internal miracle

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internal miracle

Deuteronomy 29:1-4 (JDV)

Deuteronomy 29:1 These are the words of the covenant Yahveh commanded Moses to establish with the Israelites in the land of Moab, in addition to the covenant he had made with them at Horeb.
Deuteronomy 29:2 Moses summoned all Israel and said to them, “You have seen with your own eyes everything Yahveh did in Egypt to Pharaoh, to all his officials, and to his entire land.
Deuteronomy 29:3 You saw with your own eyes the great trials and those great signs and wonders.
Deuteronomy 29:4 Yet to this day Yahveh has not given you a heart to understand, eyes to see, or ears to hear.

internal miracle

Moses points out here that the Israelites had seen all they needed to see in order to be blessed and a blessing. But the proper walk with God involves more than just seeing a miracle. They would also need “a heart to understand, eyes to see, or ears to hear.”

We as Christians are also tempted to think that all we need is for God to answer our prayers. But, deep inside we know that an external miracle would not be enough. We need an internal miracle — one that changes our heart, and opens our eyes and ears to who God really is.

Lord, I pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ today, that you would work the miracle in their hearts that would change them into who they need to be to share your glory with the nations.

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doubt and dread

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doubt and dread

Deuteronomy 28:66-68 (JDV)

Deuteronomy 28:66 Your life will hang in doubt before you. You will be in dread night and day, never certain of survival.
Deuteronomy 28:67 In the morning you will say, ‘If only it were evening! ‘ and in the evening you will say, ‘If only it were morning! ‘– because of the dread you will have in your heart and because of what you will see.
Deuteronomy 28:68 Yahveh will take you back in ships to Egypt by a route that I said you would never see again. There you will try to sell yourselves to your enemies as male and female slaves, but no one will buy you.”

doubt and dread

If a covenant subscriber rebelled against his covenant with the Lord, he would be on his way to destruction, and each moment lived would be plagued with doubt and dread. He would live like a death row inmate, never knowing his execution date, but always expecting it. That’s no way to live.

I need to reiterate that these are not general curses. They were given as part of the setting up of the Mosaic covenant, and they applied not to the pagans around them, but to the covenant subscribers. They were the horrible outcomes of an abandoned faith.

Lord, we want to embrace the life of confidence and hope that you have given us in Christ. Strengthen our resolve to stay with you.

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glad to

 

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glad to

Deuteronomy 28:63-65 (JDV)

Deuteronomy 28:63 Just as Yahveh was glad to cause you to prosper and to multiply you, so he will also be glad to cause you to be destroyed and to exterminate you. You will be ripped out of the land you are entering to take possession of.
Deuteronomy 28:64 Then Yahveh will scatter you among all peoples from one end of the land to the other, and there you will worship other gods, of wood and stone, which neither you nor your fathers have known.
Deuteronomy 28:65 You will find no peace among those nations, and there will be no resting place for the sole of your foot. There Yahveh will give you a trembling heart, failing eyes, and a lethargic throat.

glad to

We are used to emphasizing God’s willingness to restore those who repent, but the Bible gives equal emphasis to God’s willingness to destroy those who do not. It does no good for us to scream about God’s love to the world, if we are not honest about the other truth: God hates evil, and he will be glad to destroy it. The sad truth about hell is that it will have a number of people in it who are convinced that God loved them, and so ignored their sin. Yes, God loves everyone, but he loves no one enough to give their sin a pass. The penalty for sin is death. It will either be Jesus’ death on the cross, or the sinner’s death in hell. God is glad to do either, because he will rid his universe of sin.

Lord, we want to take sin as seriously as you do. We gladly run to Christ, seeking his deliverance.

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a responsible people

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a responsible people

Deuteronomy 28:59-62 (JDV)

Deuteronomy 28:59 and Yahveh will bring extraordinary plagues on you and your descendants, severe and lasting plagues, and terrible and chronic sicknesses.
Deuteronomy 28:60 He will afflict you again with all the diseases of Egypt, which you dreaded, and they will cling to you.
Deuteronomy 28:61 Yahveh will also afflict you with every sickness and plague not recorded in the book of this instruction, until you are exterminated.
Deuteronomy 28:62 Though you were as numerous as the stars of the sky, you will be left with only a few people, because you did not obey Yahveh your God.

a responsible people

The Israelites were warned that all the benefits of God’s grace that they had received at his hand would be lost if they failed to live up to his commands. They should not regard themselves as an entitled people, but as a responsible people.

