Deuteronomy 34, Psalm 91

Greater Than Moses.

“There has never been another prophet like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face..Deuteronomy 34:10 NET

Well, this is the final chapter – of the book of Deuteronomy and of Moses’ life. Here we have recorded the last days of this mighty prophet of God. Because he had struck the rock in anger in the wilderness of Zin, failing to show respect and reverence for God, Moses had been denied the privilege of taking the people into the Promised Land (Numbers 20). Instead, Moses was only able to go to the very edge of the land, and view it from a distance. God took the life of Moses on Mount Nebo. He was old, but not in bad health. “Moses was 120 years old when he died, yet his eyesight was clear, and he was as strong as ever” (Deuteronomy 34:7 NLT). This great leader died in the land of Moab and went to be with the Lord. His death is marked by 30 days of mourning and a statement commemorating his role as God’s chosen spokesman:

There has never been another prophet like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face. The LORD sent Moses to perform all the miraculous signs and wonders in the land of Egypt against Pharaoh, all his servants, and his entire land. And it was through Moses that the LORD demonstrated his mighty power and terrifying acts in the sight of all Israel. – Deuteronomy 34:10-12 NLT

Yet as great as Moses was, there would be someone greater. Not Joshua, his replacement. But Jesus Christ. He would be a prophet not unlike Moses in His role as deliverer and shepherd of God’s people. He would be the spokesman for God. He would be God’s representative, performing great signs and miracles as proof of His power and validation of His words. The book of Hebrews makes it clear that Jesus was greater than Moses himself.

And so, dear brothers and sisters who belong to God and are bound for heaven, think about this Jesus whom we declare to be God’s Messenger and High Priest. For he was faithful to God, who appointed him, just as Moses served faithfully and was entrusted with God’s entire house. But Jesus deserves far more glory than Moses, just as a person who builds a fine house deserves more praise than the house itself. For every house has a builder, but God is the one who made everything. Moses was certainly faithful in God’s house, but only as a servant. His work was an illustration of the truths God would reveal later. But Christ, the faithful Son, was in charge of the entire household. And we are God’s household, if we keep up our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ. – Hebrews 3:1-5 NLT

Jesus deserves far more glory than Moses. Moses was a foreshadowing of who was to come. He as an illustration of the truths God would reveal later. While Moses was a deliverer, Jesus was the deliverer. Moses could provide release from captivity to Egypt. Jesus provides release from captivity to sin and death. Moses could only provide the law written on tablets of stone, outlining the requirements of God, but incapable of providing the power to keep those requirements. The law pointed out the sin of man but could not prevent it. Jesus came to fulfill the law and provide mankind with a way to satisfy the righteous requirements of God and stand before Him as sinless and pure. Moses could only lead the people to the Promised Land, but Jesus would provide a true Promised Land marked by eternal life with God the Father.

Jesus is greater. But like the people of Israel, we can run the risk of failing to listen to the words of Jesus just as they did the words of Moses. We can rebel against the leadership of Jesus, just as they did the leadership of Moses. So the writer of Hebrews warns us:

That is why the Holy Spirit says, “Today you must listen to his voice. Don’t harden your hearts against him as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested God’s patience in the wilderness. There your ancestors tried my patience, even though they saw my miracles for forty years. So I was angry with them, and I said, ‘Their hearts always turn away from me. They refuse to do what I tell them.’ So in my anger I made a vow: ‘They will never enter my place of rest.’” Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, as long as it is called “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ. But never forget the warning: “Today you must listen to his voice. Don’t harden your hearts against him as Israel did when they rebelled.” – Hebrews 3:7-14 NLT

Today you must listen to His voice.

Father, You have sent Your Son Jesus as the greater prophet. He has brought us words of truth directly from You. He speaks to us daily through Your Word. He reveals to us Your will. But we tend to disobey and rebel, rejecting His words and refusing to believe. Forgive us for treating Him just as the people of Israel did Moses. Forgive us for the many times we have refused to listen to His words and keep His commands. But thank You for Your patience and kindness. And thank You for sending Your Son as our deliverer and redeemer. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Deuteronomy 32-33

A Song Worth Singing!

“See now that I, indeed I, am he!” says the Lord, “and there is no other god besides me. I kill and give life, I smash and I heal, and none can resist my power.Deuteronomy 32:39 NET

Have you ever had one of those songs that you just can’t seem to get out of your head? The kind that just keeps coming up no matter how hard you try to get rid of it? Usually, it’s some worthless little ditty with meaningless lyrics and a less-than-memorable tune, but for some reason it takes up residence in your head and it won’t go away.

