God started to make all the nations fear the Israelites (2:25). By the time the Israelites invaded the promised land and approached Jericho, the inhabitants were terrified of their formidable reputation (Joshua 2:11).
God acted on Sihon’s heart (the Amorite king of Heshbon) to make his spirit stubborn and his heart obstinate in order that he would challenge the Israelites and suffer defeat (Deut. 2:30). This is similar to God making Pharaoh so stubborn, back in Egypt, that he wouldn’t let the Israelites leave until the 10th plague. It is fascinating that Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God (Matt, 5:9)‘ but God didn’t want peace between the Israelites and the Amorites. He wanted Sihon’s kingdom to suffer total defeat with no survivors.
Moses pleaded to be allowed to go into the promised land (Deut. 3:23-23) but God stuck to his previous ruling and would not listen. Due to his previous disobedience, Moses would only be allowed to look at the promised land from a high place. Joshua would be commissioned to lead the Israelites from there. A ‘no’ from God can really mean ‘no’. He obviously knew that it was time for Joshua to step up and Moses had finished his race. Moses was expected to swallow his disappointment, commission Joshua, and ‘encourage and strengthen him‘ (v.28). All leaders must know when it is time to hand over the baton to the next generation.
As Christians, we are a new species, a new creation. a new international nation with God actually living inside each one of us. We are much more privileged than the Israelites, who were blessed for their time, ‘What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way our God is near us whenever we pray to him?’ (Deut. 4.7).
We must not forget the wonderful things of God we have heard and seen. How awesome it must have been for the Jews to stand ‘at the foot of the mountain while it blazed with fire to the very heavens with black clouds and deep darkness’ (4:11) and receive the covenant of God.
An expert in the law stood up ‘to test Jesus’ (v.25). It took extreme arrogance for an academic to try to trick the Son of God. He thought he already knew the answer and, it turns out, he did. Jesus got him to answer his own question and he condensed the ten commandments into two. The academic gets the credit in this gospel of Luke, but Jesus himself said this in Matthew (22:37-40).
Jesus then told the very famous ‘Parable of the Good Samaritan’. It’s wonderful that Jesus selected a Samaritan to be the hero of the story when recently a Samaritan village had rejected him (9:51-56).
Jesus never ‘passed by on the other side‘ (v.32) Throughout his ministry, he was constantly distracted and diverted his attention to whoever was in need. I like to write this blog first thing in the morning, but I have to be prepared to instantly drop it if someone genuinely needs my help. The priest and the Levite may have been hurrying to carry out their holy duties – forgetting that ministering to the needy, trumps all other worthy tasks.
Jesus visit the home of Martha and Mary. I used to get confused about who got tied up with the housework. It’s a simple rule. We all want to be like Mary – either as Mary, Mother of God, the number one disciple, or as Mary, sister of Lazarus, sitting at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. If a famous preacher is in town, forget the housework and spend quality time with them. Go to a restaurant with them or get a takeaway delivered, leave the washing up – everything else can wait. Listen intently to what they are say. Their words could change your life.
This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t enthusiastically help with the housework on every other occasion. Saint Theresa of Avila said, ‘God walks among the pots and pans’. It is a blessing to serve others and we can pray in tongues while we wash up – offering the perfect prayer to God. However, we should not confuse hospitality – actually being present for our guests, listening to them and making them feel cherished – with being background skivvies in the kitchen. We constantly have to assess each moment, to make sure that people are prioritised over chores. Martha could have just given a fish and a loaf to Jesus and asked him to multiply it.
Jesus taught his disciples ‘The Lord’s prayer‘ in chapter 11. It gives the perfect format for our prayers. It was a revelation that we can start praying to God by addressing him as ‘Father’ (v.2). We should always ‘hallow’ God’s name (v.2) and, in keeping with Jewish tradition, refuse to say his most holy formal name. The name beginning with a ‘Y’. When I first started praying in tongues, I asked the Holy Spirit whether I would ever say the name beginning with a ‘Y’ while he was directing my prayers. He categorically confirmed to me that it should never be said. I cringe and apologise to God, when I hear someone else read out the holy name in church. We should always say ‘The Lord’ instead.
Each day, we need to ask God for ‘our daily bread’ (v.3). We shouldn’t stock up and try to live each day off our own resources. When I started this blog, I thought I could write it a few weeks in advance. Then I could take the odd day off for holidays / lack of inspiration. That didn’t work at all. I now just work on one day at a time – scheduling it in the evening, to be posted at 06:00 the next day. I trust God to give me something to write about each day as I read his word – my daily bread.
‘Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us’ (v.4). When we are baptised, all our sins up until that point are wiped out, including the ‘original sin’ we have inherited from our forefather, Adam. However, you probably have noticed that this is not the end of sinning. The more time we spend praying in tongues, the less sin we will commit. The Holy Spirit works on sanctifying us, steering us away from old sinful habits and inspiring us to live better lives. However, Jesus obviously says that we should assess our lives on a daily basis and ask forgiveness for the sins we have committed in the last 24 hours. If we were to die immediately after being baptized, as a creature born again through water and the Spirit, we would go straight to heaven. However, immediately we start to carry out serious sins again, we are destined for hell. We can’t carry on living in sinful ways and expect our baptism to cover it. We have to continually ask for forgiveness and move away from sin.
We ask God to ‘lead us not into temptation’ (v.4). God doesn’t tempt us, that’s the work of the devil and his demons but nothing happens without God’s permission. God will always give us sufficient grace to resist any temptation but he might want to test our willpower at times. Resisting temptation can require some emotional, spiritual work and so avoidance is always the easiest route.
King David’s enemies thought he was defeated and even his closest, trusted friend had betrayed him.
King David continued to survive. His enemies had not triumphed and so he knew that God was pleased with him and would raise him up (v.10-11). God upheld David in his integrity and was ever present to him.
We should give praise to our everlasting God throughout the day. He will also have mercy on us, uphold us and raise us up.
Picture: Accademia Ligustica di Belle Arti, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons