Deuteronomy - Lesson 28

Celebrating the Goodness of YHWH in the Land - Deut. 26.1-15

Celebrating God’s goodness and grace in the Land. Bringing an offering from the firsfruits of the harvest is a time to remember how God has provided for the people of Israel in the past, both as individuals and as a community. There are lessons we can learn about worhship and living faithfully. This is the Deuteronomic creed.

Daniel Block
Lesson 28
Watching Now
Celebrating the Goodness of YHWH in the Land - Deut. 26.1-15

Celebrating the Goodness of YHWH in the Land (26:1-15)

I. Celebrating God's Faithfulness and Grace (vv 1-11)

A. Links with chapter 12

B. Context of the Celebration

C. Nature of the celebration

D. Essential elements of the story

II. Lessons on Worship

III. Affirming Fidelity to the Covenant

IV. Lessons on Worship from 26:12-15

  • The book of Deuteronomy contains the gospel message. Even though there are some laws mentioned, the essence of the book is prophetic preaching. Your presuppositions and principles for interpretation that you use will make a difference in how you view the meaning and significance of the book of Deuteronomy.

  • Deuteronomy is primarily a collection of sermons but its structure is covenantal. The structure of the covenant was commonly used in other cultures in the Ancient Near East during this time period. God tells the people of Israel that he is their God and the people say that they are God’s treasured possession. (Note: Mt. Sinai and Mt. Horeb are referring to the same thing. They are used interchangeably)

  • God gave the Decalogue to Moses so they have authority as Scripture. The book of Deuteronomy as whole is also Scripture. It contains the speeches of Moses and narrative passages. It’s the lense through which we view the other books of the Pentateuch.

  • Moses begins by recalling events that happened during their wandering in the wilderness, then recent events as they have gotten closer to entering the promises land from the east. Moses is idealized in the Old and New Testaments and in the writings of historians. You get a different picture when you read his first address. It shows Moses as faithful but flawed.

  • The Law was given to the nation of Israel after they had been freed from Egypt as the way to respond to God’s grace. God gives them the boundaries for right and wrong and a process to restore relationship when it is broken.

  • With the privilege of salvation and covenant relationship comes the call for a righteous response, demonstrated in joyful obedience to the Savior and Lord. A covenant is a formally confirmed agreement between two or more parties that creates, formalizes, governs a relationship that does not exist naturally or a natural relationship that has disintegrated.

  • God’s people are a privileged people; they have been graciously redeemed, and set apart as his special treasure, his holy covenant people. God acts graciously to undeserving people and they respond joyfully with obedience. The is the end of the first speech of Moses, Deuteronomy 4:32-40.

  • The Decalogue is the bill of rights of the people of ancient Israel. It is the ten principles of covenant relationship. It creates a picture of covenant righteousness and provides a foundation for later revelation. The Decalogue contains the features of a typical covenant and conditional and unconditional laws. The addressee is the head of the household because they can be a threat to others.

  • When Moses recites the Decalogue in Deuteronomy 5, there are parts that are similar to the passage in Exodus, and there are some significant differences. He begins with getting the attention of the people of Israel and appealing for covenant fidelity, restates the Decalogue, then ends with a document clause, using covenant language.

  • The Shema is a call for whole-hearted, full-bodied commitment. This passage is a theological exposition and pastoral proclamation to impress on the minds of the people of Israel the special relationship they enjoyed with YHWH. The grace God showed them must be embraced with grateful and unreserved devotion to their redeemer and covenant Lord.

  • God chooses the covenant partner, sets the terms, declares the goal, identifies the sign and determines the consequences of disobedience of the covenant. After Moses explains the purpose of the Law, he explains to the children how the Law was given and that learning it and putting it into practice will bring them life.

  • Moses talks to the people of Israel as they are entering the land, about how they will respond to the external test of confronting and dispossessing the surrounding nations. He reminds them of their special status with God and the covenant that he offers them unconditionally. He challenges them with the theological, ethical and missional significance of the test.

  • How can you worship a God that asks the people of Israel to wipe out the Canaanites? The reason for Israel taking the land is so the people of Israel as a holy people will be preserved so the world will be preserved. God is fundamentally compassionate and gracious, he does what is right and God offers us grace and mercy.

  • When everything goes right, what do you do then? The message of this passage is, “don’t forget.” YHWH provided manna in the wilderness to feed the people of Israel. God was also teaching them in the wilderness that life comes from every word of the mouth of God, not just by eating physical food. Moses challenges the people to respond to prosperity by praising God, not by taking the credit themselves.