In chapter 32 of Deuteronomy Moses teaches the people of Israel a song that he wants them to get stuck in their heads. It’s a song that God had give him. In fact, God tells Moses, “Now write down for yourselves the following song and teach it to the Israelites. Put it into their very mouths so that this song may serve as my witness against the Israelites!” (Deuteronomy 31:19 NET). God wanted the people to learn this song and to sing it to themselves relentlessly as a reminder of their rebellion and disobedience against Him. This song paints a picture of God as the faithful One. It sings of His power and might, His justice and faithfulness.

He is the Rock; his work is perfect. Everything he does is just and fair. He is a faithful God who does no wrong; how just and upright he is! (Deuteronomy 32:4)

Look now; I myself am he! There is no god other than me! I am the one who kills and gives life; I am the one who wounds and heals; no one delivers from my power! (Deuteronomy 32:39)

But this song also tells of the wrath of God and His anger with the people of Israel because of their constant rebellion and unfaithfulness. It’s a tune that tells the sad story of man’s turning away from God in order to give their love and allegiance to false gods.

They have roused my jealousy by worshiping non–gods; they have provoked my fury with useless idols. Now I will rouse their jealousy by blessing other nations; I will provoke their fury by blessing the foolish Gentiles. (Deuteronomy 32:21)

This song tells of a people who had been blessed by God, but as a result of their abundance they had become “fat and happy.” They had gotten satisfied and complacent in their relationship with Him. Instead of recognizing their prosperity as the handiwork of God, they began to take credit for their successes and become self-sufficient and developed a habit of unfaithfulness.

But Israel soon became fat and unruly; the people grew heavy, plump, and stuffed! Then they abandoned the God who had made them; they made light of the Rock of their salvation. They stirred up his jealousy by worshiping foreign gods; they provoked his fury with detestable acts. (Deuteronomy 32:15-16)

This wasn’t exactly a Christmas carol with a catchy tune and light-hearted lyrics. It was at the same time an anthem to God’s greatness and a lament to Israel’s unfaithfulness. It is a timeless picture of God and mankind, and a chilling reminder of our inability to live the life He has called us to live without His help. We are prone to wander and leave the God we say we love. We are wired to rebel and turn away from the very One who created us. But this song does have a happy ending. It tells us of God’s mercy and grace. It reminds us that, in spite of our rebellion, God restores. He continually shows us compassion.

Yes, GOD will judge his people, but oh how compassionately he’ll do it. When he sees their weakened plight and there is no one left, slave or free. (Deuteronomy 32:36)

The lyrics of this song don’t exactly roll right off the tongue and I don’t know if it would be easy to sing even with a great tune behind it, but the message is one we all need to remember. We need to have it stuck in our heads and we need to sing it from the roof tops. This is the message of God and His relationship with mankind. It is about rebellion and redemption, sin and salvation, helplessness and hopefulness. It is the story of our plight and God’s plan. The song of salvation through Jesus Christ.

Father, we have something to sing about. We can sing of Your greatness and grace. We can sing of Your mercy in the midst of our sinfulness. You have provided a way – the Way – Your Son Jesus Christ. You have made it possible for us to sing about salvation in spite of our sin and rebellion. Never let us stop singing the reality of who You are and what we would be without You. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Deuteronomy 31

Be Strong and Courageous!

“Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid of them! The LORD your God will go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor forsake you.Deuteronomy 31:6 NLT

We live in a time filled with fear and apprehension. We are filled with questions and doubts about the future. What is going to happen to the economy? What is going to happen to the environment? What is going to happen to our culture? What about my 401k? My kids? My job? My marriage? The world appears unstable and insecure. Nothing seems to be reliable or lasting anymore. It’s hard to trust anyone or anything. And it is at times like these that we, as Christians, can run the risk of trying to look some place other than God for our hope, peace, security, comfort, strength, and direction. That is exactly what the Israelites faced as they stood on the edge of the Promised Land preparing to go in. Moses was not going with them. God had already made it clear that he would not be joining them in their conquest of the land, but would die in the wilderness. The people were scared. They were filled with apprehension and doubt. How in the world were they going to be able to pull this off? They were not a military power, but a rag-tag bunch of runaways from captivity in Egypt. Yet God was calling them to boldly take over a land occupied by nations bigger and badder than themselves.

