Sunday, April 7, 2013

All of the Word to All of the People

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Sunday, April 7, 2013:  Deuteronomy 31:1-32:27

10 And Moses commanded them, saying: “At the end of every seven years, at the appointed time in the year of release, at the Feast of Tabernacles, 11 when all Israel comes to appear before theLord your God in the place which He chooses, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing.  Deuteronomy 31:10-11 (NKJV)

There were times in the Old Testament when all of Israel was gathered to hear the Word of God.  It first happened at Sinai when Moses delivered the Ten Commandments (Exodus 19:25-20:18).  In a solemn assembly, all of God's Holy Word was delivered to all of God's people.  During the next centuries this happened again at crucial and historic moments.

One the most dramatic and inspiring of these is described in Deuteronomy 27:11-26 and Joshua 8:30-35.  When Israel entered Canaan (all two to three million of them!), they were instructed in Dt. 27 to go to the region of Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal.  There the priests were to position themselves with the ark of the covenant in the valley.  Half of Israel stood on Mt. Gerizim and half on Mt. Ebal.  As the law was read, all Israel would shout "AMEN!"  Imagine if you will the sound of two million voices echoing through that valley as Israel confirmed their covenant with God!

During the reign of King Josiah, after years (decades) of neglect, the law of God was found amid the massive repair work on the ruined temple.  When "all the words of the book were read" (II Kings 22:16), the result was national revival!  ALL OF THE WORD was delivered to ALL OF THE PEOPLE.

Again, years later, during the ministries of Ezra and Nehemiah, all of Israel was gathered to witness the restoration of the Temple and the wall around Jerusalem (Neh. 8:1).  Ezra opened the book and as he began to read, the people began shouting "Amen!"  They worshipped and wept. They celebrated.  It was a mighty moment.

It is worth noting that Israel never fulfilled the commandments of Deuteronomy 7.  They were told to read ALL of the Word before ALL of the people EVERY SEVEN YEARS.  As New Testament followers of Jesus Christ, does this have any meaning to us?  Does it matter?

I believe the lessons are clear:

1.  God's people need all of God's Word!  This blog is, in fact, built on a ONE YEAR READING PLAN that hopefully encourages you to read and know all of what God says to us.  We need to read the Scriptures and to seek to understand what it teaches us.  It really does not matter which reading plan you follow, just so long as you CONTINUE IN GOD'S WORD!

2.  The key to our health and success is obedience to God's revealed Word.  We are a PEOPLE OF THE BOOK.  ALL of the Book. Though certain portions may be harder to understand than others, don't give up -- don't relent.

3.  In the Old Testament, many things are built on the number 7.  Does that mean you need to go through the entire Bible in 7 years?  Actually, I read through the Bible once every year.  I believe the seven year instruction is not "minimum requirement" but a "maximum limit."  It's like taking care of your  health.  DON'T GO WITHOUT READING THE SCRIPTURES!  At least once in seven years, read it all.

It is my prayer that the Bible will return to its place of prominence in our nation.  This does not mean the enacting of an Islamic-style religious state -- a kind of Christian Taliban.  It means that the healing, empowering, saving strength of God's Word will once again bring order and sanity to our land.  May all of God's Word be heard by all of God's people.

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