March 5, 2016

Deuteronomy 3-4
Then we turned north and took the road to Bashan. Og king of Bashan, he and all his people, came out to meet us in battle at Edrei.  God said to me, “Don’t be afraid of him; I’m turning him over to you, along with his whole army and his land. Treat him the way you treated Sihon king of the Amorites who ruled from Heshbon.”...

Of the land that we possessed at that time, I gave the Reubenites and the Gadites the territory north of Aroer along the Brook Arnon and half the hill country of Gilead with its towns.  I gave the half-tribe of Manasseh the rest of Gilead and all of Bashan, Og’s kingdom—...I commanded you at that time, “God, your God, has given you this land to possess. Your men, fit and armed for the fight, are to cross the river in advance of their brothers, the People of Israel. Only your wives, children, and livestock (I know you have much livestock) may go ahead and settle down in the towns I have already given you until God secures living space for your brothers as he has for you and they have taken possession of the country west of the Jordan that God, your God, is giving them. After that, each man may return to the land I’ve given you here.”...

At that same time, I begged God: “God, my Master, you let me in on the beginnings, you let me see your greatness, you let me see your might—what god in Heaven or Earth can do anything like what you’ve done! Please, let me in also on the endings, let me cross the river and see the good land over the Jordan, the lush hills, the Lebanon mountains...But God was still angry with me because of you. He wouldn’t listen. He said, “Enough of that. Not another word from you on this. Climb to the top of Mount Pisgah and look around: look west, north, south, east. Take in the land with your own eyes. Take a good look because you’re not going to cross this Jordan.

Then command Joshua: Give him courage. Give him strength. Single-handed he will lead this people across the river. Single-handed he’ll cause them to inherit the land at which you can only look.”  That’s why we have stayed in this valley near Beth Peor.

Now listen, Israel, listen carefully to the rules and regulations that I am teaching you to follow so that you may live and enter and take possession of the land that God, the God-of-Your-Fathers, is giving to you. Don’t add a word to what I command you, and don’t remove a word from it. Keep the commands of God, your God, that I am commanding you.

You saw with your own eyes what God did at Baal Peor, how God destroyed from among you every man who joined in the Baal Peor orgies. But you, the ones who held tight to God, your God, are alive and well, every one of you, today.  Pay attention:...  Keep them. Practice them. You’ll become wise and understanding. When people hear and see what’s going on, they’ll say, “What a great nation! So wise, so understanding! We’ve never seen anything like it.”...
Just make sure you stay alert. Keep close watch over yourselves. Don’t forget anything of what you’ve seen. Don’t let your heart wander off. Stay vigilant as long as you live. Teach what you’ve seen and heard to your children and grandchildren...

 But you—God took you right out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to become the people of his inheritance—and that’s what you are this very day...  So stay alert. Don’t for a minute forget the covenant which God, your God, made with you... When the time comes that you have children and grandchildren, put on years, and start taking things for granted, if you then become corrupt and make any carved images, no matter what their form, by doing what is sheer evil in God’s eyes and provoking his anger—I can tell you right now, with Heaven and Earth as witnesses, that it will be all over for you. You’ll be kicked off the land that you’re about to cross over the Jordan to possess... 

But even there, if you seek God, your God, you’ll be able to find him if you’re serious, looking for him with your whole heart and soul. When troubles come and all these awful things happen to you, in future days you will come back to God, your God, and listen obediently to what he says. God, your God, is above all a compassionate God. In the end he will not abandon you, he won’t bring you to ruin, he won’t forget the covenant with your ancestors which he swore to them.

Ask questions. Find out what has been going on all these years before you were born. From the day God created man and woman on this Earth, and from the horizon in the east to the horizon in the west—as far back as you can imagine and as far away as you can imagine—has as great a thing as this ever happened? Has anyone ever heard of such a thing? Has a people ever heard, as you did, a god speaking out of the middle of the fire and lived to tell the story?

Or has a god ever tried to select for himself a nation from within a nation using trials, miracles, and war, putting his strong hand in, reaching his long arm out, a spectacle awesome and staggering, the way God, your God, did it for you in Egypt while you stood right there and watched?

You were shown all this so that you would know that God is, well, God. He’s the only God there is. He’s it. He made it possible for you to hear his voice out of Heaven to discipline you... Know this well, then. Take it to heart right now: God is in Heaven above; God is on Earth below. He’s the only God there is. Obediently live by his rules and commands which I’m giving you today so that you’ll live well and your children after you—oh, you’ll live a long time in the land that God, your God, is giving you.

This is the Revelation that Moses presented to the People of Israel. These are the testimonies, the rules and regulations Moses spoke to the People of Israel after their exodus from Egypt and arrival on the east side of the Jordan.. 

Romans 11 - 
Does this mean, then, that God is so fed up with israel that he’ll have nothing more to do with them?  Hardly.  Remember  the one writing these things, I am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham out of the tribe of Benjamin,,, God has been too long involved with Israel, has had too much invested, to simply wash his hands of them...There is a fiercely loyal minority still...They’re holding on, not because of what they think they’re going to get out of it, but because they’re convinced of God’s grace and purpose in choosing them...When Israel tried to be right with God on her own, pursuing her own self-interest, she didn’t succeed.  The chosen ones of God were those who let God pursue his interest in them, and as a result received his stamp of legitimacy.

The next question is, “Are they down for the count?  Are they out of this for good?  And the answer is a clear-cut NO!  Ironically when they walked out, they left the door open and the outsiders walked in .  But the next thing you know, the Jews were starting to wonder if perhaps they had walked out on a good thing.  Now if their leaving triggered this worldwide coming of non-Jews outsiders to God’s kingdom, just imagine the effect of their coming back!  What a homecoming!  

But I don’t want to go on about them.  It’s you, the outsiders, that I’m concerned with now...Behind and underneath all this there is a holy, God-planted, God-tended root.  If the primary root of the tree is holy, there’s bound to be some holy fruit.  Some of the trees branches were pruned and you wild olive shoots were grafted in.  Yet the fact that you are now fed by that rich and holy root gives you no cause to crow over the pruned branches. 

Remember, you aren’t feeding the root; the root is feeding you...The only reason you’re on the tree is because you graft “took” when you believed, and because you’re connected to that belief-nurturing root.  So don’t get cocky and strut your branch.  Be humbly mindful of the root that keeps you lithe and green.  If God didn’t think twice about taking pruning shears to the natural branches, why would he hesitate over you?...

Make sure you stay alert to these qualities of gentle kindness and  ruthless severity that exist side by side in God--ruthless with the deadwood, gentle with the grafted shoot...And don’t get to feeling superior to those pruned branches down on the ground.  If they don’t persist in remaining deadwood, they could very well be grafted back in.  God can do that.  He can perform miracle grafts...Just be glad you are in the tree, and hope for the best for the others.  

Before this is all over, there will be a complete Israel...looked at from the long-ranged perspective of god’s overall purpose, they remain God’s oldest friends, God’s gifts and God’s call are under full warranty--never cancelled, never rescinded....With the door wide open for you, they have a way back in.  In one way or another, God makes sure that we all experience what it means to be outside so that he can personally open the door and welcome us back in.

Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God, this deep, deep wisdom?  It’s over our heads.  We’ll never figure it out.