Ways to live

Our two passages for reflection today give instructions about how to live – firstly for the community of Israel and secondly for the community of the Church.

Provision

In Deuteronomy 18:1-8,  God makes provision for the tribe of Levi, who because of the priestly function they are to perform for the nation, will not receive the land-inheritance that the other tribes of Israel will receive once they enter the Promised Land. Instead they shall receive the “the Lord’s food offerings” as their inheritance. Not having land of their own in which to grow crops or herd cattle etc., it will be the obligation of the other tribes to ensure that the Levites are supported for by taking certain specified portions of the offerings and sacrifices brought to the Lord.

Prohibition

Deuteronomy 18:9-14 goes on to warn about practices that the Israelites will be confronted with once they enter the Promised Land. The polytheistic nations that surrounded Israel practiced all kinds magic and superstition designed to uncover the will of the gods or even compel the gods to action in certain ways. All such occultic practices are to be forbidden in Israel ad they are an abomination to God since the practice of consulting unseen powers by these devices was tantamount to acknowledging a power other than Yahweh, and this was an act of rebellion and demanded his judgement.

Real Love and the blessings which flow from it

I appreciate the way the Message version paraphrases the profound truths in 1 John:12-24 especially verses 18-24.
As followers of Christ, we should not be surprised when we are scorned and mocked in this post-truth age which preaches self-seeking, hatred, intolerance and lies in contrast to the teachings of Christ. The sign of the transformation that sets Christians apart is our love for our brothers and sisters. The sacrifice of Christ on the cross for our sins gives us a new understanding of what “true” or “real” love is.  This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves, failure to do so is a denial of Christ himself – see Matthew 25:31-46.
John Stott summarizes the teaching in this passage about hatred and love saying:
  • Hatred characterizes the world, whose prototype is Cain. It originates in the devil, issues in murder and is evidence of spiritual death.
  • Love characterizes the church, whose prototype is Christ. It originates in God, issues in self-sacrifice and is evidence of eternal life.

This love is not simply to be talked about but put into practice. In keeping God’s commands, we live deeply and surely in him, and He lives in us, and as an outworking John states blessings flow:

  • only way we will know we are living truly, living in God’s reality
  • the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it (for God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves)
  • we will no longer accuse or condemn ourselves
  • we are bold and free before God!
  • we are able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we are doing what He said, doing what pleases Him
  • we experience His deep and abiding presence in us: by the Spirit He gave us.

 

Advertisements