Day 54: Deuteronomy 8-11; Not Because of Righteousness…

Sometimes I read things in the Bible and laugh… the way things are said, the way that God explains something… just seems a bit funny.  I try to imagine myself being one of the original hearers of that message and what I would think.  Deuteronomy 8 starts with this:

“Hear, O Israel: you are to cross over the Jordan today, to go in to dispossess nations greater and mightier than you, cities great and fortified up to heaven, a people great and tall, the sons of the Anakim, whom you know, and of whom you have heard it said, ‘Who can stand before the sons of Anak?’  Know therefore today that he who goes over before you as a consuming fire is the Lord your God. He will destroy them and subdue them before you. So you shall drive them out and make them perish quickly, as the Lord has promised you.”

As I was reading it, I laughed.  Its like telling someone, “you’re going to do this job.  There is no pay and you have to deal with everyone’s complaints and its going to be awful… oh yeah, and God will be with you.”  I was thinking… maybe you could lead with that first part next time… it might make me a bit more willing to hear it!  Haha!

Yet, even in this apparent humor, there is something very important here, which really becomes the basis for the doctrine of salvation by grace (sola gratia) and the doctrine of election.  God says, “Know, therefore, that the Lord your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness.”  One of the sins that Israel falls into later is living in the idea that the covenant is all about them because of who they are, but God is clearly saying here that it doesn’t have anything to do with them. God chose them, not the other way around.  God chooses us… not the other way around.  It doesn’t have anything to do with how good we are, were, or will be.  We are offered the gift of grace, to be united with Christ through His blood because of God’s great love for us!  Because He chose us.

Later in this reading we see something else that is abundantly important.  God tells the people of Israel to “circumcise your hearts.”  The sign of circumcision is something that God commanded the people to do as a sign of their participation in the covenant.  Like our infant baptism, this happens to babies without their say or any action from them… again, the idea of our inclusion not because of our own righteousness.  However, it isn’t the circumcision of the flesh that is important… it is the “circumcision of the heart” that means something.  As part of the covenant, the people are called to “be holy as God is holy.”  They are called to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, and mind.  They are called to keep these things on their hearts, and to make them a part of our everyday lives.  It isn’t about the physical act, its about the spiritual transformation that takes place.

Finally, another rather important thing that comes up here.  As you were reading Deuteronomy 11 you probably noticed the repetition some things that you read from yesterday in Deuteronomy 6.  Repetition in the Bible always indicates something that is very important.  I talk about this in another blog post on my personal blog, Worship Discussions.  This section of Deuteronomy is spoken with the bookends of the words of the Shema, which we talked about yesterday.  These words are very important.  God is impressing upon the people of Israel the importance of placing His Words on their hearts; that these Words need to go with them and be with them, at the center of every aspect of their life.  It is repeated time and again at the beginnings of each paragraph:

“You shall therefore love the Lord your God and keep his charge, his statutes, his rules, and his commandments always…”

“You shall therefore keep the whole commandment that I command you today…”

“And if you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the Lord your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul…”

“You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes…”

And finally to end the chapter and this section of Deuteronomy:

“you shall be careful to do all the statutes and the rules that I am setting before you today.”


2 Responses to “Day 54: Deuteronomy 8-11; Not Because of Righteousness…”

  1. […] Deuteronomy 8:10 – When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. […]

  2. […] Deuteronomy 10:20 – Fear the Lord your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. […]

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