Friday 18 November 2016

Bible Book:

“Today the Lord has obtained your agreement: to be his treasured people, as he promised you, and to keep his commandments.” (v. 18)

Deuteronomy 26:16-19 Friday 18 November 2016

Psalm: Psalm 52


Today's passage spells out more clearly that the relationshipbetween God and God's own people is a two-way one. It starts withGod's initiative, God's grace, for God has agreed to be their God(verse 17). For the Israelites, who have gone through suchhardships to get to the threshold of reaching the Promised Land,this is an important offer. They are about to encounter many otherpeople already living in the same land, who worship local gods.They know there will be conflict ahead as they try to establishthemselves in this new place, and to know that the powerful God,who freed them from slavery in Egypt, who parted the waters of theRed Sea and who led them through the wilderness, is on their sideand will walk with them in the difficulties, challenges and evenbattles that lie ahead, is both important and reassuring. Withoutsuch support their quest will surely be doomed to failure.

However in return, their part of the deal is manifest in acommand to observe the laws - "statutes and ordinances" (v. 16) -that God has given them in order to live a good and holy life. Todo so requires total commitment; it will require the use of alltheir heart and soul (verse 16). They are commanded to obey. Justas the Ten Commandments command children to obey their father andtheir mother as a sign of their love (Exodus20:12), so too are the people of God to show their love byobeying the law that has been given to them.

This relationship has the sense of a formal legal contract. Anagreement has been "obtained" from the Lord (v. 17) and in returnGod has obtained the people's agreement. There are expectationsplaced on both parties to the agreement, but there are alsopotential gains for both as well if the deal works as intended. Forthe Israelites, they will become "high above all nations" (v. 19),just what they want to hear as they begin their encounters withother more established nations, whilst God receives reflected gloryand praise from the "people holy to the Lord your God" (v. 19).

To Ponder

  • Other than in sports competitions, the suggestion of one nationbeing "high above all nations" (v. 19) can cause uneasiness. How dowe reconcile the promise of God with our desire for fairness andjustice for all people?
  • What does it mean for someone in the Church today to obey the"statutes and ordinances" (v. 16) and how should we managediversity of views?
  • Consider your own relationship with God and what commitmentsyou are prepared to make in response to God's grace.
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