So Moses steps in one last time to remind the people where to place their trust. In God. He tells them once again that their God can be trusted. There is no reason to fear or faint. He puts it simply and succinctly. “Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid of them! The LORD your God will go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6 NLT). Be strong and courageous. Those four words appear throughout this chapter. Moses tells Joshua, his replacement, “Be strong and courageous! For you will lead these people into the land that the LORD swore to give their ancestors. You are the one who will deliver it to them as their inheritance” (Deuteronomy 31:7 NLT). He reminds Joshua that God is going to go ahead of him, and will be with him every step of the way. God will not fail in His responsibilities or forsake His people, so there is no reason to fear. Once again, at Joshua’s commissioning, God Himself uses these same four words to launch this new leader’s ministry. “Be strong and courageous! You must bring the people of Israel into the land I swore to give them. I will be with you” (Deuteronomy 31:23 NLT).

As the people of God stood facing the unknown, they were encouraged to be strong and courageous. As Joshua contemplated his new role as leader of the motley group of stubborn and rebellious wanderers, he is told be strong and courageous. Why? How? The answer is found in God Himself. He is our strength. He is our source of courage. Like then, He still goes ahead of His people, preparing the way, working His plan, and accomplishing His will. He is with us and will not forsake us. We have no reason to fear. Even though God knew that the people of Israel were going to rebel against Him, rejecting His authority and turning to other gods, He was going to be a constant source of strength and power throughout it all. All they had to do was turn to Him and trust Him. He would do all that He said He would do. He would be all that He said He would be. God is telling you and me the same thing today. Paul even picks up on this theme in his letter to the Corinthians. “Be on guard. Stand true to what you believe. Be courageous. Be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13 NLT). We are called by God to be ready, faithful, courageous and strong. We have His presence with us at all times. We have His power at our disposal at all times. We have His promises to encourage us at all times. He is with us and will not forsake us. So be strong and courageous!

Father, it is easy to be fearful. It is easy to turn to anything and anyone else other than you during times of fear and doubt. But don’t let us forget that You are with us and will not forsake us. You can do what You say You will do. You always have and always will. Give us the strength to trust You more. Give us the courage to step out in faith, trusting in You and You alone. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Deuteronomy 29-30

Choose Life!

“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, that you and your descendants might live!Deuteronomy 30:19 NLT

It’s really quite simple. Choose life or choose death. Choose death or choose destruction. Choose blessing or choose cursing. In chapters 29-30, we have God making His commands quite clear to the people of Israel. Choose life so that you and your descendants might live. There were a lot of things about God the people did not understand. There were mysteries about Him they would never be able to explain or comprehend. But what He wanted from them was perfectly clear. “There are secret things that belong to the LORD our God, but the revealed things belong to us and our descendants forever, so that we may obey these words of the law” (Deuteronomy 29:29 NLT). He had revealed His law. He had given them His instructions. Now all they had to do was choose – to obey or disobey. This was not nuclear science.

“This command I am giving you today is not too difficult for you to understand or perform. It is not up in heaven, so distant that you must ask, ‘Who will go to heaven and bring it down so we can hear and obey it?’ Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’ The message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart so that you can obey it.” – Deuteronomy 30:11-14 NLT

They knew perfectly well what God wanted. Now it was a matter of choice. “Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between prosperity and disaster, between life and death” (Deuteronomy 30:15 NLT). They could choose to obey and experience the life He had promised them or they could choose to disobey and experience an existence void of blessings. You see to choose a life that is missing God is to choose no life at all. To live outside of His will and apart from His presence isn’t life, it’s death. Yet, even today, people will choose to live their lives apart from God and then learn that the life they seek is non-existent. The blessings they desire are unattainable. The joy they desire is nowhere to be found. To choose God is to choose life. To reject God is to reject His blessings. It’s that simple.

Over in the book of Romans, Paul quotes from this very passage in Deuteronomy when talking about the Jewish people and his desire that they choose life through Jesus Christ. “Dear brothers and sisters, the longing of my heart and my prayer to God is that the Jewish people might be saved. I know what enthusiasm they have for God, but it is misdirected zeal. For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself. Instead, they are clinging to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law. They won’t go along with God’s way. For Christ has accomplished the whole purpose of the law. All who believe in him are made right with God. For Moses wrote that the law’s way of making a person right with God requires obedience to all of its commands” (Romans 10:1-5 NLT). Paul goes on to quote directly from Deuteronomy 30 when he says, “But the way of getting right with God through faith says, “You don’t need to go to heaven” (to find Christ and bring him down to help you). And it says, “You don’t need to go to the place of the dead” (to bring Christ back to life again). Salvation that comes from trusting Christ––which is the message we preach––is already within easy reach. In fact, the Scriptures say, ‘The message is close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart'” (Romans 10:6-8 NLT). The message was simple. Paul was preaching it. Choose life. Choose Christ. It was that simple. The gospel message is incredibly simple. Choose life through Christ. Jesus Himself said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die like everyone else, will live again” (John 11:25 NLT). He is life everlasting. And He is offering it to all who will accept it. And He offers it to those of who are already His followers – on a daily basis. He came that we might have life to the full. He said, “My purpose is to give life in all its fullness” (John 10:10 NLT). Full life. Abundant life. Choose life. Choose to make Christ your Lord and Savior. It’s really that simple.