  • The enemies in the Promised Land are formidable. God promises to defeat them. Moses warns that people to acknowledge that God is responsible. Even though the Canaanites do not follow God, the reason God chose the people is not because they are morally superior to the Canaanites.

  • Israel’s covenant with YHWH is based entirely on his grace and they don’t deserve it. Moses interceded on behalf the of people of Israel to ask God to not judge them and God is described as, “changing his mind” and renewing his covenant with them.

  • “What does YHWH ask of you?” Moses answers this question, then gives a doxology to confirm it and an application to illustrate it. God wants you to have a soft heart toward him, to live in an attitude of trusting awe and to act in a way that honors the covenant that God has established with you.

  • Moses has given a profound theology of land. He gives the people of Israel instructions for what God wants them to do when they enter the land to confirm their covenant with God. This included using uncut stones and plastering them and writing the Torah on them and then praising God. The land is an integral part of the covenant. The people shout blessings on Mount Gerizim and curses on Mount Ebal.

  • As the people of Israel enter the land, God has instructions for them on how to live in relationship with him and worship him so that it may go well with them and their children. They are to reject the false worship practices of the surrounding nations and accept God’s invitation to come and worship him in the place and in the way he has designed for them.

  • The Levites represent a barometer on where the people of Israel are in their ethical religion. They are not given land as an inheritance so it is the responsibility of people in the other tribes to support them. Moses presents a theology of worship but doesn’t go into detail.

  • This is a warning to the people of Israel to not imitate the materialistic preoccupation and the brutal rituals associated with the worship practices of the surrounding nations when they worship YHWH. There are warnings against following false prophets, someone in your family or people in your community if they are promoting seditious religious practices. The apostle Paul uses similar language in the New Testament when warning people about following people who teach heresies.

  • In contrast to worship with the purpose of satisfying the gods, YHWH delights in fellowship with his people and for them to celebrate in his presence. YHWH encourages his people to eat in his presence and with other people. His guidelines about which foods are acceptable to eat set the people of Israel apart from other nations.

  • A main purpose of the national festivals was to keep alive the memory of God’s grace and maintain their faith in god and their covenant with him.

  • Moses describes the key offices and roles that keep the society going by providing political and spiritual structure. The primary concern is righteousness. The king is to be the embodiment of Torah righteousness. Moses outlines specific steps to achieve this and describes what it will look like.

  • Moses, in his role as prophet, is the commissioned envoy of righteousness to the people of Israel. Moses was a mediator between God and the people of Israel. He warned the people of Israel about false prophets and the danger of adopting the worship practices of the surrounding nations.

  • Moses provides a picture of covenant life and godliness in a way that you can apply it to every situation in life. It’s important to care for the poor and the resident alien and to show justice to them. The resident aliens were invited to participate in the feasts and covenant life.

  • The ideal for the people of Israel was a patricentric society but in often the reality was a patriarchal society. In a patricentric society, the male head of the clan will provide resources and security in a way that gives his family and the community opportunities to flourish. The vision for women in Deuteronomy is different than the world that is described in Israelite narratives.

  • Celebrating God’s goodness and grace in the Land. Bringing an offering from the firsfruits of the harvest is a time to remember how God has provided for the people of Israel in the past, both as individuals and as a community. There are lessons we can learn about worhship and living faithfully. This is the Deuteronomic creed.

  • Some people view the curses in Deuteronomy 28 as a stumbling block to accepting the Old Testament as Christian Scripture because they say it represents God as vengeful. However, this was a common way of writing covenants in the Ancient Near East, they follow a list of extraordinary blessings, they serve a pastoral function and there are similar curses articulated in the New Testament.

  • Deuteronomy 29 begins with Moses recounting how YHWH brought the people out of Egypt and gave them victory in the land east of the Jordan River. Then he describes the curses they will experience when they turn away from the Lord. Chapter 30 describes the eschatological restoration. Deuteronomy 29:29 refers to the mystery of divine grace. (The movie and book series that Dr. Block is referring to is Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien. The prequel to this series is The Hobbit.)

  • This is the final altar call of Moses to the people of Israel to appeal to them to choose life by living in covenant relationship with YHWH. The revelation of YHWH given through Moses is to be memorized, recited and used as a guide for conduct. It is understandable and doable.

