Find yourself getting behind in your reading? It happens to all at some point. DON’T GIVE UP. Instead, encourage yourself and get back in the game by starting at TODAY. You can always go back later and catch what you missed. By PRINTING OUT the weekly writings you will also have a reference book for as long as you wish or need!
DAY ONE – Deuteronomy 24-27
Whether we are talking about marriage–husband and wife; or family–parents and children; or neighbors–that is anyone nearby; or even foreigners… God’s prescription for social equity and peace has always been the same: love your neighbor as yourself. And, do unto others as you wish they will do unto you. I’m not sure which part of ‘righteousness’ we don’t understand, but it is truly simple. It means doing what is right. Most of us, unless we have been grossly injured or have been taught to dislike the caricature of God given to us, have an innate sense of right and wrong. We hardly require a set of laws and rules to know what is ‘lawful’ or ‘lawless.’ But neither are we naïve and clueless; we know evil when we see it; and just so Israel didn’t get confused on the issues, Yahweh God spelled out in detail what He meant by right and wrong. Knowing the hearts of all men, the Lord made clear what the issues are and how we are to treat one another, and how we will be treated if we openly and flagrantly transgress His commandments. He also reminded Israel that they all were at one time slaves, and they mustn’t ever forget that. Their current blessings lay in God’s mercies and love for them. As Moses reminded them of these things on this day, he was wistful and hopeful, but not naïve. Deuteronomy 26:17-19 You have declared today that Yahweh is your God, and that you would walk in his ways, and keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his ordinances, and listen to his voice. 18 Yahweh has declared today that you are a people for his own possession, as he has promised you, and that you should keep all his commandments. 19 He will make you high above all nations that he has made, in praise, in name, and in honor; and that you may be a holy people to Yahweh your God, as he has spoken.
I traveled in Israel as early as 1976, and I shall never forget an unusual sight: we were on a road which passes between Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal; and having read the scriptures multiple times, I observed a strange phenomenon. But before I tell you what it is, note what the Lord said: Deuteronomy 27:11-13 Moses commanded the people the same day, saying, 12 “These shall stand on Mount Gerizim to bless the people, when you have crossed over the Jordan: Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin. 13 These shall stand on Mount Ebal for the curse: Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali. Would you believe that the first time I saw these two mountains, Mt. Gerizim was green and covered with foliage; while across the road Mt. Ebal was brown and bare and arid! Blessings… and curse. Go figure… What does God know that we need to learn? Just saying.
DAY TWO – Deuteronomy 28-30
We have reached an end of the words of the covenant Yahweh God offered to Israel. It is important that we understand that in those times covenants were offered by any king who was strong enough to conquer a people and take over their affairs. Yahweh God, Israel’s God, was strong enough to destroy the gods of Egypt and the Egyptians themselves, in order to bring Abraham’s descendants out of Egypt and back to their own land. This nation of slaves was delivered out of Egypt in ONE NIGHT and brought to Mt. Sinai to meet their Deliverer. God’s name is Yahweh, and they were to come to know Him, to accept His covenant, to enter into a family relationship with Him. He was the same God who called Abraham their ancestor from Mesopotamia and cut a covenant with him. He was the same God who chose Isaac, and then Jacob; and sent the family to Egypt for 400 years until conditions in Canaan were ready for a new occupancy. At Mt. Sinai He revealed Himself to the nation of Israel and laid out all the laws, commandments and conditions of their Covenant being offered by Yahweh. They were NOT entering into covenant with Yahweh; He was entering into covenant with them. It was His covenant, His ordinances, His conditions for approval. They had a choice, but it wasn’t to dictate or negotiate the covenant terms; that belonged to Yahweh alone. Having made it abundantly clear that His covenant would elevate them to a high place over all the nations, Yahweh did what all conquerors did: He laid out the options and the results. Honoring the covenant would bring Israel blessings upon blessings, everywhere and in every which way they turned. Disrespecting the covenant would bring them horrors and curses which they would find unimaginable. It was their choice.
Deuteronomy 30:15-20 Behold, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and evil. 16 For I command you today to love Yahweh your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his ordinances, that you may live and multiply, and that Yahweh your God may bless you in the land where you go in to possess it. 17 But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; 18 I denounce to you today, that you will surely perish. You will not prolong your days in the land where you pass over the Jordan to go in to possess it. 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Therefore choose life, that you may live, you and your descendants; 20 to love Yahweh your God, to obey his voice, and to cling to him; for he is your life, and the length of your days; that you may dwell in the land which Yahweh swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them. That clarion call still rings out today from the New Covenant through Jesus, our Lord.
