Wednesday 23 November 2016

Bible Book:

“Take this book of the law … ; let it remain as a witness against you.” (v. 26)

Deuteronomy 31:23-28 Wednesday 23 November 2016

Psalm: Psalm 55:16-22


The opening verse has God commissioning Joshua to bring theIsraelites into the promised land and assuring Joshua of God'spresence. It is an alternative tradition to the account in verses7-8 of Moses commissioning Joshua.

Verses.24-26 are both like, and unlike, verse 9. Here Mosescommands that "this book of the law" (the book of Deuteronomy) thathe has written is placed beside the ark of the covenant. Some timelater, Deuteronomy became firmly attached to the four books,Genesis to Numbers. The five books together formed what was knownas the law, or the teaching. The Israelites assumed the whole lawwas placed beside the ark.

The ark of the covenant contained the two stone tablets, onwhich were written the Ten Commandments. They had been given by Godto Moses on Mount Sinai (Deuteronomy 10:1-5). The ark was an acacia boxoverlaid with gold inside and out. The ark was the location ofGod's holy and invisible presence. The ark led the people on theirjourneys through the wilderness and later led Israel's armies intobattle. Eventually David brought the ark to the newly-conqueredJerusalem and Solomon placed it in the Holy of Holies in thetemple.

Moses then commands an assembly so that he can read the book toall the elders and officials. (This is a variation on the story inverses 10-13.) What is distinctive here is thatthe book of the teaching is a witness against Israel, exposing andchallenging their all-too-frequent acts of rebellion andstubbornness in resisting God's will and ways.

To Ponder

  • When you look back over your experience of reading the Bible,what are the principal spiritual and emotional themes that havestruck you? (You might consider, for example, encouragement, newinsights, judgement on yourself, recovery and reconciliation,hope.)
  • In your experience, what sort of person or event has broughtyour congregation to a place of self-criticism, or to theacknowledgement of weakness and failure? Has this experience beenwelcomed or resisted? Thinking back over one example, how didthings change, if at all?
  • Preachers are sometimes keen to denounce behaviour and valuesin the world outside the Church. How do they and Christian membersgenerally avoid hypocrisy and arrogance? 
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