Father, we try to make everything too difficult. We want to understand all mysteries. We want to be able to explain who You are and how everything in the universe works. But what we really want is life and You offer it through Your Son. While we’re busy looking for answers, we tend to walk right past the solution to all of life’s problems. The abundant life we seek is found in Jesus, not in knowing more and more. It’s so simple, but we try to make it so complex. Open our eyes. Help us see that to choose Jesus is to choose life. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Deuteronomy 27-28

Obedience and Blessing.

“If you fully obey the LORD your God by keeping all the commands I am giving you today, the LORD your God will exalt you above all the nations of the world.Deuteronomy 28:1 NLT

Blessings and curses. These two chapters are filled with both. And the key to enjoying one and escaping the other is the same: obedience. God calls His people to live lives of willful obedience. The benefits are staggering. The penalty for failing to obey are devastating. Over and over again, Moses stresses the importance of obeying God’s commands, of keeping His laws. God tells him to erect large stones, white wash them, then write the laws on them as a reminder of what they are supposed to do once they arrive in the land. Any future disobedience on the part of the Israelites was not going to be a case of pleading ignorance. God was making it perfectly clear what His expectations were. The people would have no excuse. Obedience and disobedience are always a choice – a decision of the will. And God makes the ramifications of both quite clear. The burden was on the people to obey what God had commanded them to do. And we know how it all turned out. We know the rest of the story. What is predicted here actually takes place. The people fail to keep God’s commands, and end up in exile. Everything Moses predicts comes about. The curses come about with chilling accuracy – from the sieges to the peoples’ ultimate exile in foreign lands.

But here’s the good news. We don’t live under the curse of the law. Paul makes that point clear. “But those who depend on the law to make them right with God are under his curse, for the Scriptures say, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all these commands that are written in God’s Book of the Law.’ Consequently, it is clear that no one can ever be right with God by trying to keep the law. For the Scriptures say, ‘It is through faith that a righteous person has life.’ How different from this way of faith is the way of law, which says, ‘If you wish to find life by obeying the law, you must obey all of its commands.’ But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.'” (Galatians 3:10-13 NLT).

Christ has rescued us from the curse of the law. We don’t have to keep to the law to keep God satisfied. Christ has satisfied His righteous demands by doing what no other man could do: keep the law perfectly. He alone could satisfy the demands of God. He alone could obey the righteous law of God. We are now free to enjoy the blessings of God, not because we have kept the law, but because Jesus did. And because He has paid the penalty required by the law for our disobedience. His death satisfied God’s demand for justice. So now we obey, not out of a sense of fear or to avoid the curse, but out of a sense of gratitude and love. Jesus said that if we love Him we will keep His commandments (John 14:15). Obedience is the result of love, not the antidote for cursing. We love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). And an expression of our love is our obedience.

Father, You have already blessed us in so many ways and it has nothing to do with our obedience. It has to do with Christ’s obedience. Because He obeyed You fully, we are blessed completely. And as a result, we should desire to obey you willingly. Open my eyes so that I might see just how blessed I really am. Let me understand more completely with each passing day the reality of what Christ has done for me. He has freed me from having to keep the law in order to keep my relationship with You right. He has made me right with You permanently and perfectly. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Deuteronomy 25-26

Gratitude for God’s Magnitude.

