Monday, October 30, 2017
Daily reading assignment – Deuteronomy 7-9
Having challenged Israel to remember and rehearse the providences and promises of the LORD, and reminding the people to obey the commandments and teach them to their sons and daughters, Moses challenged the nation to not commune or assimilate with other nations (Deuteronomy 7).
Assuring Israel the LORD was them and would drive the heathen nations out of Canaan, Moses reminded the people God chose them to be a distinct people. Realizing how easily Israel could be turned aside from the LORD by the sinful ways of the heathen, God commanded the nation to “smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them” (Deuteronomy 7:2).
Antagonists of 21st century Christianity take the commands given to Israel in Deuteronomy 7 out of historical context and foolishly equate them to our day. Adversaries of believers and the Church declare the Bible is a violent book and Christianity is as evil as militant Islam. Those who assert such are either disingenuous or ignorant!
It is true the LORD commanded Israel to not covenant with other nations or tolerate intermarriage of their children with heathens (7:3-4), as was the custom of enemies who sought peace through marrying and giving in marriage their sons and daughters. However, the LORD is jealous of His people and knew the influence of idol worshippers would invariably turn the hearts of their children from the LORD and His covenant (7:4).
The LORD’s covenant required Israel to be intolerant of the ways of the heathen (7:5) for He had chosen them and commanded the nation to be a “holy people” (7:6). Assuring the people of His love, grace and mercy, the LORD commanded the nation to keep His commandments, hearken to His judgments, promising to bless them “above all people” (7:7-14).
God’s love for Israel was unconditional; however, His promise of blessings was conditioned upon Israel trusting God and purging the land of its idols and those who worshipped them (7:15-26).
Moses’ challenge to Israel continues in Deuteronomy 8. Not wanting the people to forget God’s faithfulness, Moses rehearsed how the LORD blessed and sustained them during Israel’s forty years in the wilderness (8:1-2). Reminding the people of God’s loving care and miraculous provision (8:3-4), Moses challenged them to know the LORD will chasten His people as a loving father chastens his son (8:5). As the people obeyed the LORD and His commandments, God promised to bless them (8:6-10); however, should the people become proud and forget His commandments, He promised to bring His judgment upon the nation (8:11-20).
Lest the people’s heart be lifted up in pride, Moses reminded the nation the land the LORD promised Abraham and his lineage was occupied by nations “greater and mightier” (9:1-2) than Israel. Israel would be victorious over the nations, not because the people were more righteous or powerful than their enemies, but because the LORD was with them (9:3-5).
Moses reminded the people when he was receiving the commandments of the LORD they returned to the sinful ways and idolatry of Egypt and God would have destroyed them in His wrath if He had not heeded Moses’ intercessory prayer for their sakes (9:6-29).
Permit me to close with a few applications of truths we have seen in today’s scripture reading.
The first, like Israel, we are saved from the curse of sin, not because we are good, but because God is merciful and gracious. In his letter to Titus, Paul writes,
Titus 3:5-7 – “Not by works [deeds] of righteousness [i.e. by keeping the law] which we have done, but according to His mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
6 Which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;
7 That being justified by His grace [undeserved, unmerited favor], we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
A second truth seldom taught or preached today is the LORD has commanded His people and church to be holy, a reflection of His holiness.
1 Peter 1:15-16 – “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”
The doctrine of Sanctification, the LORD’s command for His church to separate from the ungodly and their sinful ways was the hallmark of Biblical fundamentalism in the 20th century; however, separation is almost universally neglected by 21st century fundamental churches in preaching, principle and practice. As it was commanded of Israel, it is no less commanded of the church. In his letter to the church in Corinth, Paul writes,
2 Corinthians 6:14-15 – “Be ye not unequally yoked together [by contract or covenant; an alliance in business or marriage] with unbelievers: for what fellowship [partnership; common interests] hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion [harmony] hath light with darkness?
15 And what concord [harmony; business] hath Christ with Belial [wickedness]? or what part [business] hath he that believeth with an infidel?”
2 Corinthians 6:17 – “Wherefore come out from [lit. get out from] among them [unbelievers], and be ye separate [exclude; limit; sever], saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you”
Moses was aware of the temptations God’s people faced in Canaan if they failed to obey the LORD’s commands and tolerated sin and wickedness in their midst. I am afraid the same cannot be said of the majority of my peers in Bible fundamental pulpits.
Fearing the wrath of a generation who trifle with the LORD’s call to holiness, a generation of preachers catering to carnality has failed to call the church to holiness and sanctification.
Ecclesiastes 12:13 – “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”
Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith