Saturday, September 13, 2014

Deuteronomy 7

Today's reading in our daily plan is Deuteronomy 7. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • Verses 1-6 may be a bit shocking, as God tells the Israelites to completely destroy several groups of people. It leads us to wonder how a God of love and mercy can give this order. But there are two reasons for this command. 
    • First, though God is love and He is merciful, He is also just. Being just, God does not allow evil to continue on indefinitely. This is not about race, this is about evil. We see other times when God judges the wickedness of the Israelites (for instance, by keeping out of the promised land those who disobeyed Him), and even uses other nations to punish Israel for their sin (see 2 Chronicles 36:17 and Isaiah 10:12). To think that because God is loving and merciful, He is not just is to severely underestimate God.
    • Second, God is also doing this to keep His people safe from the influence of an evil people. God loves and cares for His children. And in the same way a parent kill keep their kid away from playing in traffic, or with a brood of poisonous snakes, God here is seeking to keep His children from being hurt or poisoned.
  • "Asherah poles" (verses 5-6) - Asherah was considered the mother goddess of the sea and was associated with Baal. She was often worshipped by means of wooden poles.
  • In verse 6 God tells His people that they are "holy," which means they are to be different and distinct. They are to set themselves apart from evil, and it's influence in their lives. In verses 25-26, Moses warns the people that they had to be extremely careful about being influenced by anything evil, for instance, being sure not to allow it in their homes.
  • God's people were to keep themselves from evil, and were to "pay attention to [God's] laws and [be] careful to follow them" (verse 12) and, if they were, they would be blessed for it.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • When we read chapters like this we may blanch at the justice of God. But do we want an unjust God? How often do we hear, "How can a good God allow all the evil and suffering in the world?" We see in Deuteronomy 7 that He doesn't. He deals with it. And eventually, God will give justice to all the evil in our world today.
  • God's command for His people to be holy, set apart from even any possibility of an evil influence penetrating into their lives is still equally true today (see 1 Peter 1:14-16). We are to follow God's way of living, and be different and distinct from anyone who doesn't.
  • Did you notice in verse 22 that God tells His people that He'll give them victory "little by little." Why not victory all at once? And why doesn't God give us victory over our temptations and battles all at once? We don't know for sure, but maybe it's because He wants us to continue to rely on Him, day by day. And maybe if we had instance victory it would lead us to pride, and we wouldn't feel the need for God we do when we're in the struggle.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • What is the biggest threat to you living a holy life? If people watched every moment of your everyday, where would they see you being the least godly and the the most like everyone else? How can you separate yourself from even the temptation towards this sin that you have perhaps been accepting in your life? What is in your home that can influence you towards this evil? Can you get rid of it right now? And, if not, what can you do to make sure it no longer trips you up? Have you told a trusted friend (or your micro group) about your battle and asked them to give you support and accountability towards victory?