The Song of Moses / Parable of the Tenants: 20th April 2021

Deuteronomy 31:30-32:52

Moses recited God’s song to the Israelites, so that ‘it may be a witness for me (God) against them’ (31:19).

His teaching was meant to fall like rain on eager young grass / tender plants for the Israelites to lap it up. However, we all know they were doomed due to their innate disobedience. In contrast, God’s ways are perfect and his ways are just. He does not do wrong (v.4).

The foolish Israelites would unwisely spurn God’s love so severely that: ‘to their shame they are no longer his children’ (v.5). When we become a baptized Christian we become an adopted child of God, a co-heir with Christ.

That was not the way to repay the Lord. He is our creator, ‘who made you and formed you’ (32:6). This is God speaking, through Moses, and so, if you believe in evolution, you are calling God a liar.

God shielded, guarded and cared for the Israelites in the desert (v.10). God alone led them, ‘no foreign god was with him’ (v.12). They will anger him by unfaithfully sacrificing to demons (v.17) and worthless idols (v.21).

As they made God jealous, he planned in return to make the Jews angry and jealous of the Gentiles (v.21), who were destined to be saved and redeemed by Jesus Christ. There is a terrible list of calamities that God would send against the Israelites (v.23-25) including ‘consuming pestilence’ and ‘deadly plague’. He would send ‘against them the fangs of wild beasts, the venom of vipers that glide in the dust (v.24). It is interesting that up to 50,000 people a year die from snake bite in India, many from the bite of a dust-coloured viper. Only 2.3% of the Indian population worship Christ.

God does in fact care what people say about him: ‘I dreaded the taunt of the enemy’ (v.27) and this stopped him wiping out the Israelites completely.

God puts to death and he brings to life. He wounds and he heals (v.39) and ‘no-one can deliver out of my hand’ (v.39). Nothing happens in life without God’s permission. He is omnipotent, omniscient and omni-present – all powerful, all knowing and everywhere. Many of these aspects of God’s character are a mystery but he always knows what he is doing. Bad things only happen to us so that good can come out of it – even if we don’t realise what the benefit was in this lifetime. His works are perfect and his ways are just (v.4). That is total obedience and total faith, to fully trust God in the bad times as well as the good.

It would be extremely foolish to be an adversary of God. ‘He will take vengeance on his enemies and make atonement for his land and people’ (v.43). Jesus made atonement once and for all for those who believe in him through his precious blood. If people don’t embrace this gift of salvation, God will require the blood from his adversaries.

God told Moses to ascend Mount Nebo in Moab to view the promised land from a distance. There he would die and ‘be gathered to his people’ (v.50). This seems sad but for God’s friends there is no death. The next time we read about Moses, (over 1,400 years later), he visited Jesus on another mountain at the Transfiguration. Jesus is the new Moses but the original one also had an epic life.

Luke 19:45-20:26

Jesus cleared the conmen out of the temple area who were ripping off the religious tourists: you have made it ‘a den of robbers’ (v.46). We are not meant to make money from religious activities. Of course, full-time ministers deserve their wages from our tithes but we must remember we received the message of the gospel without charge and so must give without charge.

The chief priests and teachers of the law asked Jesus by what authority he was teaching (v.2). Jesus loved to answer questions with another question. Both John the Baptist and Jesus shared the same authority to teach – the authority of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit seems to have been ignored by the religious leaders, who were so tied up with ceremonial rites and religion they could not recognise the work of the living God.

Jesus predicted his death through the ‘parable of the tenants’. Just as God’s prophets had been historically ill-treated so Jesus, the Son of God, would be put to death. The religious leaders were trying to replace God in the eyes of the people: ‘Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours’ (v.14). God would replace the Jews, after they rejected the Messiah, with Christian Gentiles. We would be given the vineyard (v.16). Jesus would become the cornerstone for the worldwide church that would spread to the end of the earth.

Jesus was far too wise to be trapped by their spies. Money decorated by Caesar’s head would be meaningless in heaven. We are meant to be build up riches in heaven, where thieves cannot steal them. God is our number one priority but as Christians we must also pay our fair share of secular tax, returning the notes and coins to the government who printed them. However, it is distressing that our government should use the money we return for such immoral acts as the state-sponsored abortion of unborn children.

Psalm 48:9-14

We don’t want to practice ‘New-age’ type meditation – emptying our minds, creating a vacuum and opening ourselves up to demonic attack. We want to carry out Christian meditation – meditating on God’s ‘unfailing love’ (v.9). God is righteous and thanks to the diligent work of missionaries (and now the internet), Christians are praising him to the ends of the earth (v.10).

When we come together as a group and pray together in the Spirit for long enough, we can tangibly feel the presence of God in the room. Worship is powerful as a community: ‘within your temple’ (v.9) but all baptized Christians are temples of the Holy Spirit and so we can let the Spirit of God meditate twenty-four hours a day within us – vocalising his perfect prayers via our lips through the supernatural gift of praying in tongues.

God is our everlasting Father and guide – ‘even to the end’ (v.14).

We must keep the faith until our dying breath.

Image: John Everett Millais, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

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