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Week 24 September 9, 2020

What we are reading this week (beginning Wednesday, September 9, 2020):

• Deuteronomy 9-15

• Ezekiel 39-45

• 2 Corinthians 13 ~ Galatians 1-5


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Notes on Deuteronomy

As Moses reflects on the past with the children of Israel right as they sit on the border of the Promised Land, it is so apparent to him that this entire ordeal was about God’s faithfulness to his promises, and totally in spite of the behavior of his Chosen People.

Moses reminds them of their continual failures. “You have been rebellious against the Lord ever since I have known you” (9.24).

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Lots of key spiritual things are found in chapter 10: The Ten Commandments (second printing) were placed into the Ark of the Covenant (5); the actual time that God commissioned the tribe of Levi as the pastoral tribe is given (8); the path to salvation (Old covenant style) is given in verses 12-13: Fear the Lord your God, walk in obedience, love him, serve him, observe his commands and decrees.

Legalism was never a part of God’s plan, which Moses really nails down when he says, “Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer” (16).

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God makes it so clear in chapter 11 that he eagerly desires to lavish love and blessing on a people who simply would love him in return. How disappointed they would make him!

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The Lord tells them in chapter 12 that there will eventually be one place he would choose where they are to worship him; one place to bring their tithes and offerings; one place where they were to offer their sacrifices.

This one place would be Jerusalem. But God would not reveal this as the location until seven years into the reign of David, hundreds of years later.

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All of chapter 13 is to warn them against worshiping other gods. As God had physically appeared directly to Moses, and then to Joshua, and done such amazing wonders, why is it that they would ever run after images made of wood and metal?

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Parameters for which animals are clean and which are not are given in chapter 14. Here we see that bacon did not make the cut (14.8, no pun intended). Tithing is also revisited in 14.22-29. The tithe is to be the supply of the Levites, but the tither also shares in that blessing by eating his tithe (ten percent of his flock) in the presence of the Lord along with the Levites.

Tithing today blesses pastors with income, but the tithers are blessed in many ways by their own giving through such things as nice facilities with temperature control, and many other benefits of the church.

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All debts were to be forgiven each seven years (15.1-2). Imagine what our world would look like if we all did that today! In America’s earlier days, I believe that Americans home mortgages were limited to seven years based on this concept from chapter 15.

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Slavery in the Old Testament primarily consisted of those who had sold themselves as bond-servants due to debt. They would sell their labor to the one to whom they owed money until it was repaid (maximum of six years!). Then they would be free to go. But if they liked their gig, they could make a lifetime commitment to serve. See 15.12-17. Those with slaves were commanded to be treat them honorably and keep them well fed.

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Notes on Ezekiel

When I was a kid, I heard the most frightening end-times sermons about Gog and Magog from fiery evangelists. After all the years of reading through the Bible, however, I feel that I really know nothing about them at all. We read about these mysterious people groups in chapters 38-39.

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Chapter 40 begins an eight-chapter description of a third Temple. We don’t know exactly where this Temple is, or where this fits into history at all. It would almost seem metaphorical, but the detail on the measuring seems to indicate a more literal, realistic interpretation is needed.

As we saw the glory physically depart from the Temple in 10.1-19, we now see it return in 43.1-5. Regulations for sacrifices are given at the end of chapter 43, so it sounds as though this should be Old Testament in its setting. However, we read in Hebrews that the sacrifices do not take away sin, but are only a reminder of the high cost of sin. This makes me wonder if this very vivid living illustration of literal animal sacrifices may be in the works for a future date.

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The prince is first mentioned in 44.3, without introduction or explanation. This is most likely not the Messiah (see 46.16).

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Notes on 2 Corinthians

Paul ends this very personal letter. Notice in chapter 13 how he speaks with great love, yet is not afraid to address outstanding sin issues in the body and his intention of dealing directly with them.

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Notes on Galatians

After the Corinthian letters, I find that these other epistles go way too fast! Try to hang on the words and absorb them, because they pass by so very quickly.

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Paul is going to re-establish the parameters of salvation. He is confronting those who not only have sought to change his message (1.6-9), but have tried to invalidate his authority as well (1.11-22).

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In 2.11, we find about a confrontation between him and Peter. What a sight that must have been! However, Peter remained a huge fan of his until his death (see 2 Peter 3.15-16).

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Great verse to memorize is 2.20: “ I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

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In Galatians, Paul differentiates clearly between faith and works, the law and the promise, works and grace. His words of 3.28, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile…” were enough to stir some of them up to kill him. This inclusion of Gentiles was simply not on their radar.

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The comparison of Sarah and Hagar in chapter 4 is very illustrative for us. Even in ministries, there are those that we design and build the ordinary way, and there are those that God initiates and breathes life into. Which type should we expect will bear lasting fruit?

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“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (5.1). Trying to earn our way will only bog us down and make us miserable. Attempts at our salvation through good works/justification by the law actually alienates us from Jesus, instead of bringing us together (5.4).

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We are called to life in the Spirit, much more refreshing that being called into rigid adherence to rules and regulations. However, the human spirit easily defaults back into the habit of works, with the result of claiming our own victory. But we will never achieve victory that way.

Much as we may try through human effort, the end results of human effort are given in 5.19-20: Sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (5.22-23).

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And just like that, we are almost through Galatians. Enjoy it this week while you can!

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