(545) I am reading Deuteronomy and thought I would share a few thoughts [chaps 1-8]. As Moses is standing on the edge of the promised land he asks God ‘can I please go into this land’ God says ‘no, and don’t ask me any more about it’. It seems kind of harsh. It also seems like God is saying ‘I know I have called you to this place. Your whole desire to see the land is something I put in you, but because you represented me in a wrong way before the people, I can’t let you in [yet!]’. Did you know that I found a verse where God let him in? I am not spiritualizing it either. You know the verse also. The Mount of Transfiguration! After all those years God said ‘now I will let your feet touch the land my son!’ it’s like God knew how bad Moses wanted to posses it, so during the true time of inheritance, the coming of Messiah, God said ‘inherit’. God gives a lot of promise’s and lessons in these first 8 chapters of Deuteronomy. He also tells Israel ‘because you didn’t believe me when I told you to go into the Promised Land, therefore I made you wander in the wilderness for 40 years and I caused you to learn a lesson’. What was the lesson? He taught them that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God! How did he teach them this lesson? He gave them plain Manna every day for 40 years. They couldn’t store it up, they had to trust him for ‘beggars bread’ if you will. Hey, if they took the one big step of faith 40 years earlier they would have had tons of great food that they didn’t have to ‘believe for’ every day, it would have just been there, in abundance! But instead he showed them what it means to trust his word. They got to a point after 40 years where if some stranger showed up and said ‘how are all you guys getting fed?’ they would have said ‘no big deal, every morning God gives us Angel food’. It would have seemed like a big deal to the stranger! God taught them to believe in his consistency. They learned that to believe for the big moment [40 years earlier] would have been better than to believe for the ‘little moments’ thru out the 40 years! We just finished Hebrews. Why does God allow Samson to be in the great ‘heroes of the faith’ chapter? Samson had a lot of problems; he had moral failures and was actually quite the playboy. He also had moments of ‘great faith’. He knew when to lay it all out on the line and risk it all. He pulled down the pillars and killed all the enemies of Israel, and oh yes, he knew he would die too. That made up for a lot! I think it would be easier for us to believe God at the edge of ‘our promised land’ than to go 40 years learning the same lesson, in little bits at a time! They still displayed a lot of faith, but it took 40 years of it to make up for that one day!
(550) Deuteronomy 13-18 The Lord instructs the people that he will meet all their needs financially, and that they will always have the poor among them. Just like Jesus taught! The balance is that God would give more than enough provision into the community, and whether or not all the needs were met was up to the generosity of the community. The same thing you see in the book of Acts. Certain rich people gave and the poor had their needs met. To develop a doctrine from Deuteronomy that says to the poor ‘if you just had faith you would be rich’ violates Paul’s teachings in Timothy [chapter 6] where he says certain teaches in the last days will teach that gain is godliness [that is you can measure godliness by material wealth] from such turn away, they have erred from the faith. So in context God will bless us all as a family of people, but do not teach a material gospel. Also the Lord tells Israel ‘when you get into the land and set up a King over you, don’t let him accumulate great wealth unto himself’ interesting, God says make sure your leaders are not living high on the hog thru your money. We violate this all the time in today’s church. How many stories of teachers with million dollar condos and homes, all the while appealing to a broad audience of Christians to give sacrificially. God isn’t saying that leaders can’t prosper, but he is saying they should not be getting rich from the overall giving of many average wage workers. It is so easy to simply read all the wealth verses in this book and to look right past all these warnings. Why do we do this? We all have a tendency to ‘see’ what we want to see and overlook the rest. The Lord also gives instruction on Prophets, he says ‘if a Prophet prophesies something and it comes to pass, but he leads you away from the true God, don’t listen’ also ‘if he prophesies something and it doesn’t happen, don’t listen to him’. It is easy to recognize the second one as false, but we often overlook the first one. I have heard so many times over the years ‘well brother, I know my teachers teach that Jesus was a millionaire, and it works for me, that’s all that counts’ no it isn’t! Whether it works or not is irrelevant [in this instance] God says if it leads you away from the truth, then it’s false! Let all of our teaching and instruction bring us back into alignment with the character and nature of God, he is the goal.
