Bible reading for June 4.
"And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not." (Deuteronomy 8:2)
TRIALS AND TESTING. "Why me? Why this? Why now?" We've all asked those questions! We get through one problem, or a set of problems, only to have something else, or someone else, break down. In this chapter God tells Israel what his purpose is in sending trials. One purpose is to reveal what is in their hearts (v 3). God knows it, but often we (and others) do not. It needs to be brought out. It is humbling, humiliating circumstances that bring those things out. Another purpose is to remind us of our dependence upon the Lord. Israel's temptation, like ours, is to think that the good things we have in life are due to our own abilities, goodness, power, or merit. We need regular reminders that we are children who receive all good things from our Father (v 5; Heb 12:6). Note: Jesus quoted verse 3 in resisting Satan's temptation to turn stones into bread (Matt 4:4).
TO DO YOU GOOD. We shouldn't think that the Lord delights in our misery or deprivation. His design for redeemed people is a world of fullness, goodness, and blessing. For example, compare Deut 8:7-10 with Gen 2:10-14 and Rev 22:1-2. Trials and testing are necessary to make us the kind of people who can truly enjoy God's grace and the fullness of his blessings, where the credit properly goes to God rather than to ourselves (Rom 5:2-5; Heb 12:10; Jas 1:2-4). So, when we are tempted to say "Why me? Why this? Why now?", we should say to ourselves, it's for my good, to reveal what's in my heart, and to bring me to a deeper reliance upon the Lord.
"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty." (Psalm 91:1)
OUR DWELLING PLACE. The psalmist says that trust in God places us under divine protection. The threats being faced include military (arrows), natural disaster (pestilence and plague), and possibly spiritual forces (the lion, adder, and serpent). Evil shall not come near to the one whose trust is in the Lord, and who takes shelter under his wings. Does this mean that if we trust God we won't experience any of these threats? Verses 11 and 12 help us: they were quoted by Satan to Jesus in order to get him to test the Lord by jumping from the pinnacle (Matt 4:5-7). The uniqueness and comprehensiveness of these promises (protection from every evil), would lead us to understand this as a Messianic psalm, applying directly to Jesus. Of course, it applies secondarily to all of us who are in Christ (2 Cor 1:20; Eph 1:3). This doesn't mean that we will never stumble or die of a disease, but rather, that none of these things will ever separate us from God because of our eternal union with Christ (Rom 8:31-39; Eph 2:6).
TAKEAWAYS. From the two readings today, I realize that the weirdness of the COVID-19 quarantine time will bring about good for God's people. What we do with our social isolation will reveal what's in our hearts, whether we are still careful to obey God or not. This pandemic reminds us of our dependence upon the Lord and his word. As well, we need not fear what's happening the world today: "You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday" (Ps 91:4-6). For we belong to the Lord and no one will snatch us out of his hand (John 10:28-29). We can say, with the Apostle Paul, "For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom 8:38-39).
Image credit: Photo by Zoltan Tasi 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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