Today’s reading: Deut 30:1–31:29, 2 Cor 8:1–7, Ps 44:1–26
Today’s theme: God’s achievable word
Today we learn that our God is one who restores His people. That we should love God with everything, guard our hearts from becoming cold and give generously. However the most important lesson is that God’s word is not unrealistic, unbearable, unachievable or unfair but something we can really live out if we internalise it first. We do this by reading and meditating on it and submitting to the person and work of God the Holy Spirit in our lives as He circumcises our hearts.
The God who restores
then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have mercy on you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the LORD your God has scattered you. Deuteronomy 30:3 (ESV)
The Lord shows his character here. He is merciful and gracious, He is willing to forgive. This whole chapter outlines man’s choice before a very merciful and patient God. If Israel truly repented then God would restore them to their land and He has done throughout their history.
Today’s restoration of Israel has not happened in the same way as the restorations of the Old Testament where there was also spiritual restoration through repentance. We should pray for the spiritual restoration of Israel to accompany it’s political restoration. Paul instructs us to desire and pray for their restoration through Jesus in Romans 9-11. See Romans 11:15, 23–24 regarding their full restoration.
Love God with everything
And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. Deuteronomy 30:6 (ESV)
In the Hebrew this verse represents the climax of God’s point being made in verses 1-10. The turning in repentance to obey the Lord and prosperity in the land all hinges upon the greatest commandment which is to love God with everything.
This ultimate demand of the law is only accomplished as the fruit of God’s grace in the hearts of His people as He is the one who circumcises their hearts. This is fulfilled and realised in truth in the new covenant through the Messiah Jesus Christ. See Romans 2:28-29.
God’s achievable word
But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it. Deuteronomy 30:14 (ESV)
God’s law has received a bad reputation over the years as being unrealistic, unbearable, unachievable and unfair. This is often in an attempt to exalt Christianity over Judaism, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. God declares that the law is not too hard and it is not unreachable.
However, God never claims that anyone can be saved by it, He simply calls the people to live by it and be blessed. Salvation and relationship with God was and still is a matter of the heart and in Israel’s case salvation (from Egypt) had already been won. The law was a life lived in response to salvation.
Reading and meditating on the word of God in the Bible is so important. It is not too difficult and God wants us to internalise the word and then live it out.
Now in the new covenant we have the indwelling person of the Holy Spirit and the work of Christ has been done. This makes it possible for us to live as God intends (Romans 10:5-13). We must also pass God’s word on to our children.
Choose life or death
I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, Deuteronomy 30:19 (ESV)
We face the same choice today, we should choose life and blessing. Why would anyone choose death and cursing… but so many do, this shows the slavery of man’s will to sin. Thanks be to God that when Jesus sets us free from slavery to sin we are truly free. See John 8:32, 34-36.
Reading the bible together
Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as you live in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.” Deuteronomy 31:12–13 (ESV)
As a church community we have been reading through the entire bible year on year for the last four years. Just reading the Bible like this will help us grow in the Lord and help us instruct our children as we bring them up as a community.
Guard your heart
For when I have brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to give to their fathers, and they have eaten and are full and grown fat, they will turn to other gods and serve them, and despise me and break my covenant. Deuteronomy 31:20 (ESV)
Getting what we want and having all our needs met can lead us into complacency and then indifference, rebellion and idolatry. We need to watch over our hearts especially living in the extremely prosperous western world where God can so easily be forgotten.
2 Corinthians 8:1–7
How to give
For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, 2 Corinthians 8:3 (ESV)
This gives us a perfect example of how we should give. The saints in Macedonia were not rich yet they joyfully and voluntarily gave according to their means and even stretched themselves beyond their means. We are called to generosity beyond cold, set percentages and portions. We should enjoy the fellowship and service of giving generously from our hearts to the needs of our brothers and sisters etc.
The fact that Paul had to instruct the wealthy Corinthian church should stand as a warning to us that our prosperity can make us cold and without true faith filled generosity. As mentioned in verse 7 we should excel in giving alongside our other pursuits in Christ.
We may suffer for our stand
Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered. Psalm 44:22 (ESV)
The Psalmist is talking about the suffering the people are going through, not because of disobedience. In fact this is an example of a Psalm where it is declared that the whole law was kept which is in line with the point made earlier about God’s achievable and reachable law.
This is suffering for the name of the Lord, because they refuse to compromise. The Psalmist, under this sort of pressure for standing for God seeks reassurance of God’s love. Paul picks this point up in Romans 8:36-39.
Most of the above post is a copy of the original notes from the same date in 2014.
The Gospel Coalition on 2 Corinthians 8