What would happen if Christians around the world really lived up to this truth? For one, we would pray less that God would bless our plans, and more that God would reveal his purpose, so that we could obey it. But he has already revealed his purpose in his word. What we really need is for our eyes to be opened to his purpose as revealed in his word. From our track record, it appears that we need this more than anything else.

Lord, thank you for your grace. Open our eyes to the responsibility that accompanies it!

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prosperous instead of predators

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prosperous instead of predators

Deuteronomy 28:53-58 (JDV)

Deuteronomy 28:53 “You will eat your offspring, the meat of your sons and daughters Yahveh your God has given you during the siege and hardship your enemy imposes on you.
Deuteronomy 28:54 The most sensitive and refined man among you will look grudgingly at his brother, the wife he embraces, and the survivors of his children,
Deuteronomy 28:55 refusing to share with any of them his children’s meat that he will eat because he has nothing left during the siege and hardship your enemy imposes on you in all your towns.
Deuteronomy 28:56 The most sensitive and refined woman among you, who would not venture to set the sole of her foot on the land because of her refinement and sensitivity, will begrudge the husband she embraces, her son, and her daughter,
Deuteronomy 28:57 the afterbirth that comes out from between her legs and the children she bears, because she will secretly eat them for lack of anything else during the siege and hardship your enemy imposes on you within your city gates.
Deuteronomy 28:58 “If you are not careful to watch all the words of this instruction, which are written in this scroll, by fearing this glorious and awe-inspiring name – Yahveh, your God –

prosperous instead of predators

A few months ago, I was feeling ill, so I decided to skip the evening meal, and just go to bed. But after lying in the bed for a while, I discovered that I could not sleep. My stomach was growling so loudly that it was keeping me awake! I got up and ate a few crackers and that helped me sleep. I could have survived without it, but my hunger was insistent.

Anyone who has ever experienced hunger knows that it has a way of exposing selfishness. The siege threatened in this text would bring hunger to the whole land, and make otherwise sensitive and refined people into predators who consume their own. It is hard to imagine such a scene. But it was entirely preventable. The Israelites had merely to stay faithful to their own covenant with God, and they would have stayed prosperous, and not become predators.

I fear that some Christians go their whole lives without considering the fact that they too are under a covenant. Many of the commands of the Mosaic covenant do not apply to us in the same way, but all of the commands of Christ do. If we ignore the commands of our Lord, we run the risk of suffering like this, and it too is entirely preventable.

Lord, draw us to your words, that we may live by them, becoming prosperous instead of predators.

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swooping nation

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swooping nation

Deuteronomy 28:49-52 (JDV)

Deuteronomy 28:49 Yahveh will bring a nation from far away, from the ends of the land, to swoop down on you like an eagle, a nation whose language you won’t understand,
Deuteronomy 28:50 a ruthless nation, showing no respect for the old and not sparing the young.
Deuteronomy 28:51 They will eat the offspring of your livestock and your land’s produce until you are exterminated. They will leave you no grain, new wine, fresh oil, young of your herds, or newborn of your flocks until they cause you to be destroyed.
Deuteronomy 28:52 They will besiege you within all your city gates until your high and fortified walls, that you trust in, come down throughout your land. They will besiege you within all your city gates throughout the land Yahveh your God has given you.

swooping nation

If the Israelites fail to live up to the covenant they agreed to, God would move an entire foreign nation to invade them. They will swoop down like an eagle from the sky and take all their crops and livestock, and besiege their cities until the walls come down.

No doubt, when this happened — and it happened numerous times in history, many of the Israelites prayed for God to rescue them from these enemies. Sometimes the prophets would point out that these invasions were orchestrated by God himself, and many of the prophets paid for this loyalty with their lives. No one wants to believe that God himself would use his nation’s enemies to judge them. But he does.

As believers under the new covenant with Christ, we certainly should pray to God for relief when people oppress us, or act violently against us. But we should also do a bit of introspection. Could it be that this ordeal we are facing is God’s way of getting our attention, leading us to return to him?

Lord, open our eyes to see your work in our lives, even when you use our enemies.

