Spiritual Rants: April 5 “Tale Of A Whale Or A Whale Of A Tale?” Readings to read through the Bible in a year: Deuteronomy 28:1-68 Luke 11:14-36 Psalm 77:1-20 Proverbs 12:18

Old Testament:  Deuteronomy 28:1-68

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Deut. 28:1-68  Blessing For Obedience, Cursing for Disobedience

My professors in school told me that this chapter was the centerpiece of the Old Testament.  They said that all of the books of the Old Testament had the theme of “curses for disobedience and blessings for obedience.”  This is certainly true but the key of understanding anything in the Bible is that God wants a relationship with us.  And He wants it throughout eternity.  If the Israelites obeyed God, they would prosper and be blessed but more importantly they would have a relationship with Yahweh.  If they didn’t obey, they would be cursed materially but they also would break their fellowship with Yahweh.

Yahweh gave the nation some great object lessons to help them in their relationship.  We have studied them, the sacrifices, the victory over their enemies, the structure of their theocracy.  But time and time again they failed God.  Moses even warns them if they were disobedient they would go into captivity (v. 36) and also be scattered around the world (v. 64).  And they were!

Despite all these warnings, God made unilateral covenantal promises to Israel that He will fulfill His word (cf. Four covenants:  Abrahamic in Gen. 12:1-3; Palestinian in Deut. 30:1-10; Davidic in 2 Sam. 7:12-16; and the New Covenant in Jer. 31:31-34).  God cannot lie (Num. 23:19).  God is so gracious!  There will be a future for the nation of Israel.

New Testament:  Luke 11:14-36

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Luke 11:14-28  How Phar Can You See?

This account is also found in Matt. 12:22-30; Mark 3:20-27.

Jesus cast out a demon and some bonehead accused Him of using the power of Satan.  Wow.  Jesus said that if that was true then Satan’s kingdom would fall because a kingdom divided against itself could not stand.  I know, you thought Abraham Lincoln said that but Jesus was first.  Jesus warned that anyone who was against Him was not with Him and would scatter.  This was the opposite of when the disciples were upset about those who were casting out demons in Jesus’ name and Jesus said whoever was not against them was for them ( Mark 9:40,  “For he who is not against us is for us”).

Jesus then warned that just casting out a demon is not enough.  The implication is that the person had to be filled with something to replace the demon.  We know now that a saved person receives the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9).

After Jesus explained these things, a lady in the crowd praised Mother Mary.  Jesus disagreed with her and said that it wasn’t Mary that was blessed but those who heard the Word of God and obeyed it.  Of course, the greatest command in the Bible is to trust Jesus for salvation (cf. Acts 16:31, for example).

Luke 11:29-36  Tale Of A Whale Or A Whale Of A Tale?

Answer:  A tale of whale.  No, a whale of a tale.  I guess both.  But mostly the first.  Jesus affirmed the historicity of the Jonah story.  Otherwise, Jesus’ resurrection was just a story.  So Jesus affirmed the entire Old Testament.  

Jesus said that the Queen of Sheba and the people of Nineveh would rise up to judge the people in Jesus’ generation.  They believed with a lot less evidence than those who had witnessed Jesus Himself.

Jesus said no one would hide a light since that would defeat the purpose of lighting a light.  Jesus was not hiding anything.  Further, if someone wanted to know the truth, it would come in through their eyes.  Then they’d be full of light and they would themselves be beacons of light.

Psalm 77:1-20    A Lament by Asaph

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Psalm 77:1-20   Nostalgic Nights

Psalm 77 is a lament psalm by Asaph.  The occasion could be the Babylonian captivity of Israel between 598/7 and 587/6 b.c.  Since Asaph was a contemporary of David around 1000 b.c. (cf. 1 Chron. 16:4-5), then the author, during Jeremiah’s time, may be a namesake or Asaph could be the name of the choir guild in Jeremiah’s day, named in Asaph’s honor.

Do you wonder why the psalmist often begins by pleading God to hear him (v. 1, cf. Ps. 4:1; 17:1; 27:7; 28:2, e.g.)?  Here he seems to be reassuring himself that God will hear him.

The psalmist tells us that when trouble struck, he came before the Lord (vv. 2-4).  His solution is to remember what God had done in the past (v. 5).  Have you tried that when you are down?  Remember what God has done for you in your life and trust that He will not leave you in the lurch.

