Category Archives: 2020 missed passages
Deuteronomy 28 probably is one of the most significant chapters for its message to the New Generation crossing the Jordan into Jericho. It also is a significant warning to the whole nation about its future. The most important trait about a believer of Jesus Christ and Jehovah is obedience. Chapter 27 talks at length about the Curses on the people/nation if they disobey the Word of God. In Chapter 27:13-26 every verse begins with “CURSED IS HE.” Israel nor the believers throughout history can claim they did not know. God has provided extensive directions for living in this world. The problem is that humanity wants to live like the rest of the world in disobedience and flesh sensitive satisfaction.
In chapter 28 we find an extensive dialog about what will happen if the people of God follow the whims/worship of the Canaanite nations. What started out wonderfully under the leadership of Joshua, fizzled two generations later. Instead of being light and salt, the nation embraced the customs, cults, and carnality of the very people they were to dispose of from the Land.
We as believers today must heed the warning and the devastating results of disobedience. I find that in the CHURCH, our methods and practices are governed by what the LOST world will allow us to do. We must become a holy and devout people to God in Heaven and repel the inclination of trying to live “riding on the fence” with this world.
As the people of God, we must embrace our calling to be a “peculiar people” and obey God rather than man. We know the story of how Joshua and his generation, and the generation who witnessed the “acts of God” in taking the Promised Land; but we find that by the 3rd generation, Israel gets satisfied with “partial conquest” of the Promised Land and begins living with the Canaanite people groups.
This become a snare for the people of God. We are admonished that we cannot serve God and Mammon – in other words we can embrace the world and serve God simultaneously.
When we investigate the words of Deut. 28, they are more than a warning; the words are prophetic. I mean they are foretelling what will happen to the Nation of Israel. After a lengthy exposition on what the curses will be if they disobey; God brings an account of “witness” to the people. In Deut. 31:19-20; heaven and earth are witness against you today that I have set life and death before you – the blessing and the curse. Choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants “by loving the LORD God, by obeying His voice and holding fast to Him.” These are strong words; that were reaffirmed by Jesus when he said that we are to “Love the Lord our God with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength” in Mark’s Gospel.
In Deut. 28 God reveals the story of Israel’s future. We find that because Israel would not obey God, but played the harlot, that they were overcome by the land. Point – darkness quells the people of God. The curses that were meant for the LOST were put on Israel. Israel was a rebellious and stiff-necked people, so are we. Instead of conquering the Promised Land, Israel was conquered. Instead of remaining in the Land, that sought after the god of Baal. Israel went into captivity after hundreds of years of disobedience. The Babylonian captivity [587 BC] came as fulfillment of Deut. 28. But look how longsuffering God was towards His people! Prophet after prophet was sent to remind and warn Israel of impending judgement – but the messages fell on death ears. Again, the prophecy of Deut. 28 comes to reality in AD 70 when Titus the Roman general destroys Jerusalem and the Temple. Even then Israel did not repent and return to the LORD.
So, here we are in 2020, pandemic and chaos abound across the globe. Will the people of God in this generation he the words that Israel did not? Will we continue to live like the world and be overcome with its darkness? When I read and reread this chapter I got convicted and overwhelmed with the judgment of God on disobedience. AT a time when it looks like evil is winning the battle, I have to ask the question to all of us – Where are the soldiers and warriors of the Cross? We cannot blame past generations for our disobedience today. We are accountable to the Father for “it is OUR WATCH.” Children of the Most High God – Put on your Armor and prepare for battle by prayer, obedience, and holiness.
