Israel, the land of milk and honey, was described as ‘a land the Lord your God cares for’ (v.12).
The Israelites were given a choice between a blessing and and curse (v.26). ‘The blessing if you obey the commands of the Lord’ (v.27), ‘the curse if you disobey the commands of the Lord your God’ (V.28) (by following other Gods).
The Israelites must destroy all the places where the heathen nations worshipped their gods (12:2-3). God would specify a place (Jerusalem) ‘from among all your tribes to put his Name there for his dwelling (v.5).
The command not to eat blood was repeated, ‘pour it out on the ground like water’ (v.16). ‘Because the blood is the life’ (v.23). That’s black pudding definitely off the menu.
Blood is the universal currency in the spiritual world. Many non-Christian ceremonies require the shedding of blood. Chickens are commonly sacrificed to provide fresh blood to placate demonic spirits, cast spells and invoke curses. Humans have long sort to placate their local demonic spirits by giving them blood sacrifices. The most powerful blood being innocent blood. Heathen cultures, such as the Mayans, Aztecs or Druids, sacrificed their infant children. These days, our culture kills hundreds of thousands of the unborn.
Jesus saved us by the sacrifice of his perfect blood, which was spotless and without sin. Our Pastor states that when Jesus died, his blood went up the court of heaven where it was examined. When all present agreed it was without sin, mankind was justified and made righteous with God. Our sin was wiped away by Jesus’ perfect blood. I like the old legend that Adam was buried at Golgotha, under Jesus’ cross. Many medieval paintings have the skull of Adam under the cross. Jesus had promised Adam and Eve, after their tearful expulsion from Eden, that he would make everything right again and come to rescue them. While he hung on the cross, Jesus’ blood soaked down into Adam’s dry bones. After his death, Jesus descended into hell ‘to free from sorrow Adam in his bonds and Eve, captive with him’ (CCC, 635). Jesus carried out the most audacious rescue mission of all time, freely choosing to die so he could descend to hell to awake the dead from sleep and raise them to heaven: ‘the dead will hear the Son of God, and those who hear will live (CCC,635). Jesus, holding the keys of death and Hades, fulfilled his promise to rescue Adam and Eve as both their God and the son of Eve. Mind-blowing.
I once told a young man I was subscribed to an online theology degree. He responded that it must be fascinating to learn about different religions around the world. My son interjected, ‘Dad’s only studying Christianity!’ Of course, I am only studying Christianity and I will only scratch the surface in my lifetime. God told us to stick to the Bible, ‘be careful not to be ensnared by enquiring about their (heathen) gods, saying, “How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same.”‘ (v.30). We should always curb our curiosity about activities that are likely to harm us. Why visit a race-course or a casino?; it might ensnare us into gambling. Why visit a night-club?; it might ensnare us into drunkenness and sex. Why visit a non-Christian shrine or temple when we are on holiday? They are a snare for us, Curiosity has killed more than the cat. If we want a day trip while on holiday, there are hundreds of magnificent Christian shrines, churches and cathedrals.
Jesus told us to always be ready, ‘because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him (v.40). It will be good if Jesus finds us watching out for him when he returns. So many people in the world have given up waiting and spend their time being greedy, drinking and fornicating. Some have blanked God from their mind so completely, they don’t even contemplate him at all. They are likely to be caught out unawares by the return of Christ and it will be too late to rush to the church. We are always being watched by a cloud of heavenly witnesses and thinking about this fact should help us to keep our behaviour respectable.
It’s morally worse for people baptized as Christians to fall back into bad behaviour than for people, who have not yet received the Holy Spirit, to lead the same kind of immoral life. ‘But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows’ (v.48). Both types of people need to repent and renounce their behaviour. Once we have been baptized as a child of God, we have to use our talents and resources to further God’s agenda: ‘from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked (v.48). Many of us in the West lead such blessed, prosperous and privileged lives that God is expecting a massive amount back from each of us. It would be disastrous for us to sit back and think our cushy lives are due to luck or earnt by our own efforts. God is due our gratitude, our homage and our loyalty.
When one person becomes a Christian in a family of unbelievers, this can cause great division (v.51). However, gradually by their example a dedicated Christian can start to win their family members over to eternal life. We can always offer an olive branch – even if other people refuse to take it.
During our lifetime, we need to judge what is not right in our own life and try hard to be reconciled to God. God is always willing to forgive us and welcome us back. He wants us to have eternal life, not to be cast out and thrown into an eternal prison because of our pride and unbelief (v.58). However, it takes humility on our part to repent of our sins, believe in Jesus and ask him to come fully into our lives as our Lord and personal saviour.
King David called on God to vindicate him, rescue him and plead his ’cause against an ungodly nation’ (v.1). Most of us find ourselves living in ‘ungodly nations’ these days, surrounded by disobedience to God.
He asked God to ‘send forth your light and your truth’ (v.3) to guide him. God sent us Jesus, a descendant of David, as light and truth. God remained David’s joy and delight and David vowed to praise him with his harp.
In a very similar verse to yesterday, David interrogated his own soul and asked why it was so disturbed. He gave himself a pep-talk and instructed himself to keep hoping in God, confident that he will praise him as ‘my Saviour and my God’ (v.5).
When we are feeling depressed, we shouldn’t say that we will praise God after he has rescued us, We need to worship and praise him for all his tender care in our past, trusting him completely to save us once again.