(551) Deuteronomy 20-25 You read ‘the elders of the city’ a lot in these chapters. Paul will eventually choose to use this terminology to describe the leadership of the New Testament church. These were plural leaders among a group of believers in a city. Not singular preachers of groups of people in buildings on a set day of the week! You did have the singular model in Paul’s day. Where? In the system of the Pharisees and Synagogues! The concept of a ‘president’ of the synagogue leading the people on Sabbath day in Christian [Jewish] instruction was being carried out in Paul’s day. Paul used to be part of the system! He chose the concept of elders over a city, instead of a singular title over a part of the people that met in a building. I think we need to get back to the better model. Also instruction is given that when the children enter the land they are to share the fruits of the land with the stranger. They are not to totally reap all the fruit from the trees or the fields. The stranger can walk in your fields and eat whatever he wants; he just can’t take it with him. These guidelines are given for the benefit of the alien [stranger]. God says I want you to remember that you too were strangers in Egypt. This cuts to the heart of so much of the present debate over the illegal alien issue of our day. I do understand the anger that some have over this issue, God says ‘remember, you were all aliens at one time or another, don’t get so self righteous. If I tell you to share your goods with those who don’t deserve it, then do it. I am the one who brings forth the produce, so share it with others’. God has blessed us financially and materially, he requires us to share it with others. A few difficult verse’s 23:1 God says if a man is wounded in the ‘private area’ he cannot come into the congregation. God is not telling people if they have had some sexual accident that they cant serve God, he is saying he wants people who can ‘procreate’ in his church! He wants people to be able to ‘reproduce’ [soul winners] for his Kingdom. 23:14-15 God says when you ‘go to the bathroom in the land’ dig a hole and bury it, because he is in the land and your land must be sanctified. If it isn’t then he can’t ‘walk among you’. The spiritual lesson is we can’t accomplish anything without God’s presence. We need him, stay clean so he can work among us. Only by the blood. Also when a man dies without having children, his widow shall marry the brother so he can have seed remain in his name. If the brother says ‘no, I do not want to raise up seed to my brother’ then he is taken before the elders and they take off his shoe, spit in his face, and his name is called ‘the man who has no shoe’. What’s this all about? God is saying be willing to build others up, your gift is not given for you to build your ministry, or the people who relate only to you [church members]. But I have given you gifts to raise up ‘seed to your brethren’ as well. Use your gift to help others, others who can’t repay you [I think I heard this somewhere before? Jesus!] If you don’t, all the people will know your church well, it will be the one in town where every body where’s one shoe!
(552) Deuteronomy 28-31 The Lord promises much material blessings in these chapters, but he also says the Levites who receive the tithes are not to own anything. They could not use the tithe as a means to accumulate wealth. I find it funny that the modern church teaches the tithe, but leaves this part out! Also Moses is told ‘you will not go into the land, but help Joshua go in’. Moses must see his gift as something to use to build others and help them achieve goals that he himself will not achieve. Moses learns the true principle of the least being the greatest. He will be the only one who will enter in after death! Out of all the adults who were in the wilderness, only Joshua and Caleb go in to the Promised Land. Moses goes in after death at the mount of transfiguration. He fulfills the symbol of Christ as the first fruits unto God. Moses tells Joshua ‘you must go in with this people’. In the world of church and Pastoral ministry, I have seen how good men will start a ‘work’ and sometimes out of fear begin to look for someone to ‘take it over’. God tells Joshua ‘you must go in too!’ In Moses case the word of the Lord was ‘don’t go in’ [yet!] in Joshua’s case ‘don’t not go in!’ Have you allowed fear and intimidation to lead you to think it’s time to ‘get out’. Only move [remove] as God directs, don’t start looking for a replacement, you have too many years to fulfill, you must go in with this people! NOTE; I thought I just ‘heard’ someone say ‘is this guy talking about me’? Hey, if it’s for you, then yes!
