Daily Scripture readings for August, set #17:
Deuteronomy is seriously just rocking my face off. Moses’ outgoing sermon to the people is so great. There are a bunch of great quotes in today’s chapters, but my favorite is 6:10-13. Actually, 8:11-18 says basically the same thing, but with a little more detail. “Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end. Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.” Wow. There is so much going on in this text. Notice verse 16, where God CLEARLY spells out his intentions in taking the people through the wilderness: humbling, testing, doing good.
Psalm 64 speaks extensively about “the wicked” and the degree to which they will go in pursuing wickedness. David ends his descriptions of the wicked with this: “For the inward mind and heart of a man are deep” (vs 6). It seems like his point here is that the wicked have a huge capacity for wickedness, but then we know from the readings in Romans a few weeks ago that the category of “the wicked” includes ALL of us.
Jesus’ famous “Lord’s Prayer” is obviously his example for us as to how we should pray, his prayers in Gethsemane are also great models of how to bring our concerns to God. “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (vs 40). Here Jesus both presents his requests AND acknowledges God’s sovereignty over what will happen, even confessing that his own desires and God’s desires might be different.
The picture of the vine in Romans 11 and the “grafting in” of Gentiles is a sobering analogy to me. I think it’s fair to summarize this way: I, a Gentile, was NOT chosen to be part of God’s people. Instead, the Jews were. BUT, God allowed the Jews to “fall away” in their lack of faith so that the option for salvation would be opened up to me. SO THEN, I must continue in faith, for if I fall away, clearly God is able and willing to cut me off as he did with the Jews. Anybody disagree with that paraphrase? I’d love to know if I’m missing something. It seems like the linchpin of the whole thing is verse 18: “remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you.”
Daily Scripture readings for August, set # 18:
Am I right that Deuteronomy is much more interesting/compelling than Numbers and Leviticus? I remember enjoying it when I read it last year, and I’m enjoying it again this year. Two passages in today’s chapters stood out to me. First, 9:4-6 is such a loud and clear declaration that the people of Israel didn’t EARN the blessing of the Promised Land. It seems that Moses anticipated that the people might think that way, so he cut’s it off right at the outset. Secondly, I love the way 10:16 echoes so perfectly the Romans 2 call for “circumcision of the heart.” It’s been really cool to read Romans directly alongside these other readings and see how often they correspond and intersect.
It strikes me as I read Psalm 65 that this particular chapter feels very “standard” as a Psalm, and that’s not a negative observation. Proclaiming God’s worthiness, lifting praises to him, extensive use of poetic imagery, written by David… this chapter is almost the poster child definition of how I’ve always viewed the Psalms. Again, that’s not a bad thing. It’s just an observation.
I think it’s noteworthy that Matthew puts the account of Jesus’ mockery and beating at the hands of the Jewish Council right next to the account of Peter’s denial of Christ. It’s as if we are being shown that Peter is just as susceptible to sin as Caiaphas was. Not only do the Jewish leaders despise Jesus, but even his closest follower rejects him. BUT, the crucial difference is Peter’s weeping upon realizing his sin, whereas the Council rages on proudly without any remorse for their false witnesses and arrogance.
Romans 11 has a confusing statement in verse 32: “For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.” Does the “all” here mean that all people will be saved? I don’t think so, because the context seems to revolve around people groups and not individuals. I think Paul’s point is that God has delivered over to disobedience ALL people groups (even his chosen people, the Jews) so that his mercy would be the means of salvation for everyone. Therefore, the Jews can’t say to the non-Jew, “Well, YOU were saved by God’s mercy, but WE were saved because we’re awesome.” Does that sound like a fair interpretation of this verse? Regardless of that issue, it’s also interesting to me that disobedience is something that we have all been CONSIGNED to.