每日诗歌: 不為明天憂慮 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65V5rXzYB60)
Deuteronomy 8 [Read]
Deuteronomy 9 [Read]
Deuteronomy 10 [Read]
Mark 12:28-44 [Read]
The Israelites are about to enter Canaan, but they must first face “nations greater and stronger than you” and must battle against “large cities that have walls up to the sky” (9:1). What words should a leader say to encourage them in time like this? Well, Moses’ words may not be appreciated by most people today.
He began with the repetitive words of “it is not because of your righteousness” (9:4-6). Such tone is especially strong in the original Hebrew language with the word “not” emphasized. It’s obvious that he did not want the Israelites to have any illusion about their own righteousness. It’s almost like he was still concerned that the Israelites did not get it, so he repeated three times calling them “the stiff-necked people” (9:6, 13, 10:16). Then, he brought up the golden calf again to remind them about their wicked past. Finally, he finished with “You have been rebellious against the LORD ever since I have known you” (9:24). If it’s today, these would be seen as overly negative and half of the audience would have left.
Moses is not done yet. He also repeated about what he had done for the people. When receiving the tablets, “I stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights; I ate no bread and drank no water” (9:9). Later on, he had to “once again I fell prostrate before the LORD for forty days and forty nights; I ate no bread and drank no water” to calm the anger of God (9:18). When the Israelites refused to enter Canaan as God commanded, God wanted to destroy them. Moses again “lay prostrate before the LORD those forty days and forty nights” (9:25). Those sounded very much like self promotion today, and the rest of the audience would probably be annoyed by now.
I noticed one thing among all these seemingly negative talks. Moses repeatedly used the term “tablets of the covenant” (9:9, 11, 15), and this was the only chapter of the entire OT where this term was used. He was conveying a subtle message. The tablets were not just for God to declare the Ten Commandments, but they were also the tablets that reaffirmed the covenant between God and the Israelites. The Israelites might be rebellious and stiff-necked, but the covenant God established with their ancestor Abraham would never change. Moses might have destroyed the tablets out of extreme fury caused by the rebellion of the Israelites, but God would not dishonor his covenant. That was the main point of Moses, and it was given to those who were willing to receive with a teachable heart.
This is the essence of our Christian faith. God chose us, not because of our righteousness, but because of the covenant he established with the ancestors of Israel. If the covenant were based on our righteousness, then our lives would be filled with toils and burdens. We would constantly be worried about whether our conducts have fallen below God’s standard. Praise the Lord, for it’s the righteousness of Christ that has covered us, so that we may live our daily life by holding onto the unchangeable covenant of God. “O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul” (10:12). Amen!
Keep on reading