When I can’t sleep at night, I always figure God wants me to pray for someone.  I pray for whomever comes to mind and then I usually doze back asleep.  Another key is to refrain from caffeine at night.  You also can sing spiritual songs in your head (v. 6, cf. Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16).

Asaph meditates on God.  He wonders if God will allow him to stay in his bad state forever (v. 7) or if God has run out of love and kindness (v. 8).  He thinks maybe God has forgotten to be good to him, maybe he’s distracted taking care of other people (v. 9).

Then I think he is brainstorming.  Sometimes it’s good to just come up with ideas, no matter how ridiculous.  I think that’s what Asaph is doing in verse 10.  He comes up with the silly thought that God might have changed.  If he had the rest of the Bible in his possession and a good concordance, he’d know that wasn’t true (cf. Ps. 102:26; Num. 23:19; 1 Sam. 15:29; Mal. 3:6).  God does not change!  We can always depend on Him.  He is our rock (cf. Ps. 18:2; 19:14, e.g.).

Again, he reminds himself to remember what God had done in the past (v. 11).  What would he remember?  Things like crossing the Jordan or the Red Sea, Elijah riding to Heaven in a chariot, Creation, and Noah’s ark.  After he reminded himself of what God had done, he knew to meditate on them (v. 12).

He reminded himself that God was holy and no other “god” is like Elohim (v. 13).  Of course, any other “god” would be a false god so, of course, they wouldn’t be like Yahweh!  “El,” the name of God in verse 14, is a wonder-working God Who shows off His power to all the nations.  God has used His power in the past to save the descendants of Jacob and his son Joseph (v. 15).

Water is often a symbol of chaos.  God is able to tame chaos (vv. 16-17a; 19).  His power is greater than that of nature (vv. 17b,c-18).

Yahweh is like a Shepherd (cf. John 10) Who leads His flock (v. 20a).  Asaph, still thinking back, reflects on how God brought the Israelites through trouble by the hand of His leaders Moses and Aaron (v. 20b).

Proverbs 12:18   Spiritual MDs

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Have you ever noticed that sometimes someone walks into a room and people get happier?  Others walk in and people get scared and look to abscond.  That’s because some people “speak rashly” and their words are like getting a knife in the gut (v. 18a).

Believers should speak words  that result in people being made whole (v. 18b; cf. Eph. 4:15; Col. 4:6).

Choose Life: Scripture:  Deuteronomy 28: 7b, 13   NASB    “Free Debt Repayment”

” . . .  they will come out against you one way and will flee before you seven ways . . . The LORD will make you the head and not the tail, and you only will be above, and you will not be underneath, if you listen to the commandments of the LORD your God, which I charge you today, to observe them carefully . . .”   Deuteronomy 28:7b, 13

These are verses used by TV preachers to preach that everyone who believes in the Lord these days will not only have eternal life but temporal blessings.

Actually, these verses come from the watershed chapter of the Old Testament.  Remember Paul told us that the law was a “tutor” to bring us to Christ (cf. Gal. 3:24).  What Paul meant was that it was evident from the Mosaic law that it wasn’t possible for the average bear to fulfill the law.  It was left to the Messiah, Jesus Christ, to do that (cf. Matt. 5:17).  We can’t be perfect in and of ourselves so that we can earn our way into Heaven.  That is what is known as “salvation by works.”  We can never do enough good works to merit salvation.  To get into Heaven, we have to be perfect and only one man was perfect.

That is why it was necessary for Him to die in our place and pay the price that we owed to God (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21, “He made Him who knew no sin [to be] sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him”).  As one elderly lady put it in one of my churches, “He paid a debt He didn’t owe because we owed a debt we couldn’t pay.”  (She was always thinking in terms of money but she was right on this one!)

Are you trying to pay your own debt?  Are you working your way to Heaven?  Give it up and trust Christ.

If you are, you will find that you are choosing life (Deut. 30:19)!

Fun Application:   

You may not have trusted Christ for salvation yet.  Trust Him.  You may be trying to work to please Christ for your sanctification or in living the Christian life.  Give it up.  Rely on the Holy Spirit to help you (cf. Rom. 8:12-14, Gal. 5:16-18).

The purpose of the “Choose Life” is to pick a positive help out of the One Year Bible (OYB) reading plan for the day. There is always something positive in the Word of God to cheer us and give us strength. For more on today’s reading, check out my One Year Bible blog:  Blessing For Obedience, Cursing For Disobedience

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