Through the Word in 2020 / March 23 – God commissions a song

We are reading the Bible through together this year, using the Discipleship Journal Reading Plan published by the Navigators. You can download it free of charge from:

Today’s 4 readings are: Matthew 27:57-66; Romans 15:1-13; Psalm 69:19-36, Deuteronomy 29-31.

God is no idiot. He knows us better than we know ourselves. And in this morning’s reading in Deuteronomy, He does a remarkable thing for Israel. Moses is about to die. Joshua is about to take leadership. And the Israelites are about to enter the Promised Land after their Wilderness wanderings. But before Moses exits the scene, He is commissioned by God to compose a song and teach it to the Nation. The contents of that song are found in the following chapter in the 1st 43 verses. But what draws our attention today is the reason behind its composition and dissemination:

Deuteronomy 31:20 (ESV) — For when I have brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to give to their fathers, and they have eaten and are full and grown fat, they will turn to other gods and serve them, and despise me and break my covenant.

Note first the problem – It is not poverty or pain which most often leads us away from the Lord, but prosperity. How unable we are to suffer it. For when we succeed, we gloat and grow proud. When we have much, we grow self-sufficient and satisfied. When we are without struggle or conflict, we grow addicted to ease and apathetic. Lord save us from our sinful responses to blessing! We are, I am, so wicked. Don’t we each find this tendency within us?

Second, note that God in His goodness made preparation for that day. This song was meant to keep them on their guard against the pull of this sin which is so readily crouching at our door every day. And in the absence of that song, it is often personal trials or massive incursions like the Corona Virus which ought to wake us up to this tendency. How comfortable we become. How secure in think all will just remain as it is. How foolish to rest in external prosperity or to imagine that God gave His Son to preserve it for us – to preserve “the American way of life.” He died for our sin, not our comfort. For our guilt, not to promote luxury and ease.

Thirdly, and though it is in the next chapter – we see the glory of this song. First it calls Israel to recall its past and God’s great deliverance for them from Egypt. Next it recounts His faithfulness in the Wilderness, in the face of their rebellion, complaining and hardheartedness. But last, it reminds them how willing He is to forgive them when they repent, and the deep desire to heal, restore and bless them. As He is today for you and me.

He is so faithful – when we are not. So good when we err. So desirous of our eternal good, when we are so fixed on the temporal. What a good and blessed God we serve.  

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