If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: Deuteronomy 11, Psalms 95–96, Isaiah 39, Revelation 9. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can't do all the readings today, read Deuteronomy 11.
Here in Deuteronomy 11, as Israel was just about to enter the promised land, Moses urged the Israelites to Love God and keep his commands (v. 1). It should be easy for them to trust the Lord because they saw with their own eyes God’s greatness and power (v. 2), his deliverance from Egypt (vv. 3-4), and his judgments on those who rebelled against him and his servants (vv. 5-7). If this generation who saw all these things didn’t recognize from experience that there are immense benefits to obedience and high costs for disobedience to God’s word, then nobody would ever recognize it. So Moses urged them to live in obedience to these commands (v. 8) so that they could enjoy all the blessings of obedience (vv. 9-12).
The generation to which Moses wrote these words did have a measure of obedience and did experience some of these blessings. Unlike their parents, they did not disobey when God commanded them to take the promised land. Instead, they marched in boldly, in faith, and defeated Jericho and many surrounding cities. Yet they did not obey consistently because the were not able to drive out the Canaanites even though God promised he would do it for them if they obeyed him (vv. 22-25). Despite all the blessings and curses they had seen and all that God had promised, they did not serve the Lord wholeheartedly. Instead, the history of Israel in the promised land was one of enslavement to idolatry and struggle to survive, just as God had promised in verses 16-17.
So what led to the failure of God’s people to get everything that God had promised to them? It was a matter of grace; God’s laws are righteous and just and bring blessing to those who obey them, but without a gracious change of heart through regeneration, no one can obey them. Though the Lord urged them to know his word and keep it always before them (vv. 16-21), they had the same sinful hearts that you and I came into the world with and still struggle with today. Israel’s history demonstrates again and again how much all of humanity needs the saving power of God. Even when we know all that can come from obedience, our sinful hearts turn to unrighteousness automatically apart from the grace of God.
These passages to Israel, while encouraging in what they promise, should cause any reader (including the original readers) to cry out to God for help. There is no way sinners, on our own, can live up to God’s righteousness laws and thus receive his blessings. This is why Jesus came; if we could obey God on our own, we would never need a savior. But, lacking the ability to serve God on our own, the promises and commands in this passage should overwhelm us with their human impossibility and drive us to cry out to God for the grace of Christ to believe and obey his word despite all our human inklings against faith and obedience.
As believers, we have the changed heart within that most Israelites lacked throughout their history. God’s grace in salvation teaches us to reject the passions of idolatry and worship and serve God alone (Titus 2:11-14) and it also empowers us to do what God commands us to do in his word (Phil 2:13). But since we retain our sinful nature even after trusting Christ, we need to be reminded again and again of all that God has promised us if we obey his word. Christ also need to be continually reminded that God made obeying his word possible through his grace on the cross. Since we have these things—everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3)—let’s claim those promises by faith and receive the blessings God offers by living obediently to his word.
Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we'll talk scripture again tomorrow.