the Yahveh difference

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the Yahveh difference

Deuteronomy 10:17 You see, Yahveh your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, mighty, and awe-inspiring God, showing no partiality and taking no bribe.

Deuteronomy 10:18 He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and cares about the guest, giving him food and clothing.

Deuteronomy 10:19 You are also to care about the guest, since you were guests in the land of Egypt.

the Yahveh difference

Note carefully the distinction between Yahveh and the other gods that the Israelites were called to abandon and avoid. God cannot be bribed into showing partiality— even to an Israelite. He cannot be manipulated by formal worship and ritual. He has no need for anything from the rich. He cares equally for all— including the marginalized— the orphans and widows and foreign refugees.

The Israelites were challenged to have the same attitude toward the needy among them. Instead of using God to better themselves, they were to imitate God’s impartial love toward those around them. Instead of taking advantage of their new status to dominate the foreigners among them, they were to treat them better than they had been treated in Egypt.

Christian, have you been using your religion as a tool to advance yourself? Do you pray only to meet your needs, and give only to those who can return your generosity? That is idolatry.

Lord, bend our wills to your purpose. Help us to imitate your impartial love, and show others the difference between you and false gods.

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unmatched hearts

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unmatched hearts

Deuteronomy 10:13 Watch Yahveh’s commands and prescriptions I am giving you today, for your own good.

Deuteronomy 10:14 Notice the skies, indeed the highest sky, belong to Yahveh your God, as does the land and everything in it.

Deuteronomy 10:15 Yet Yahveh had his heart set on your fathers and cared about them. He chose their descendants after them– he chose you out of all the peoples, as it is today.

Deuteronomy 10:16 Therefore, circumcise your hearts and don’t be stiff-necked any longer.

unmatched hearts

God’s heart was set on the Israelites, but they had uncircumcised hearts. The condition had a side effect on their necks as well. They stubbornly refused to return God’s affection and devotion.

We all know the emotional pain and stress that unmatched hearts can produce. What we need to come to grips with is that God has already declared his care for us by sending his only Son to die a sacrificial death on our behalf. Will we match our hearts with his?

Lord, we acknowledge your care for us. Help us to bend our stubborn hearts to match your passion.

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continue your journey

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continue your journey

Deuteronomy 10:10-12

Deuteronomy 10:10 “I stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights like the first time. Yahveh also listened to me on this occasion; he agreed not to annihilate you.

Deuteronomy 10:11 Then Yahveh said to me, ‘Get up. Continue your journey ahead of the people, so that they may enter and take possession of the land I swore to give their fathers.’

Deuteronomy 10:12 “And now, Israel, what does Yahveh your God ask of you except to fear Yahveh your God by walking in all his ways, to care about him, and to worship Yahveh your God with all your heart and all your throat?

continue your journey

Moses’ first forty day fast was when he received the ten covenant words. His second was to find out if everything was for nothing. Was God going to annihilate the Israelites?

The result of this second fast was standing orders: directions for both Moses and the people. Moses was to continue his journey. God would forgive even the rebellion at Sinai.

As for the people, their standing orders were these: fear God by staying obedient to him, care about him and worship him with all their heart (no other gods) and with all their throat (enthusiastically, as if their breathing depended on it)!

Lord, if we have this day to continue our journey, may we do so under the same standing orders.

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to preserve and protect

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to preserve and protect

Deuteronomy 10:6 The Israelites traveled from Beeroth Bene-jaakan to Moserah. Aaron died and was buried there, and Eleazar his son became priest in his place.
Deuteronomy 10:7 They traveled from there to Gudgodah, and from Gudgodah to Jotbathah, a land with streams of water.
Deuteronomy 10:8 “At that time Yahveh separated the tribe of Levi to carry the ark of Yahveh ‘s covenant, to stand before Yahveh to assist him, and to pronounce empowerments in his name, as it is today.
Deuteronomy 10:9 For this reason, Levi does not have a portion or inheritance like his brothers; Yahveh is his inheritance, as Yahveh your God told him.

to preserve and protect

This passage provides a summary of of the functions of the Levites. They were responsible to preserve the covenant documents, to assist with the tabernacle worship, and to pronounce empowerments as representing God. They were not descendants of Aaron, but assisted the Aaronic priests. The entire tribe would not be allocated its own section of land, but would be interspersed among the other tribes. Many Levites became scribes. They took it upon themselves to preserve and protect the word of God among the people of God.

