Tag Archives: Old Testament

So the Lord May Bless You

I’ve been reading in Deuteronomy (yes, on purpose!) about Moses’ long speech to the Israelites before they’re to finally enter the Promised Land. He reminds them what God has done in the past and what kind of behaviour God expects in the future.

What strikes me is the intent behind the litany of dos and don’ts: it’s not about following the rules, it’s about the Israelites’ lifestyle being a sign to the people around them. They’re to show how God designed humans to function, and how well He looks after those who trust Him.

Although the Old Testament proclaims Israel as God’s chosen people, it gives clear instruction to welcome the stranger and the alien and to allow them to learn about God.

The Pharisees got it wrong with their legalism. From the beginning, God asked for wholehearted love and obedience rather than rigidity. Peter had a handle on this when he wrote that we’re to live prepared to give an answer for the hope within us – we’re to live so that people can see we’re different.

What does it mean for us today?

  • legalism is not the way
  • personal holiness: not “I don’t do that” in a judgmental way, but “I do this because I love God”
  • taking seriously what He says
  • personal times alone with Him, again out of love and perceived need rather than performance or “earning points”
  • care for the person who doesn’t see his/her need, because God does see the need

We need to live mindfully according to His ways, secure in the knowledge that He is powerful, good, and able to care for us. Deuteronomy 23:20b is one of many illustrations of Moses’ theme: live God’s way so that we don’t block the blessings God wants to give – for our sakes and for the sakes of those who see us.

I’m really struck by how much God wants to give, and I wonder how much we miss by our own choices and actions.

God’s Unfailing Love

The NIV declares of God, “his love endures forever” 43 times. “Unfailing love” appears 40 times, always describing God’s love. These results are just from the Old Testament. The New Testament overflows with God’s love too, so I assume the writers used phrases that translate differently.

But Old Testament life seems to have a harsher edge to it than New Testament and into today. God was preparing the way, but the Messiah had not yet come. The Holy Spirit came to individuals but not to all. If God spoke to a person it was usually through a prophet or an angel.

God was preparing a people for Himself and there were a lot of growing pains. There still are, even now when we can rely on the Holy Spirit living in us, Christ in us, the hope of glory.

In the middle of the hardship of Old Testament life as God sculpted a reluctant people for Himself, when their actions often required correction in the form of invading armies and exile, His Holy Word proclaims His unfailing, forever-enduring love.

Whatever we face today, we can know and rely on God’s love God for us. There is hope.


God and Idols

Bel bows down, Nebo stoops low; their idols are borne by beasts of burden. The images that are carried about are burdensome, a burden for the weary. They stoop and bow down together; unable to rescue the burden, they themselves go off into captivity.

‘Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all you who remain of the house of Israel, you whom I have upheld since you were conceived, and have carried since your birth. Even to your old age and grey hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.’
Isaiah 46:1-4, NIV*

The gods made by the Babylonians are burdens: not only are they powerless to help the people who made them, but those people expend energy trying to care for and protect them, to the point where they get carried into captivity.

What a contrast with God: He carries us, sustains us. Where the Babylonians end in captivity, Israel (and us) who have been in captivity for a time because of not cooperating with God, will be rescued.

God goes on in this chapter to say that nothing will thwart His purposes, and that He will do what He planned: including “I will grant salvation to Zion, my splendour to Israel.” (Isaiah 46:13b)

Idols burden the people; God’s people are a burden He faithfully carries. People can’t even keep their idols safe; God keeps His people safe. Idols come to a bad end and the people get dragged along; God promises a good end for His people, guaranteed by His own integrity and power.

Now… how many lifeless things have I poured my treasure into and tried to bring to life and lug around? Plans, attitudes, dreams that aren’t from God or for this time?

Father, please forgive my wayward spirit. I get distracted, or I pick up junk to carry. Please help me recognize anything I need to take out of my pockets and dump at the side of the road. Help me rest in You as You sustain me. Help me trust Your leading and value You. Thank You for valuing me.

Our song for this week is “To the Only God“, from the Glory Revealed CD, lyrics by Chris Tomlin, lead vocals by David Crowder and Shane & Shane.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.