“The LORD has declared today that you are his people, his own special treasure, just as he promised, and that you must obey all his commands. And if you do, he will make you greater than any other nation. Then you will receive praise, honor, and renown. You will be a nation that is holy to the LORD your God, just as he promised.”Deuteronomy 26:18-19 NLT

We take a lot for granted as God’s people. Sometimes even our salvation itself can become “old hat.” We can get so used to the fact that we have been saved by God through Jesus Christ that it loses its significance. The Israelites faced this same problem. As God’s chosen people, they ran the risk of forgetting the significance of their position. With all the talk about rules and regulation, laws and legal requirements, they could very easily begin to think it was all about what they were doing for God instead of all that God had done for them. But God wanted them to remember. He wanted them to constantly recall the reality of their situation and the significance of their calling. Their lives and their keeping of God’s laws were to be a response to all that God had done for them. He had taken an insignificant group of people, placed them in the land of Egypt, multiplied and blessed them, rescued them from the slavery imposed on them by the Egyptians, led them across the wilderness, provided for all their needs for more than 40 years, and given them an incredibly fertile land in which to live. Their response should have been one of gratitude. They should have been willing to give back to God a portion of what He had given to them – out of thankfulness for His grace and generosity.

And the same should be true of us. Not only does God shower us each and every day with all kinds of physical blessings, He has made us His own possession. We are His people, His treasured possession. He has set us apart as His own and given us His promise of eternal life. Peter reminds us of this very fact. “But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you–from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted” (1 Peter 2:9-10 MSG). We are blessed. We belong to God and He has chosen to make us His instruments to accomplish His purposes here on this earth. And our attitude should be one of gratitude. Gratefulness for God’s incredible goodness and grace.

Father, thank You for all You have done. Forgive me for the many times I take Your grace for granted. Too often I fail to remember all that You have done for me. Never let me forget the greatness of Your goodness. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Deuteronomy 23-24

He Walks Among Us.

“For the Lord your God walks about in the middle of your camp to deliver you and defeat your enemies for you. Therefore your camp should be holy, so that he does not see anything indecent among you and turn away from you.” – Deuteronomy 23:14 NET

Like the two chapters that precede them, chapters 23-24 contain what seems to be a wide range of topics that don’t seem to fit together. But they all have something to do with the presence of God. They each reflect an awareness that God is in the midst of His people. As a result, He has different standards and He expects His people to live differently than the nations around them. We may view some of these restrictions as unnecessarily harsh, but God had a reason for them. He was illustrating for His people His own holiness and set-apartness. Even when the people of God went out on manuevers as an army, they had to remain holy. They couldn’t cut corners or excuse themselves from following God’s commands. “When you go out as an army against your enemies, guard yourselves against anything impure” (Deuteronomy 23:9 NET). Personal and corporate purity were to be a priority – at all times. Even when it came to personal hygiene, they were to practice purity. When an army was out in the field, each of the men was to cover his waste products, not leave it out in the open like a latrine. Why? Because God would be walking about their camp. He would be in their midst. Not only did this result in good hygiene, it resulted in a constant awareness of God’s presence. God’s people should ALWAYS conduct themselves in view of God’s presence among them.

This is a huge need in the church today. So often we fail to sense God’s presence among us. We act as if He is nowhere to be found. Which results in a flippant, casual kind of attitude about our thoughts and actions. Over in his letter to the Ephesian church, Paul says, “Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes––these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God” (Ephesians 5:3-4). We are to remove these things from our community. We are NOT to live like the rest of the world. Our homes are NOT to have in them the same kind of things the rest of the world has. We are NOT to watch the same kind of movies and TV shows. We are NOT to listen to the same music. We are NOT to have the same kinds of conversations. Because we are better? No, but because the holy, righteous God walks in our midst. He walks among us. I remember one time having a conversation with my oldest son about his use of the Internet. I warned him about the dangers of pornography available online. I tried to tell him that there would be temptations to look at things he knew he was not supposed to look at. But the thing that made the greatest impact on him was when I told him to consider what it would be like if he was surfing the Internet and decided to click on a site he knew was inappropriate – and I was sitting next to him when the improper images appeared on the screen. I remember the uncomfortable look on his face. I asked him if he would ever click on something inappropriate or improper on the Internet if I was sitting next to him and he said, “No!” Then I told him to consider the fact that God Himself was sitting next to Him at all times. The holy, righteous God of the universe was with Him every second of every day. So if he did end up clicking on that site in order to look at images he knew were wrong for him as a believer, he would be doing so right in front of God.

But most of us don’t seem to believe that God is with us at all times. We don’t recognize that He walks in our midst. So we tolerate all kinds of “uncleanliness” in our midst. Rather than bury our filth, we allow it to remain in the open, subjecting God to our sin and uncleanness. Sexual immorality, impurity, greed, obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes. Sounds like a description of prime-time TV doesn’t it? Yet as we sit on the couch taking it all in, God is there with us. He is in our midst. His presence is there whether we feel it or not. Yet we live like the nations around us – ignoring His presence and pursuing a lifestyle that has no place among God’s people. “GOD, your God, strolls through your camp; he’s present to deliver you and give you victory over your enemies. Keep your camp holy; don’t permit anything indecent or offensive in GOD’s eyes” (Deuteronomy 23:14 MSG).

