Entries tagged with “Deuteronomy”.


Joshua commands the sun to stand still in the sky
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Besides their similar sounding name Jesus and Joshua have a little in common.  Keep reading to see how Tim pulls the Gospel story out of the Book of Joshua for us.

Most of the message came from Joshua 9.   This chapter is a foreshadowing of the covenant we have with Christ.  The Gibeonites should have been destroyed… just like us.

1) Grace Joshua 9:1-15 tells the story about the Gibeonites deceptive attempt to secure a peace deal and covenant with the Israelite people.  The Gibeonites were smart folks with some inside information.  They new about God’s command to the Israelites to destroy everyone around them from Deuteronomy 20:10-18.  They were given a peace treaty by Joshua because, he didn’t seek God’s opinion on the matter.

2)Grace that points towards all the nations and all the people. Joshua 16-27 shows how God extended His grace and blessing to the Gibeonite people, despite their lies and deceptions.  The Gibeonites were cursed to become Israel’s servants due to their deception, but they were an integral part of the history of God’s people.

– The tabernacle was built in Gibeon so that they would have an integral part.

– The temple was also built in Gibeon, by the Gibeonites.

– The Gibeonite people are actually transformed by the covenant of God and the grace that comes with it.

The end of Joshua 9 points towards the fact that the Grace of God is available to all nations and all people.

Now is when it gets a little tricky!

3) Grace is what it is because God’s judgment and wrath are real. Look at that again: Grace is what it is because God’s judgment and wrath are real.  What do you think about that? Tim Keller is a good resource to help with this issue.  Tim passed out an article from Keller called The Importance of Hell. Another resource is Keller’s book The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism.

Judgment and wrath was actually the first step towards grace for the Gibeonites.  They were afraid of getting killed so they (through deception) sought peace.  God’s plan of judgment is pretty clear in the following verses:

Genesis 15:13-15 Leviticus 18:24-25 Deuteronomy 9:4-5

It is interesting to note that in Joshua 9:18 the Israelites were upset that the Gibeonites were going to be allowed to live.  Why should they be shown Grace?  The Israelites liked to see people die! Interestingly, today we are the exact opposite, we expect to see God’s mercy and are upset by the fact that God destroyed all the other people mentioned in the earlier passages. We like the power to decide what is right or wrong and don’t like when it is passed down to us, especially from God. We long for personal expression which includes setting our own rules and boundaries. We then take these ideas and project them onto God, instead of listening and seeing what God’s has already told us about Himself.  If we read the Bible it confronts our idea of individuality and our concept of our self.

But if each of us individually had our own rules and laws we would end up with billions of different systems and rules.  As individuals what makes up our determination of right and wrong or when grace or wrath should be expressed?  In Joshua 10:1-13 we see that God actually goes to war to keep His covenant of Grace.  He commands Joshua to go help defend the Gibeonites from Adoni-Zedek.  This should be encouraging to us, if we are the Gibeonites and Satan is Adoni-Zedek – then it is safe to say that God will wage war to defend and protect us.  Joshua’s army also had to march all night, 20 miles uphill to go protect them (vs 9). Similarly Christ wrestled all-night and carried the cross up the hill to Calvary, where He died for our sins.

In verses 12-14 we see that God helped Joshua by holding the sun in the sky all day.  The opposite happened during the crucifixion – Christ was being cast into our darkness, taking our sins and offering us grace. Christ took God’s judgment and wrath on Himself so that we might have eternal life.

You can follow the sermon’s live on Twitter if you are so interested.

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Who would have that Deuteronomy would have so much great stuff in it? I mean obviously, it is part of the Bible so it is good.  So thanks to David for teaching out of Deuteronomy and making it relevant to our life in Christ.

The journey begins in John 5, at the pool in Bethesda. Jesus heals a man on the Sabbath and the Pharisees give Him a hard time about it. He challenges them and ultimately says this in 5:45-47:

“But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”

Jesus is saying that Moses wrote about Jesus and accused the Pharisees way back in Deuteronomy 29-30. Many scholars think that Deuteronomy is the foundation for understanding the entire Old and New Testaments.  David says that it is a simple story of being enslaved and finding freedom in Jesus but it is still very complex and fraught with lots of theology. Much of the book contains rules, laws, and covenants the most important of which comes at the end.

What is a covenant? A covenant is a solemn promise or one way agreement.  The marriage covenant is maybe the most practical to understand. It is both a personal and intimate agreement between two parties to love each other unconditionally and a legal agreement or oath (29:12). David shared this thoughtful phrase:

I will be what I should be even if you aren’t and I will lay down my life for you, no matter what. Even when you make me mad, I won’t do something bad just to get even.  I love you so much that I’ll continue offering my best, even at your worst.  That is part of God’s covenant with us, but maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.  This is also an ideal for what a church community should look like. A “covenant community” is based on unconditional love and acceptance of each other for the mutual benefit of all involved.  This was what my college campus was based on, sadly we are all sinful humans and often fall short of the ideal.

