Markers and Milestones
We are nearing the end of our reading of the book of Deuteronomy together. What a journey the Israelites have been on! If you haven’t watched this helpful video summary of the book, it’s right here. It’ll help you understand what you are reading.
Let’s continue reading together.
Day 1 – Deuteronomy 27:1-8
The Jordan is the largest river in Israel. It is natural for the river to be a landmark that you look for on your journey, a kind of boundary that marks the end of an area and the beginning of the next area. It means something significant has already happened and the hope is that there will be more to come.
The river is a marker to several things. The first one is that they are now far enough away from Egypt to acknowledge that the exodus is over (whew!). The second is that they are about to cross the river and head into the promised land, a land flowing with milk and honey!! It is so good to arrive at a milestone to look back and to look ahead. Honestly, the journey has been long and trying at times, but guess what, God was with them every step of the way!
Isn’t life like that as well? Our walk with Jesus is also marked by significant milestones. True, we don’t come across them every day. But as we look back they remind us of the goodness of God and often, a new chapter of the journey.
After they have crossed the Jordan, as Moses and the elders commanded, they are to set up large stones and cast them with plaster, write the words of the law on the stones. They are to build altars, and make offerings to the Lord, and share meals and rejoice together! In other words, remember God’s provision and his commandments and celebrate together!! How wonderful is that?
Reflect and Pray
- What are the milestones in your life? What are they markers of? Where do you see God’s work in those moments of your life?
- As the Spirit leads, give thanks to God for these milestones. You may even consider sharing it with family or friends and celebrate together
Day 2 – Deuteronomy 27:9-26
As I was reading this passage from Deuteronomy with all the blessings and curses (mostly curses, I was struck by the fact that the instructions and commandments before they crossed the Jordan river. Again, the journey is not over yet, in fact, there were still many battles that would come their way. What is all this commotion about and how about the strong language of “cursed is anyone who…”?
The more I look at the passage, the more it became clear that the Israelites were taking their journey very seriously. The curse is a way of reciting and remembering what is important to them, they were God’s commands and also what they value as a people before the Lord.
If you can get beyond the tone from the strong language, you will see that the commands have to do with being just with one another, honouring parents, worshiping God and only God himself, taking care of the fatherless, foreigners, and widows.
In essence, as the Israelites practice these commands, they are protecting and taking care of themselves and others. Not to mention the benefit of knowing and practicing what God cares about.
Reflect and Pray
- Take a moment to pause and become aware of God’s presence
- Reading again what the commands the Israelites recited (verse 15 to 26), use these questions to help you reflect
- How can you practice loving God and caring for others more deeply than you have before?
- Are there areas in your life that have been compromised, that have not been taken seriously as you follow Jesus?
- Repent before the Lord, seek forgiveness, and ask for strength to change
Day 3 – Deuteronomy 28
Today’s passage has a clear flow to it: The first section (verse 1 to 14) is about the blessings that come from God:
“If you fully obey…, the Lord your God will…”
“You will be blessed…”
“The Lord will grant…”
“The Lord will send a blessing…”
“The Lord will establish you as his holy people…”
“The Lord will open the heavens…”
The second section (verse 15 to 48) has to do with the curses that come from God:
“If you do not obey the Lord your God, all these curses will…”
“You will be cursed…”
“The Lord will send on you curses, confusion…”
“The Lord will cause you to be defeated…”
“The Lord will drive you… to a nation unknown…”
“The Lord will bring a nation against you…”
I could be wrong, but it feels like there are no grey areas here, no if’s and but’s about the consequences and the actions leading to those consequences.
The logic is simply this:
If you obey God, you will be blessed and if you disobey him, you’ll be cursed.
Rather than just brush over this passage and call it archaic, I think the passage teaches us a couple of things about the heart of God:
- God wants the best for his people. Yes, God being God, (unless you disagree…) he knows what’s best for his people.
- “Best” here comes from following his commandments, they are set up as guardrails to protect and keep his people in a loving and thriving relationship with God and others.
At the risk of being overly simplistic, this was the way of redemption – It is redemption through following the law.
With this understanding, I can’t help but think of Jesus and what he has done for all of us. By his sacrificial death and resurrection we can now rely on Jesus, who was and is perfect, for our redemption instead of the law. This is not to say obedience to God is no longer important, rather, that our redemption and our vitality do not rest on our ability to be sinless anymore but they rest on Jesus himself.
Jesus changed everything.
Reflect and Pray
- Think about the suffering Jesus had to go through in order to make salvation possible and available to you
- What are the obstacles that hinder you from trusting in God that he knows what is best for you?
- Give thanks to Jesus for what he has done for you through his death and resurrection
Day 4 – Deuteronomy 29:1-6
The covenant between God and his people was renewed in a place called Moab.
As I mentioned in the blog a couple days ago, the Israelites left Egypt, where they were slaves, and were enroute to the Promised Land. Meaning that they don’t yet have a place they can call home. They are not settled and they still have a long journey ahead of them. Now they find themselves in a foreign land where the inhabitants do not worship the Lord but other gods. Yet it is in this foreign land that the Lord, through Moses, renewed and reminded them of the covenant.
The covenant is a big deal because it signifies the Lord’s unwavering faithfulness and mercy toward his people. That God will always be with them.
Moses said to the Israelites that their eyes have seen the Lord’s work: all the signs and wonders; that God provided for them over the forty wandering years in the wilderness. But they still don’t understand what all of this was about!
You see the renewal has a purpose: to point God’s people back to the Lord who is faithful, the Lord who says “I am the Lord your God.”
Let’s pause here.
Aren’t we like the Israelites sometimes? God has done wonders in our lives and we either don’t see it, don’t hear it or don’t remember it.
What God wants is for you to know that he is with you always. Would you ask for eyes to see and ears to hear that the Lord is your God?
Reflect and Pray
- Learn to be at ease in the presence of God
- Pause for a moment, as you do, use this short prayer to help you enter into God’s presence “God, come near”.
Day 5 – Deuteronomy 30
Today our reading brings us back to the theme of blessings and curses. (Read Day 3 if you haven’t).
There is a moment of clarity in verse 19 and 20, Moses said:
“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”
I added emphasis on “now choose life”.
It all comes down to this, doesn’t it. We are all given one life here on earth, and we must choose the way in which we live this life.
Following Jesus is a choice. It always has been and always will be. God desires a deep and intimate relationship with you and his people. Through Jesus, the way has been cleared. But still it is up to us whether we will choose to engage.
This is a moment to look at your own decision.
Have you decided to follow Jesus and give your life to him? If you haven’t. I’d invite you to choose Jesus.
Have you already decided to follow him but have fallen behind in the way you live out this commitment? I’d invite you to renew your desire to choose Jesus.
Whether your decision is today, know that God is with you.
Reflect and Pray
- Take a moment to pray, as the Spirit prompts you regarding Jesus, respond to him with your decision.