  • The Torah that Moses has been preaching was written down. This is the introduction to the song of Moses and contains the commissioning of Joshua, who will take over after Moses dies. Part of the book of Deuteronomy is the death narrative of Moses.

  • This passage is a poetic witness to the people of Israel of the faithfulness of YHWH and the faithlessness of Israel. Moses was told to teach it to the people of Israel so they could pass it on to their descendants. People could sing it throughout the day and it could be presented as a musical drama at national celebrations.

  • At the end of the sermons of Moses, he pronounces a benediction by saying something specific for each tribe. Deuteronomy 33 and Genesis 49 have some similarities and differences in the way the sons of Jacob and their descendants are blessed. The exordium and the coda frame the blessings by describing YHWH’s care and provision for the people of Israel as their king.

  • This is the last narrative story about Moses in the Old Testament. God tells him to go up on Mt. Nebo where he is able to see the land. Joshua takes over as the leader of the people. There is a eulogy for Moses at the end.  

The Gospel according to Moses. This is a collection of sermons of Moses as the people of Israel are poised to enter the promised land after being in the wilderness for 40 years. Deuteronomy is a special book, calling God’s people to celebrate his grace and demonstrate covenant love for him with action that glorifies his name. Until we recognize the gospel in this book, we will not read this book. (Note: Mt. Sinai and Mt. Horeb are referring to the same mountain. They are used interchangeably)

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Celebrating the Goodness of YHWH in the Land - Deut. 26.1-15

Lesson Transcript


[00:00:00] We want to move now to the end, almost the end of the second address. It's the end of the instructional part of the second address. There will be chapter seven after chapter 26. And then the curses, the blessings and the curses in 28. But we're going to chapter 26 now, which presents us with a very interesting ritual scenario in the central sanctuary. This is a text on celebrating your ways, faithfulness and grace, the goodness of Yahweh in the land. And in so doing, it has created what a year hard fun rod called Israel's creed. Thus, Deutscher or Normal should cradle the Deuteronomy Creed Deuteronomy 26 1 to 15. This text divides into two parts. There's a celebration of the Lord's faithfulness and grace verses 1 to 11, and then the worshipers affirmation of fidelity to Yahweh and his covenant. So the first says, Thank you to God. And the second declares, I have reciprocated as the covenant calls on me to do. So let's look at the first part. When you come into the land that Yahweh, your God, is giving you. You notice how often this refrain appears. We're looking forward to tomorrow. We're coming into the land. But always that your way is giving its gift. All is gift. And in this context, it is more obviously gift. And in most what Yahweh is giving as your grant. Again, this is that Hebrew word, natural law usually interpreted inheritance, which doesn't quite work. Yahweh, who gives it, hasn't died, and now he's passing it on to, you know, it's a futile picture as your grant of land and you've taken possession of it and you live in it. And then you shall take some of the first of all, the produce of the ground that you harvest from your land, that Yahweh, your God, is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket.


[00:02:32] That's a long opening sentence. It's like Paul's beginning to the book of Romans. Then you shall go to the place that Yahweh, your God, will choose. We could say, Then you may go. Inviting that you are for your own good will choose to establish his name there, and you shall go to the priest who is an office at that time and say to him, I declare today to Yahweh, Your God. Why not? Yahweh? My God. He's in the presence of the House of God. This is their headquarters. This is the Capitol. And the priest is the one who is the the one who is ultimately in direct contact. Yahweh, your God that I've come into to the land that Yahweh swore to our fathers to give us. Then the priests shall take the basket from your hand, set it down before the altar of Yahweh, your God, and you shall respond and recite before ya where your God. And now you have the text. He prescribes what you say. It's like chapter six, where he said, When your son asks you, then you shall say. And there we had what I call the domestic little creed. Here it's the official one to be recited not at home, but at the sanctuary. A wandering aramin was my father. He went down to Egypt, sojourn there, few in number there. He became a nation great, mighty and populous. But the Egyptians treated us harshly and humiliated us, imposing on us hard labor. Then we cried to Yahweh, the God of our fathers and Yahweh. You heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil and our oppression. And Yahweh brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with great deeds of terror, with signs and wonders.


