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April 21, Day #112 – Death is not the End (Part One)

Today we come to Deuteronomy 31:30-32:52. This section begins with the Song of Moses, which is a prophetic work (i.e., pre-written history) that reviews Israel’s past, treats its present (at the time it was written), and presents its future. Moses begins by telling us that God is our “Rock,” and He is “faithful - He does no wrong. His works are perfect and His ways are upright and just” (verses 3-4). By contrast, man’s ways are “warped, crooked, foolish, unwise, and perverse” (verses 5-6; 20). In verses 7-14, we see God’s unfailing love for Israel. In verses 15-18, we see how Israel – by the name of “Jeshurun” rebelled against God - “kicked, abandoned, and rejected the Rock his Savior” (verses 15). Verses 19-33 reveal the results of Israel’s apostasy: “The LORD rejected them; hid His face from them; sent wild beasts against them; made them childless; and scattered them” (verses 19-26). Here, Moses is identifying their future captivities and exiles. In verses 34-43, we see that the LORD promises to “take vengeance on His adversaries – the enemies of Israel – and He will make atonement for His people” at the consummation of all things (verses 41-44). Moses closes this chapter with the warning: “take heart - these are not just idle words - they are your very life” (verse 47).

Psalm 48:9-14 tells us that “this God is our God forever and ever; He will be our Guide even to the end.” Given what we learned about ourselves from today’s reading in Deuteronomy, it’s no wonder that we struggle to find our way along the road of life! Why would we not want a Guide like our God? Here, we also see that - in this life - we are moving toward an “end” (i.e., a definite destination). Many people think that death simply is the end of life, which is then followed by nothing. I remember talking with someone about this years ago, and he said to me, “When you die, that’s it! That’s the end, and there’s nothing else afterward.” But this Psalm informs us that the eternal God is guiding us ever onward to an everlasting destination. This truth destroys the belief that life ends in nothingness. God did not initiate human life only to have it end nowhere and with nothing. He created us and set eternity in our hearts (cf., Ecclesiastes 3:11), - so we are all on the road to somewhere and to something. Alone, we cannot see the pitfalls along the road ahead - which is why we need a Guide like our God.

In Luke 19:45-20:26, we see “Jesus teaching at the temple every day” (verse 47), and we marvel when we see how many of the Jewish elite (i.e., “the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the leaders,” cf., verse 47) opposed our Guide and then later killed Him - just like in the parable of the vineyard (cf., Luke 20:9-17). We see that these elite “looked for a way to arrest Him immediately because they knew He had spoken this parable against them” (verse 19). They even sent “spies who pretended to be honest” (verse 20). That’s such a curious statement. How does one “pretend to be honest?” It seems to me that pretending to be honest is much harder work than just being honest. Pretending to be honest means that you must remember all the lies you told, but to be honest, all you need to do is simply tell the truth. Here, these scoundrels expose their own “duplicity” (verse 23), and Jesus tells them plainly that what is owed to Caesar must be paid to Caesar. All they could do was to “become silent” (verse 26).

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