Lord, thank you for those who dedicate their lives to protection and dissemination of your word.

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reverence for his revelation

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reverence for his revelation

Deuteronomy 10:1-5

Deuteronomy 10:1 “Yahveh said to me at that time, ‘Cut two stone tablets like the first ones and come to me on the mountain and make a wooden ark.
Deuteronomy 10:2 I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets you broke, and you are to place them in the ark.’
Deuteronomy 10:3 So I made an ark of acacia wood, cut two stone tablets like the first ones, and climbed the mountain with the two tablets in my hand.
Deuteronomy 10:4 Then on the day of the collected assembly, Yahveh wrote on the tablets what had been written previously, the Ten Words that he had spoken to you on the mountain from the fire. Yahveh gave them to me,
Deuteronomy 10:5 and I went back down the mountain and placed the tablets in the ark I had made. And they have remained there, as Yahveh commanded.

reverence for his revelation

God in his grace chose not to destroy Israel, so Moses goes to the mountain once more for a fresh set of covenant words.

Two new elements stand out in the story. First, God prescribes the building of a container for the tablets: the ark of the covenant. Wherever the people go, this covenant was to go with them.

Secondly, while Moses is retrieving the covenant words, the collected assembly waits at the base of the mountain. The people are to go nowhere without the covenant words.

Christian, you are in covenant with your Lord Jesus Christ? Discover the stipulations and commands associated with that covenant, and go nowhere without those commands written on the tablet of your heart.

Lord of the new covenant, prepare us for our journey by giving us a reverence for your revelation.

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focused praying


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focused praying

Deuteronomy 9:25 “I fell down in the presence of Yahveh forty days and forty nights because Yahveh had threatened to exterminate you.
Deuteronomy 9:26 I prayed to Yahveh: Lord Yahveh, do not annihilate your people, your inheritance, whom you redeemed through your greatness and brought out of Egypt with a strong hand.
Deuteronomy 9:27 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Ignore this people’s stubbornness, and their wickedness and mistakes.
Deuteronomy 9:28 Or else, those in the land you brought us from will say, ‘Because Yahveh wasn’t able to bring them into the land he had promised them, and because he hated them, he brought them out to kill them in the open country.’
Deuteronomy 9:29 But they are your people, your inheritance, whom you brought out by your great power and outstretched arm.

focused praying

Twice in his prayer recorded in this text, Moses reminds God that the Israelites are his people, his inheritance. He prayed for God to remember his people of the past— the patriarchs whom he invested in, despite their shortcomings. He prayed for God to consider the outcome of his threat to exterminate the race. He reminds God that he had rescued these people for a purpose.

Not once did Moses appeal to God to spare the Israelites on the basis of their own merit. The prayers always focused on God and his acts and his will. Focused praying is not so much reminding God who we are and what we need as it is rehearsing who God is and what he wants.

Our Father in the sky, may your name be honored, and your kingdom come, and what you want be done.

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thoughts on radical obedience

thoughts on radical obedience

Deuteronomy 9:21-24

Deuteronomy 9:21 I took the calf you had mistakenly made and burned it. I crushed it, thoroughly grinding it to powder as fine as dust, and tossed its dust into the stream that came down from the mountain.

Deuteronomy 9:22 “You continued to infuriate Yahveh at Taberah, Massah, and Kibroth-hattaavah.

Deuteronomy 9:23 When Yahveh sent you from Kadesh-barnea, and this is what he said: ‘Go up and take possession of the land I have given you’; you rebelled against the command of Yahveh your God. You did not believe or obey him.

Deuteronomy 9:24 You have been rebelling against Yahveh ever since I have known you.

thoughts on radical obedience

I have been reading these accounts with the assumption that there is a parallel in the experience of the Christian today. I see two principles of radical obedience implied in today’s text.

First, Moses’ completely obliteration of the golden calf indicates an attitude toward past sin and failure. We cannot tolerate the existence of those things we had craved which competed with God for our allegiance. No measure is too extreme in ridding ourselves of the temptation to make the same mistake again.

Secondly, we need to clarify our objective to stay in God’s will. We can be happy that he has rescued us from Egypt, but that is not enough. His command for us today is to go up and take possession of the covenant land. The Christian corollary to this is not “heaven when we die” but possessing the mind of Christ. That’s the standing order for us.

Lord, show us how to obliterate our past failure and focus on your standing order so that sin does not prevent us from possessing your holiness.

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I prayed for Aaron

I prayed for Aaron

Deuteronomy 9:18 I fell down like the first time in the presence of Yahveh for forty days and forty nights; I did not eat food or drink water because of all the mistakes you made, doing what was evil in Yahveh ‘s sight and angering him.

Deuteronomy 9:19 I was afraid of the fierce anger of Yahveh’s infuriation against you, because he was about to exterminate you. But again Yahveh listened to me on that occasion.

Deuteronomy 9:20 Yahveh was angry enough with Aaron to exterminate him. But I prayed for Aaron at that time also.

I prayed for Aaron

Moses said that he prayed for his brother during that time of fasting and prayer — when he was so overwhelmed by the sin of the Israelites he could do nothing else.

Christian, are you overwhelmed? Has this world and its cares hit you so hard this time that you are actually considering giving up? Perhaps you could never dare confess being so spiritually low. But you don’t have to. Many of us have walked that path.

For Moses, the way out began with the ministry of prayer for Aaron. Let me suggest that nothing can heal the damaged faith of a servant of God like praying for others.

Lord, we choose to intercede this day for our brothers and sisters who need your help like we do.

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acts of defiance

acts of defiance

Deuteronomy 9:15 “So I went back down the mountain, while it was blazing with fire, and the two tablets of the covenant were in my hands.

Deuteronomy 9:16 I saw and noticed how you had made a mistake against Yahveh your God; you had made a calf image for yourselves. You had quickly turned from the way Yahveh had commanded for you.

Deuteronomy 9:17 So I took hold of the two tablets and tossed them from my hands, shattering them before your eyes.

acts of defiance

The Israelites had broken covenant with God even before they saw the inscribed tablets. Moses was in such a distress over their rebellion that he shattered the tablets in anger.

As Moses recounts this incident, the readers are left wondering if there can even be a future for such a race.

But God’s grace stays stubbornly in the midst of our acts of defiance and rebellion. His anger is but a moment, his faithfulness outlasts it.

Lord, thank you for your patience in bearing with our acts of defiance.

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daring to intercede

daring to intercede

Deuteronomy 9:12 “Yahveh said to me, ‘Get up and go down immediately from here. You see, your people whom you brought out of Egypt have acted corruptly. They have quickly turned from the way that I commanded them; they have made a cast image for themselves.’

Deuteronomy 9:13 Yahveh also said to me, and this is what he said: ‘I have seen this people, and notice, they are a hard-necked people.

Deuteronomy 9:14 Leave me alone, and I will exterminate them and blot out their name under the sky. Then I will make you into a nation stronger and more numerous than they.’

daring to intercede

The Lord is infuriated with the sinful idolatry of the Israelites and asked Moses to leave him alone and he would exterminate them. What would have happened if Moses had not interceded for his people? Sometimes all it takes is one person who dares to pray.

This year, we can be the intercessors who make all the difference.

Lord, give us a heart to intercede for those whose actions are provoking your wrath.

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