Discipleship, Fellowship, Vacation?

How does what we’ve studied so far in Deuteronomy relate to the discipleship we have been hearing of in the Sunday sermon series?

Do you hunger and thirst for righteousness, and want to be satisfied?  A hungry person goes where the food is–so seek Him, (ch 4 being the first call to seek YHWH) cling to Him, keep His words, and speak of them to one another as often as you are awake.  Deut 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13 remind us that as God calls us into His steadfast covenant-loyalty love we are to respond: Love first, then obedience. Deuteronomy 11:12 “love the LORD your God and serve Him with all your heart and all your soul” or 10:12 “fear the LORD your God, walk in all His ways and love Him and serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” And remember–Hebrew thinking never separates the person as Greek philosophy does.  Love and serve with whole being–with all of you. Cannot be done partially.

Do you want to be pure in heart, and see God?  Purity, purge the evil, shun idolatry. Purity demands no additions–as pure Gold is refined, and no longer contains things that were in the gold ore, so the pure in heart will purge the evil, shun idolatry, banish all the foreign religions rather than incorporating those practices…Hear O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is One! Love Him with all your heart, giving no part of your heart to another!

Want to be a disciple, constantly nourished on the words of the faith, disciplined for the purpose of godliness? (see 2 Timothy)  Then, as Deuteronomy repeats over and over, keep these words, speak to one another of them, pass them on to the next generation, keep the festivals, rejoice and tithe and follow all the ways–discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness by trusting that His ways are better, lead to flourishing, lead to peace and joy. Love Him with all your might!

And this brings us to today’s discussion. Remember from week one–this book contains the three speeches given by Moses before the people redeemed from slavery enter their new homeland. Today, we are in the middle of speech number two, chapters 16-19.  Next week, we will finish speech 2 with the discussion of 20-26.

Quick overview:  16–three annual feasts.  Israel had ordered worship, feasts, fastings, pilgrimage, sacrifices, offerings…Worship, remember, rejoice.  Vs 12  what were all these festivals and pilgrimages supposed to show Israel?

At the root of all our worship, is God’s desire and design to make us joyful: vs. 15!

“Because the LORD your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful.” We were created to work, created for purpose; and as we work the LORD leads us to blessing and joy. One festival was solemn, to remember the past, remember their slavery, remember what God pulled them out of. Two were celebratory–to fill their hearts with joy, show them the community they were a part of, give them a vacation as they spent a week feasting and making merry!

Vs 17, Giving was to be according to the blessing…acknowledging the blessing.  Sometimes we do not tithe, or give freely, or use our gifts and time for others because…what are your reasons? God’s ways are higher, there is no excuse which God will say “whoa! why didn’t I think of that?!”

16:18-17:13–Justice, inquire thoroughly, never knee jerk and never on the whim of a witness. Then purge evil (it is not our place, remember, to repurpose evil or to approve of evil), vs 12 those who are presumptuous, not listening or participating in this justice is also to be purged. Half hearted creatures are not part of God’s design. 

vs 14, read also 1 Samuel 8:5, 19-20   

17:14-end Rules for kingship. How well would an Israelite king know the WORD!!!  Psalm 119:97-100 (maybe David, maybe Ezra, also likely a king during of after the Babylonian captivity).  The heart of the king, after handwriting his own copy, and reading it often, would have a heart and mind filled with God’s desires and not those of neighboring land’s idols. But human nature being what it is, there has never been a perfect earthly king. This should make our hearts yearn even more to set Christ as the supreme ruler, the Lord, the KING, in our hearts, that His love would constrain us rather than our appetites and emotions. And we simply cannot do this apart from clinging to His Words, abiding in His Word. “Thy Kingdom come…”

Chapter 18 instructs Israel to pay the Levites!  Their service to Israel is irreplaceable, valuable, and their work should not be hindered by also having to work the land. So the LORD provides for them through the tithes of His people.

Listen only to the voice of your God

The chapter continues with the reminder that they were not to incorporate into their worship the detestable practices of foreign religions. Detestable, yes, the LORD hates these things. They are completely opposed to God’s glory, His goodness, His love. Vs 9-12 YHWH drives out the detestable.  vs 14-15 do not listen to them, you will be led astray–rather listen to when and how God speaks.  And He spoke through prophets until Amos 8:11…then Christ came! The ultimate fulfillment of the Prophet! 18:15. He took on flesh, became a countryman, and in becoming the Word Made Flesh, He manifested God’s glory in a way no other prophet had done. (See John 1:21ff, and let this warm your heart even more as you anticipate the Christmas season!)

Chapter 19–Refuge.  Three cities, and later three more…that foreshadow our running to Christ.  The avenger cannot harm those safe inside. We cannot be harmed safely inside of Christ’s Love,19:8-10, and the continual reminder to purge evil 19:19. Several verses outline ways to carry out some of the commandments: vs 14 do not move boundary? Theft. 18-19 no false witnesses (both of these are in the ten commandments…how many of the other laws are simply ways of fleshing out the ten commandments?).

In all of these chapters, we do not have merely a review of laws and expectations, we have our hearts ever pointed to Christ–the fulfillment of the Law on our behalf, our refuge, our King, our Prophet, our Priest, our never-ending source of Joy. The original audience heard with anticipation, and a veil. We hear, with the veil lifted, and see more clearly–though still dimly. Come LORD Jesus, and let They Kingdom come! And while I sojourn here, I will cling to Your words, acknowledge Your blessings, and abide in Your love and Your truth.