Readings in Deuteronomy 23-27; One of the most discussed challenged topics in the Bible is the matter of the Law; the Mosaic Law. In Deuteronomy we have the “2nd Law” given to the New Generation of Israelites preparing to enter the Promised Land after 40 years of Wilderness Wanderings. Their parents are dead and Moses is the last to die up on Mount Nebo. But before Moses makes his journey up the Mountain, he reiterates what was given on Mount Sinai. Almost everyone knows the 10 Commandments written by the finger of God, and the second set as well. The Ten Commandments have been a staple in Judaism and Christianity. The question repeated by every generation is “Do we still have to obey the Mosaic Law?” It is an interesting question, but there is a deeper question – Do we govern our lives by laws? Today in our global culture we find tremendous push back from any kind of law. One push back is the requirement to wear or not wear face masks in public. As i write this blog the world is entrenched in a Pandemic called Covid-19. As of today over 600,000 have died and millions more contacting it. We have seen restaurants, bars, schools and businesses closed. The underlying question is “when do we return to normal?” What is normal? I think this is different for each one of us to some extent. My fear of life today is we are living in a Judges 21:24 time. The verse says, “in those days there was no king, and everyone did that which was right in his own eyes.
Now i must admit most of the challenges with the Mosaic Law is about the dietary restrictions. But there is much more to the Law. In the chapters we read this week there is a subtitle called “Sundry Times.” These are various Laws to govern culture situations and protection of society. Laws like, a woman is not to wear men’s clothing, proving or disproving whether a wife was pure at her wedding; adultery and sleeping with man and woman outside of marriage; and restrictions on who can and cannot enter the Temple. A chapter on divorce; when arguments arise between men; how to bring in the first fruits as an offering to God. Obviously, looking at these Laws our culture IS NOT paying attention to any of them. As the title indicates there are two possibilities for society – civility or chaos. Today i live in a state of chaos, mankind is rebelling in nearly all sectors of society around the globe. Man without God wants to be free to live and do as he pleases without any consequences or regrets; especially having someone tell him he cannot do what he wants to do. A person without the Holy Spirit does not act like a man that God breathed life into, instead he acts like an animal – operating only on instincts.
I made a statement one time “if everyone has their own rights, then no one has rights.” This may appear to be messed up, but think about it if everyone does what they want, their freedoms will overlap others freedoms and rights. Which mean my rights end when they compromise someone else’s rights and this is self-restricting and no one can live completely without affecting someone else’s life.
Today we are having protestors trying to de fund the police across our nations. There is city officials advocating and passing legislation to do exactly that. To me this is absurd! I do hold the belief that there needs to be accountability for those who are put in place to protect and support humanity. The cry is for JUSTICE. I do not want justice, I want MERCY!
In Romans 13, Paul advocates that people [believers] are to obey laws, kings and those who have oversight over us. I know this in itself sounds ridiculous in light of the many tyrants who have been in control in history. When mankind is left to govern himself; lawlessness prevails. [Exodus 32-34]
There is a purpose for the laws and for oversight protects from civil authorities; that said the very people placed in positions of leadership and protection of the people MUST have accountability. The Laws were given for man to have guidance on how to live out not only their own life, but how to live with each other. Laws are for the perpetrator and lawless. If we live our lives both morally and civilly then we have no fear of the Law. Since humanity is depraved and has a fallen nature – Laws are necessary. Are some laws unnecessary and ridiculous? Yes, and they need to be revised. Order and civility mark a nation and people. Today we live in a self-serving, no sacrifice on my part society. We have forgotten how to live as a people, focusing only on the ME!
Deuteronomy 18-22; life for the nation of Israel would be quite different than living in the Wilderness or Egypt. God was giving Israel the Promised Land, all they needed to do was live as the people of Yahweh; the many warnings were not heeded and Israel became prisoners in their own land.
After learning how to observe holidays and festivals, Moses reiterates the requirements for life in the Canaan land and the temptation to become like the inhabitants. God had chosen Israel to be His people, they and we are called to be “a peculiar people.” I have said this in sermons before – peculiar not weird. But then again I guess Believers are a bit weird.
