Bible reading for June 3.
"It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers..." (Deuteronomy 7:7-8a)
THE LITTLEST. As the littlest contender, the tribes of Israel, being a wandering group of released slaves, had little chance among the more advanced peoples and the fortified cities of Canaan. Moses lists five ethnic groups who lived in city-states under various monarchs. So we should not think of Israel possessing the land as coming in like a super-power, or even an equal in match-up, but rather like David and Goliath. The enemies they met always attributed Israelite victories to supernatural intervention (see, for example, Josh 2:9-11). And God said that the dispossession of the land was his own judgment upon the sins of those people groups (Gen 15:16; Ex 23:23-24; 34:11). So, God himself judged these nations in much the same way as Sodom (Gen 18-19) and Egypt (Ex 12:12). And when Israel entered the land they were to destroy all the pagan altars.
GOD'S FAVOR rested upon Israel, not because of her worth or power or goodness, but because of his promise to the patriarchs (vv 7-8). The lineage of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was the family God chose to use to bring blessing to the nations and bring about redemption (Gen 12:1-3). This was God's choosing. If the generation of Israelites who entered the land continued in faithfulness to the Lord he would bless their families, childbirth, crops, livestock, and health. This was a general, corporate promise to the nation under the Mosaic covenant. That did not mean there wouldn't be exceptions to that blessing, nor did it mean that this prosperity was to be something "claimed", either under the Mosaic covenant or the New covenant either.
TAKEAWAY. Think about how God views his people (v 6; cf 1 Pet 2:9) and about his faithful, covenantal love toward us (vv 8-9; cf Eph 1:3-6). We should continually praise God for his grace and love, and this not because of our worth or greatness, but because of his infinite mercy given to us in Christ Jesus, our Lord. What mercy, what grace!
"Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God." (Psalm 90:2)
THE ETERNAL GOD. The first psalm of the fourth book (collection) within Psalms is attributed to Moses, who compares the brevity of his life with the eternality of God. The "eternity" of God is more than just many days (longer time) compared to our few days (shorter time). It's not just quantitative. "From everlasting to everlasting" means there was no beginning, as well as no end. Verse four is echoed in 2 Peter 3:8... "But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." Time itself is a created dimension, like space, and hence, God is not only not constrained by it, he's not even contained in it, as any creature would be. One of my professors used to say, "God is 'at' every point in space and time, but being infinite (without limits) he is not 'in' space and time. C. S. Lewis wrote, "God is not hurried along in the time-stream of this universe any more than an author is hurried along in the imaginary time of his own novel."
OUR DAYS ARE NUMBERED. What are we to do with this attribute of God? Moses speaks of the shortness and misery of our lives as being due to sin. That does not mean any particular person's length of life or level of misery is directly related to his or her own personal sin. It may be, or it may be due to the sins of others. But we should keep in mind that all sin -- and therefore God's just anger toward sin -- tracks back to the great sin and fall of Adam, the head of our race. Moses prays a number of things in response. First, he says, "teach us to number our days" (v 12). The NLT translates this, "teach us to realize the brevity of life". We have only so many days to work with and we need to value them accordingly. We need to seek wisdom on how best to invest our days and weeks, our months and years. Secondly, we should seek the satisfaction and joy of God's steadfast love (v 14). Thirdly, we should seek to know the work and power of God, rather than focus on our own interests and works (v 16; cf Matt 6:33; Eph 2:10). And fourthly, we should ask the Lord to take delight in, and establish, the works of our hands. That is, that we would have something beautiful and lasting to come from our lives (v 17).
Image credit: Photo by noor Younis on Unsplash.
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson.
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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