Monday, December 18, 2017
Daily reading assignment – Deuteronomy 29-31
Having declared God’s Covenant with Israel as His chosen people (Deuteronomy 5-28), Moses concludes with a challenge for the people to affirm the covenant they entered into at Mt Horeb 40 years earlier (Exodus 24) and acknowledge their obligation to the LORD to obey the His Laws and Commandments (Deuteronomy 29-30).
The basis of Israel’s obligation to honor the Covenant with the LORD was not only the sacrifices they offered to seal the Covenant at Mt. Horeb (Exodus 24), but also the LORD’s loving care of the nation over the course of their wanderings in the wilderness (29:2-9).
The nation, its leaders (“captains…elders…officers”) and “all the men of Israel” (29:10), representing every man, woman, boy and girl…even “thy stranger that is in thy camp” (those in the midst of the tribes, but not Hebrews by lineage) were to affirm the covenant with God (29:11-15).
Moses warns the people (29:16-29), should they turn to idols and follow in the sins of the heathen nations and fail to keep their covenant with the LORD and obey His Laws and Commandments, the nation will be punished with plagues and sickness (29:22) and the ground cursed (29:23).
True to the nature of God, having promised in His justice He would punish Israel for breaking covenant with Him (Deuteronomy 29:24-29), He promises in Deuteronomy 31 to be merciful should the people repent and restore them to their land (30:1-14).
Deuteronomy 30 concludes with a strong challenge to Israel to know the Word of the LORD is sure and He will bless the people when they keep His covenant; however, He will surely bring judgment upon the nation should they disobey His Laws and Commandments (30:15-20).
Mindful of his own mortality and knowing the days of his earthly sojourn were coming to a close, Moses reminds the nation he is “an hundred and twenty years old” and the LORD had said, “Thou shalt not go over this Jordan (31:1-2). In the tone of a loving, elderly father who knows his days with his children are coming to a close, Moses encouraged the people, “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not” (31:6). The same God who delivered Israel out of Egypt and preserved them in the wilderness, “He will not fail thee, nor forsake thee” (31:6).
Affirming his role as the leader chosen by the LORD to take the nation across Jordan, Moses publicly affirms Joshua’s ordination “in the sight of all Israel” (31:7-8).
Turning from Joshua, Moses challenged the spiritual leaders of the nation, “the priests the sons of Levi”, to be the custodians and teachers of the LORD’s Law and keep the Law and Commandments before the people (31:9-13).
Reminded He is Omniscient, the LORD revealed to Moses the days would come after his death, that the people would break their covenant with the LORD and “go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land” (31:14-18). The LORD commanded Moses to write a song that would remind the people of their covenant with the LORD (31:19-22).
Deuteronomy 31 concludes with Moses giving a final charge to Joshua as he assumes the leadership of the nation (31:23). Gathering the people, Moses challenged the Levites, to take the record of the LORD’s Law and “put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD” (31:24-26).
There are many lessons we can take from today’s scripture reading; however, for me and my generation it is: The frailty of old age is not an excuse for tolerating sin.
At one hundred and twenty years old, Moses was “feeling his age” and was conscious of his physical weakness and the inevitableness of his death. The pressures of leading a rebellious people “forty years in the wilderness” and old age had taken its toll on the man (Dt. 29:5).
In Deuteronomy 31:2, Moses confessed, “I am an hundred and twenty years old this day; I can no more go out and come in” (31:2). In Deuteronomy 31:14, “the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thy days approach that thou must die”. We read again in Deuteronomy 31:16, “And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers”.
Moses was old and frail; however, the fire of his convictions and dedication to the LORD had not abated.
I am afraid the same can not be said of my generation. There is a growing tolerance of sin and carnality in today’s fundamental Bible preaching churches, Christian schools, Bible colleges and Universities that is disconcerting. In an effort to appease rebellious children in their own households, leaders of this generation, men like myself in their 50’s and 60’s, are compromising spiritual disciplines and precepts of the institutions they are leading.
A spirit of tolerance (i.e. softness in the matter of sin) is eroding the spiritual character and heritage of churches, schools, and institutions. The fears Moses expressed in Deuteronomy 31:29 are, I believe, a foreshadow of what will become of many fundamental churches, schools, and institutions.
Deuteronomy 31:29 – “For I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt yourselves, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days; because ye will do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger through the work of your hands.”
It is my observation, when spiritual leaders accommodate and tolerate sin, the institutions they lead become a shadow of their former character or suffer demise.
How about you my friend? Does the fire of godly convictions still burn in your spirit and soul?
Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith