DEUTERONOMY ~ Dipping Our Toes into the Book of Deuteronomy

DEUTERONOMY - Dip your toes into the book of Deuteronomy. A Super-Short Summary and Less-Than-Super-Short Summary (Welcome to the Bible series) via www.JeanWilund.com

Book #5 ~ DEUTERONOMY

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” ~ Deuteronomy 6:4-5 ESV


Super Short Summary:

In Deuteronomy, God prepares Israel for entering the Promised Land and, through Moses’ final words, gives a picture of what the Christian life should look like.

Less Than Super Short Summary:

The curtain opens on Deuteronomy at the end of Moses’ life and the beginning of Israel’s new life in the Promised Land, the land of Canaan.

In Exodus, God had brought Israel out of slavery to Egypt, which gave us a picture of Jesus setting sinners free from slavery to sin.

In Numbers, Israel wandered the wilderness because of their unbelief. Even though God had promised to give them a land and His blessings to enjoy, they’d refused to believe Him.

Through Israel’s unbelief, God gave us a picture of Christians who’ve trusted Jesus to save them from sin and give them eternal life but refuse to trust Him for today’s challenges. Their fears and selfish pride keep them in a barren, wilderness-type life.

They never enjoy the full freedom Jesus promises to Christians who walk by His Spirit rather than by human effort. Bondage to fear and unbelief (often expressed by the less convicting word “doubt”) send them stumbling into sin and discouragement.

God provided for Israel in the wilderness, but He didn’t design the wilderness to be their permanent residence.

He brought them (us) out of slavery to Egypt (sin) for the purpose of bringing them into the Promised Land. There they could enjoy the fruit of His blessings (victorious Christian living).

All who refused to trust Him suffered loss. And Christians do, too. They will be saved from an eternity in hell separated from God, but they’ll miss out on God’s blessings in this life – the blessings of unshakable peace, joy in Christ, and much more.

Moses’ Final Words

In Numbers, God had told Moses he wouldn’t enter the Promised Land with the Israelites because he didn’t honor the Lord before the Israelites at the life-giving rock (Numbers 20:10-13).

In Deuteronomy, Moses was now 120 years old, but his eyesight hadn’t weakened, nor had his strength given out (Deuteronomy 34:7). Regardless, Moses’ apprentice Joshua would lead Israel into the Promised Land, not Moses (Deuteronomy 31:1-3).

But first, Moses had some final words for Israel – words they must always remember and never forget.

(The Hebrew name for Deuteronomy, Debarim, means the words.)

Always Remember, Never Forget

Moses began by reviewing Israel’s past since the time they’d left Mt. Sinai 40 years earlier. He reminded them of their rebellion and the painful consequences.

The rebels, however, weren’t Moses’ audience. Their children were. Their defiant parents had died.

But God’s promises lived on. Faithful to His Word, God was going to give the Promised Land to the children.

Before they entered, Moses made sure they remembered, through vivid recollections, how easily and often their parents had made empty promises to trust and obey God.

He then commanded this generation to remain faithful and obedient to God rather than to idols – worthless scraps of metal or wood, or anything they’d place over God.

He reminded them of God’s rules, regulations, and commandments (Deuteronomy 5), which were designed to lead them into right living and allow them to dwell safely in God’s presence.

The Shema

God then gave a command that later became a daily prayer for Israelites known as the Shema.

The word shema means to hear and listen in such a way as to elicit a response.

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. ~ Deuteronomy 6:4-5 ESV

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. ~ Deuteronomy 6:4-5 ESV

The Shema is still prayed today by orthodox Jews.

Jesus quoted it when asked what was the greatest commandment.

Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’” ~ Mark 12:29-30 ESV

Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’” ~ Mark 12:29-30 ESV

Warfare

To further prepare Israel for entering the Promised Land, Moses taught Israel how they must handle warfare.

They were to treat the people of the Promised Land (Canaan) differently than those outside it. The hearts of the people in Canaan overflowed with sin, making them ripe for judgment. God commanded they be devoted to destruction (Deuteronomy 9:4).

But those outside the Promised Land were to be shown mercy.

