Man o man~
Can I just say this 90 Day Bible reading is really rocking my world? It has been a couple of years since I read through the Bible and I am getting so much out of it! I have heard from some of you, talked to others, and get nothing but good reports from all. Knowing that so many of you are reading along, makes this so much better. I can sense the unity and strength in your words and in my spirit.
I know I have mentioned this before, but let me ruminate some. Because we are reading through so much material all at once, we come across repetitive names, places, or situations rapidly. Even though we are books apart, a situation is recalled that may have been so 200 years ago, but is only two days ago in our reading. There is great recall, great connection, and great collaboration. An example was the daughters of Zelophehad. At the beginning of our reading today they showed up. It was yesterday’s reading which presented their case and plight. However, there was context for the second mention because I was able to recall the first so easily.
As I am reading through the Bible this time, there are two major themes I am looking for in each chapter I read. Those themes are redemption/reconciliation and dwelling/presence. In the fortune cookie method of reading the Bible, just cracking it open and reading whatever is availed, one doesn’t get a good diet of what Father is putting together in the Word. It would be akin to just eating fortune cookies compared to a balanced diet including fruits, vegetables, meat, etc., one is not going to be healthy. Or just having the Bible read to you in church alone, the big idea of redemption through Jesus will show up, but not see it anywhere else. Instead as I am reading from Genesis to Revelation I am looking for each and every mention of redemption or reconciliation between Father and folks, family to family, friend to friend, or strangers. Many of these have shown up already.
Secondly, I am looking for how Father is reestablishing his presence in people. Adam had it made. Father walked with him and talked with him. Father’s presence was thick, obvious, and powerful. But, as we know, due to the fall, His presence on the planet and interaction with mankind changed. Father set out immediately to set that back into place, but it wasn’t going to look like it was during the Edenic period. As I read I look for ways Father is dwelling in us and through us. I look for information about idolatry that could show how Father moves and works, where it pleases Him to dwell and where it does not.
Just a bit of information which might help you understand Deuteronomy. The word means ‘second law.’ So what we have is a reiteration of the big ideas in first giving of law which Moses feels are important. Moses is 120 years old here. This is his last chance to share with the wandering Hebrews what he thinks is valuable before he dies. Remember, he is not permitted to enter the Canaan because he struck the rock twice instead of speaking to it. This ‘speech’ is given all at one time from the top of a mountain to all of Israel. Moses gives his interpretation of many of the details we have just read about. It is neat to see how Moses rewords things and we see it from his perspective. Also, the basic outline of the book is very specific. It is borrowed from Hittite treaties between a suzerain and a vassal. Here Yahweh is the suzerain and Israel is the vassal. As long as all the conditions of the vassal are met, the suzerain will provide protection, goods, and peace. If not, then trouble ensues.
Deuteronomy Chapter Four is a very cool chapter. Much can be learned from this chapter alone. It is in this chapter that I find both the ideas of reconciliation and dwelling. The dwelling is first, found in verses 15 and following for a bit. Here Yahweh again forbids idol worship. Things don’t hold the presence of God. We are not to worship anything formed. Not animals or birds, nothing celestial, not even any shape that looks like a man or a woman. But look at verse 20. It says you (Israelites), you have been brought out of Egypt, the iron-smelting furnace. He is not saying this because it was hot. But because furnaces were often places where idols are fired. God is saying here that humans are to be the embodiment of Father’s presence, not some clay or steel idol. So that when people look at us, we reflect or project the image and likeness of God himself. Gosh that is cool.
Next, the promise of reconciliation. Verse 28 finishes the idol message and reiterates that idea that wood and stone cannot hear, see, eat, or smell. Instead, v. 29, “BUT IF,” I always love the big, fat ‘but ifs’ in the Bible, “you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul. When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the LORD your God and obey him. For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your forefathers, which he confirmed to them by oath.” What a great picture. Even if you slip up, if you seek him, you will find him. Even if you get off track a little bit and start worshipping something you shouldn’t, you won’t go to hell, just ‘metanoia’ (Greek word for repentance, ‘change your mind’) and get back on track with Father, and all will be OK. He is merciful. He wants to redeem and reconcile. Obey Him and receive His love. Wow!
OK, enough for today. I am writing about as much as you have to read in the Bible. Not really, but verbosity gets out of hand sometimes. It is the fruit of the abundance of ones heart. I love the Bible more than ever before. Thank you Father for your mercy and providing it for us.
Stay steady, solid, and consistent. Keep reading. Pastor Mark.