When we take a close look at the kind of people living in the Promised Land, we find that every sort of cultic practice was acceptable and being routinely done. Even today, in our global culture we find many if not all of these spiritual, cult expressions having taken root in our lives to the extent we do not even think about their assistance or impact on daily life. God calls the “detestable things.” But when people are forbidden to do something, it seems there is this insatiable appetite to do that brewery prohibited thing. While we might try to discount or excuse the behaviors and actions as just the world being the world; if we look deeper at the root of the behavior, we will find that they are “spiritual” forces of darkness at work [Ephesians 6:10-18]. Believers must remember that “Lucifer, Satan, the Father of lies and the prince and power of the air is real and seeks to “steal, kill, and destroy.” [John 10:10a]
The list of forbidden behavior in the Promise Land by Israel – divination, omens, casting spells, mediums, spiritist, calling up the dead, witchcraft and sorcery. Quite a list of evil behavior. I have to admit it is a very “dark” list of topics. Now let us remember that because of Canaanites living in such a manner, they were being annihilated. We also must remember the testimony of Rahab in Joshua 2, the people knew that Yahweh was God. They lived in fear for 40 years of the Israelite’s, for they knew that God had given them the land. However, Israel lived in faithlessness for 40 years, never living in the Promise of God. My point, the tribes of Canaanites, Hivities, Jebusites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites were warned to “move out” but they remained in the Land God had promised. Te list of actions and spiritual cult behavior is the reason the tribes of Canaan was being evicted and destroyed. As Romans 1 tells us, even though they knew God, they refused to worship God as God; so God gave them over to the futility of their minds. There was nothing good about the depraved tribes and their sensuality of religions. Moses brings a strong warning not to get involved with the people and their cultic practices. Yeah i know Israel doesn’t listen. Sadly, neither do we today. A question we must ask is why are we looking around for “other gods” when we have the Great I AM who has done all things for our holiness and salvation? Why, because we are a fleshly and sensual people. My generation coined the phrase – “if it feels good do it.” Sad to say most of mankind leans this way of life.
Life in the Promised Land was built on obedience to the Law given to Moses. Instructions of how to handle civil crimes; creating “sanctuary cities” for the manslaughter killings. We find that Moses really is describing the civil government to be established in the Promised Land with Judges and courts. In chapters 19-22 we have explicit instructions of how to live in the new land.
When thinking about living “In the world, but not of the world,” we need to remember that while we live and have our being here for a time; we are only passing through. We are to be as pilgrims on a journey, our journey end at the throne of God who is the builder and protector is God. I do think today we [believers] have become too acquainted with how the World lives, that we have forgot who we are suppose to be. The adage “there is more world in the church, then church in the world” rings oh so true. This should not be. Will we be courageous to live like people of God or like people in the Word. The World is passing away – let’s hold on to the things of the world with a lose grip, and be the peculiar people – salt and light in the Land we live.
Deuteronomy 13-17; here is a repeat of the dietary restrictions from the Law. He foods and animals that Peter said He had never eaten in Acts 10:14. You might be shocked if you knew how many time pastors have to answer the question about what can be eaten and “do we have to keep the dietary restrictions today.” In Deuteronomy 12:15 it says that you may eat whatever you slaughter within your gates; whatever you desire, according to the blessing of the LORD God which He has given you. When I read this, I think why did it take so long for them to understand that what “God has declared clean, don’t call unclean?” Now I read about the prohibited list and see a lot of birds and animals that I wouldn’t want to eat anyway. Bats don’t appeal to me.
There is a repeated phrase in these chapters – “the place which the LORD your God chooses to put His name.” This alludes to the future Temple that Solomon would dedicate in 2 Samuel 6-7. We still read about the restrictions the people of Israel have when they enter into the Promised Land. It was filled with all religions and cultic practices. God tells them “Do not get entangled with it.” The reflects back to Exodus 32-34 when the people rose up to play. Now there is a great struggle with this restrictions, for we are sensual people and the cultic worship had a very intense sensual [sexual] connotation. The people are warned again about idolatry and immorality. I wonder why it is that those two words seemingly are quoted together?
In the last blog I mentioned some words that were repeated, but here in chapter 13, we have some words we need to put into our lives, so as not to fall into the garbage of the cults/world. Words like “keep, listen, serve and cling.” If we are focused on pleasing the Father, we won’t have time to entertain other gods and idols.
In Chapter 15 we find the concept of “Sabbatical” year. It means that the 7th year people get to rest. This previously included animals and slaves. Here we find that slaves are set free. But that they are not to be sent away with nothing, but that they are to be given some of the owners provisions and property. This is especially true when the slave was a fellow Israelite. I have never had a Sabbatical, but I love the concept. Especially the Year of Jubilee [49th and 50th] because everything returns back to the original owners and all are set free. We have this program today call “Bankruptcy” that allows all debts to be expunged. When a person trusts Jesus as Savior, our debt is paid in full. It isn’t just wiped off the record, it is dealt with – Jesus PAID our debt with His precious life-saving blood.
In our reading we have the provision for distance traveled to the “future” Temple. Exchange money for a suitable sacrifice at the Temple. Yeah, we know how that all turned out in Jesus’ day with the moneychangers. Anyway, people were required to travel three times a year to the Temple – the Place where God chose to put His name. The Feast of the Weeks, the Feast of Pentecost, and The Passover. Obviously, taking animals to the Temple would be difficult, so the provision was made to buy the sacrifice when you got to Jerusalem.
In chapter 17, a topic of great importance – Justice. Contained in this chapter are examples of how to administer justice in the community. If we will look closely we find that justice is laced with MERCY. I would rather have mercy or justice any day. I don not want what is coming to me! Evidence must be brought by the witnesses of two or more. Wow, what if we put this in practice today, not reacting when someone “accuses or insinuates” a wrong. But to require evidence of wrong doing before we judge the person. It use to be that a person was innocent until proven guilty, now it more like prove you are innocent instead of the accuser having the burden to bring evidence.
In verse 17:7 it tells us to “purge the evil from your midst.” I find that today we are living in a time when “evil is called good and good is called evil.” Oh, how I long for a Holy Spirit movement washing over His people and coming to a place where the “Lion and the Lamb lay together.” Let us remember it is not about behavior but about an issue of the heart, for out of the heart comes the issues of life.
Being a Moses or a Joshua
I have come to understand in the world of church revitalization, there really is not any question about WHAT needs to be done or about where, when, and why. The biggest struggle in revitalization is the WHO. Are the people who need revitalization WILLING to take the necessary steps to restored health? Revitalization would much easier, if congregations, leaders, and church members enthusiastically jumped on board for the hard work of revitalization. But there is always fear and push back from folks who genuinely afraid of what the “UNKNOWN FUTURE” might look like, with or without them. I have had several situations where all the steps were slowly taken to build trust and confidence in the work to be accomplished and the leader/catalyst do the work, only to have a church or pastor balk at taking the first step. What does a Church Revitalizer do? He knows what, when, where, why and how-but the WHO says no. I will list below what experience has shown me what to do. But before I get too far, let me explain what I mean by being a Moses or a Joshua.
In Numbers 13-14 we have the story of Israel coming to the Kadesh-Barnea area, Moses sends in 12 spies to check out the land. After spending 40 days scoping out the Promised Land, the 12 spies brought a report along with some of the fruit from their journey. The “Church Business meeting in the Wilderness” voted 10-2 to NOT go into the Promised Land. There is a lot of similarities between that “church vote” and what happens in a Church revitalization vote. FEAR IS A PARALYZER. People could not or would not go forward in obedience to God because of visible and invisible giants. At this point, Moses has a choice to make; go in anyway or stay with the decision of the people. Now Moses rightly knew firsthand what He was supposed to do; but decided to stay with the people of Israel and die with the defiant generation. Fast forward 40 years to Joshua 1:1-2; Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise and cross this Jordan, you and the people.” Moses decided to live and die with a generation that chose to disobey God – very pastoral, but now good leadership. Joshua told to cross over Jordan with the people. Of course, there is a new generation of people now because everyone else died. Joshua tells the people in 1:11 “you got 3 days and we are going across. Joshua the leader did not put the decision up for a vote again. He obeyed God’s instruction. So, when a church says no the Church Revitalizer has two options be a Moses or a Joshua. I would hope as a Church Revitalizer they would choose being a Joshua.
