June Reading from The Message
The people of Israel did not head straight to the promised land. After being miraculously brought out of Egypt they were doubting God and squabbling internally within days. In order to get them prepared for true community in the promised land God had some reminders. We pick up the story in Deuteronomy 8…
Keep and live out the entire commandment that I’m commanding you today so that you’ll live and prosper and enter and own the land that God promised to your ancestors. Remember every road that God led you on for those forty years in the wilderness, pushing you to your limits, testing you so that he would know what you were made of, whether you would keep his commandments or not. He put you through hard times. He made you go hungry.
Then he fed you with manna, something neither you nor your parents knew anything about, so you would learn that men and women don’t live by bread only; we live by every word that comes from God’s mouth. Your clothes didn’t wear out and your feet didn’t blister those forty years. You learned deep in your heart that God disciplines you in the same ways a father disciplines his child.
6-9 So it’s paramount that you keep the commandments of God, your God, walk down the roads he shows you and reverently respect him. God is about to bring you into a good land, a land with brooks and rivers, springs and lakes, streams out of the hills and through the valleys. It’s a land of wheat and barley, of vines and figs and pomegranates, of olives, oil, and honey. It’s land where you’ll never go hungry—always food on the table and a roof over your head. It’s a land where you’ll get iron out of rocks and mine copper from the hills.
10 After a meal, satisfied, bless God, your God, for the good land he has given you.
11-16 Make sure you don’t forget God, your God, by not keeping his commandments, his rules and regulations that I command you today. Make sure that when you eat and are satisfied, build pleasant houses and settle in, see your herds and flocks flourish and more and more money come in, watch your standard of living going up and up—make sure you don’t become so full of yourself and your things that you forget God.
17-18 If you start thinking to yourselves, “I did all this. And all by myself. I’m rich. It’s all mine!”—well, think again. Remember that God, your God, gave you the strength to produce all this wealth so as to confirm the covenant that he promised to your ancestors—as it is today.
19-20 If you forget, forget God, your God, and start taking up with other gods, serving and worshiping them, I’m on record right now as giving you firm warning: that will be the end of you; I mean it—destruction. You’ll go to your doom—the same as the nations God is destroying before you; doom because you wouldn’t obey the Voice of God, your God.
The Basis for Community
The People of Israel had less than a two-week vacation from slavery when it became obvious that they weren’t capable of living together as a community. So instead of settling them in the Promised Land to squabble among themselves, God sent them back to Mount Horeb to start over (see Deuteronomy 1:37-40; 2:14-15). There he taught them an important lesson, perhaps the most important lesson of the wilderness: “He put you through hard times. He made you go hungry. Then he fed you with manna, something neither you nor your parents knew anything about, so you would learn that men and women don’t live by bread only; we live by every word that comes from God’s mouth” (8:3).
And the humility they learned from this experience became the basis for community.
Are you in ministry? Ever feel over your head? When Eric Peterson became a pastor of a new church he quickly turned to his father Eugene, author of many books and translator of The Message, for advice. Here, for the first time, are the letters back and forth between father and son on how to be a good leader, pastor, and man of God.