This week we discuss Chapter 7-9 Big picture: We are to be bound only to YHWH (the covenant Name God had revealed to Israel), bound in love. We are called to obey–but not to earn. By obeying we enjoy the flourishing life He calls us into, and brings us in to enjoy. We do not earn that life, He gives it. There is so much packed into these chapters, here I will briefly touch on the ‘highlights’ but please, read along the whole passage.
The first few verses of chapter seven really lay out to Israel that they may not be bound to their enemies by covenant, or by marriage. They must protect themselves from idolatry. Why? All people are sinful, fully deserving God’s wrath. The enemies that God will be driving out of the land have earned their punishment. His judgements are true and righteous. If Israel embraces the idolatry of these other nations, it will be to their destruction. If they want to enjoy their relationship with God and all His blessings, they must be bound to Him alone.
Verse 10 and following show why; though our generation has a difficult time swallowing such a notion. God discerns between those who love Him, and those who hate Him. There is no grey; there is no area of “well, they don’t know Him yet.” There is no “but they have been a good person” or “but they have been a good Buddhist” or…ad infinitum. We have the advantage of knowing the Gospel, we know from Romans 1-2 that the witness of creation is enough–that all peoples witness enough in the created world to know there is a God; they either delight in this knowledge and suppress it. They either love or hate. They either believe God or suppress the truth. Those of us who are in Union with Christ need not fear, for we know God will be faithful to complete the work He has begun in us! He will hold us and none can snatch us from His hand. Israel was told that these nations, if allowed to stay and live in the land too, would become a snare to Israel. Not all of the nation of Israel believed and loved God–those who were born into the nation but did not have faith would surely turn away, the snare would prove too enticing.
(turn to Ephesians 5:6-13; the darkness Israel faced then and the darkness we face now are to be treated the same. All too often we try to “redeem” things that the LORD would have us to expose as evil. Jesus did not redeem idols, or deem sinful behavior as good, or change His mind concerning who or what we yoke ourselves to.)
Verse 22 reminds us of God’s patience and goodness as He carries out His plan. Little by little. If too quickly–perilous consequences would arise. We too must learn from this, that in our fast paced twitter culture, God often moves little by little.
Remember the Wilderness
Chapter 8 is a beautiful section reminding us once more of God’s design for the covenant relationship between Himself and His people. God’s people must remember the way God led them in the wilderness. What does that season reveal to them about God’s character, faithfulness, patience and goodness? In verses 2-3, God humbles us so that we will rely on Him, see Him for who He is, and trust that He will care for us.
In verse 7 we see the contrast (also described in chapter 11:9-15) of the land they are moving into from what they knew in Egypt. Their promised land would have springs and streams and plentiful rain–in Egypt they had irrigation, digging and using pumps they had to power by foot! God had freed them from slavery, and would be easing their burdens in their day to day work of farming. And, as in last week’s chapters, the fear of the LORD is often brought in, we cannot rightly know or worship or love God if we do not marvel in awe of Him, the One true King of the universe.
8:11-14, we see once again the call to remember, to not forget. Here we see that forgetting who God is, His work in their lives, and His words, will lead to pride and walking away. We too must remember. This concept is applied to us by Peter:
“If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God.” 1 Peter 1:17-21 (emphasis mine)
His Righteousness, His Glory
Chapter 9 When the Holy Spirit repeats Himself thrice we must pay special attention; even memorize what He is teaching us. Here, He reveals that it is God who will be doing this work, not them; and it is not because of their righteousness! (Take note, God’s work in our lives is never because we are wonderful and deserving, or even slightly holy or righteous.) He loves His people, and works in and around them for good, but not because we are righteous. He makes good plans and promises, and then carries them out, for His glory. In His plan, you are called to obey; you are called into this relationship and will be blessed by YHWH because He loves you–for His Name’s sake, not for your own sake, not because you have earned it. We must obey, but our obedience does not earn anything–rather we enjoy that He is our righteousness. Consider your calling!
“For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen…so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the LORD.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-31