2015 Lent 9

Deuteronomy 10:12-22

Nevertheless, I press on.

I may not be an Old Testament scholar.  I dabble in the Old Testament–this Lent, for example.  But I’m not a scholar.

Given the choice between studying Greek (the language of much of the New Testament) and Hebrew, it’s a no-brainer: Greek every time.

And given the choice between Greek and Latin, incidentally, it’s Latin.  But Greek is also something I make time for.

Not Hebrew though.  I feel too removed.  Unlike Greek and Latin, Hebrew seems too far out on the fringes to be worth my while.  There’s only so much time in the day, after all; and I’ve got a wife and kids; and a dog; and I want to keep up with my music and motorcycle habits.  Etc.

That said, the book of Deuteronomy is mostly a long sermon.  That’s where we find ourselves today: in the middle of a sermon, Moses’ farewell address to the people he has led, the people he’s loved and hated, for the past forty years.  Surely I can learn something from this!

So I press on with my scheme to offer a devotional commentary on the Old Testament passages from the daily office lectionary in the 1979 BCP during Lent this year.

And today makes this struggle worth it!  For today, in the middle of Moses’ farewell address, we find this theological gem:

“for your own well-being.”

Moses has been incessantly hammering his message into the hearts and minds of the people Israel.  “Hear, O Israel,” he begins, back in chapter 6, “the LORD your God is one.”  And he exhorts the people to teach their children when they rise up and sit down and all that.  Before long, however, he turns negative.  Remember all those times you disobeyed, he admonishes.  Practically ad infinitum!  Until the hearers (and the readers today!) have had enough already.  Okay, Moses, you’ve proved your point.  Stop being so critical already!

Then, suddenly, abruptly, ah, this gem!  Like a cloud lifting after a thunderous storm–even if only for a brief moment–Moses gives a refreshing, glorious reason for all his haranguing rationale.  It’s for your own good.

Following God has a purpose.  Good should result at the societal level; and good should result at the individual level.  In terms of the New Testament, we are being increasingly transformed from our fallen image of Adam into the perfect image of Christ.

Thanks for the reminder, Moses.

So I continue my study of the Old Testament.  And, while I hope never to preach like Moses, with an excessive focus on the negative, I never want to forget that my end as a preacher and as a follower of Christ is to equip my hearers to grow in their faith, to become more like Christ’s perfect image, into which we’re supposed to be being transformed, individually and societally.

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