Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Repetition and Precision: Opening Reactions to Deuteronomy 12

You may have heard the saying, "Practice makes perfect".

But a dear brother in the Lord used to make it very clear that this saying is not exactly true.

He corrected or clarified it like this:

"Practice makes permanent. 
Poor practice produces poor habits.
Perfect practice produces permanent perfection."

I can tell you as a coach, that nothing produces improvement more than quality, intense, and organized reps. The more I can organize a practice to enable a maximum number of repetitions, the better we all feel about our progress toward the goal.

In a sense, Deuteronomy is another rep. The name of the book literally means 'Second Law'. It is a series of 'sermons' that Moses delivers to the Israelites on the plains of Moab. It is a book of covenant renewal- a refresher on the way of their God- and what to expect as they go into the promised land. It also preps the death of Moses and the transfer of leadership to Joshua, a type of symbol where the LAW (Moses) doesn't save- but Jesus (Joshua) does.

Deuteronomy is the third most often quoted book in the New Testament, next only to the Psalms and the prophecy of Isaiah. It is a covenant document which discloses to us the Lord’s desire to bless his chosen people as they live in relationship with him. At the heart of this covenant of grace is God’s great declaration: “I will be your God, and you will be my people.” There is no greater blessing than that—God being our God, and we being his people. P.G. Mathew

Most scholars believe that it was the Book of Deuteronomy that was re-discovered in the reign of Josiah  (2 Kings 22) in 621 BC. I wish, as a nation, we would re-discover the Book that is foundational to all the principles our government is founded upon.

Any study of the gospels will also make you very aware that Jesus had a lot of repetition with this grand book as well.

But especially here in Deuteronomy 12- there is a lot of repetition within the chapter itself.

Points of repetition in Deuteronomy 12:

1) The command to be careful:
Verse 1: Statutes and rules that you shall be careful to do
Verse 13: Take care that you do not
Verse19: Take care that you do not
Verse 28: take care that you do not
Verse 32: you shall be careful to do

When I see how meticulous the Law is- I realize how careless I am. I tend to drift, float. Being careful means that I- think, plan, consider, evaluate. It is a call to be more disciplined and that I be willing to take on sin. Nothing is insignificant. Again, I am not under LAW- but the LAW is a picture into God's heart and boundaries of blessing. My trend should be to tighten down more toward holiness than loosen in license.

2) The command to be thorough:
Verse 1: all the days that you live on the earth
Verse 14: there you shall do all that I am commanding you
Verse 20: as I have commanded you
Verse 28: Be careful to obey all these words
Verse 32: Everything that I command you

Again- very similar to the point above. But a huge part of this is not being satisfied with so called 'pet-sins'. Are there areas of my life that need to light of the LAW? My media choices, my spending, my selfish desires?

3) The blessings of God- enough to rejoice!:
Verse 7: And you shall rejoice... in all that you undertake, in which the LORD has blessed you
Verse 10: live in the land, when He gives you rest - so that you live in safety
Verse12: And you shall rejoice
Verse 15: As much as you desire
Verse 15: the blessing of the Lord that He has given you
Verse18: ANd you shall rejoice before the LORD your God in all that you undertake
Verse 20: When the Lord your God enlarges your territory
Verse 20: you may eat meat whenever you desire
Verse 21: whenever you desire
Verse 28: that it may go well with you and with your children after you forever

Any study in God's LAW tends to trend us to negative thoughts. Restrictions. And like EVE, we stare and long for what is forbidden without any thought to the all the LAVISH YESES  in God's kingdom.
Think of how David spoke so lovingly of the LAW in Psalm 119- It is sweet, he loves it, it is protection and blessing. I need to rejoice! And the greatest celebration is that Jesus has paid my sin debt that mounts as I read my transgressions.

4) Care for the Levites (the priests):
Verse 12: and the Levite that is within your towns
Verse 18: and the Levite
Verse 19: do not neglect the Levite

God's Word has always challenged us to take care of the ministers. And this is more motivation to give. I need to support my ministers- speak well of them. I need to give more. At the end of the year, am I supporting my church? Am I supporting missionaries? For a few dollars a year, we can feed others. For a few dollars, we can support children.

5) God's Name:
Verse 5: Seek the place that the Lord your God will choose out of all of your tribes to put His name and make His habitation there.
Verse 11: then to the place that the Lord your God will choose to make His name dwell there
Verse 21: If the place that the Lord your God will choose to put His name there is too far away

I need to lift up HIS NAME. His name needs to be clearly on my forehead- on the doorposts of my heart- my home- my children- my school- my city. I want it all to be under HIS NAME and captive to HIS Kingdom. I encourage us to walk around, point at people and places and say , "HIS"!

6) Blood:
Verse 16: you shall not eat the blood; you shall pour it on the earth like water
Verse 23: Only be sure that you do not eat the blood, for the blood is life, and you shall not eat the life with the flesh
Verse 24: You shall not eat it, you shall pour it out on the earth like water.
Verse 27: The blood of your sacrifices shall be poured out on the altar of the Lord your God.

Seems like this is more than hygienic. Of course it is wise to not eat raw meat. But this is the beginning stages of preparing us for the heavenly mercy seat and the Blood of the Lamb as the supreme sacrifice.

The major emphasis in Deuteronomy 12 will be covered in the next blog post. But here are 'fundamentals' that we can all rep.

The most interesting thing about these last few weeks in the LAW is how it resonates deep down in my soul. In quiet moments, in the shower, when I wake up- the echoes of these commands well up in me. It is so good to meditate on these desires of God for my life.

A true gospel understanding allows us to come back to the MORAL LAW and find handholds to press us toward a truer  and deeper walk. And it is beautiful freedom, applied as the Spirit allows, not to constrain others but to apply to our heart and choices.

The most crucial part of Deuteronomy 12 is the section found in verses 1-14. This will be covered in my next post, likely next week.

I: The severe eradication of idol worship
II: The severe eradication of human autonomy
III: How it foreshadows covenant fulfillment in Christ

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