I find it amazing how day after day as I read God’s law, my inclination at many points is to think “that seems a little unfair/bloodthirsty/harsh/unloving etc etc etc”. The only possible explanation for this is that I must think that I know better than God!
It’s amazing that he puts up with me!
Part of the irony is that it is my (incomplete) understanding of God’s word by which I judge… God’s word!
I think there is a HUGE challenge for us as we read through the Old Testament to see ALL the ways in which Jesus fulfills what we read. To see the unity and continuity of the two testaments before we go looking for any disunity or discontinuity. The temptation is to read the OT and just shake our heads and say “thank God for Jesus”. What we should be trying to do instead is to truly understand and love God whether we are discovering him in the Old Testament or the new.
Let me share some of the things that I have discovered from today’s passage
- it is very important to God that his people have nothing to do with evil. 7 times in Deuteronomy 13-24 God says “you must purge the evil from among you”. If this means putting someone to death then so be it. The honour of God is more important than the life of a sinner. Isn’t the gospel amazing: Jesus obeyed his father perfectly in everything, overcoming evil at every point. And yet in order for evil to be purged from among God’s people, he had to be put to death it – so be it. In doing so, he honoured his heavenly Father in the ultimate way AND made it possible for sinners to “not die but have eternal life”.
- God is very concerned that his people should deal honestly and fairly with one another and not take advantage of each other. Jesus came to serve, not to be served (Mark 10:45) and his followers are to consider others better than themselves (Philippians 2:3).
- This concern extends especially to those who are the most vulnerable – the poor, the alien, the fatherless and the widow. Jesus’ reserved some of his harshest criticism for the way the Jewish leaders treated people like the poor widow in Luke 12:38-44.
- The more God’s people trust him and obey him, the more they will learn that he cares for and meets their needs. Check out Jesus’ teaching in Matt 6 – “do not worry…” and also in Philippians 4:6 “do not be anxious… pray” and consider the way that Jesus “practiced what he preached at all times but especially in the garden of Gethsemane. Do I trust God to met my needs or do I try to be independent
- God wants his people to remember his goodness and grace so that they will learn to be thankful. In the OT Israel were to celebrate the passover and remember God’s great rescue. But the passover was only a shadow of the death and resurrection of Jesus – how much MORE thankful should we be!
- God wants his people to be active in warning and encouraging one another to avoid sin, so lets speak the truth in love to one another (Eph 4:15) and confess our sins to each other (James 5:16) and consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds (Heb 10:24).
I’m sure there’s more, but that’s enough for one day!