Day 1: Deuteronomy 16:18 – 17:7
Why does God call the leaders of Israel to the standards we read about in our passage today? Because they are called to be a nation set apart. God is calling Israel to be a nation that demonstrates his heart. In Exodus 34:6-7 God describes himself like this,
“Yahweh! The Lord!
The God of compassion and mercy!
I am slow to anger
and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.
I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations.
I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.
But I do not excuse the guilty.
I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren;
the entire family is affected—
even children in the third and fourth generations.” (NLT)
God calls the Israelites to be like Him. He is faithful to His people, compassionate, generous, and full of justice, and His people are called to be the same. The leaders are given extra responsibility in this area because they are the ones who will set the example and tone for the rest of the nation.
As you reflect on God’s requirements for Israel’s leaders over the next few days, it may be hard for you to see how these passages relate to your life. Let me encourage you to allow these Scriptures to teach you more about our Heavenly Father’s heart, and lead you into deeper appreciation and response to His generosity, justice, and compassion.
- God tells his judges not to pervert justice or show partiality. They are to judge one another as He judges us. What does God’s attitude towards partiality and justice tell you about His character?
- In what ways has God shown justice and faithfulness to you in your life? How can you show Him gratitude for that?
- In week 2 of our Generosity series, Pastor Vijay talked about how we become like what we worship. This is why God tells us to worship Him! Take some time to worship God today. Listen and sing along to your favorite worship song, or choose to worship Him in another way: through writing, dance, art, serving someone else, or keeping up with your gratitude list.
Day 2: Deuteronomy 17:8 – 13
While God has given each of us wisdom (and for those who follow Jesus, the wisdom of the Holy Spirit), there will still be decisions that come before us that are too difficult for us. While most of us will never have to make court of law decisions, today’s passage provides us with an interesting framework for how we go about life.
Have you ever had to make a difficult decision and gone to God in prayer asking for direction? After you’ve done that, has God directed you in a path to take? And have you ever, even after hearing from God – decided to go your own way any way, and trust in your own wisdom instead of the divine wisdom of God?
I won’t go into details, but friends I am guilty as charged!
For the Israelites, the Levititical priests were God’s authority on earth. If you remember back to when we read through Exodus together earlier this year, God had gifted the Levitical priests with methods through which to make decisions (See Exodus 28). As such, bringing a case to the Levitical priests would be like bringing the case to God himself. If someone showed contempt for the priests or their judgments, it was akin to showing contempt for God himself, as the priests were God’s earthly mediators.
- How might God be calling you into a deeper trust of His judgments and decisions?
- How can seeing and understanding God’s generosity and faithfulness help you trust Him more?
Day 3: Deuteronomy 17:14-20
In our series on Generosity, we have talked about the different things that we feel give us status, and money was one of them (look back to last week’s sermon if you need a refresh!)
In today’s passage from Deuteronomy, God warns the Israelites against setting a King over them who pursues earthly status over godly status. He warns against military status (acquiring horses), personal status and pleasure (seeking many wives), and financial status (seeking too much money). God says that these things will lead the king’s heart astray. Instead, the king is to seek godly status: he is to read and know the word of God and make sure that it is followed in the kingdom of Israel, and he is not to think of himself as better than his fellow Israelites.
Our pursuit of earthly status will often 1) lead our hearts astray and 2) cause us to think of ourselves as better than others.
- How have you seen the pursuit of status leading yourself, or other you know astray? How have you seen it cause pride or thinking of ourselves as better than others?
- How can practicing gratitude and generosity help us fight against the pursuit of earthly status and self-deception through pride?
- Is there an area in your life where God is calling you to pursue Him more deeply, instead of earthly pursuits? Spend some more time in God’s word today so that you may “learn to revere the Lord your God.”
Day 4: Deuteronomy 18:1 – 13
The Levitical priests lived dependent on the faithful generosity of God’s people. Today, many pastors serving in the local church still do the same!
- Why do you think God required the Israelites to support the priests in their work? Why couldn’t the priests make money for themselves? Even if a priest had sold his family property and received money, he was still to share in the priestly benefits.
- What do you think God might have been trying to demonstrate to a) the people of Israel and b) the priests themselves, through these practices?
God forbids the Israelites to take part in any of the occult practices of the nations they were overtaking. This is again another way that God is trying to aid His people in pursuing faithfulness to Him alone, as well as protecting them from false forms of security, power, wisdom, and influence. Read the list of the specific practices that God forbids. Are you familiar with each of these and what they might look like in our world today?
Sometimes we are tempted to see God’s commands against certain practices as violations or limits to our freedom.
- How might these commands actually be demonstrating God’s generous desire for his people to live in even more complete freedom than the nations around them?
Day 5: Deuteronomy 18 : 14-22
While Moses was prophet to Israel for quite some time, our prophet is Jesus Christ.
God put His words in Jesus’ mouth, Jesus instructs us in God’s ways, and we will be held to account if we do not listen to the Son. We can know the Jesus is this prophet because what He said came true: he prophesied that he would die and be raised in 3 days and it was so. He promised that forgiveness was in His name, and it is so.
- How is God calling you to listen more closely to Jesus’s words and listen (the word here also implies action, aka OBEDIENCE). Is there something God has convicted you of lately that you have delayed in obeying? Don’t delay any longer!
Finish your time today thanking God that He has given us Jesus, our true and perfect prophet, who speaks to us even today and directs us better than all the leaders of Israel ever did. Amen.