‘Whoever listens to you listens to me….’

8 04 2011

DAY NINETY- FOUR : Deuteronomy 1 v. 1 – 2 v. 23; Luke 9 v. 57 – 10 v. 24; Psalm 41 v. 1 – 6

Hurrah ! We start Deuteronomy – the final book of the Pentateuch – containing Moses’ words to the Israelites on the plains of Moab, preparing them for their entry into Canaan. There’s a retelling of some of the events of the previous books, to act as a reminder of God’s purposes as they venture into the promised land as God’s chosen, covenanted people.

DEUTERONOMY
Leaving Horeb – Now is the time for God’s people to go in and possess the land God had promised Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
The promise had been given generations before, but had needed years of pain, frustration, waiting for this God-appointed time.
The journey through the wilderness, which should have taken eleven days, had taken forty years.
‘You have stayed long enough on this mountain’ – it is God’s appointed time for them to move.

Appointing Leaders – a reminder of that passage in Exodus where Moses requires help organising and leading the vast number of Israelites, and leaders are raised up to look after all the people. He chose wise and respected men.

Spies –
a reminder that the people asked to send some spies into the land to suss it out before heading in to possess the land (from Numbers 13).

Rebellion – Moses reminds them that their ancestors rebelled, grumbled and complained, fearful of the reports the spies brought back. Moses had tried to remind them that God had already shown them, in His miraculous actions, that there was no need to fear, yet they still would not trust in God (even though He led them by fire and cloud). Moses underlines the fact that it was God’s displeasure with their unwillingness to trust which kept all that generation from entering the promised land.
Only Caleb, who ‘followed the Lord wholeheartedly’ would survive to enter the land.
Moses explains how Joshua, too, was chosen to succeed him, to lead the people into the land, because of Moses’ disobedience (although it sounds like even Moses blames the people for his sinfulness a little too much).
Even though God told them not to attack the Amorites, the people led out into battle and were defeated. ‘I told you but you would not listen’.

Wanderings – a reminder of how God provided everything they needed through their forty years of wandering, as they turned north to venture towards the promised land. This chapter reminds us of the land God blessed to Esau (Jacob’s brother), reminding the Israelites how God is at work beyond His covenanted people. Lots of talk in this chapter about how God has manoeuvred various peoples into position in the land, and He prohibits Israel from confronting them.
My study bible has a note alongside verse 16 :
“This is one of the saddest verses in all of Scripture. the people who could have lived abundantly in the Land of Promise died in the dust of disobedience.”

LUKE
Cost of Following Jesus – Jesus’ response to the ‘stranger’ who pledges unfailing allegiance (‘I will follow you wherever you go’) is to remind him that the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head – i.e. will be wandering from place to place, dependant upon the welcome and hospitality of others. He invites the man, however, to follow Him.
When the man wants to spend some time attending to family, Jesus challenges him to put God’s kingdom first.
When another wants to follow, but first to go and say his farewells, Jesus challenges him not to look back.
Jesus is challenging those who wish to follow – to become His disciples – that Christian loyalty needs to be deeper than ‘material comforts (v. 57, 58), social duties and family relationships (v. 59, 60) and must persist to the end (v. 61, 62).

The Christian life is an ever deepening commitment and journey towards full devotion to Christ Jesus – living solely for Him. He will provide all of our material needs, He will give us a renewed perspective and relationship with family, and He will give us a fulfilling purpose for the here and now, and into the future (rather than needing to constantly look back).

Sending Out the Seventy-Two – Luke calls Jesus, “The Lord” as He appoints seventy-two people to go in twos ahead of Him into many towns (into the harvest-field, which is ripe, but in need of harvesters). They are to be focussed on where they are going (not distracted en route), and are warned that the experience will feel threatening at times (like lambs among wolves).
They are to bless a house with Shalom-peace, and will discover whether people with the same spirit of peace live there. If so, they are to stay there and gladly receive the hospitality.
The disciples are to heal and teach the Kingdom of God is near you (not far from you!), whether they are warmly welcomed, or not. Towns, and their people, will be judged by the welcome extended to Jesus’ disciples. Those who reject the disciples will suffer more than Sodom; Korazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum (Galilean towns) are mentioned as places where Jesus has performed mighty miracles, but some have been slow to repent and turn to God. Tyre and Sidon are noted as Gentile cities on the Mediterranean coast, which would have turned to God sooner, and would therefore be favoured over the Jewish towns.

Jesus is stretching the boundaries of His ministry continually, and linking judgment to the response people make to Him / His disciples.

Verse 16 is amazing, that Jesus includes the disciples in the marvellous chain of sharing God’s message – ‘whoever listens to you listens to me’ (awesome concept to those who seek to live a life of devotion and discipleship for Jesus)

When the seventy-two return excitedly, claiming victory over the demons, Jesus reminds them that all what matters is that their names are written in heaven. ALWAYS, it’s who we are in Christ which matters more than what we do for Him (to avoid the danger of overstating our ‘doing’ rather than our ‘being’). 

Ultimately, we see here how Jesus has authority over ‘the enemy’, and reassures the disciples that ‘nothing can harm you’.

I love the picture of Jesus ‘full of joy through the Holy Spirit’ – is this because He’s witnessing the Kingdom of God growing through the seventy-two He has empowered and sent out?
His prayer thanks God for revealing the truth to the least, the unlikely, the child-like.

PSALM
“Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the Lord delivers him in times of trouble.”
He will be blessed in the land, for caring for the needy.
The writer, though, cries out to God for his experience is one of being lied about and slandered, false reports being spread far and wide. He cries out for mercy and healing from God.

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