when we went through Leviticus, God was incredibly specific about certain procedures.

In Deuteronomy 21, we find another realistic problem. What happens if you’re out in the wilderness and find someone dead? No one knows who killed him, but the point remains that he is dead. To account for this, the Levites from the nearest city needed to sacrifice a cow.

Deu 21:7  And they shall answer and say, Our hands have not shed this blood, neither have our eyes seen it.

Deu 21:8  Be merciful, O LORD, unto thy people Israel, whom thou hast redeemed, and lay not innocent blood unto thy people of Israel’s charge. And the blood shall be forgiven them.

Deu 21:9  So shalt thou put away the guilt of innocent blood from among you, when thou shalt do that which is right in the sight of the LORD.

This passage made me think a little bit of the New Testament method of forgiveness. It is a little bit different because there needed to be that literal animal sacrifice back then, but the other part is very similar.

Forgiveness is something that we need to constantly remember. Yes, we had a perfect sacrifice in the person of Jesus Christ who redeemed us from our sinful history. However, we also need to accept His gift.

1Jn 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Every time we come to God for forgiveness, He will forgive us. That is undeniable. It is also a very good thing.

We may not need to sacrifice animals anymore to be acquitted of the guilt of our sins. However, forgiveness is still incredibly important, and God loved us so much that He sacrificed His only Son to serve as the perfect sacrifice. It is only because of Him that we can have this gift.