Father, You are in our midst, but we live like You are not there. We allow all kinds of uncleanness to exist in our camp, ignoring Your commands for holiness and purity. We resemble the world around us more than the God among us. We have lost our distinctiveness. Forgive us Father and remind us once again of our uniqueness as Your people. You walk among us. You have placed Your Spirit within us. We belong to You and not this world. Make us increasingly aware of Your presence so that we might willingly remove any and all things in and around our lives that have no place in the life of a believer. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Deuteronomy 21-22

Extremely Tough Love.

“Suppose a man has a stubborn, rebellious son who will not obey his father or mother, even though they discipline him. In such cases, the father and mother must take the son before the leaders of the town. They must declare: ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious and refuses to obey. He is a worthless drunkard.’ Then all the men of the town must stone him to death. In this way, you will cleanse this evil from among you, and all Israel will hear about it and be afraid.” – Deuteronomy 21:18-21 NLT

Chapters 21-22 of Deuteronomy are difficult at best. The content appears to be somewhat random and unrelated. It covers everything from how to properly marry a woman taken captive in the defeat of an enemy city to the proper resolution of manslaughter cases when you don’t know who committed the crime. There’s even some admonitions about home safety, cross dressing, and the care of animals. But all these topics have something to do with the fifth, sixth and seventh commandments. “Honor your father and mother.” “You shall not murder.” “You shall not commit adultery.” Each of the situations covered in these chapters have something to do with illustrating in greater detail what these commandments really meant. These two chapters are practical, daily applications of these three laws. Yes, they seem a little odd to us at times, but they fit the context in which the people of Israel were living. They were real life events that took place every day.

But the one that struck a chord with me was the one on the rebellious son. As the father of two boys, I have actually used these verses to jokingly remind my sons how important it is that they obey. At times, when they have given me a hard time and disobeyed me, I have reminded them that in “Bible days” boys like that could have been stoned. Now hear me out. I never threatened to stone my kids and I was not trying to instill the fear of God into them. I was just kidding around. But as I read this passage again in its context, I am struck with how much this is NOT a laughing matter to God. Obedience is a serious matter to God. So is rebellion. In God’s economy, parents are his legal representatives. They exercise authority over their children on His behalf. This is not a role we should take lightly. This passage is given as a last resort for parents who have exhausted all other avenues to restore their son to a right relationship with them and with God.

The fifth commandment states, “Honor your father and mother.” This was a command that God took seriously. Disobedience to authority was a serious matter to God. A child that habitually disobeyed his parents would be a man who willingly and regularly disobeyed the commands of God and every other authority in his life. He would become a bane to society and a blot on the community. This passage was not intended to give parents the freedom to kill their rebellious sons, but to encourage them to do everything in their power to restore their child. But in the end, their love for God was to supercede their love for their child. This passage seems to indicate a son who had developed a habit of willful rebellion. The terms “stubborn and rebellious” are used to describe the son. They are the same terms used throughout the Old Testament to describe the nation of Israel in terms of their relationship with God. Whenever Israel disobeyed God, it was in effect saying, “You are not my God!” They were declaring by their actions that they rejected His authority over their lives. They were dishonoring Him as their rightful ruler and authority. In rejecting the authority of his parents, a son was doing the same thing. The son, in renouncing his relationship with his parents, has effectively
declared, if not by his words, then certainly by his deeds, what the adopted son in the Mesopotamian adoption contracts says when he abrogates his contract, “I am not your son; you are not my parents.”

As a parent, I am to place my love for God above my love for my child. I am not to excuse his behavior, but see his rebellion and disobedience as an affront to the authority and sovereignty of God. A rebellious child will grow up to be a rebellious man. To allow my son to habitually disobey my authority would be to encourage his future rejection of God’s authority in his life. God seems to have given this regulation as a reminder of His ultimate authority and requirement of obedience, but also as an effective deterrent to disobedience and juvenile delinquency. No loving parent would have willingly brought their son to be stoned without first having done everything in their power to restore their son. But in the end, our love of God should even overshadow our love for our own children. Our desire to honor God should supercede our desire to tolerate our childrens’ rebellious behavior. In his commentary on the book of Deuteronomy, Dr. Thomas L. Constable has this to say about this passage:

“It may appear at first that God was commanding the Israelites to exercise less grace with their own children than He showed the whole nation. However, God had previously promised never to cut off His people (Genesis 12:1-3). The Israelites were to be God’s instruments of judgment in many specific situations, as we have seen in Deuteronomy. The punishment of sinners, be they Canaanites or Israelites, for specific types of sin was imperative for Israel to fulfill God’s purpose for her in the world (Exodus 19:5-6). This legislation teaches us that parents should put their love for God above their love for their children.”

