Bible reading for June 27-28.
"The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he." (Deuteronomy 32:4)
A SAD SONG (32). The immediate future looks bright (e.g., the book of Joshua), but not so the generations which will follow. This song, one of the last things Moses wrote, will serve as a witness against them (vv 21, 28). That means when future generations depart from covenant loyalty to the Lord and receive the consequences of their sins, they will see that this was foretold, and then return to the Lord for mercy. Several times the Lord is called "the Rock" (vv 4, 15, 18, 30, 31), which means that Israel will never find security and stability in any other god but the Lord (vv 31, 37). "Jeshurun" (32:15; 33:5, 26) is a name given to God's people, meaning "upright one", which refers not only to their calling to walk in righteousness, but more: this is who God's people will become by God's grace (Jer 33:16).
AND A BLESSING (33-34). Despite the sadness of Israel's sin, and of Moses' death near at hand (ch 34), the book ends with blessing. Compare with Genesis 49. The Lord still cares for his people: "...he loved his people, all his holy ones were in his hand" (v 3; cf. Deut 32:9; Rom 11:26-32). These blessings are "good words" placed upon the tribes. It's a patriarchal view of the past and a look to the future. Not all will do well; not all will do badly. Some get a shorter blessing (at least they have inheritance in the land!), and some get a fuller blessing, for example, Judah, Levi, and Joseph. Moses goes up on the mountain (34:1) and the Lord shows him the promised land. Despite not entering the land Moses is commended in the final words of this book (vv 7-12). And note this special honor: the Lord himself buried Moses (v 6). How caring and tender that is!
TAKEAWAY. We serve a God who factors in our very failures. Note, he does not approve our sin, but rather hates it and judges it. Yet in his sovereign mercy he uses even our rebellion for higher purposes, that is, to glorify his holiness and to bring us back to himself. We see this in Jesus' words to Peter just before Peter's denial: "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers" (Luke 22:31-32). Even before Peter denied the Lord, Jesus had prayed for his restoration (that his faith would rebound), and encouraged him ("when you have turned", not "if..."), and commanded him to minister to others ("strengthen your brothers"). We do not know the mechanics of how God's sovereignty and free moral agency work, but we do know that the Lord holds his people securely (John 10:28-29) and works all things for their final good (Rom 8:28).
Congratulations, you have finished reading the Pentateuch, the five books of Moses!
"The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple." (Psalm 119:130)
PEOPLE OF THE BOOK. This beautiful acrostic poem (176 verses!) extols the blessings of God's word, and of knowing and obeying it. Both Jews and Christians are "People of the Book". In the OT believers looked forward to God's work of eternal salvation (v 123), while in the NT we look back on God's work of salvation through our Lord Jesus. Loving the truth of God's word means that we also will hate all false ways (vv 128, 163; cf Rom 12:9). The "unfolding" of his words (v 130) refers to the meaning of the Scriptures being opened to us in teaching, study, and ministry of the Holy Spirit. The NET Bible translates it, "Your instructions are a doorway through which light shines. They give insight to the untrained" (v 130 NET). As we study the Bible we should always pray for the illumination of the Holy Spirit to help us understand and apply the Word, and that we might feel its power and truth (Eph 1:17-18; Heb 4:12). His word is eternal, and eternally fresh: "The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever" (v 160).
O GIVE ME THAT BOOK! Let me finish with good advice from John Wesley (1703-1791)...
To candid, reasonable men, I am not afraid to lay open what have been the inmost thoughts of my heart. I have thought, I am a creature of a day, passing through life as an arrow through the air. I am a spirit come from God, and returning to God: just hovering over the great gulf; till, a few moments hence, I am no more seen; I drop into an unchangeable eternity! I want to know one thing the way to heaven; how to land safe on that happy shore. God Himself has condescended to teach the way; for this very end He came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book. O give me that book! At any price, give me the book of God! I have it: here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be "homo unius libri."
Here then I am, far from the busy ways of men. I sit down alone: only God is here. In His presence I open, I read His book; for this end, to find the way to heaven. Is there a doubt concerning the meaning of what I read? Does anything appear dark or intricate? I lift up my heart to the Father of Lights: "Lord, is it not Thy word, 'If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God'? Thou 'givest liberally, and upbraidest not.' Thou hast said, 'If any be willing to do Thy will, he shall know.' I am willing to do, let me know, Thy will.' I then search after and consider parallel passages of Scripture, "comparing spiritual things with spiritual." I meditate thereon with all the attention and earnestness of which my mind is capable. If any doubt still remains, I consult those who are experienced in the things of God; and then the writings whereby, being dead, they yet speak. And what I thus learn, that I teach.
Concerning the Scriptures in general, it may be observed, the word of the living God, which directed the first patriarchs also, was, in the time of Moses, committed to writing. To this were added, in several succeeding generations, the inspired writings of the other prophets. Afterward, what the Son of God preached, and the Holy Ghost spake by the apostles, the apostles and evangelists wrote. This is what we now style the "Holy Scripture:" this is that "word of God which remaineth for ever:" of which, though "heaven and earth pass away, one jot or tittle shall not pass away." The Scripture therefore of the "Old and New Testament," is a most solid and precious system of divine truth. Every part thereof is worthy of God; and all together are one entire body, wherein is no defect, no excess. It is the fountain of heavenly wisdom, which they who are able to taste, prefer to all writings of men, however wise, or learned, or holy.
(John Wesley, from his "Preface to Standard Sermons")
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.
The NET Bible is a free, online resource, and a ministry of bible.org.