Arnon Gorge, Argob, Gilead and Havoth Jair…..anyone got a satnav?

10 04 2011

DAY NINETY-FIVE : Deuteronomy 2 v. 24 – 4 v. 14; Luke 10 v. 25 – 11 v. 4; Psalm 41 v. 7 – 13

Defeat of Sihon – Oh, crossing the Arnon Gorge – doesn’t that sound picturesque. God is beginning to give them the land to possess, as the Israelites succeed in battle. The towns in the region of Heshbon, under the rule of Sihon, fell into Israelite hands. The inhabitants of those towns were completely wiped out.

Defeat of Og – Similarly, King Og and his army are defeated, and all their cities are taken (the whole region of Argob), and the land east of the Jordan is taken. Og is described as the last of the Rephaites, a giant people (hence his thirteen foot bed).

Dividing the Land – Moses shares out this land to the east of the Jordan, between the Reubenites, Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh. The menfolk of those tribes are reminded that they are to cross the Jordan with the whole Israelite army and take possession of the promised land, before returning to their families east of the Jordan, and finally settling there.

Moses Forbidden to Cross the Jordan – Moses encourages Joshua to be brave and strong in the Lord: “Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God Himself will fight for you.”‘When the task is difficult, it is God Himself who fights the battles – an important lesson for all who would lead God’s people.’

Although Moses pleads with God to be allowed to enter the promised land, God refuses: “That is enough. Do not speak to me any more about this matter.” Again, Moses is commanded to view the land from a high point (a sort of ‘look at what you could’ve won’ moment?), and commission Joshua, encouraging and strengthening him for the task of leading the people into the land.

Obedience Commanded – The Israelites are reminded to keep the commandments He is about to teach them, if they wish to go in and possess the land, and live. The commands must not be added to or taken away from. Part of the knock-on effect of a people living God’s way is to witness to other peoples around, that they may see their wisdom and understanding, and the nearness of the one true God (in the covenant relationship).
“Be careful…so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen, or let them slip from your heart as long as you live.” The stories and commands are to be passed faithfully onto future generations.

Good Samaritan – the Jewish legal expert correctly states that obeying the commandments to love (God, self and others) will enable someone to truly live, and inherit eternal life.
The Good Samaritan story could easily be called ‘the pre-occupied Priest’, or ‘the lousy Levite’. It is a story offered as a response to the question ‘who is my neighbour?’
The generosity of the stranger / enemy Samaritan is in contrast to the lack of compassion from the religious figures.
‘He took pity on him…‘ is the key to the Samaritan’s actions.
Jesus tells the legal expert (and He tells us) to go and do likewise – to live out of compassion for others.

Martha and Mary – Oh the classic story of Jesus commending Mary for choosing the ‘better way’ of sitting at Jesus’ feet, taking in His wisdom and teaching. Martha is ‘distracted by many things’, when only one thing matters – elsewhere, Jesus puts it this way, “Seek first the kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Prayer – In response to the disciples’ request that Jesus teach them to pray, He shares the words which became knows as the Lord’s Prayer.
A prayer which rightly begins with who God is – hallowed Father; continues with requests for daily bread and forgiveness and for protection from temptations.
It is a glorious prayer, and a model for all our praying, beginning with glorifying God for who He is.
I recall praying the Lord’s Prayer at Taize, surrounded by thousands of others from all corners of the globe, many different languages, all with the same prayer. I received a glimpse of heaven there.
I think of numerous occasions, praying the Lord’s Prayer alongside people towards the end of their life on earth, when the words, so deeply imbedded in the soul, express so much more than words alone.
Thank God for Jesus’ teaching on prayer.

‘Even my closest friend, whom I trusted,
he who shared my bread,
has lifted up his heel against me.’
reminded me of Judas dipping his bread at the same time as Jesus at the Last Supper.

Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting. AMEN and AMEN.




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