The tables are turned….

25 04 2011

ONE HUNDRED AND TEN : Deuteronomy 31 v. 30 – 32 v. 52; Luke 19 v. 45 – 20 v. 26; Psalm 48 v. 9 – 14

The Song of Moses – Moses’ song is a very long song, all recorded as it was sung to the whole assembly.
It’s a song which proclaims to the heavens and the earth the name of the Lord, the greatness of God
“He is the Rock, His works are perfect, all His ways are just, a faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He.”
The song tells of the failure of God’s people, acting corruptly and abandoning the ways of the Lord.
The song calls God’s people to remember who formed them, the generations long past, the promised land shared out.
The song speaks of how God had protected them and provided for them through the wilderness.
The song mentions Jeshurun (a poetic name for Israel, meaning ‘upright one’), filled with food, abandoning the God who had provided everything for him,‘rejecting the Rock his Saviour’, turning to foreign gods, sacrificing to gods they had not known.
“You deserted the Rock, who fathered you, you forgot the God who gave you birth.”
The song tells of God’s rejection of them, hiding His face from the wicked and perverse generation; His anger burns.
The song speaks of God bringing calamity upon them, famine, disease, plague; wild beasts, vipers; they will be scattered.
The song proclaims to all nations, that even if Israel falls, it is God’s doing (not proof that Israel’s God has failed).
“The Rock had sold them…the Lord had given them up”
The song reveals God’s compassion for a broken Israel, once she is humbled, and weakened, and the false gods proved to be…..false.
There is a way back to their God :
“See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life.”
The song concludes with God avenging the blood of His people, atoning for the land and people.

Moses finishes his song, and encourages all the people to take his words to heart – ‘they are not just idle words for you – they are your life.’

Moses to Die on Mt. Nebo  – God tells Moses to climb Mt. Nebo in Moab, and to view all of Canaan. Though he won’t enter the promised land because of his previous sin – ‘because you broke faith with Me…and because you did not uphold My holiness among the Israelites’ – Moses does get to see their final destination.

Both Aaron and Moses have final instructions to climb a mountain – at such an age – and expire there.
Does the mountain-top represent a ‘lifting up’, or a high point closer to God / heaven ?
For Moses, at least, it is a vantage point to see (and no doubt pray for) the land of their inheritance.


Jesus at the Temple – okay, Jesus makes Himself immediately unpopular to the temple authorities by driving out the money-changers and merchants in the courtyard.
‘My house will be a house of prayer – but you have made it a ‘den of robbers’.’
Those who hoped His coming would lead to an overthrow of the Roman authorities may not have understood why He was targeting the temple – overthrowing tables, not the occupying force.
He returns every day to teach, whilst the chief priests, teachers and leaders tried to find a way to kill Him. It wasn’t easy for them, as Jesus’ teaching was always well respected and He had quite a following.

Authority of Jesus Questioned – as ever, trying to trap Jesus, the chief priests, teachers and elders come to Him in the temple and ask where His authority comes from. Jesus replies with a question about whether John’s baptism was of heaven or man. It is a trap for them. If they say ‘heaven’, then they are authenticating John’s ministry (which they had never, seemingly, accepted). If they say ‘man’, there will be a riot, because so many believed John to be a prophet-figure.
They wouldn’t be drawn to give an answer….so neither was Jesus.

Parable of the Tenants – Jesus tells the story of the landowner who rented his vineyard to farmers and went away. When he sent his servant(s) to collect ‘some of the fruit of the vineyard’ at harvest time, the tenants first beat, then beat and treated shamefully, then wounded each servant sent. Finally, the landowner sends his son, believing he will be respected. Rather, the heir is killed, with the thought that the inheritance might then pass to them.
The landowner will then come and take the vineyard from the tenants. Jesus further points to Himself, and the events about to unfold, when He quotes :
“The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone”.
The temple leaders are further infuriated, knowing this teaching is all targeted at them. They want to arrest Him immediately, but need to find the right time, when there are fewer people around Him.

Paying Taxes to Caesar – another trap set for Jesus, in the form of spies, cosying up to Jesus, appearing ‘honest’. Ironically, they speak the truth of Jesus, when they say that He teaches what is right, the ‘way of God in accordance with the truth’, though they don’t believe it. Their question is about whether it’s right for Jews to pay taxes to Caesar. If the Messiah to come is going to overthrow the occupying Romans, then surely He will have something to say about the unjust taxes they are paying ?
As ever, Jesus’ teaching asks a deeper question, ‘Okay, we give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar (as good citizens), but do we also (firstly) give to God what is God’s ?’
This silences the spies, and they go away astonished.
Clever answer.

It strikes me that although the temple is a very hostile place for Jesus to be present and teaching, He continues to show up there daily, and continues to have a following there, although He attracts His opponents too…..  

‘Within Your temple, O God, we meditate on Your unfailing love…
For this God is our God for ever and ever; He will be our guide even to the end.’




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