When it is decision time; after all the talking and cajoling is done, the church has to make a definitive decision. They have options because the are autonomous.
1. Say yes and mean No
2. Say No and mean No
3. Say Yes and mean Yes
It is absolutely essential for a church revitalizer to have BUY-IN from the Church and its leadership. When we look at the three options, we have to ask what exactly the vote is saying.
The Church Revitalizer needs to find out who is saying No and Why? If there is a resounding NO, then you can probably assume that there was not enough groundwork done so the people understand are comfortable with the proposal.
1. Pastor must be a risk taker, and able to make a tough decision
2. Staff – Must staff for future, not present
3. Power Brokers – emotions, power base losses
4. Older People- congregation tired, “unmovable”
5. Lay Leaders- fear of change
Change Brings Opposition, it cannot be overstated, the revitalizer must Find the Source of Opposition.
Here are some possibilities of what a NO vote may mean:
1.No may not mean to revitalization, but to the plan/approach. The people are ready, but not with the specific action plan presented.
2. A No vote could mean that too many unanswered questions remain. As a rule of thumb, the church revitalizer needs to try to “answer questions before they become questions from the people. I know this can seem like an exhausting task but providing as much information up front will alleviate questions and NO votes later. So, answer the questions before they become a question.
3. Find the barriers; in any proposal there will be barriers or non-negotiables will pop up. The Church Revitalizer must find these and deal with them before a vote is taken. That means the revitalizer has to do his homework of exegeting the Church and the Community.
Sometimes the Revitalization Team could be the hinderance to a positive Yes vote. So, the structure and substance of the Revitalization Team must be established with the right people.
Revitalization Team – this is the Working with the people of the Church step
1. Careful Selection of people; get the right people on the bus, even though you do not know where they sit
2. Communication Lines clearly established; one cannot over communicate
3. Creating By-In; the Team must own and believe the work before the congregation will. The Spies mentioned earlier did not have buy-in into the Promise Land as a personal possession.
4. Church Task not Staff Task; this is vital, for if the church only sees revitalization as something the staff is going to do – again there is no ownership. Leaders have to be on-board, lay, and professional staff
5. Clear idea of what is being asked; the people have to have a clear understanding of WHAT they are asked to do. To try and get buy-in without a plan; the revitalizer will be asking the people to buy something but have no idea what they are buying. This will result is a NO VOTE.
6. Assessment of the Church Health. The Revitalizer has to know who he is dealing with as a people. If you look at Moses’ situation, we find that they were grumblers and stiff-necked. Not really conductive to a position decision.
Handling Opposition – how a revitalizer deals with this area is crucial. Instead of trying to “win the argument” use tools at your disposal to confront and deal with conflict and opposition. Keep the “goal and vision of health” before the people. Do not let someone become the Main Distraction! Use the tools available to defuse opposition. Obviously, a Church Revitalizer has to present accurate information without prejudice or manipulation. Some of the tools listed below will circumvent a “wild Card” looking to derail the train.
1. Use Health Assessments [Transformational Church]
2. Perform SWOT analysis of Ministries
3. Perform Community Demographics analysis
4. Create Vision for a Future
5. Get the “Elephants” on the Table – a revitalizer will deal with either a dinosaur or an elephant. Dinosaurs go extinct; but elephants can adapt. Make sure you know which one you have!
