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Week 27 September 30, 2020

What we are reading this week (beginning Wednesday, September 30, 2020):

• Deuteronomy 30-34 ~ Joshua 1-2

• Daniel 12 ~ Hosea 1-6

• 1 Thessalonians 1-5 ~ 2 Thessalonians 1-2

We begin the second half this week! Hope you are enjoying the ride!


Notes on Deuteronomy

God’s offer to the children of Israel in chapter 30 is prosperity, life, and peace. This is on the condition, however, that they love and obey him. Like so many before them, and billions afterward, they would be willing to forfeit all of this in order to live in the way that they pleased. Bad decision.


In chapter 31, Joshua is commissioned to follow Moses, and then during a small ceremony, Moses commanded them to read the Law publicly every seven years. With the review of the law completed and the very worthy Joshua installed to follow Moses’ lead, everything is now ready for the people to cross over into the Promised Land.


And here it is that God takes Moses off the to the side and says, “By the way, once you are gone, it won’t take long for them to fall headlong into idolatry and totally break the covenant. Have a nice day!”


In either frustration or in hope that he could one more time change God’s mind, Moses composes a long song for the people to sing…either to encourage them to remain faithful, or something that they could look back on after they had fallen away and fallen into judgment and realize why things turned out the way that they did.

The song begins at the end of chapter 31 and runs through most of 32.


God tells Moses that it’s time for him to die, but he would have the opportunity before his death to at least view the Promised Land from high atop a mountain.

Before ascending the mountain, Moses prays a blessing over each tribe in chapter 33. Chapter 34 concludes the Book of Deuteronomy, the Torah, and Moses’ life. He is buried by God in an unknown grave, keeping anyone from creating a shrine that would most certainly attract ungodly worship… exactly the “honor” that Moses would despise the most.


Notes on Joshua

As the book of Joshua opens, the Lord encourages the man of God as he prepares to cross the Jordan and enter the Promised Land. The promises God gives him are extraordinary: “No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you…you will lead these people to inherit that land…You will be prosperous and successful…the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.“ All of these are found in chapter one.

The people also give their unwavering support, sort of. “Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you” (1.17) Except that they never fully obeyed Moses, ever.


In chapter 2, the first city they come to in the Promised Land is Jericho. Joshua sends spies out, but only two. Even so, they are apparently spotted by their enemies (2.2). Rahab the prostitute lives in a home apparently built into the wall of the city. She helps to hide the spies and covers for them in exchange for her life and the life of her family.

As a sinful woman living among a pagan culture that are enemies of Israel, she nonetheless will intermarry into the Hebrews and become a matriarch in the lineage of Messiah (Matthew 1.5). She actually will become grandmother of Boaz (husband of Ruth), making her the great-great-great grandmother of David.


Notes on Daniel

Daniel closes out his last chapter, number twelve, with more cryptic prophecies. Here we see Michael the angel again, introduced in chapter ten. He is one of only two angels in the Bible who is actually identified by name (I think—correct me if I am wrong). The other is Gabriel.


Verse 12.2 seems to describe the rapture, followed by the final judgement, congruent with everything we read in Revelation.


Notes on Hosea

The prophet Hosea had a long tenure in the northern kingdom during its closing, and very apostate, season of years…a tough gig. His book pictures the relationship between God and his people as a marriage.

God called this prophet to use his very life as a living illustration, marrying a prostitute who has children that are apparently not his (see 1.6, 9; 2.4-5). She continues in unfaithfulness to him during their marriage, and God uses the prophet’s undying love for a wife that doesn’t deserve it as a pattern of his undying love for his faithless people, where idolatry is the metaphor for adultery (2.23).


Hosea goes and buys back his wife who apparently got herself sold into slavery, undoubtedly as a prostitute (2.1-2).


The rest of the book will now be God’s commentary on all of this, his relationship and ceaseless love for an undeserving bride. God loves his people, but there will be consequences for her behavior. The basic case is laid out in 4.1-6.


The people carry a “spirit of prostitution” in their hearts, so they cannot find God even when they seek him (5.6).


In 5.13, the issue of Assyria looming is identified. Ephraim, representing Israel/northern kingdom, is not going to be able to find help from the Assyrians. They in fact, will conquer and resettle virtually all of Israelites of the northern kingdom outside of the Promised Land.


The love of the people for their God is fleeting at best (6.4). There still seems to be some ritual worship going on, but the Lord delivers a line that Jesus would use against the Pharisees a few hundred years later: “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, an acknowledgement of God rather than burnt offerings” (6.6). If your heart isn’t in it, God is not interested.


Notes on 1 Thessalonians

The church in Thessalonica was a bright spot in Paul’s ministry. You can feel his love for this congregation oozing through its pages. They were a church that was holding onto the gospel despite some significant challenges.

The first chapter sets all of this up for us. Through chapter two, the lovefest continues.


In chapter three, we find that Timothy, Paul’s protégée, was an active part of the ministry to this church. He had brought Paul an encouraging report of their faith and love.


In chapter four, Paul turns to some theological issues. His guidelines found here are wonderful guideposts for dating (see verses 3-8).


The rapture (a term we recognize, but a word we do not find in the Scriptures) is laid out in the clearest way we find anywhere in the Bible in 4.13-17. Verse 18 gives a wonderful closing statement: “Therefore encourage one another with these words.” Indeed!

In chapter five, Paul returns to explaining the day of the Lord, this time focusing on its unexpected timing. Here we find the phrase “like a thief in the night” (5.2).

Paul closes out this letter with a lot of practicals: “work hard…live in peace with one another…warn those who are idle… encourage… help… be patient… rejoice… pray… give thanks… do not quench the Spirit” et al.


Notes on 2 Thessalonians

This second letter was written shortly after the first, after the Thessalonians had been told that the Day of the Lord had already taken place.


The image of the coming rapture is glorious: “…when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels” (1.7). Paul wants them to know for sure that this will not happen quietly when they are not watching, such that they might miss it and not even know it happened.


Paul describes the antichrist in 2.1-12, the “man of lawlessness” (2.3). The end times will include a “powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie” (2.11). Fake news that will be trusted. Hmmmm.


However, Paul assures them that they can stand firmly and faithful in spite of the bad man and the fake news (2.13-17). Good words for us as well today!

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