It can be hard to understand how a loving God could order entire cities to be devoted to destruction until you understand the depth of those nation’s sin and the mercy they could’ve enjoyed had they bowed to the Lord rather than raising their swords against Israel.

God is a righteous judge. The wonder isn’t how God could order Canaan’s destruction, but rather how He could have offered anyone extravagant grace and mercy.

Guard Your Heart

Toward the end of Deuteronomy, Moses addressed the condition of the Israelites’ hearts and alerted them to the many ways they’d be tempted to sin.

And he warned them that God would test them.

God would allow prophecies made by false prophets to come to pass in order to expose the true condition of the Israelites’ hearts. They needed to see for themselves when they saw their signs and wonders that they’d run after the false prophets’ idols rather than stay true to the one true God.

Everyone would see they didn’t want a true King. They wanted a Burger King. (Have it your way! Have it your way!

Blessing and Curses, Life or Death

Moses detailed the blessings God would pour out on them if they obeyed Him.

Astounding blessings! Surely Israel would faithfully obey so they could enjoy the many undeserved blessings the rest of their lives. (They didn’t!)

Moses also detailed the curses God would reign down on them if they disobeyed.

Terrifying curses! Certainly, they’d never risk forfeiting the great blessings by disobeying God and thus suffering the horrific curses. (They did!)

Regrettably, we’re not much different – if different at all. Too often we’d rather be our own god than serve the one true God.

Moses stood before Israel and commanded they choose. Life or death. Blessings or curses. (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)

Life and blessings were the obvious choices, but – Spoiler Alert – Israel often chose shocking sin over life-giving blessings. (Just wait until we get to the book of Judges! Oh my!)

God predicted Israel’s rebellion. He gave Moses a song to teach Israel which would stand as a witness against them that they’d been warned (Deuteronomy 32).

Moses then pronounced a blessing on each tribe of Israel (Deuteronomy 33). God’s grace in action.

Farewell, Moses

As the book of Deuteronomy closes we see Moses, the leader and prophet God called His friend, walking up to the top of Mount Pisgah. There the Lord showed him the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 34:1-4)

Then Moses, the servant of the Lord, died (Deuteronomy 34:5). He entered his rest and reward.

Hello, Joshua

Israel’s leadership passed to Joshua, who may have penned the final verses in Deuteronomy and this beautiful testimony to Moses:

“And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, none like him for all the signs and wonders that the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, and for all the mighty power and all the great deeds of terror that Moses did in the sight of all Israel” (Deuteronomy 34:10-12).

 

 

 




Well, I Reckon

Well, I Reckon! Whether you’re sailing in the bright light of day or through the thick pall of darkness, reckon yourself dead to sin, and God will bring you through. Romans 6:11 (JeanWilund.com)

If you use the word reckon, you may be from the South.

Well, I reckon I’ll win this time. (Bubba from South Georgia)

Or you may be the apostle Paul.

Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Paul in Romans 6:11 NKJV).

Or, maybe you’re a ship’s captain.

The captain sailed through the dark night by dead reckoning. . . Read More at InspireAFire.com

 




Can Sin Ever Be Good?

Can sin ever be good? The answer may seem obvious. Consider the facts.

Can Sin Ever Be Good?

Can sin ever be good? The answer seems obvious – No!

But hear me out.

I have a story that can help us answer that question — a question we each need to ponder.

Just to warn you a little, this is not a chicken nugget post. It’s more like filet. By that, I mean this question is meaty.

Worst Decision Ever

Many years ago I made the worst decision of my life.

I sat on a vinyl-covered barstool and walked away from God.

We’d come to an impasse.

The life I wanted didn’t match the life He seemed to want for me. So I told Him the time had come for us to part ways . . . at least for now.

I hadn’t stopped loving God. But He wanted me to surrender to Him, and I wanted Him to surrender to me.

Since we both refused to give in, I made the worst decision of my life.

Two years and painful scars later, I found my way back to God.

With relief and joy, I fell into His welcoming arms and surrendered to His will.

At least I thought I’d surrendered.

Here We Go Again

While my renewed relationship with God exhilarated me, my repeated failure to walk free from sin frustrated me.

Want what God wants. Want what I want.

Gain victory. Fall on my face.

Stand against sin. Run after sin.

Before long, I was digging my heels in with God. Again.

“You always get Your way,” I cried. “Please, this time, just do what I’m asking!”

The Pangs of Death

Ever patient, God spoke through His Word into my aching heart and clouded mind.

“Your way leads to destruction. Your path is paved with lies. Believe Me when I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:24)

I’d been feeling the pangs of death, sure enough, but not the kind God meant.

I was killing my fellowship with God. I was fighting a battle I knew I’d ultimately regret but couldn’t seem to stop fighting.

As they say, “The heart wants what the heart wants.”

They are so right sometimes.

Except it was like I had two hearts.

Two Hearts – One Battle

One heart wanted what God wanted as it overflowed with love for Him. The other heart wanted what my sin wanted, as it overflowed with desire for it.

I begged for relief. “Change me, God! Change my heart!”

Silence.

I understood why suicide seems appealing. Relief from pain and struggle in an instant.

God knew I didn’t need relief, though. I needed power. Resurrection power to follow the heart that desired God more than sin.

The funny thing about resurrection, though, is it only comes after death.

Finally, on a warm spring day, I sat on the soft grass in the shade of my Vitex tree and died.

“You win, God,” I said. “I can’t fight anymore. I don’t want to fight anymore. I just want You. I don’t care about anything else. Just give me You. I’ll do whatever You want, no matter what it costs me, even if You never bless me again. I don’t care. Just give me You.”

In utter weakness, I died that day. Yet, I rose up and walked into my house stronger and freer than I’d ever been.

God had won the battle, and I gained the victory.

The Verdict

It’s time for a verdict on whether sin can be good.

But first, let’s review the facts of my story.

Facts:

My love for God – as strong as it felt – didn’t draw me back to Him. The pain of my sin did.

My desire to please God didn’t open my eyes to the reality of how good He is or how perfect His law is. My sin did.

It was the devastating “rewards” of my sin that shook me awake to the truth that the path I was walking led only to destruction.

Sin’s agony sent me fleeing to Truth. Running back to God.

Without sin’s wretched grip, I may never have become desperate for relief. I may never have died that day and fully surrendered to God.

Instead, at the very best, I might have lived the rest of my life in exasperation, feeling doomed to a rollercoaster existence of failure, victory, failure, victory.

In view of the facts, I ask again: Can sin ever be good?

Verdict:

No!

No, it can’t.

Sin can never be good. It is unadulterated evil bent on destruction.

But God is good.

God is so good and powerful that He can and does use everything, including our most hideous sin, for His perfect purposes.

He used my wretched sin to draw me to Himself and teach me the truth we all must learn:

Jesus paid the full price (penalty) for our sin on the cross, BUT sin isn’t gone. It lives on inside us, and we are powerless to defeat it – by ourselves. But thanks be to God for His resurrection power over sin through His Holy Spirit, who lives in every Christian.

Sin is Never Good. But God Is.

If you’re struggling with sin and feel powerless to defeat it, you need to know that only God can, and He will. Abide in Christ.

Trust Him to be your strength and walk in that trust.

If you’ve already reached an impasse with God and walked away, I pray you’ll return. God is worth more than anything sin or this world has to offer.

Sin’s “rewards” lie perched on a mountain of crumbling lies.

Because sin can never be good.

But God always is.

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Dine, Don’t Snack, on Scripture ~ Welcome to the Bible: Chapters and Verses Bring Convenience and Challenges ~ Part 3


Does this ever happen to you?

Life gets busy. Too busy to do much more than the most urgent, like drink coffee so you can do everything else.

Reading the Bible falls off your plan for the day.

And the next day.

And the next.

Ugh.

You move through the week and lament that you haven’t had time to read your Bible. But you don’t do anything about it.


It used to happen to me a lot.

Then a well-meaning friend encouraged me to simply read a verse or two each day saying, “It’s better than nothing.”

Brilliant.

Instead of sitting down for an extended time of reading a few days a week, I faithfully read a verse or two every day.

It was better than nothing.

Or so I thought.

Over time I noticed my relationship with God growing more and more shallow.

I didn’t know why. I missed the connection.

The Enemy of Best

It seems logical that a verse or two is better than nothing. But sometimes better is the enemy of best.

Imagine a pediatrician saying to the mother of a toddler, “You’re busy. It’s ok if you just feed your child a couple of bites of food a day. It’s better than nothing.”

Technically, the doctor would have a point. Two bites are better than no bites. But it’s not best.

Making time to feed children just enough food so they don’t starve to death is better than not making time to feed them at all. But this better situation is no friend of the child’s best.

Taking time out of a busy schedule to feed children well every day so they can grow strong and healthy is always best.

Surely every pediatrician would agree.

Chapters and Verses Entice Snacking

Because the Bible has been divided into chapters and verses, it’s easy for us to stop reading at the end of a verse.

The man-made divisions hint at a break in thought or action and make it easier to stop reading, but this isn’t the best way to read.

We don’t need to go back and remove the chapters and verses from our Bibles. We just need to resist the temptation to snack on Scripture rather than dine.

Should We Abandon All Snacking?

Snacking has its place – both in food and in verses.

Every day I read, pin, like, and heart memes of Bible verses on Pinterest, Facebook, or Instagram.

And some days there really is no time for me to read more than a Bible verse meme. Let’s don’t abandon all spiritual snacking.

And certainly not edible snacks. I count the minutes until my 4:00 pm coffee and snack time. Sometimes I have it at 3:00 pm.

Hot chocolate chip cookies or fresh blueberries with a mug of coffee = Happiness.

But if the only food I ate every day was my 4:00 pm snack, my health would fail no matter how healthy my snacks are.

When scriptural snacks were my only source of spiritual nutrition, my relationship with God grew small. My faith, wimpy.

But once I began reading the Bible in all-you-can-eat buffet portions (and in context), my understanding of God and His character expanded. My walk with Him took off.

Imagine that.

My love for and faith in God hasn’t starved since. And they’re still growing as I keep dining on large servings of Scripture rather than snacking.

BTW, there’s no magic formula. No one can tell you how many verses are enough — except God. Let Him lead your time in His Word.

Is It Ever Good To Study Just a Verse or Two?

Absolutely.

It’s a great habit to dig deep into individual verses. To get to the marrow of its meaning.

I’m currently working my way through Romans. One verse at a time.

It’s taking a long while, but I want (need) to understand it better. So I focus each day on a few passages while remembering that reading verses in isolation rather than in context can lead to misunderstanding God’s message.

As I study Romans verse by verse, I also read a chapter or two to let the bigger picture of Romans soak into my mind. And I read other books of the Bible as well.

We shouldn’t become legalistic about our daily reading. It’s not a measure of our spiritual worth. We don’t win points with God when we read. Nor does He hand down demerits when we miss.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” Romans 8:1 ESV.

No condemnation. None.

But God’s Word blesses us – changes us – when we read it.

You may have to force yourself to read it at first. But eventually, if you read the Bible in order to know the God of the Word, you’ll begin to long for the Word of the God.

Time in God’s Word will become as enticing as that morning cup of liquid heaven. (That’s coffee for me. I don’t know what you strange non-coffee drinkers enjoy.)

No Time? Pray and Make Time

Life is busy. It’s not likely to slow down.

Deal with it. (Was that too harsh? Sorry.)

Pray and ask God. He’ll make a way for you. He may wake you early to read. Or He may open up time for you to read during the day or evening.

We should all ask God to make us aware of the time we already have that we may be misspending watching TV, piddling on Social media, or catching a little extra shut-eye.

Trust God to enable you to accomplish all you need to do each day. Then walk by faith and make time for reading your Bible – even if you don’t think you have time.

God will provide all you need. But you have to trust Him by sitting down with your Bible.

Don’t wait for Him to sit you down. You’ll probably enjoy it more if you voluntarily sit down rather than having God sit you down.

My mom once told me I was too busy. “You need to drop some of your activities,” she said. I told her it was impossible. A couple of months later I had to have surgery. Somehow everything got done without me. She smirked, and I dropped some of my activities. I got sat down, and I listened.

Just as you’d make time to serve a child three full meals a day, make time every day to serve yourself one full meal of spiritual nourishment from God’s Word.

REMEMBER: Chapters and verses can encourage snacking on Scripture rather than dining. Make time to serve yourself a full meal from God’s Word by reading large portions of Scripture every day.

The Word of God Endures Forever

Chapter and verse divisions may not last, but the Word of our God will stand forever.

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”
~ Isaiah 40:8 ESV

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Enoch Walked With God and Had a Methuselah Moment — You Can Too (Part 1)

Enoch walked with God & had a Methuselah Moment (You Can, Too) Part 1 via www.JeanWilund.comEnoch Walked with God

I’m so glad Enoch walked with God instead of ran. I don’t run.

Unless someone is chasing me or there’s only one serving left of the Mint Moose Tracks ice cream. Or Hurricane Irma comes knocking on our door. I’m running then! Otherwise, I’ll stick to walking.

Besides, walking is biblical.

“Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.”
(Genesis 5:24 NASB)

Enoch walked with God, and then God just took him away. He didn’t have to experience death like the rest of us. Of course it took him 300 years of walking to get there. I wonder how many miles he racked up.

 

Enoch “obtained the witness” that he was “pleasing to God.”
(Hebrews 11:5 NASB)

Enoch walked with God and made it into the Hall of Faith chapter of Hebrews.

There you have it. Walking is biblical.

Yes, I know the Bible tells us to “run the race.” But I don’t want to talk about that now. Let’s learn to walk first.

Let’s discover the secret to how a Methuselah Moment led Enoch to such a close walk with God that, after 300 years, God said, “Enoch, We’re closer to My home now than we are to yours. Let’s just walk on home to Mine.”

Ok, God didn’t really say that. (At least it’s not recorded anywhere.)

But Enoch did walk with God in such a remarkable way, God made sure we noticed.

Who is this Enoch?

Enoch first appears in Genesis 5 in “the book of the generations of Adam” (Genesis 5:1-7).

As we read through the generations, a pattern emerges:

“When so-and-so had lived blank years, he fathered blah blah blah. So-and-so lived after he fathered blah blah blahblank years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of so-and-so were blank years, and he died.

The pattern repeats itself until we get to verses 21-24.

“When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah. Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah300 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.

Now you see him, now you don’t because Enoch walked with God.

Enoch lived 365 years — a year of years — but he walked with God for 300 of them.

What happened during those other 65 years?

Who was Enoch walking with then? Did he walk alone? Or with his dog?

All we know is when Enoch was 65 years old he became the father of Methuselah, and it was at that point he began to walk with God.

Enoch had a Methuselah Moment. He had — a moment in time that marked his life between when he walked without God and when he walked with God.

What was so special about Methuselah?

Most people who know Methuselah, know one thing. He lived longer than any other human — 969 years.

Few of us probably know the meaning of his name, though.

Biblical scholars of old say Methuselah’s name most likely comes from the Hebrew word meaning “man of the dart” or “man of the sword.” Its full meaning might be, “When he dies, it will come.”

Sort of the original Field of Dreams except this dream would be a nightmare because the year Methuselah died, God sent the Flood.

Not every Bible scholar is as quick to connect Methuselah’s name to a prophecy of the flood. But honestly, it doesn’t matter.

What matters is that after Methuselah was born, Enoch walked with God. Not before, but after.

Something changed in Enoch’s heart after Methuselah was born. Something so big he had a Methuselah Moment.

Enoch’s Methuselah Moment set him off on a journey with the Lord — a journey he never left. And one we should take.

What happened in that moment?

What did Enoch learn as he walked with God that we need to know? 

And how can we have our own Methuselah Moment?

We’ll look at these questions in tomorrow’s post.

Until then, read more about Enoch in Genesis 5, Hebrews 11, and Jude 14-15.


Share this post and check back for tomorrow’s look at Enoch’s Walk with God & Methuselah Moment.

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Enoch walked with God & had a Methuselah Moment (You Can, Too) Part 1 via www.JeanWilund.com