The Rector’s weekly letter to the congregation for March 17, 2019
The book of Deuteronomy is the fifth book of the Bible. It has 34 chapters and 959 verses. This book contains the last words of Elder Moses to the young generation that left Egypt 19 years old and younger, and those who were born during the desert wanderings. Those who were alive by the time of the departure from Egypt were deemed to have been too young to understand what really was going on as Yahweh demolished the gods of Egypt in the plagues. And also at Mount Sinai, this age group was considered to have been rather too young to have appreciated what took place as God gave the nation their matching orders in terms of the Decalogue as well as other rules and regulations for the new holy nation. The Decalogue constituted the covenant between God as the King and the Israelites as His subjects. The King would act on behalf of the Israelites, and the Israelites would agree to obey God and live by His precepts.
Deuteronomy then is the giving of the Law a second time, but this time it is given to the new generation so that they too would have the opportunity to make Yahweh their God by choice, and not know Him merely as the God of their parents or ancestors. Yes, He was the God of their ancestors, especially Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but now they too consciously made the personal commitment to accept Him as their own God.
Moses spoke these farewell words, contained in the book of Deuteronomy, to the Israelites after the Israelites arrived at the Plains of Moab which were on the eastern side of the land of Canaan. Moses made three addresses to the people. These are words of an elder who has seen it all and is full of godly wisdom and knowledge on how to live life God’s way, which is the best way to live on planet earth. So, he warns and exhorts and admonishes and instructs the young generation on the only way to live and behave in order for the promised good things to happen in the land they were about to storm and take over. The book is a renewal of the covenant between God and Israel, between God and the new generation.
Deuteronomy is a call to routine obedience in life, not sporadic, and not engaging inreligious ceremonies that are detached from one’s daily inner life. Ceremonies were indeed prescribed, but they were designed and intended to enhance the inner commitment of the individual to walk as God said to walk. To participate in any ceremony, without the concomitant holy walk with God by the individual, was a useless exercise, even repugnant to God. The main word of the book of Deuteronomy is REMEMBER. Remember who God is and what He has done for you, and then conduct your daily life accordingly, in relationship with God and in glad obedience to His prescriptions for life.
No book of the Bible can be exhausted of its lessons for us followers of Yahweh. Neither then can Deuteronomy be exhausted. The main lesson that lends itself to the book is the call to every believer to embrace God for oneself so we each become exemplars and a vanguard of lives that obey God. Every believer is to inculcate God’s ways in himself/herself and display God’s characteristics in the world, and eventually become a vocal voice in the movement to spread righteousness in the world. The goal is to make righteousness the default mode of living worldwide. Then God will indeed be the King and human beings His glad and enthusiastic subjects. The key to bringing this to pass is to REMEMBER, and so be motivated to pass on enthusiasm for the Lord to our children, and to charge them to pass it on to their own children and so on. I hope you enjoyed reading the book of Deuteronomy. It is quite a book. Now on to the book of Joshua. Enjoy.
Get Out of That Pit
by Beth Moore (2007:49)
A Built-In Alarm
One day my friend heard a beeper going off inside her house. She thought it was her husband’s and began looking for it. No matter where she looked, the sound was the same. Imagine her surprise when she finally realized that the beep was coming from inside of her. The battery on her pacemaker was going out and sounding an alarm. She didn’t even know the pacemaker had an alarm.
If you’re in Christ, you have a built-in alarm system. The Holy Spirit is in us, and if we don’t quench Him He’ll tell us early on when we’re headed for trouble. He’ll also tell us whether to be careful right where we are or bail out altogether.
Lent: Embracing the Grace of Repentance
by The Rev. Canon Phil Ashey, (3/08/2019)
“Let us fix our thoughts on the blood of Christ; and reflect how precious that blood is in God’s eyes, inasmuch as its outpouring for our salvation has opened the grace of repentance to all mankind.”
– First Epistle of St. Clement to the Corinthians (c. AD 96) from the reading for Ash Wednesday in The Fathers to the Churches: Daily Spiritual Readings (London: Collins, 1983), pp. 226-227.
This reading is attributed by most scholars to Clement, Bishop of Rome, around the time of the persecution of Christians by the Roman Emperor Domitian. This letter gives insight into the mind and the practice of the earliest Christians—perhaps by the same Clement whom Paul mentions in Philippians 4:3. It is full of exhortations—including exhortations to read Paul’s Epistles to the Corinthians, Romans, Galatians, Ephesians and Philippians. Clement’s exhortation echoes the exhortation of the author of Hebrews to Christians facing persecution, struggles with sin, hardship and shame, and even death on the cross when he wrote:
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:2-3 NIV
Lent is a time to increasingly fix our eyes and our thoughts on Jesus, and all he has done for us. This way we avoid either the pitfalls of a legalism that makes spiritual disciplines “ends-in-themselves” for the sake of religious tradition, or the shallowness of a faith that lives only in the resurrection without Good Friday and in cheap grace without devoted discipleship in the shadow of the Cross. It’s all about Jesus and deepening our relationship with him.