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April 13, Day #104 – No Room for Error

Deuteronomy16:21-18:22 reminds us that following God’s plan for our lives preserves and ensures the effectiveness of our lives. The section begins with God’s command forbidding the Israelites from setting up Asherah poles and sacred stones, both of which “God hates” (verse 26:21). Such reprehensible things were of Canaanite and heathen origin, and their use would reflect the intention of mixing pagan practices with those that God was establishing for His chosen people – the very violation that God has been addressing repeatedly to them. This section (i.e., 16:21-17:7) presents God’s manner for dealing with an idol worshiper – “bowing down to the sun or the moon or the stars of the sky” – all practices of the nations which God was overthrowing (verse 3). Chapter 17 also established the procedure for courts of law, priests, Levites, and judges, and it includes God’s standard for legal fairness and impartiality – “Act according to the law … do not turn aside from what they tell you, to the right or to the left (verses 10-11). Here also, we see God’s legal requirements for a kingdom in Israel. Already in Deuteronomy, God recognizes the wickedness in their hearts – “like all the nations around us” (verse 14). God called and raised up Israel to be different from the nations around them, so the rationale “to be like other nations” is absurd - an invalid reason for requesting anything (cf., Deuteronomy 18:9-14; Jeremiah 10:2-4). This attitude will manifest itself later in Israel’s history under Samuel (cf., 1 Samuel 8:5-22). Interestingly and sadly, few of Israel’s future kings will abide by any of the regulations listed in Deuteronomy 17:14-20). In Deuteronomy 18, God establishes the regulations for supporting and making offerings for the priests and Levites who received no tangible inheritance but were entitled to “the share due them” (verse 5). In verses 14-22, God states that He will “raise up a prophet like [Moses] from among their own brothers” (verse 15). Of course, the Prophet Who was “like Moses” was our Lord Jesus Christ, although the principles found here relate to all who held the prophetic office. God Himself would hold the prophet accountable to speak for Him. He also establishes the rule by which the prophet is to be recognized as one who speaks for God – “If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken” (verse 22). The was no room for error in the life and words of a prophet of God.

Today, Psalm 44:13-26 continues to inform us that God’s plan may include our exposure to derisive behavior, scorn, and mocking attitudes by people around us. The psalmist was alarmed by this, but Jesus explains that, in this life, we will receive persecution (cf., John 15:20). The psalmist insists that he has not forgotten the Lord or His law (verses 17, ff), and he testifies to the truth of this in that “God knows the secrets of our hearts” (verse 21). Accordingly, he calls on God to “rise up and help” - not because of our immediate need - but because of God’s “unfailing love” (verse 26). Like the psalmist, we tend to become impatient with God’s plan because He may not move as quickly as our timetable prefers, but we must learn that His is the bigger plan, and it is the best plan.

These principles are also illustrated in Luke 14:15-35. God’s plan, for people to come to His banquet, is rejected by those who were invited (i.e., the Jews). We can’t help but notice their most ridiculous excuses. As a result of their foolishness, the Lord opens the invitation to all “that His house may be full” (verse 23). Of course, this relates to the Gentiles – God’s plan is bigger, better, more inclusive, and must be prioritized. The salt - God’s representatives on earth - must not lose its flavor. With salt, there is also no room for error – it must remain salty (verse 34).

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