The Herald Weekly Vol XVI : 38

Ministry at Evangel Reformed Seminary and Evangel B-P Church at PJ
(17-23 Sep 2018)

As I would be away for an entire week, I spent some time on Sunday evening with my mother and others in the extended family.

I flew with AirAsia on the 7.35 am flight to KL on Monday morning (17/9). It was a pleasant ride from KLIA to the Seminary in PJ. Thank God that former deacon, Johnny Teoh, (who had served in Brunei B-P Church for ten years) called me a day earlier to say that he would meet me at KLIA. He drove the one-hour journey to the Seminary, and took the route which avoided the daily jam in KL. Thank God also that Rev Dr Lim Yew Cheng was able to take the morning devotion, and part of the introduction to the book of Deuteronomy before I stepped into the classroom.

The book of Deuteronomy is the fifth book of the Torah or Pentateuch written by one of the two greatest Hebrew prophets. The Latin title named it as the second law but the Hebrew name came from the first three words: “These are the words,” or “Debarim.” It was the final word of Moses, and it records the three main sermons of the servant of God delivered to the Israelites in the plain of Moab. They were carefully instructed by God about what were required of them before entering the Promised Land. Moses was God’s mouth-piece or spokesman recalling the missteps in their 40 years of travelling in the wilderness, and the strong advice given to avoid falling into the same or similar mistakes when they possessed the land of the Amorites and Canaanites. The Israelites must consider themselves as greatly blessed people because they had been freed from the treacherous hold of the Pharaohs of Egypt for 430 years. Besides, God also promised them a land that was flowing with milk and honey.

Why did God promise the Israelites the possession of such a wonderful piece of land?

1. He made a covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that their descendants would be a nation and Jehovah will be their God, and they will be His holy people, and a land will be assigned to them.

2. The land of Canaan which God promised to the Israelites was occupied by seven groups of inhabitants including the Hittites and Jebusites. But these people were deeply idolatrous and delved into divination, necromancy, wizardry and witchcrafts. These were an abomination to the Lord. An abomination is anything, such as idols or deeds, that is detestable to God. These unholy things would incur His displeasure. Hence, they must not have anything to do with things which are unholy or defiled.

3. Another reason was that God loves the children of Israel not because they were a great nation or an obedient people, but it was out of His grace that we have the unconditional election of the Patriarchs.

We learn from the book of Deuteronomy that God loves us not because we loved Him first, but in His great love He chose and loved us, and granted us the gift of salvation through our faith in Christ.

The Israelites were commanded to be obedient and to keep the laws of God in their hearts and never to go after other gods or make any graven image for worship. Similarly, when we chose to follow Jesus, through the leading of the Holy Spirit we are to avoid idolizing people, or things in our lives. We are to keep ourselves from unholy things or unholy alliances (2 Cor 6:14-18). The Apostle John urged the believers, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.” (1 Jn 5:21)

The blessings of obeying God’s word are plentiful. Wilmington Outline Bible summarises the multitudinal benefits of following the Lord faithfully: “They will experience blessings in their towns and in the country. They will have many children, ample crops, and large flock and herds. They will have victory in war and lend to many nations, and they themselves borrowing from none. They will be the head and not the tail.”

Deuteronomy is more than just a second copy of God’s law to His people. It offers a restatement of the Law for a new generation, rather than a mere copy of what was given before.

The covenant between Yahweh and Israel was bilateral – a two-way street. God would keep His promise to bless the nation if the people remained faithful. The adult Israelites were too young to have participated in the first covenant ceremony at Mount Sinai. Therefore, Moses reviewed the Law at the doorstep to the Promised Land, urging the new generation to re-covenant with Yahweh, to recommit themselves to His ways.

In Deut 30:19-20, Moses said: “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live. That thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”

As Christians, we are also challenged to choose to be obedient to God’s Words. We all made a promise at baptism, and openly testified before all to obey and follow God’s Word. Let us thus hold fast to Christ our Lord. May He find us faithful, every day holding high the banner of His Word, even until the end of our lives.

Pastor Bob Phee

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