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a sign and a wonder

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a sign and a wonder

Deuteronomy 28:46-48 (JDV)

Deuteronomy 28:46 These curses will be a sign and a wonder against you and your descendants permanently.
Deuteronomy 28:47 Because you didn’t serve Yahveh your God with joy and a cheerful heart, even though you had an abundance of everything,
Deuteronomy 28:48 you will serve your enemies Yahveh will send against you, in famine, thirst, nakedness, and a lack of everything. He will place an iron yoke on your neck until he has exterminated you.

a sign and a wonder

If you have been following this blog for a while, you are probably wondering when I’m going to get around to the good news again. Believe me, the Israelites were thinking similar thoughts. They were wondering why God spent so much time detailing all of the things he was going to allow his people to suffer. They knew that God loved them. He had rescued their entire nation from slavery, and brought them into a land of abundance. He had given them numerous miraculous signs.

And once they started rebelling against him and turning to other gods and serving them, he did not shut off the signs. He simply changed the nature of the signs. The curses themselves would be a sign and a wonder from the same God who brought them signs of rescue.

So Christian, if you thing you are due for a miracle, you may be right, but be careful what you ask for. God in his wisdom may send a sign of his displeasure.

Lord, give us the wisdom to obey your word, and stop seeking proof. Jesus is proof enough.

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oppression and domination

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oppression and domination

Deuteronomy 28:41-45 (JDV)

Deuteronomy 28:41 You will father sons and daughters, but they will not remain yours, because they will be taken prisoner.
Deuteronomy 28:42 Buzzing insects will take possession of all your trees and your land’s produce.
Deuteronomy 28:43 The guest among you will rise higher and higher above you, while you sink lower and lower.
Deuteronomy 28:44 He will lend to you, but you won’t lend to him. He will be the head, and you will be the tail.
Deuteronomy 28:45 “All these afflictions will come, pursue, and overtake you until you are exterminated, since you did not obey Yahveh your God and watch the commands and prescriptions he gave you.

oppression and domination

Moses warned the Israelites that oppression and domination would be their fate if they refused to obey the Lord. Both the guests who live among them and the nations which surround them would oppress and dominate them. Historically, we know this happened numerous times. Often the prophets reminded their listeners that what was taking place was predicted in the curses of this chapter and elsewhere.

God wants his people to be free and powerful, but even today he refuses to bless disobedience and rebellion. He commands us to repent.

Lord, we have failed to live up to our covenant with Christ. Forgive us, change us, and restore us for your gospel’s sake.

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futility

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futility

Deuteronomy 28:38-40 (JDV)

Deuteronomy 28:38 “You will sow much seed in the field but harvest little, because locusts will devour it.
Deuteronomy 28:39 You will plant and cultivate vineyards but not drink the wine or gather the grapes, because worms will eat them.
Deuteronomy 28:40 You will have olive trees throughout your territory but not moisten your skin with oil, because your olives will drop off.

futility

The Israelites were involved in many activities that they expected to be productive, but if they turned their back on God and his commands, they could only expect those activities to produce nothing. Their relationship with God was the difference between productivity and futility.

Hey, there, busy person! How is all that activity working out for you? I see a lot of seed going into the ground, but who is harvesting your crops? Are the locusts and worms getting to it? It is that missing element in your life that is making all the difference.

Lord, we are tired of living in futility. Come and restore us.

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trapped in a lifestyle

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trapped in a lifestyle

Deuteronomy 28:36-37 (JDV)

Deuteronomy 28:36 “Yahveh will bring you and your king that you have appointed to a nation neither you nor your fathers have known, and there you will worship other gods, of wood and stone.
Deuteronomy 28:37 You will become an object of desolation, scorn, and ridicule among all the peoples where Yahveh will drive you.

trapped in a lifestyle

When the Israelites went into exile, they found themselves trapped in the idolatrous lifestyle that caused their exile. Their rebellion led to more rebellion — to the point where it was hard to even hope for rescue. Then Christ came. He came to a beaten, trodden down, and hopelessly desolate people.

Do you feel trapped in a lifestyle that embarrasses you? Have you tried to change yourself so many times that you feel reform is hopeless? It is, but there is hope for rescue. His name is Jesus, because he saves his people from their sins.

Lord, we cannot rescue ourselves, come and be our Savior.

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