(556) Started reading Joshua. As God brings them into the land Joshua is like Jesus in Revelation, leading the people into a triumphant victory. In both books you see 2 spies [witnesses] you have the harlot Rahab getting judged [she is declared righteous, a Divine act of justification-Hebrews 11] and you have the great whore of Babylon getting judged in Revelation. You have the Old Testament Joshua which means Jesus in the New. As the children of Israel take Jericho they see how God is working supernaturally on their behalf. They then go to the next city, Ai, and only send in a few thousand troops. They loose around 36 men. Joshua overreacts to this loss and falls on his face. Tells God ‘why did you make us come over this Jordan, we could have stayed on the other side. When all our enemies hear about this they will surround us and kill us’. He has quite a pity party! It’s like God is looking down and telling Jesus ‘hey, I know I picked the boy, but who would have thought he was going to take it this bad!’ It’s funny, the Lord finally appears to him and says ‘get up, what are you doing on your face? You have encountered a problem, so deal with it’ God reveals to Joshua that one of his men has some of the goods hidden in his camp and that’s the sin that caused the defeat. They get the guy, make him confess, and everything is O.K. Not! They stone the brother to death and then to make sure he’s dead, they burn the guy! Ouch! I could just see one of our local gangs standing by thinking ‘and we thought our gang was bad’. The Lord deals with the sin and they regroup. I find it funny how Gods leaders all have a tendency to overreact to problems. I think it’s in our nature. Leaders have the ability to see farther than the rest of the community, they also come to more drastic conclusions when things go wrong. Elijah, Moses, etc… The Lords solution was ‘deal with the problem, do what you have to do, get up off of your face for heavens sake, and let’s get on with the program’. I don’t like these types of answers either. I wish the Lord would give me a special response like ‘son, I see the problem. Your right. I will rapture you and destroy all your enemies. And I will make all those people who talked about you feel bad that you aren’t around anymore. We’ll show them’ God doesn’t do this, he tells us ‘get off the ground and start moving’ are you moving forward yet?
(557) Joshua- As Joshua takes Jericho, they experience failure at Ai. They violate the principle of God being with them as a community. They split off and send a few thousand to Ai, God stayed in the camp! Our victory comes when we see all of our brothers in our region as the corporate people of God, don’t divide the Body of Christ, it is certainly not limited to the Christians who meet in buildings on Sunday. It is also not divided into all these different ‘churches’. We are all the Church, even the ones who don’t ‘go to church on Sunday!’ [That is if you are a believer]. Gibeon sees Israel’s victory and pretends they are travelers going thru the land. They put old clothes on and have moldy bread. They tell Joshua ‘we are traveling thru the land, make a league with us’ Joshua does, and they find out that they are really inhabitants of the land. The people blame the leaders for this bad decision, even though they all thought it was a good idea at the time! This happens all the time in church situations, if you haven’t experienced it yet, you will. So as the children of Israel start possessing land, it becomes easy. They form a habit of possessing! God will bring you to a place where you begin overcoming obstacles on a routine basis. Another dynamic that takes place is the inhabitants of the land begin forming alliances against Israel. One alliance forms, and Joshua conquers them. Then another one forms. Scripture says God put it in their hearts to do this so Joshua would cover more territory rapidly. God was allowing Israel to ‘kill 2 birds with one stone’ so to speak. Do you see your enemies forming alliances against you? Sort of like ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’. Do people who could never agree on things unite now in opposition to you? Then praise God, he is giving you possession rapidly! The tribe Of Joseph asks Joshua for more land, they have 2 tribes to represent [Ephraim and Manasseh] Joshua says ‘you are right, go take the wood land [forest]’ they say ‘it’s to hard to take’ Joshua says ‘be strong; you would be surprised what you can do with Gods help’ Joshua learned this lesson from experience. Some times we are like the tribe of Joseph, we want people to give us opportunities. We want land given to us free and clear. We have developed this entitlement mentality in the church [and country!] Often times the answer to our problem is ‘overcome it’. We don’t like this answer.