A leading nation…a holy and cleansed people.

20 04 2011

DAY ONE HUNDRED AND SIX : Deuteronomy 26 v. 1 – 28 v. 14; Luke 17 v. 11 – 37; Psalm 46 v. 1 – 11

Firstfruits and Tithes – when the Israelites have settled in the Promised Land, they are to take firstfruits of all that is produced, place them in a basket and take them to the priest, at the appointed place. The act of remembering who they are and where they’ve come from – “My father was a wandering Aramean…..” is to keep before the Israelites the whole story of God’s work amongst His people.
“The Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm…”
There is recognition that the Promised Land, and therefore the fruits of the land, are a gift from God.
There is a time of rejoicing for all that the Lord has given.
In the third year – the ‘year of the tithe’ – the offering is given to the Levite, the alien/foreigner, the orphan and the widow, with a proclamation that the sacred portion has been set apart and is holy, God’s instructions have been followed to the letter, and a prayer is prayed for God’s continued blessing on His people and the land.

The Lord’s Commands – loving God is equated to ‘following His decrees and laws…with all your heart and with all your soul’. (Reminded me of Jesus’ ‘if you love me, you will obey my commands’).
On the one side, the people pledge their commitment to God, to walk in His ways. On the other side, God pledges that they are His people, ‘His treasured possession….set in praise, fame and honour high above all the nations…a people holy to the Lord’.

Mount Ebal’s Altar – instructions to set up large stones, covered with plaster, and with the laws written on, on Mount Ebal. An altar is to be built there too, for offering burnt sacrifices. A focal point for people to return, remember and give thanks.

Curses – this appears to be a very sacred moment :
“Israel..be silent and listen.
You have now become the people of the Lord your God.”
they are to be marked by obedience.
As the people gather across the Jordan, the tribes of Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph and Benjamin stand on Mt Gerizim; the tribes of Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan and Naphtali stand on Mt Ebal, and the priests read out the curses!

You are cursed when :
~ you carve or cast a secret idol
~ you dishonour your father or mother
~ you move a neighbour’s boundary stone
~ you lead a blind person astray
~ you act unjustly towards a foreigner, orphan or widow
~ you sleep with someone you are forbidden to (mother, animal, sister, mother-in-law)
~ you kill someone, secretly, or accept a bribe to kill
~ you do not uphold the words of the laws, or do as they say.
after each proclamation, all God’s people said
“AMEN”, so be it, ‘Yes, Lord’.

I simply note here that there is a deeper work than simply the outer appearance of holiness – God sees what is done ‘in secret’ – the holiness God desires is a deep, ‘when no-one’s looking’, holiness. All or nothing.

Blessings – the blessings of true obedience and devotion to God are :
~ you will be set high above the nations
~ you will be blessed in the city and the country
~ you will be blessed with fruitfulness (families and crops / livestock)
~ your basket and kneading trough will be blessed
~ you will be blessed when you come out and go it (travelling mercies)
Enemies will be defeated; barns will be blessed; work will be blessed;
The promise is that the Israelites will be established as a ‘holy people’, known and feared by others. They will prosper abundantly.
The heavens will open and bless the land with rain in season.
They will lend, but not need to borrow; they will be the head , not the tail; they will be the top, not the bottom.

Ten Lepers Healed – Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem. He is met by ten lepers, standing at a distance and shouting for help, for His pity.
Jesus instructs them to go to the priest and present themselves there (I guess priests would run a mile from lepers, so visibly unclean). As they go, they are cleansed.
Only one of them – a Samaritan (loathed by the Jews) – returns to Jesus to praise God and thank Him.
Jesus asks where the other nine are, and implies that the other nine were not ‘foreigners’. Jesus tells this Samaritan to rise, his faith has made him well. 

The Kingdom of God –
Jesus’ teaching on the Kingdom of God, prompted by the Pharisee’s question about when it would come.
Jesus says the Kingdom is ‘within you’ – not easily observed by human eye.
Jesus teaches that there is a time coming when the Son of Man will not be seen, but be evident like lightning, after suffering, and rejection by this people.
Like the time of Noah – people living their lives oblivious to the flood which was coming.
Like the time of Lot – people trading as usual, unaware of the fire and sulphur about to rain down.
So, too, the time the Son of Man is revealed – when it happens, ‘don’t look back’ (remember Lot’s wife). In every situation, one will be taken, one left behind….

Jesus’ desire in this teaching is to urge them to ready themselves for the coming of the Son of Man (the second coming), as many of them (the Pharisees He’s responding to) couldn’t see the kingdom was already breaking out through Jesus.

PSALM – what a great song of praise, of faith
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way…
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God…
The Lord Almighty is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress.”





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