Monday 21 November 2016

Bible Book:

“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” (v. 8)

Deuteronomy 31:1-8 Monday 21 November 2016

Psalm: Psalm 54


These verses deal with succession in leadership. Moses -portrayed idealistically - has reached the maximum allotted span ofhuman life (120 years; Genesis 6:3). Part of his leadership (formilitary and political affairs) now passes to Joshua. Moses'successor must be true to the faith and spirit of Moses, which isalso embedded in the people (verses 7-8 parallel verse 6).

What shocks modern readers is the mission given to Joshua. Theconquest of Canaan, inspired by the earlier and famous victoriesover Sihon and Og (kings in the territory to the east of the riverJordan and the north-east of the Sea of Galilee) must involveextermination of the indigenous population. The meaning of "thecommand that I have given you" (v. 5) is the 'ban', as in Deuteronomy 20:16-18. It is the thought-worldtoday of so-called 'Islamic State'. We call it genocide.

Historians may note that the book of Deuteronomy comes from the7th century BC. That may help to distance the text from our world.However, when Christians read this material in the context ofprayer, we are charged to scrutinise everything through the 'lens'of Jesus on his cross. Our God never authorises crimes againsthumanity. God's love is dedicated exclusively to human well-being,to freedom and the release of energy for the support and service ofour neighbours (especially the frail and vulnerable). God suffers(as on the cross) in today's killing fields. It is God's Spirit oflove that is always with human beings which inspires the courageand commitment of those who, in the circumstances of hell, keepalive humane values and continue to believe in life and justice andhope for peace.

To Ponder

  • A key feature of leadership in any organisation is to embodyand articulate its ethos. In the Church it is as likely to beexpressed by members of the congregation as the formal leadership.In your congregation, who 'leads by example' in the way ofJesus?
  • We pray, say, for peace in Syria. How is our prayer turned intoaction? What can we do to help?
  • God's promise of an all-enveloping love, which casts out fear,keeps us inwardly serene and stable in our Christian lifestyle.Ponder occasions in your life when this conviction has beenparticularly important for you. 
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