Finally, No means No – in the end; an autonomous church may very well say NO and mean NO. As a Church revitalizer, you cannot become their Moses! Even the Pastor may have to evaluate who he is in light of a no vote. Ultimately a Church will decide. The revitalizer cannot become an obstacle to possible future decisions. No may mean no for now. If the Door is closed, do not bust it down. Some Churches will just die. Just as a Church will have to count the cost of moving forward or staying the same, so does the Church Revitalizer – he must count the Cost
Jim Grant, D Min
Galveston Baptist Association
Numbers 28-31; Offerings and Recipes; looking at the Law and the sacrificial system can be overwhelming, confusing and appear to be something to skip over like a genealogy list. If we are willing to take a closer look at the Levitical Law and the prescribed “recipes” for presenting and offering the sacrifices we can get a better understanding of how life for the Israelites and even the Jews in Jesus’ day as the performed the required sacrifices on daily, monthly, Sabbaths, and festival times. Today as believers we have the ultimate sacrifice in Jesus Christ the – superior sacrifice because He is the Lamb of God; perfect without blemish or defect. Of course the physical Lambs had to be a year old without blemish or defeat. This brings to mind the requirement of not only what the offered, but what WE offer to God; which is ourselves and to be pure in heart with clean hands and clean heart before man and God. Sometimes we may think that the sacrificial offerings given should really matter, just as long as we bring something to God. But what does God require of us? Micah 6:8 – “He has told you, man, what is good, and what God requires of you: only to do justly, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with thy God.” If we do not respect God and His holiness, then we can get into a “defective offering” giving position. We are to be Living Sacrifices – Romans 12:1-2.
Back to the Offerings and Recipes. I am cooking a brisket on my electric smoker; it really smells great. But long before I could put it in the smoker, there was plenty of prep time getting the slab of beef ready for the fire. I looked up how to trim the fat off the beef, and how to make a good rub that would seep deep into the fiber of the meat. All the prep time is worth following exactly if I want the intended outcome to be a great meal of smoked brisket.
In Numbers 28-29 we find the various offerings and what each one consisted of. There is the Burnt offering with two bulls, one for morning the other for evening; two male lambs mixed with oil and flour. Now something about these burnt offerings, they are offered over flame – we might even think of them being BBQ to God. For the sweet smelling aroma comes from the fat of the animal; and the Fat is the LORD’s [Lev. 3:17]. Then there is the Drink offering, poured out over the animal being sacrificed – well that is basting the meat, so that it is moist and tender. There is the grain offering offered, I guess we could consider that the crust formed by cooking it. [Think of fried chicken and the crust]
So now that we have the various ingredients for the various offerings; let’s look at the offering.
There is the Daily offering: we includes burnt, grain and drink offering in morning and evening. The meat: two bulls and two lambs. Oh, in the following prescribed offerings, the daily offering were always done, these listed below we in addition to the daily burnt offerings.
Next is the Sabbath offering: you have the burnt offering, two year old lambs without defect, and increased flour and oil and drinking offering
Then there is the 1st of the Month offering: same as a Burnt offering, but also added is a goat [sin offering] one year old and without defect; but also increased drink and flour quantities.
Then we have the 14th of the 1st month offering: It’s commemorating the LORD’s Passover: The burnt offering which then includes the Sabbath Offering and the Daily offerings. The people hold a Holy Convocation for 7 days. [I probably should mention that these have not included the offerings that the people themselves could bring, such as a sin or guilt offering – find those in Leviticus] On the 15th of the 1st Month, there is the observance of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Our reading list for us the Feast of Weeks, to commemorate the first fruits of the grain/harvest; called the New Grain offering. This is also a holy convocation as well. The recipe contains the Burnt offering, the Grain offering and the daily offerings. The meat for this is 2 bulls, 1 ram and 7 lambs and a goat for a sin offering.
Now when the 7th month comes around we have a very extensive sacrifice offering and a cycle of offerings presented on the 1st, 10th and 15th of the month. No work was done during this time. They sacrificed for 7 days straight, each day reducing the number of bulls by one. SO on the first day, 13 bulls, 2 rams 14 lambs, 1 goat and their respective drink and grain offerings. On the 8th day – Israel held a Solemn Assembly – no work done. The only sacrifices giving were the Daily offering and Votive and Freewill offerings. Whew!
Now if we are going to be pleasing to the LORD and He took great lengths to tell us what was a “sweet smelling aroma” in His nostrils; shouldn’t we follow the recipes? I know, I can hear someone out their, “my mom never used a recipe, and everything she made was awesome.” Great for your mom, but she was pleasing YOU not GOD! Let’s follow directions – let us be a SWEET SMELLING AROMA in the nostrils of GOD, and we present ourselves as LIVING SACRIFICES!