Father, as a parent it is so easy to excuse little acts of rebellion or disobedience in my children. I have done it regularly over the years. And when I do, I fail to see that I am creating an environment of rebellion. I am encouraging a lifestyle of disobedience. I am allowing what I think is a love for my child to become a tolerance of unrighteousness. You have given me a position of authority with the responsibility to teach my children to obey me so that they might one day obey You. When I allow them to reject my authority, even in small ways, I am training them to reject Your authority in the future. Show me how to love You more than I love my own children. May I long to see them live lives of obedience so that they might grow up to obey You in all things. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Deuteronomy 20

He Will Give You the Victory.

“He will say, ‘Listen to me, all you men of Israel! Do not be afraid as you go out to fight today! Do not lose heart or panic. For the LORD your God is going with you! He will fight for you against your enemies, and he will give you victory!’” – Deuteronomy 20:3-4 NLT

One of the realities facing the people of Israel was war. For them to enjoy all the blessings inherent in the Promised Land, they were going to have to do battle with the inhabitants of the land. This was not going to be a cake walk. It was not going to be easy. God was not just going to hand over the land with no effort expended by the people. Sure, He had given them the land. But they were going to have to fight for it in order to occupy it. So war was going to be a regular part of their life for the foreseeable future.

And the same is true for us as believers. We have been assured of a victory by Christ because of His death on the cross. We have been promised a life filled with joy, peace, contentment, and the daily, indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. But we live in a land where the enemy hates us and is out to destroy us. We are under daily attack by that enemy. He is out to defeat us in any way that we can. Jesus promised us that He came to give us life more abundantly (John 10:10), but that does not mean we are going to have an easy go of it. He also promised trials and tribulations in this life. “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NLT).

In Deuteronomy 20, Moses reminds the people that they are getting ready to do battle. When they begin the process of possessing the land, it was going to involve war. And this was not a nation with a standing army. They were not trained to do battle. They had been farmers and shepherds in Egypt. They had been common laborers. But now they were going to have to prepare to do battle with nations much more numerous than them and with a lot more military experience. But Moses tells them, “When you go out to fight your enemies and you face horses and chariots and an army greater than your own, do not be afraid. The LORD your God, who brought you safely out of Egypt, is with you!” (Deuteronomy 20:1 NLT).

Do not be afraid! Instead, they were to remember that God was with them and to rely on His help with confidence regardless of the enemy’s strength. As believers, we are called to trust God in the midst of the conflicts of this life. We are to recall God’s past faithfulness and gain courage from His promises that He will be with us.

It is interesting that the priest had a role to play in preparing the people for battle. He even accompanied the army into battle. But before they engaged the enemy the priest was to remind the people by telling them, “Attention, Israel. In a few minutes you’re going to do battle with your enemies. Don’t waver in resolve. Don’t fear. Don’t hesitate. Don’t panic. GOD, your God, is right there with you, fighting with you against your enemies, fighting to win. (Deuteronomy 20:3-4 MSG). The priest represented the Tabernacle of God, the place where the very presence of God dwelt. As a servant of God, the priest was to consecrate the people and represent the Tabernacle and God’s name in the midst of the battle. The presence of the priest was a visual reminder of the presence of God. The priest didn’t just give a pep talk and then send the people out to do battle. No, he went with them.

We must remind ourselves constantly that we are at war. We are engaged in an epic struggle between two kingdoms. And just because we know how the story ends and who the ultimate victor is, does not mean that the war is any less real. In a real sense, every one of us, as followers of Christ, are priests. We are His representatives. As such, we should remind one another daily that we are in battle, but that we can face and foe with faith and not fear because our God is with us. We don’t need to fear, panic, or worry. Our God goes into battle with us. He fights alongside us. And we fight alongside one another.

Father, we are at war. The enemy is real and he is out to destroy us. But You have promised to fight with us and for us. You have given us the weapons of our warfare. You have equipped us with everything we need to live in this world victoriously and confidently. May we learn to remind each other daily that You are with us. There is no reason to fear. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Deuteronomy 18-19

A Prophet Like Moses.

