Monthly Archives: November 2010
What does “Deuteronomy” mean?
- It means “the Law repeated”
What happens in the book?
- The Israelites had now been wandering for 40 years in the wilderness
- They were not far from the Promised Land
- The Law had originally been given to the older generation of Israelites
- They had now all died out due to lack of faith in God
- Moses repeats the Law of God to the new generation – Chapters 5-26
- Then Moses lists the blessings that Israel will receive if they follow his law, and the curses that will come upon them if they do not – Chapter 28
- Finally Moses blesses the Israelites, encourages them, and appoints his successor, Joshua
- Moses dies in the wilderness, up a mountain, where he views the Promised Land that he will never enter
Why was the Law repeated?
- A key theme in the book is that of remembering
- The repetition emphasised that they must not forget God’s Laws like their forefathers
- God loved his people and wanted them to keep the faith:
- “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth” – Deuteronomy 7:6
- In later years, many Jews kept God’s Law with them by wearing phylacteries – little boxes containing scripture on their foreheads
- This is a reminder to us to keep God’s word in our hearts at all times
Jesus and Deuteronomy
- Jesus took this lesson to heart – he quotes from Deuteronomy on many occasions
- In particular when he refutes the Temptations, he used Deuteronomy each time:
- “Man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” – Deuteronomy 8:3
- This book is a reminder of why we have decided to follow God:
- “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil…therefore choose life…loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days.” – Deuteronomy 30:15, 19, 20
Next time: watch out for more Bitesize Bible study!
It’s easy to be impatient. Especially in today’s society where we are encouraged to have what we want, when we want, and think about the consequences later. Need a new car? Go and get one – pay later. Want a new TV? Put it on the credit card. The media rarely encourages us to wait for what we want and save up for what we can’t afford straight away.
This thinking can permeate into the rest of our lives. Many people do not have a “job for life” these days, working their way up from the bottom of the company to the top. Instead its quite acceptable to have a CV showing you’ve moved jobs every few years in order to pursue new opportunities.
Modern life is also designed to test our patience, as anyone who’s spent time sitting in a traffic jam or waiting for public transport will tell you. Life moves at such a pace that we plan every minute. Children are shuttled round from activity to activity, older people who may be slower moving become a frustration to busy people in the shop or on the street, and we have non stop communication at our fingertips with the internet, smartphones, facebook and 24 hour news channels.
So, the question is: are you impatient for the coming of the Lord Jesus? Are you fed up of waiting for him? Do you want him to come back and sort the earth out so desparately that impatience can turn into frustration?
Do you ever wonder if God has forgotten us and what happened to his promise? Do other people think you are crazy for expecting the return of Jesus Christ? Do not worry – the apostle Peter tells us that this is a sign that Jesus will soon be here:
Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.” – 2 Peter 3:3-4
It can be hard to remember that everything happens in God’s own good time. God is not held by the constraints of time that we are. Peter tells us later in that chapter:
But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. – 2 Peter 3:8-9
So God is waiting until everyone he has called has turned to him and repented. Meanwhile, we just have to wait patiently – easier said than done!
However, we are not the first people who ever had to wait patiently – think about these examples:
- King David – anointed by Samuel and received the Holy Spirit but didn’t become king until many years later following much persecution from King Saul.
- Abraham – waited many years following the promise of a son to his elderly wife. He tried to the manipulate the situation himself by having a child with his wife’s handmaid, but events backfired on him, and later his true son was born.
- Peter and the disciples – wanted Jesus to be king immediately and overthrow the Romans and found it difficult to accept he had to die, but learnt ultimately that Jesus’ way was a better way.
So what are we to learn?
Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. – Psalm 37:7
In a new blow for the Anglican church, five bishops have moved to Roman Catholicism under a scheme provided by the Vatican for disaffected Anglicans. Splits have been caused by disagreements over homosexuality and the ordination of female bishops, but this latest high-profile move will do nothing to ease the tensions throughout the Anglican community.
Why is it called the book of Numbers?
It records two censuses of the Israelites:
- One at Sinai when they received the Law
- One later near to the Promised Land
What else happens in the book?
The book continues more or less where the Book of Exodus finished
- The Israelites leave Sinai following the giving of the Law
- They travel towards the Promised Land, Canaan, and send 12 spies in to check it out
- 10 of the spies come back with a negative report saying that the cities are fortified and the people are too powerful
- The Israelites decide they are too scared to enter Canaan and lose faith in God’s promise
- God condemns them to a further 38 years wandering in the wilderness (40 years in total) before he allows them to enter Canaan
- The later chapters of the book deal mainly with the wilderness wanderings in the final years
- By then all the generation which left Egypt have died, except for some Levites and the 2 faithful spies, Joshua and Caleb
- The book ends as the Israelites approach Canaan once more, and notes some of the battles that took place at this time
What significant events occurred in the wilderness journey?
- Chapter 9 – Passover is kept
- Chapter 11 – The Israelites crave meat, God sends quails and a subsequent plague
- Chapter 12 – Miriam and Aaron are punished for speaking against Moses
- Chapter 13 – The 12 spies sent to Canaan
- Chapter 16 – Rebellion of Korah, Dathan and Abiram
- Chapter 20 – Moses sins when bringing forth water from the rock
- Chapter 21 – Israel grumble and God sends fiery serpents on them. People can only be saved by looking at a replica brass serpent on a pole
- Chapter 21 – Sihon king of the Amorites and Og king of Bashan are defeated
- Chapter 22-24 – Balaam is hired to curse Israel but his donkey is made to talk, to prevent him doing this and he ends up blessing Israel instead
Is there anything else of interest?
The early chapters summarise the camp of Israel at Sinai:
- The tabernacle is in the middle and the tribes always camp round the edge in the same order
- The tribes are split into 4 groups, each with their own standard, or flag.
- North Side – Dan, Asher, Naphtali (left to right) – Eagle Flag
- South Side – Gad, Simeon, Reuben (left to right) – Man Flag
- East Side – Benjamin, Manasseh, Ephraim (top to bottom) – Ox Flag
- West Side – Judah, Issachar, Zebulun (top to bottom) – Lion Flag
Compare the flags with the living creatures Ezekiel sees in his book:
Their faces looked like this: Each of the four had the face of a human being, and on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle. – Ezekiel Ch 1:10
What about Jesus?
Balaam’s prophecy includes a prophecy of Jesus:
“I see him, but not now;I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a sceptre will rise out of Israel. He will crush the foreheads of Moab, the skulls of all the people of Sheth.” – Numbers 24:17
Next Time: Bitesize Book of Deuteronomy