DAY THREE – Deuteronomy 31-34
A song and a blessing–this is the legacy Moses left to the children of Israel at the end of his journey. From his miraculous rescue when he was only three months old; through his princely childhood in the house of Pharaoh of Egypt; through his fearful flight into Midian for forty years; and finally back to Egypt as a Deliverer for Yahweh–Moses stood now at the apex of his life and strength, 120 years old, and was finished! Israel would move on into her inheritance with Joshua, and Moses would not be there. How did he finish? First, he wrote all the words of the law that had been given by Yahweh at Sinai and entrusted the book to the Levites, to be kept near the Ark of the Covenant. Second, he composed and wrote down a song that told the story of Israel’s future, a song that predicted great and blessed days but also dark and scary times of apostasy and discipline. It was an outline of God’s love and severity toward this fledgling nation, a people always struggling to walk the line of obedience and grace. Finally, he penned the blessings upon the house itself, with its several tribes, outlining destinies determined by Yahweh Himself. Having laid hands on his assistant Joshua and having ordained him before the people, Moses turned his face westward and climbed Mt. Nebo, a solitary figure taking his last walk with his Lord. From the top of Pisgah he surveyed all the land promised hundreds of years earlier to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, whom he would soon meet. Then he died there. God buried Him. It was the end of an era, and a great man rested from his labors. One day he would meet Jesus on the heights of Tabor, along with Elijah the prophet, and they would encourage the Messiah prior to the days of his suffering. But for now it was over. Israel was safely secure and poised for what was to come. Joshua stepped forward with a new anointing from God and took the reins of leadership, ready when Yahweh was ready. A new era begins.
DAY FOUR – Joshua 1-2, Psalm 105
The last time Joshua saw Moses, the great prophet was walking away from the camp of Israel. The people waited. Then Yahweh spoke: “Moses, my servant is dead.” For the next thirty days the entire camp was in mourning for their faithful leader, that humble man, who had put up with them for over forty years and had led them insistently from Egypt through all their wilderness wanderings and experiences. Rise up, Joshua! The time has come to lead this people into their land, to conquer it, to apportion it to the tribes and bring them to a resting place. Oh, and yes, I will be with you as I was with Moses. Only remember, your strength and courage will come as you meditate in this Law given by Moses, day and night, remembering to do all that is commanded. Let it become part of you; think of it as a symbol of my Presence among you. Hold it high, and draw its strength into your life. Let it speak to you, encourage you, direct your steps. Then your success and prosperity will grow up around you as a fruit of our relationship.
Joshua immediately sent out two spies to cross the Jordan and reconnoiter in and around Jericho especially. As we look back, we realize Yahweh God had BIG plans for Israel and bigger plans for the world to come. Concealing in her home in Jericho the two spies, Rahab risked her life to participate in their covert operations. In so doing, she saved the lives of her entire family. Only God could have known Rahab, a non-Jew, would become part of the ancestry of Messiah Jesus. She WANTED to join up with them, for she was convinced that their God had done all the mighty miracles of which her people had heard; and they were afraid of Israel. Imagine a world today in which the fear of God has returned as a strong motivator to assist the works of the Lord’s people in our times. And imagine as well that the Lord is with you; and that, as you relentlessly pursue Him through His word and His people, you are daily gaining courage and strength in your walk with God. Now let Psalm 105 raise your levels of expectation by recounting how effortlessly God did all the things recorded of Him there!
DAY FIVE – Joshua 3-6
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step,” so it is said. For Israel, crossing Jordan River must have seemed like an impossible feat, considering the river was in flood stage. But according to Yahweh God, that crossing would be the SIGN that God was with them forever. It would come down like this: the priests, carrying the Ark of the Covenant by poles on their shoulders, would take the first steps into the water. The people would stay back until the priests feet were firmly planted, then they would follow. And twelve men from the tribes would each take up a stone on his shoulder after the crossing and bring the stone to Joshua, who would erect a memorial so that their children would always remember and know what happened! “Oh yes, those stones remind us that God stopped the running of the river; and all three million of us marched across on dry ground while the priests remained firmly planted. Only after we all crossed did the priests come up out of the riverbed; then the waters flowed down again!” Imagine the look on your kids’ faces.
Three days later all the armed men of Israel, more than half a million, organized in front of and behind the priests who again took up the Ark of the Covenant on their shoulders to march around Jericho, the walls and gates of which were totally shut up. Seven priests blew seven rams’ horn trumpets as they marched, but nobody said anything. Once each day for six days, they marched around, then returned to base. On the seventh day they went around seven times in succession, still quiet, until Joshua gave the command; then they shouted–what a tumult! The ground must have shaken, because Jericho’s walls went flat to expose the city all around to the waiting warriors. What a sight! Jericho was taken, and Rahab and her family were brought out to safety. Two fabulous miracles were done by Yahweh in Israel’s sight within a single week. The campaign was under way to secure Israel’s future.
Since then there are two more great signs that God is alive and among us today, as He was with Israel.
- Messiah’s CROSS– the sign that God loves the world enough to die in our place.
- Messiah’s EMPTY TOMB– the sign that God is alive forever and that we are reconciled to Him and saved by Him. Jesus Christ is the forever evidence that everything Yahweh God has done points to triumph over sin and death and provision for a safe and secure future.
Only one question remains: Do we believe in the living Jesus enough to FOLLOW and OBEY Him?