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April 6, Day #97 – To Whom am I Being a Neighbor?



In Deuteronomy 2:24, God tells Moses and the Israelites to “Set out now and cross the Arnon Gorge because He has given into their hands Sihon the Amorite king of Heshbon and his country (verse 24). All along the journey, the Israelites have had nothing to fear from anyone, for God is able to “put the terror and fear of them on all the nations under heaven” (verse 25). Given the truth of this statement, all the Israelites ever had to do was obey God and watch Him fight their battles. We notice in verses 32-33 – this is exactly what God did for them – “When Sihon and all his army came out to meet us in battle, the LORD our God delivered him over to us, and we struck him down.” In Deuteronomy 3, the Lord gave them Og, king of Bashan in victory as well – “leaving no survivors” and providing the plunder for the Israelites (verses 3-7). These advances and victories were based on the faith of the Israelites. God gave the command for them to “set out,” and they demonstrated their full obedience and complete trust in Him; they simply got up and “set out.” Through Moses, God promised to “do the same to all the kingdoms over there where you are going. Do not be afraid of them, the LORD you God Himself will fight for you” (verses 21-22). No other nation has ever experienced such fulfilled promises. However, of that land, we see that God gave the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh just what they asked for - their inheritance – but notice this: their inheritance was outside of the promised land, and it came to them by compromise, as we have seen. These desires were not in keeping with God’s perfect will for them, and this issue will come back to haunt them in the future. In verses 21-29, we note that God would not allow Moses to enter the land because of his sin, but he was told to view it and then to commission Joshua as his replacement. Finally, in chapter 4, based on the historical evidence visible to the people’s own eyes, God commands them to “observe His decrees and laws carefully; do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live” (verses 6-9).


In Psalm 41:7-13, David tells us that his “close friend turned against” him. David prophetically anticipates Jesus’ betrayal by Judas. Because of God’s mercy, David asks God to “raise” him up “to repay” his enemies for their treachery. David gives us four reasons to establish his confidence and knowledge “that God was pleased with him” - (1) because his enemies did “not triumph over him;” (2) because of his own “integrity;” (3) because he trusted in the promises of our God, Who is merciful and desires that we appeal to His mercy; and (4) because he “praises” [i.e., recognizes and acknowledges] the God of Israel “from everlasting to everlasting.” David is doing what God wants us all to do – simply to acknowledge God; to recognize His attributes properly; and to trust Him implicitly.


In Luke 10:25-11:4, we see in the parable of the good Samaritan, that Jesus holds His followers to the very same ministry standards and expectations that He Himself maintained - reflecting our Teacher and Master (cf., Matthew 10:24-25) and His love for God and for His neighbor (verse 27). Our reflection of Christ should look like Him and His standards. We are His representatives, and as such, our behavior is to be “worthy of Him” (cf., Matthew 10:27-28). Here, we see that the expert in the law tried to justify himself with the question, “Who is my neighbor?” (verse 29). Typically, because we are fallen creatures, we often try to justify our actions before God, but our readings today reveal that Moses didn’t, David didn’t, Jesus didn’t, so we shouldn’t. God already knows our motives and our weaknesses, and He will add boldness and confidence to our faith if we are openly transparent with Him. Interestingly, notice how Jesus turns the point of the expert’s question from “Who is my neighbor?” to the question, “To whom am I [being] a neighbor?” (cf., verse 36). Jesus knows that we have neighbors, but what He really wants to know is if we are being neighbors to our neighbors? That’s a powerful difference. Finally, in verse 42, we note another of the five “one thing” statements of Scripture. Jesus tells Martha, “one thing” is needed. From His perspective, Mary chose that which is better because she chose what couldn’t “be taken away from her” – sitting at the Lord’s feet and listening.


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