Mystery of a Covenant

This is where it gets tricky! God had given the Israelites certain rules and regulations regarding a variety of different sacrifices, procedures for celebrating Him, and much more.  He was quite emphatic as we learned last week in Numbers. He even says in 29:20 that He would never forgive and blot a person from the earth. Where’s the love in that? But then a few verses later (30:3) God says we can be restored and given life.

So which is it? Punishment and consequences or love and grace? Can we really have both? Is God’s blessing conditional or unconditional? YES and NO.  Let’s go back to Genesis 15 where God made the Covenant with Abraham. Do you remember the story, Abraham cut in half all these different types of animal carcasses and laid them out? During that time period it was somewhat common that a servant would do this and then walk through the middle indicating that if he broke the promise just made, he should be torn into half.  It should have been Abraham that walked through the sacrifice, but instead God did, saying symbolically that if we screw up He will be torn to pieces or ripped apart for our sins.  We can see this as a foreshadowing of Jesus death on the Cross.  When God walked through the sacrificial ceremony He set in motion a way for us to be redeemed.

Hero of Our Covenant

Everyone and every good story needs a hero.  By now you should be able to guess who the hero of this story is… JESUS! Galatians 3:6-14 lays it out pretty clearly (13-14):

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

Isn’t that awesome? Jesus was torn into pieces so that we wouldn’t face the wrath of God as described in Deuteronomy!

Jesus was glad to die for us, can we humble ourselves and submit to His Grace?

We ended the service with this great promise from Deuteronomy 31:8:

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

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Moses with the Tablets, 1659, by Rembrandt.
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Friday night David continued the series “The Gospel According to …” at Seward Church.  This week was an exploration of the Book of Exodus.

I’ll admit I haven’t read much from Exodus in the last few years and often turn to Deuteronomy to get a copy of the 10 Commandments, so this was an interesting exploration and refresher of the book. Exodus has 40 chapters so David broke it down into three parts.

God Who Saves – Grace (Exodus 1-18) Some of the background of the book is God fulfilling His previous promises to Abraham (1:5-7), remembering the plight of his chosen people (2:23-25) and He had concern for their plight.  Some interesting thoughts come from this section as well such as before Abraham and any promises were made was the “I AM”. In John 8:12 Jesus said “I am the light of the world…”  This section of Exodus reminds us that Jesus draws near to us and is with us no matter our condition.

What do you think of this statement David made: “It seems when God shows up things seem to get worse.” I think I might have it a little out of context, but the point he was trying to make is that we expect God to remove all the pain from our life – we expect at the moment of salvation to have all of our troubles erased and life to be perfect.  God never promises us freedom from pain and suffering – but He does promise that He will never leave or forsake us no matter what trial we might face.

Did you know that God systematically destroyed Egypt’s gods? Maybe I knew this and forgot but basically the 10 plaques and all the other hardship Egypt faced in Exodus were direct frontal attacks on their most important deities.  A personal aside, I wonder if this is something similar to what we are experiencing now in the US?  A final thought from this section that I really like is that God saved Israel before the law was ever made. It is as if God wanted to make absolutely clear that we could never work for salvation but that it is His to freely give.

God Who Guides Us – Truth (Exodus 19-24) Like I just mentioned the law was created as a guide for the Israelites to live by, not a means for their salvation. Our salvation is only through God alone and His grace. 20:2 makes this clear, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” Our obedience to the law and to God’s desire in our life is a way to enjoy blessings (shalom) and wholeness that comes from submitting to God’s might and power. That was David’s paraphrase of 19:5 and here is the fulfillment of that promise from John 1:17:

For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

God Who Is With Us – Glory (Exodus 25-40) You may recall that this last section of Exodus talks mostly about the Tabernacle – building it, decorating it, and knowing what to do with it. David drew the connection that this is God wanting to be with and near us. Unfortunately, God can’t be with us, because our sin makes it impossible – “… But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way” (33:3). Moses challenged God and He responded with this great promise in 33:14 “The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”  Yes, thank you for the rest, Jesus talks about this rest as well in Matthew 11:28.

Even with this rest that God is giving us and the grace He has shown us, we like the Israelites are quick to forget His goodness and turn the golden calves or other earthly desires.  But God promised that He will always be with us (34:6-10):

And He [God] passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness,  maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.”

Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped. “O Lord, if I have found favor in your eyes,” he said, “then let the Lord go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, forgive our wickedness and our sin, and take us as your inheritance.”

Then the LORD said: “I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the LORD, will do for you.

That is a great promise.  God has shown Himself trustworthy.  He says He will save us if we trust in Him.  He says “I am the way… I will never leave you.”

During the closing songs the singer asked something to the effect of “do we trust God enough to fall back into Him – like in the trust fall.”

David ended the night with this quote which I really like and is a refreshing reminder:

It is not my grip on God that is my hope, but His grip on me.

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