Sunday, March 21, 2010


Deuteronomy 11-13

Deuteronomy chapter 11 contains an extended exhortation to love and obey the lord and "keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always." Moses reminds the Israelites that they need to remember that "your children were not the ones who saw and experienced the discipline of the LORD your God: his majesty, his mighty hand, his outstretched arm; the signs he performed and the things he did in the heart of Egypt." He warns them to be careful "or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them. Then the LORD's anger will burn against you."

In chapter 12, Moses reiterates the command to completely destroy the nations that they will be driving out of the land, all of their altars and idles and "wipe out their names from those places." The Israelites must not be seduced into the worship practices of those nations. And once they have taken possession of the promised land, "the LORD your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name" and all sacrificed must be brought there. "Be careful not to sacrifice your burnt offerings anywhere you please. Offer them only at the place the LORD will choose." If the place is too far distant, the sacrifice can be converted to money and then exchanged at the place for the appropriate sacrifice, but they must not worship as the other nations do.

In chapter 13, he emphasizes yet again the importance of not worshipping other Gods. For example, if a prophet should announce a miraculous sign which takes place and then urges them to follow other Gods, "you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul."

Thoughts, questions, issues

  • Moses gave the Israelites, explicitly, both a blessing and a curse. Entirely dependent upon their behavior.

    I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse - the blessing if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the LORD your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods
  • Earlier, during my commentary on Leviticus, I mentioned that I understood why Christians didn't need to perform animal sacrifices, but I didn't know why Jews no longer did. A little bit of research indicated that it was related to the destruction of the temple and instructions to do it only in a specific place. Part of the answer is here in Deuteronomy 12.

    Be careful not to sacrifice your burnt offerings anywhere you please. 14 Offer them only at the place the LORD will choose in one of your tribes, and there observe everything I command you.

    Presumably, the LORD ended up telling them to do it in Jerusalem, they built the temple, and that's where the sacrifices were done. And then the Romans destroyed the temple, and now the place where they needed to do the sacrifices isn't there anymore. The interesting question now is, if they were to rebuild the temple, would the ritual sacrifices re-commence?

Psalms 41

In a random universe, coincidences will occur. In a God-created and directed universe, coincidences will occur. Whether we see divine providence in them will obviously depend upon our world-view, and often on the import and unlikeliness of the coincidence. There have been a couple of things happen during the course of the year so far where different items have lined up with my reading/writing schedule, and today saw another of them. Today was Enable Boston Sunday where we had a ministry moment and a testimony at church related to the Enable Boston ministry, a ministry dealing with differently able persons with all sorts of disabilities. In addition to the testimony, ministry moment and prayer, the sermon touched on the topic, and a blind woman played the offeratory on the piano (spectacularly.)

And I opened up the reading schedule to see that the wisdom reading for the day is Psalm 41.

Which opens, "blessed is he who has regard for the weak."


Psalm 41
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
1 Blessed is he who has regard for the weak;
the LORD delivers him in times of trouble.

2 The LORD will protect him and preserve his life;
he will bless him in the land
and not surrender him to the desire of his foes.

3 The LORD will sustain him on his sickbed
and restore him from his bed of illness.

4 I said, "O LORD, have mercy on me;
heal me, for I have sinned against you."

5 My enemies say of me in malice,
"When will he die and his name perish?"

6 Whenever one comes to see me,
he speaks falsely, while his heart gathers slander;
then he goes out and spreads it abroad.

7 All my enemies whisper together against me;
they imagine the worst for me, saying,

8 "A vile disease has beset him;
he will never get up from the place where he lies."

9 Even my close friend, whom I trusted,
he who shared my bread,
has lifted up his heel against me.

10 But you, O LORD, have mercy on me;
raise me up, that I may repay them.

11 I know that you are pleased with me,
for my enemy does not triumph over me.

12 In my integrity you uphold me
and set me in your presence forever.

13 Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.
Amen and Amen.

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