Devotional: When fear is a good thing

Deuteronomy 6:2-3 – “Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the Lord your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess, that you may fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged.”

The commands that God coursed through Moses for the Israelites were not mere tickets for them to this “land flowing with milk and honey”. These were standards that they were to live out once they get to the promise. These were to instill “fear of the Lord” (Hebrew: yare – to respect, to reverence) which produces obedience.

The meaning of the word “fear” as used in this phrase is not what the world is accustomed to. Fear of God acknowledges His good intentions (Exodus 20:20), and it is produced by reading His Word (Psalm 119:38, Proverbs 2:5). It opens us up to wisdom and knowledge (Proverbs 1:7). It can be learned (Psalm 34:11, 13-14). (source)

As we have already discussed briefly before, obedience keeps the blessings. And it is not a respecter of time and place and relations. In Deuteronomy 6:7-9, the people were expected to pass on these standards to their children (“teach them diligently”), and put it to practice whenever and wherever they may find themselves.

Why was it so important for the people to learn this fear before they enter the Promised Land? In verses 10-14 we see that blessings can quite easily take our focus away from the Blessor. We can easily slip into a “good life” mentality and be complacent with our faith. We see a glimpse of this truth in Proverbs 30:9: “Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, Who is the Lord?

Deuteronomy 6:24-25 – “And the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is this day. Then it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to observe all these commandments before the Lord our God, as He has commanded us.’”

To know how to live right, we turn to the Word and know that God’s instructions were never meant to limit us. In fact His rules are always for our own good.  

“Men have differed as regards what people ought to be unselfish to - whether it was only your own family, or your fellow countrymen, or every one. But they have always agreed that you ought not put yourself first. Selfishness has never been admired.”
— CS Lewis, Mere Christianity

Devotional: God > Circumstance

Deuteronomy 4:39, NKJV: "Therefore know this day, and consider it in your heart, that the Lord Himself is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other."

When God moves us from where we are (like situations that make us feel limited or bound, as with the case of the Israelites) to a place of freedom, one we can really own – considering all joys and pains of the journey – His purpose is always to show His glory, His power and His lordship over our lives. We must recognize the extent of His awesomeness (though we can never fully) and what this means for us. Simply put: if God is the god of everything, then He is certainly bigger than circumstance.

What heights of love
What depths of peace
When fears are still
When striving cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

Devotional: Let’s learn from the Levites

Numbers 35:2
“Command the children of Israel that they give the Levites cities to dwell in from the inheritance of their possession, and you shall also give the Levites common-land around the cities.”

What makes Levites so special? Before the Levitical Priesthood, it was the firstborns (of all tribes) of Israel who had a special calling. It all came tumbling down for the firstborns when the people fell to worshipping a golden calf in the absence of Moses (as he was receiving the Ten Commandments from God in Mount Sinai). The Levites were the only tribe who did not participate in the pagan worship and they were quick to obey the commands of God regarding those who did. No wonder God has placed a special favor on Levi’s line. Not only were they appointed with special roles in leadership but God saw to it that the Levites also received special portions in Israel’s conquests.

It’s interesting to note, going back, that the future of the Levites didn’t always look so bright. In Genesis 34, we find Jacob rebuking Levi and Simeon for their violent vengeance over the Shechemites. About fifteen chapters later as Jacob lay on his deathbed, instead of blessing Levi and Simeon he pronounced a curse on them: “Cursed be their anger, so fierce, and their fury, so cruel! I will scatter them in Jacob and disperse them in Israel.”

Jacob’s curse did fall upon them, but having proved their loyalty to God (and well, because God is utterly gracious), their distribution turned into a privilege by being assigned to the cities of refuge where castaways – murderers and other sinners deemed by law find just that.

Reference: Numbers 35:1-8