Esther reminds us, through a series of soap opera type events, that we were each placed where we were placed “for such a time as this.”
Some of the laws Moses is sharing with the Israelites in today’s Deuteronomy reading may sound repetitive…because they are. We’ve heard them in Leviticus when he originally gave them the law. And while it may seem redundant, I know I sometimes have to hear things more than once to get it right. How about you?
- Not being allowed to enter the assembly of God is the focus of the first part of the reading. There are two explanations of what this might refer to. Some people say the phrase means that those are the people who are not allowed to marry, but more likely, this is describing the people who are not allowed to participate in Israel’s cultural practices such as military and legal affairs.
- 1-4 – This should not be read as encouragement to divorce. In the New Testament Jesus explains that Moses gave instructions for divorce because the Israelites’ hearts were hard. In other words, they were doing it anyway so Moses gave them parameters. These are Moses’ parameters.
- 16 – Certain parts of Scripture explain that sins are passed down through generations and/or certain consequences (like not being a part of the assembly of God) can be passed down. This, however, prohibits a father being killed for his son’s sins and vice versa.
- 19-22 – The Israelites are continually reminded to provide for travelers, orphans, and widows because they were once in a position where they could not provide for themselves.
- 7-10 – One of the few times in Scripture where a woman disrespects a man. And it’s funny that the man’s house is now called “the house of him who had his sandal pulled off” (though it wasn’t funny at the time).
- 13-16 – Weights were used for buying and selling agricultural products. Some people would try to cheat by using an unfair weight and causing others to pay too much for what they received.
- 13-15 – Tyre and Sidon were gentile cities while Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum were all Jewish cities who had seen miracles and heard Jesus’ preaching. The Jewish cities, despite their exposure to Jesus refused to repent. Jesus uses these gentile cities, who the Israelites looked down upon because they were not God’s chosen people, to show the unrepentant cities that his message trumped their heritage and self-righteousness.
- 25-37 – This is the parable of the Good Samaritan. Samaritans were despised by the Jews. In our context it might read that a pastor, and a prominent church member passed by the injured man, but a drug dealer took care of him.
- 12 – We often want the wealth and success of someone who gained it illegitimately because it seemed easy, but we should find joy in the fruit born by righteous efforts.
One of the most troubling passages in Scripture is that of Pharaoh’s heart being hardened. Check out the video below to help you navigate it.
- 22-9 – God explains to Moses, and Moses to the Israelites, that God will restore the Israelites to the freedom and plenty of the covenant they’re under, but the Israelites are too oppressed to hear it.
- 2-9 – ancient Jews knew their history and revered the patriarchs; normally this type of introduction of God and explanation of what he would do would have been powerful; they were so separated and broken, it did not
- 10-13 – Once again, Moses has a set back and wants to shrink from what God is calling him to.
- 14 – we begin to see people identified by tribe. Moses and Aaron come from the Levite tribe
- 3 – The concept of Pharaoh’s heart being hardened is a challenging one. It begs the question, does God also harden our hearts or the hearts of others? This Bible Project video is very helpful in explaining the concept of Pharaoh’s heart being hardened.
- 8-13 – Pharaoh’s magicians could match Moses and Aaron’s miraculous acts to a point. God always prevailed somehow.
- 22-23 – So far, Pharaoh is unimpressed. It’s important to note that the Pharaoh was seen as a god. He felt that he was equal with God so it makes a little more sense why he struggles so much with humbling himself and being obedient to God.
- 23-35 – We are to forgive as we have been forgiven.
- 3-9 – Moses created divorce certificates to put parameters around how divorce should happen. Creating the divorce certificates was not done so divorce could happen but to regulate the divorce that the Israelites were already doing.
- 11-12 – Eunuchs = men without genitals so they could not commit sexual sins; often used as servants so they could not defile the women they served
- The most famous psalm and possibly the most famous passage overall. This psalm is one showing David’s complete trust and reliance on God’s blessings and provision.
- God compared to a shepherd, a common occupation – cares for, protects, guides, and provides for his sheep.
- We view so many of our sins as fairly harmless or as one time events. Instead, our sins entangle us and drag us down to death.
- 8-13 – Because Abram was Lot’s uncle, he should have received first choice of the land, but he humbly allowed Lot to choose first. Lot chose the better land, but landed himself in a town that disobeyed God.
- 19-24 – Abram wisely refuses riches from the king of Sodom so that he could not attribute his wealth and blessings to anyone or anything other than God.
- 1-5 – God makes a huge, impossible sounding promise to Abram. He was old and had no children so it seemed impossible that his offspring would be numerous.
- 6 – Abram’s faith in God’s ability to do the impossible was counted to him as righteousness. In Hebrews chapter 11 there is a list of various Bible characters who’s faith was credited to them as righteousness. Our faith in Jesus is our only hope for righteousness.
- 13 – This refers to when the Israelites are enslaved in Egypt.
- 29 – What lengths are we willing to go to in order to be blameless?
- 31-32 – In Deuteronomy Moses gives the hard-hearted Israelites instructions on how to divorce because they were doing it anyway. Jesus makes divorce that much more difficult.
- 33-37 – Letting your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no’ asks you to be trustworthy on your own merit so you don’t have to put the responsibility on something else.
- 38-42 – This kind of teaching would be jarring to the Jewish religious leaders because Jesus is changing up the teachings of Moses. The religious leaders did not realize that he wasn’t negating the laws, only making them more difficult by asking his followers to display additional mercy and grace.
- 43-48 – It’s easy to love those we like. Jesus calls us to love like God loves.
- 5 -–Sheol was where ancient Jews believed all people went after death. It was not a pleasant place. David is asking for his life to be spared because he would not be able to praise God from Sheol.
- While it is many of our tendencies to blame God when we face difficult times, David sought God’s help in difficult times.
- There are consequences for not following the wisdom of the Lord. It gets us into trouble and while it’s easy to blame God for not saving us from the destruction, it’s harder to accept that it was by our own actions we received the consequences.