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Showing posts from May, 2014

The Dreaded Subject of Worship

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One of the major concerns that constantly came to the forefront in God’s instructions to His people through Moses was the issue of becoming enculturated, or taking on the patterns and habits of the society in which their were living.

I remember a professor of missions that I tU studied under under many years ago who took this to its limits. He was sold on what he called “incarnational ministry,” or becoming like the people you serve in every way. He quoted from the life of Hudson Taylor who apparently sported the pigtails of the Chinese he served, along with wearing their clothing. He often referred to Christ, who gave up all that He had and was to put on human skin and identify with the people He had come to save. But he also believed that incarnational ministry included depriving your children of shoes or education if that was the norm in the society you lived in.

We could debate the pros and cons of this concept for a long time. We could explore the boundaries and limitations of t…

It's Your Choice

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Whining was one of Israel’s biggest faults. It didn’t matter what God did for them, they always seemed to find an excuse to complain. As Moses goes over the instructions to the people on the eve of their entrance into Canaan he emphasizes the importance to remember all that the Lord has done (Deuteronomy 11:2-7) along with the importance of passing this information on to their children who had not experienced all these miracles as their parents had (11:18-21). They needed to remember and be grateful.

Nobody azppreciates whiners—not even God. They are like mosquitoes buzzing in our ears and needing to be slapped—something God often did to His people. Moses's instruction to remember all that God had done was a call to the discipline of counting their blessings and thereby putting a halt to the annoying sound of constant complaining.

In Deuteronomy 11 Moses focuses on the land that the Hebrews are about to take possession of. He says, in verse 12: “It is a land the Lord your God cares…

Anakite-itis

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It’s interesting the difference a few hours can make. When I read Deuteronomy 9 earlier in the morning yesterday, it did not make as powerful a statement to me as it did later on that afternoon.

Let me set the stage. Moses is continuing his instructions to the Hebrews as they prepare to cross the Jordan into the Promised Land of Canaan. He is reviewing their history and in the first six verses he reminds them of what happened after the twelve spies had returned from their scouting expedition into Canaan some forty years earlier. Those men had come back with glowing reports of the abundance to be found but ten of them also reported that the cities were heavily fortified and the people were “giants.” They spread fear among the Hebrews, a fear that lead the Israelites to rebel against God. Their rebellion was the cause of forty years of wandering in the desert until, now, at last, they have returned to the gateway into the land that God has promised their forefather, Abraham.

As Moses beg…

The Best "Selfie"

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There are moments in time when I wish I had children. I don’t have many moments like that, mind you, but this morning I wished I had someone to tell a story to.

The passage was Deuteronomy 4 and the theme of the first few verses will be picked up in Deuteronomy 6. The Hebrews are about to enter the land of Canaan, promised to them by God from the time of Abraham. Moses is reviewing their past history as preparation for their successful entry into the Promised Land. In chapter 4 he reminds them of the importance of obeying God’s commands. But there is an added feature to that reminder. He says: “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them” (4:9). In Deuteronomy 6, Moses will give specific suggestions as to how the Hebrews are to teach their children the story of God’s faithfulness and His instructions on how His …

Nothing to do with Driving Miss Daisy

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You really have to read to the end of the chapter 33 of Numbers. Take courage! After we labour through the names of all the places the Israelites wandered through on their 40 year pilgrimage we finally get back to where we (or they) are supposed to be—on the edge of the land that God had promised to Abraham back in Genesis.

At the end of this chapter, as the Lord instructs Moses as to what the Israelites are to do once they enter the land, comes an important statement. God has just told Moses that they are to drive out those who currently live in the land and destroy any evidence of their pagan worship. Then comes, “But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live” (33:55).

History would prove this to be sadly true. History would also prove the truth of the Lord’s next statement in verse 56: “And then I will do to you what I plan to do t…

Just Who's Wonderful?

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Between Numbers 14 and 20, Moses and Aaron intercede for the people several times. I mentioned one of those incidents in yesterday’s post on Numbers 14. At the beginning of chapter 20, the two leaders once more “stand in the gap” between the people and God. Israel was prone to complain. That sounds unhappily familiar to most of us.

But in Numbers 20, the stress of dealing with these miserable people finally gets the better of Moses. This time the people are complaining about the lack of water (a situation they would not have to deal with if they had not refused to listen to Caleb and Joshua’s reports and had entered the land of God’s promise. They are blaming God for something they could have avoided themselves!).

Moses and Aaron gather the people together. God has instructed Moses to speak to the rock. Instead Moses strikes the rock twice. God delivers the water but He is not happy with either Moses or Aaron. I wish I had more of the detail of this episode and be able to discern exact…

Crossroads

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You have to be impressed with Moses, Aaron, Caleb and Joshua when you read Numbers 14. The people have turned against them because of the spies' report on conditions in Canaan. They want to go back to Egypt. Worse yet, they are fully prepared to stone their leadership (14:10). Watch for the attitude on the part of these four men: “Then Moses and Aaron fell facedown in front of the whole Israelite assembly gathered there. Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes…” (14:5, 6). This last gesture was one of mourning, of deep distress. These men pleaded with the people to obey God and claim the land that they had been promised.

But there was more. The Lord took Moses aside and expressed His feelings about the matter, making it plain that He was prepared to destroy the nation-in-waiting and make of Moses a much greater nation (14:10-12). What an offer! What an appeal to a lesser man who, tempted to make a name for h…

The Right to Disagree

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Sometimes we make life more difficult for ourselves than we need to.

The Hebrews arrived within striking distance of the land God had promised to give them (Numbers 13:2). They say that, “fools rush in where angels fear to tread” and Moses was no fool. He sent out spies to check out this new land. He knew that even though God had given them Canaan, those who lived in the land would not just lay down their arms and surrender themselves at the first appearance of an invader. A representative from each tribe was chosen (13:3-15) and off they went to gather information that would encourage them and also help them plan their strategy (13:17-20).

When the spies returned the reviews were mixed—heavily on the negative side. The land was productive. They described it as a land flowing with “milk and honey” (13:27) and it took two men to carry a single cluster of grapes (13:23). But the cities were fortified and the people appeared fearsome (13:28).

Caleb and Joshua were the only voices that pro…