November 7, 2012

Scripture and Commentary, Thursday after the Twenty-second Sunday after Trinity


Lectionary

Morning - Ps. 30, 2 Kings 22:14, Philemon
Evening - Ps. 37:1-25, Dt. 4:32-49, Mt. 25:1-13

Commentary, Deuteronomy 4:32-49

This morning's reading brings us to the end of Moses first farewell sermon, which he appropriately closes with a reminder of the unique position and nature of the nation of Israel.  The essence of his words are that Israel is supernaturally born.  She did not create herself through ties of familial relations, common ideals, or common defense.  God chose Her and created her for Himself.  At the foot of Mt Sinai, Israel heard God speak (4:33).  Sinner that she was, she should have been consumed by fire from Heaven.  Yet, by the grace of God, she lived. She did not deliver herself from her captivity in Egypt (4:32).  God secured her freedom with His own mighty hand.  She did not devise her own laws or charter.  These were given to her by God (4:36).  Her charter is the Covenant of God.  Her laws define her duties to God as His people.  He accomplished all of this because of His love.  He loved the fathers, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, Benjamin, Joseph, and the others.  And He called them out of the world to be His own unique Kingdom.  That is why He saved them from the Egyptians and has brought them to Canaan (4:37-38).  God has referred to the specific events that brought Israel out of Egypt, formed her into a nation, and brought her safely through the desert.  Verse 38 turns to what He intends to do for them in giving them the land of Canaan.  The point is that Israel alone has been called and founded in this way by God.  She is now His unique people: He is their only God and King.

I cannot read such words without thinking also of the New Israel, in which the promises of God are now being fulfilled.  The Church is God's Kingdom.  She is His unique people. He is our God and King.  As the First Israel was supernaturally created, the Church is established by the supernatural works of God by giving His Son on the cross, giving the Spirit to dwell in His Body, giving us His word and commandments.  Our charter is the Bible; His commandments are our duties to Him as His people.

We have seen God in the Bible, which presents us with a fuller view of Christ than most people of the first century possessed.  And though as sinful as the Old Israel, like her we have seen God and lived.  We have heard God speak in the Bible.  Not in fire and earthquakes does He address us, but in the pages of the Bible we have His word and full revelation.  Everything we need to know about Him, what He requires of us, and how to have peace with Him is revealed to us in Scripture.  From it we must remove nothing, and to it we must add nothing.

Like the old Israel, we have been delivered from a cruel bondage.  We were prisoners and slaves of sin, and destined to die in our bondage, but for the grace of God.  By bearing our sins in His own flesh, Jesus paid the debt of our freedom.  He is the stronger Man who invaded the home of our captor, and spoiled his goods and set us free.

Like the old Israel, we have a Promised Land where we will be free to know and love God forever.  It is a land that flows with the milk of God's presence and the honey of His love.