Secret things

“Secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those that are revealed belong to us and our descendants forever, so that we might obey all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29 NET).

When I read this verse I thought how applicable this is, not just to the Israelites as they were about to enter the Promised Land, but to Christians today. It seems that many are not satisfied with what God has revealed to us but want more – we want to know the “secret things.” Continue reading “Secret things”

The purity of God’s people

“A person of illegitimate birth may not enter the assembly of the Lord; to the tenth generation no one related to him may do so. An Ammonite or Moabite may not enter the assembly of the Lord; to the tenth generation none of their descendants shall ever do so…You must not hate an Edomite, for he is your relative; you must not hate an Egyptian, for you lived as a foreigner in his land. Children of the third generation born to them may enter the assembly of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 23:1-8 NET).

It seems strange to those of us living in the twenty-first century that there were people whom God would not accept. Some Bibles put a title over this section of Deuteronomy: “Those excluded from the assembly.” Others have something like: “Purity in public worship.” Why would God exclude anyone from assembling with his people to worship him? Continue reading “The purity of God’s people”

What is our verdict?

“A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offence that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established” (Deuteronomy 19:15 ESV).

As the nation of Israel approached the Promised Land, God insured that they would have a fair system of justice. One aspect of this was that eye-witness testimony was only good if it could be corroborated. It wasn’t enough just to have one person testify against someone else.

There was a good reason for this. One person might give false evidence because he did not like the person. There was even a part of the law to deal with this. Continue reading “What is our verdict?”

Keeping the memory alive

“Observe the month of Abib and keep the Passover to the Lord your God, for in the month of Abib the Lord your God brought you out of Egypt by night. And you shall offer the Passover sacrifice to the Lord your God, from the flock or the herd, at the place that the Lord will choose, to make his name dwell there. You shall eat no leavened bread with it. Seven days you shall eat it with unleavened bread, the bread of affliction—for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste—that all the days of your life you may remember the day when you came out of the land of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 16:1-3 ESV).

“What makes this night different from all other nights?” With this question, asked by a child, the modern Jewish observance of Passover begins. During the evening the events of the Exodus are related to all who are present and there is a feast containing many rituals that are based on what happened when God “passed over” the Israelites when they were freed from slavery in Egypt. Continue reading “Keeping the memory alive”

We are special

“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 7:6-8 ESV).

The Israelites were to be a “holy” people. They were God’s “treasured possession” out of all the people who lived on the earth. God had chosen them. God “set his love” on them.

But what does it mean to be holy? Continue reading “We are special”

Teaching others to teach others

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9 ESV).

As the Israelites were about to enter the Promised Land, Moses spent his last days teaching them once again about God and how they were to live for him. Continue reading “Teaching others to teach others”

A God of mercy and justice

“Then the Lord spoke to Moses: ‘Speak to the Israelites and tell them, “When you cross over the Jordan River into the land of Canaan, you must then designate some towns as towns of refuge for you, to which a person who has killed someone unintentionally may flee. And they must stand as your towns of refuge from the avenger in order that the killer may not die until he has stood trial before the community. These towns that you must give shall be your six towns for refuge.”’” (Numbers 35:9-13 NET).

God is a God of mercy. We can see this in his providing towns of refuge for the Israelites. These towns were so designated to allow someone who had accidentally killed another person to be safe from any ‘avenger’ who might come after them to take their life. If they were within these towns they were safe. In more recent years church buildings have often served this same purpose as a place of sanctuary. Continue reading “A God of mercy and justice”

The land of rest

“And Aaron the priest went up Mount Hor at the command of the LORD and died there, in the fortieth year after the people of Israel had come out of the land of Egypt, on the first day of the fifth month. And Aaron was 123 years old when he died on Mount Hor” (Numbers 33:38-39 ESV).

The Israelites had been without a home for years. Forty years earlier, on the fifteenth day of the first month (Numbers 33:3), they had left Egypt after the ten plagues had culminated with the Passover. They had been “on the road” since that time, in essence “living out of suitcases.” They had no home of their own and were living in tents. They were now into the fortieth year since leaving Egypt. Continue reading “The land of rest”

Honesty

“Moses said to the heads of the tribes of Israel: ‘This is what the Lord commands: When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said’” (Numbers 30:1-2 NIV).

God’s desire has always been that his people keep their word. This involves honesty in every aspect of that word. If we are honest, we are “free of deceit, truthful and sincere” (Oxford Dictionary of English). This means that what we say must be true, but it is more than that. It also means that we do what we say and that we don’t use truth in a way that would deceive another person. Continue reading “Honesty”

Speak only God’s word

In Numbers 22 we are introduced to a prophet named Balaam. Most who have heard of Balaam remember him because he had a donkey that spoke. What is significant is not so much the fact that the donkey talked but why the donkey was given the ability to speak.

The Israelites were now at the end of their forty year journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. They were travelling up the east side of the Jordan and encountering various struggles as they travelled. They finally were encamped in the plains of Moab. How would we feel if several million people camped just outside the city where we live? Continue reading “Speak only God’s word”