DEUTERONOMY 31:1-32:27 | LUKE 12:8-34 | PSALM 78:32-55 | PROVERBS 12:21-23
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The time has come for Moses to wrap things up: he has served as leader for the last forty years, and as he now stands on this side of the Jordan at the ripe age of 120 years, he hands over the reign of responsibility to his charge, Joshua, as commanded by the Lord.
And so he says to Joshua: “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the LORD swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. 8 The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
But God knows already what is to happen, and the rebellion and turning away of the children of Israel is predicted. And yet, this is an amazing God who is not willing to completely decimate this people. They will turn from him, and he will be angry, but they will repent and return, and he will take them back. That is the history of this people that is being predicted by God via Moses.
And in anticipation of this, God gives Moses a “song” to be handed down to them. A song that will serve as an account of their extraordinary existence to date; a song that chronicles their incredible birth as a people; a song that reminds them of the covenant that God made with their ancestors; a song to remind them of who they truly are.
Turning next to our reading in the Book of Luke, we see Jesus busy in his ministry of teaching, preaching and healing. Jesus is frequently approached by people with all kinds of needs. There is one man who comes to him to ask that Jesus speak to his brother regarding the equitable distribution of the family inheritance—since when did Jesus assume the role of arbiter? He did not—which is what he tells the man!
But Jesus also takes the opportunity to tell him something related: Be wary of your desire for wealth and possessions, he says, because that is not what defines you. These are Jesus’ very words about this: “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
Jesus goes on to assure his disciples of this and sundry matters. His words are so very clear and straightforward that they transcend time. It is as if he is speaking to you and to me. May it be that we see this as a direct exhortation in how we are to conduct ourselves and our affairs of the day. Worry is not the answer to our lives problems, and though we might know this, Jesus pauses to remind us of the same.
His words bear reading and repeating, and I reproduce them here for that purpose: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
He goes on to say: 27 “Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
And finally: 32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Our Psalm for the day is actually a continuation of yesterdays wherein David is recounting the history of his people. David is a great writer and he chronicles in the greatest detail the ways of his ancestors in how they were a rebellious people who turned away from God time and time again, and yet God in his great mercy repeatedly contained his wrath so as to not destroy them completely.
These few verses offer a small summary of this sentiment where David says in reference to the children of Israel:
37 their hearts were not loyal to him,
they were not faithful to his covenant.
38 Yet he was merciful;
he forgave their iniquities
and did not destroy them.
Time after time he restrained his anger
and did not stir up his full wrath.
39 He remembered that they were but flesh,
a passing breeze that does not return.
May it be that we also, like the children of Israel, will find favor in God’s eyes despite our own nature to forget God’s mercies and turn away from him time and again.
Finally, a few verses from the Book of Proverbs in which we find nuggets of wisdom offered by Solomon, wise king of Israel:
21 No harm overtakes the righteous,
but the wicked have their fill of trouble.
22 The LORD detests lying lips,
but he delights in people who are trustworthy.
23 The prudent keep their knowledge to themselves,
but a fool’s heart blurts out folly.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word. Amen.