There is much to highlight from our reading today through the books of Deuteronomy, Joshua and Judges. But first, a reminder: the Read-A-Thon is a fund raising for DOVE Missions in Africa (DMA). If you click the “Day 3” title above, you will be taken to our blog page where a donate button is found at the right column. THANK YOU!
Now to the subject. We must ask: Why was Israel treated in a such a special way by God?
- Not because they were numerous (Dt. 7:7)
- Not because they were righteous; in fact they were pathetically rebellious. Moses uses almost all the negative adjectives in the book: wicked, stubborn, stiff-necked, perverse, unfaithful…
- Not because of their integrity (Dt 9:5)
- Not so that they could feel good about their own ability or identity (Dt 8:17)
Rather, the nation of Israel was chosen to give evidence of God’s glory, power and love, proving Yahweh God to be one who fulfills his covenant promise to bless all nations. In his mercy, God loved Israel and kept the oath he had sworn to Abraham. God had made a covenant of love, and was going to keep it.
This speaks to our own status today. It is so easy for us to think that God loves us, or blesses us, because we are good – special – deserving. Think again!
And speaking of God’s blessings, imagine with me the scene set in Deuteronomy 27-28. Six tribes are gathered on one mountain, six tribes on another, and the Levites recite to them a pronouncement of curses (11 verses), blessings (14 verses) and more curses (54 verses). Yes, we usually go for just the blessings. But the lesson here is so, so obvious. The conditions for blessings are explicit, and punishment for disobedience non-negotiable. Once again, in the New Covenant we find hope and relief in Jesus. But, it still stands that the consequences of sin are very real. The decision is ours. Moses (Dt 30) and Joshua (Josh 24) both give the children of Israel a specific invitation to choose blessings or curses. “Oh, that you (we) may choose life” (Dt. 30:9).
One more point. In Joshua chapter 7, Achan and all his household were stoned to death because he kept some of the plunder from Jericho, against God’s command. But just two verses later (8:2), God told the fighting men that they could keep the plunder. What? Instructions keep changing! We, like Joshua, should listen so carefully, and never assume we can go with the previous day’s ‘word’.
Many powerful principles of good leadership can be gleaned from the life of Joshua – but those will have to be held for another time.
Trivia Question: Why did the Reubenites need to ‘search their hearts’ after the defeat of Sisera under Deborah’s and Barak’s lead?