[Note: The Scripture reading for today was previously listed as Deuteronomy 32-34. If you have not already read that, please read Deuteronomy 29:1-31:8 instead. Either way, you will easily get the main idea of what this passage is talking about.]
Deuteronomy 29:1-31:18 - or - Deuteronomy 32-34
In order to complete our survey of Biblical history, we have skipped forward to the end of the Pentateuch. (The Pentateuch refers to the first five books of the Bible, all traditionally understood to have been written under the guidance of Moses.) In this section, we see two important things. First, leadership is transitioned from Moses to Joshua, and at the end of chapter 34, the death of Moses is recorded. (It seems most likely that this was not written by Moses, though theoretically he could have foreseen this. Many attributed this to the scribes whom Moses had charged to participate in this writing project.) Second, we see Moses describe a cycle of spiritual decline and renewal which will characterize the rest of redemptive history.
Chapter 29 is a warning about spiritual decline which foresaw many, many spiritual declines in the life of Israel. Moses warned the people not to abandon the covenant of the LORD (Ex. 29:25). In particular, this can happen when people become complacent in their faith. Moses called it a “root of bitterness”, when people say, “I shall be safe though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart” (Ex. 29:19). He warns that God will bring destruction upon the people if their complacency leads them to reject God. Then, chapter 30 anticipates a movement of renewal. “When all these things come upon you…and [you] return to the LORD your God, and you and your children obey… then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you.” This cycle of decline and renewal has already been evident to a small degree in the book of Exodus. But, it will be particularly visible in the book of Judges and the rest of the history of Israel. There will be periods of decline, where people get comfortable and stop taking God seriously. This leads to idolatry and outright rejection and then God enters with a hand of discipline. The discipline causes people to wake up. They remember God’s covenant promises (some of them remember), and God restores their fortunes.
Connect and Reflect: The NT also shows evidence of these patterns of decline and renewal. There is explosive growth in the church, followed by a period of cooling off, loss of initial spiritual enthusiasm, and then spiritual malaise. In turn, God urges his people to repent, they cry out to God and he restores their spiritual vitality. For example, Jesus warns the churches in Asia Minor (Rev. 2-3) that if they do not repent he will discipline them. This same pattern then shows up in church history. Where do you think the American church is related to this cycle of renewal? What does that say about our greatest need? How should we respond?
Rev 2:4-5 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.
Rev 3:15-20 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
This blog is part of the ministry of City Reformed Presbyterian Church. Unless otherwise noted, the entries are written by Matt Koerber. This is part of a project that our church is doing as we read through the narrative sections of Scripture between early January and Easter 2020. New entries will be scheduled to drop automatically at 5:00 am on the scheduled day.