“The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your fellow Israelites, and you must listen to that prophet.” – Deuteronomy 18:15 NLT

Back in Exodus 19-20 we have recorded the incident where the people of God begged Moses to intercede with God on their behalf. They had seen the power and presence of God on the mountain top in the form of thunder, lightning, and smoke. God had just given His commandments to Moses and the people were terrified. So they told Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die” (Exodus 20:19 NASB). Moses became their spokesman and intercessor. He communicated to them the words of God. He interceded on their behalf with God. Now in Deuteronomy 18, Moses lets the people know that there would be other prophets to come after him. There would be one in particular who would be raised up by God from among them. God would put His words in this individual’s mouth and he would speak on behalf of God.

This statement by Moses clearly speaks of Jesus and His future coming. “But even as he said it, a bright cloud came over them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my beloved Son, and I am fully pleased with him. Listen to him.'” (Matthew 17:5 NLT). In speaking to the Jews of His day, Jesus said, “Yet it is not I who will accuse you of this before the Father. Moses will accuse you! Yes, Moses, on whom you set your hopes. But if you had believed Moses, you would have believed me because he wrote about me. And since you don’t believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?” (John 5:45-47 NLT). Jesus made it clear that He spoke on behalf of God, just as Moses had predicted. “But all who reject me and my message will be judged at the day of judgment by the truth I have spoken. I don’t speak on my own authority. The Father who sent me gave me his own instructions as to what I should say. And I know his instructions lead to eternal life; so I say whatever the Father tells me to say!” (John 12:48-50 NLT). Peter, after the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, told the Jews in the crowd, “Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up a Prophet like me from among your own people. Listen carefully to everything he tells you.’ Then Moses said, ‘Anyone who will not listen to that Prophet will be cut off from God’s people and utterly destroyed.’” (Acts 3:22-23 NLT). Jesus was clearly the ultimate fulfillment of this prophesy.
This prophesy is clearly a Messianic promise and Jesus fulfilled that promise in a number of ways::

He was spared in infancy (Exodus 2; Matthew 2:13-23)

He renounced a royal court (Hebrews 11:24-27; Philippians 2:5-8)

He had compassion for the people (Numbers 27:17; Matthew 9:36)

He made intercession for the people (Deuteronomy 9:18; Hebrews 7:25)

He spoke with God face to face (Exodus 34:29-30; 2 Corinthians 3:7)

He was the mediator of a covenant (Deuteronomy 29:1; Hebrews 8:6-7)

God had revealed Himself through Moses in the Old Testament period. But that role, as great as it was, would be surpassed by Jesus during the New Testament period. While Moses saved the people from slavery in Egypt, Jesus would provide salvation from slavery to sin and death. But while there are many similarities between Jesus and Moses, Jesus is superior. Moses was a prototype of what was to come. Jesus was the fulfillment. Moses was simply a shadow of the Light of the world. So here are seven ways in which Jesus was superior to Moses.

Jesus provided eternal salvation through His death

While Moses died in the wilderness, Jesus was resurrected from the dead

Jesus ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father

Moses job as prophet and intercessor ended with his death, but Jesus continued to speak on behalf of God after His death (through the New Testament prophets)

Jesus continues to intercede for us

Jesus will one day return for us

Jesus will ultimately bring us into God’s presence

The writer of the book of Hebrews makes it clear that Jesus was and is superior to Moses. Moses was a man who spoke on behalf of God. Jesus is the God-man who came as the very image of God in human form, delivering God’s message of redemption and reconciliation. Jesus didn’t just deliver from physical slavery, but spiritual slavery. Jesus didn’t just come to provide a land in which to live, but an eternity in which to dwell with God. “But Jesus deserves far more glory than Moses, just as a person who builds a fine house deserves more praise than the house itself. For every house has a builder, but God is the one who made everything. Moses was certainly faithful in God’s house, but only as a servant. His work was an illustration of the truths God would reveal later. But Christ, the faithful Son, was in charge of the entire household. And we are God’s household, if we keep up our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ.” (Hebrews 3:3-5 NLT).

Father, Your Son is the fulfillment of all things. He is the prophet Moses promised. He is the one who was to come, and He did come, delivering Your message of hope and healing. He was the ultimate sacrifice. He was the prophet, priest, and king. He was the deliverer and the One who was delivered up for my sake. His words are Your words. Teach us to listen to Him, just as Moses said. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org