[00:04:38] And he brought us into this place and gave us this land a land flowing with milk and honey. Now, look, I am bringing the first of the produce of the ground which you. Oh, yeah. Second person. I you kind of relationship, which you all really have given me. It's an amazing text. But then you should set it down before you feel your God worship, before you, after you're gone. So all of Yahoo! Your God, isn't it? And you may celebrate and all the good that Yahoo! Your God has given to you and your house and the Levite and the Sojourner who who is among you. That's verses 1 to 11. What are we going to do with that? This is a great Thanksgiving celebration. Text harvest. Thanksgiving celebration. So if you are asked to give an address in that context, this one works really, really well. But let's set the context in our passage. We have now reached the end virtual end of Moses instructional part of the last address. 27 will then be inserted and then 28, which is actually the conclusion. The blessings and curses will will bring this long address to a close. But we are at the end. At the beginning of chapter 26, there's just one little ritual in 26 verses 816 to 19. That concludes the covenant verbal ritual. But we are verses 1 to 15 in this text. When we read this text, we should notice the links with Chapter 12. Remember, we talked about worshiping the Lord at the central sanctuary 26 1 to 15 has lots of connections. The context of worship is in the land that Yahweh has given to Israel, the location of worship at the place that the way that Yahweh, Israel's God, would choose to establish his name, the host before whom the worship is performed before Yahweh, where your God.


[00:06:56] There are participants in the cultic actions, the entire household and the Levites. Y'all come. It's a family affair. The nature of the cultic service, the presentation of offerings, the atmosphere of the cultic service, celebrating some and before Yahweh rejoice if you want to use the old English, the foundation of the cultic service, the blessing of Yahweh, and then the human prerequisite to acceptable cultic service obedience to all that Yahweh has commanded. If you don't have a life of worship, your exercise of liturgical worship is not acceptable to God. So let's begin with the context. The time when Yahweh has fulfilled his promise to the ancestors, the location when Israel is in the land, the significance, the triangle is complete. This is the context. We haven't done any of this along the way. We've been marching now for them for a year, for 40 years. Looking forward to the day when we can do this. And finally it will all be together. I think actually that's why he inserts chapter 27 right next, because we got to finish that picture by attaching the land through the whole enterprise. So the nature of the celebration, it's actually a very complicated process. Notice it starts and ends with the worshipers actions. There is a chasm again, worshipers actions at the beginning. You take, you put, you go. You shall come. Then at the end, you set it down. You prostrate yourself. You celebrate. I got to change that word. Then you've got the worshipers speech and you shall say, and then the insertion of the creed and then the priest's action, and then the worshipers speak and you shall respond and you shall say. And then the second speech. So it. But notice the priest action. He takes it.


[00:09:13] He sets it down. And then it's left to you to become the spokesperson, the spokesman of the message that's about to be performed. The Levite The priest doesn't preach the sermon. The Worshiper preaches the sermon. This is what life is like in a covenant community. Where everybody is is is just saturated with Torah. And the mindset of the Torah. It's a it's a colorful way of doing stuff. Let's look at the nature of the celebration. The worshipers first set of actions verses 2 to 3. Of course, the addressee here is the head of the household. You shall, when he talks about you, the head of the household comes, but he doesn't come alone. We'll learn later that there are others. But the instructions are when you enter the land, which the Lord, your God gives you as an inheritance and you possess it and you live in it. And you take the name of the first prize. First of all, the produce of the ground. The you here is the worshiper, the head of the household. The occasion, it's the harvest. Thanksgiving. Bringing the first fruits of the ground. It's at the beginning. You haven't harvested everything. But what you do the first what? The first of everything. You take it to the central sanctuary and you say, Praise God. From whom? All blessings flow. And you haven't even harvested yet. You haven't heard. This is just the beginning. You take it to the Lord and you say thank you. It is an offering, a gift. The first harvest. Elsewhere, we'll have first sheaves. But of course, now you remember the ode to the land. And in this category we would see the grain, a land of we can of. Of barley and wheat and vines and fig trees and pomegranates.


[00:11:24] It's. It's a product of land. It is doing what it is supposed to do. And you are bringing this all and presenting it to the Lord at this festival. And you can hardly wait to get to the sanctuary to say thank you to God. We are in the land that is given us. Here is proof that God has kept His promise. It's an exciting moment. The first set of actions, the worshipers first declaration. Well, yeah, This is simply giving you the outline of this first declaration, the precise actions as we saw it here. Select some first fruits from the harvest, put it in a basket, take it to the central, saying Don't bring a truckload. It's a token. It's a sign. It's symbolic. Appear before the priest. Then you have the worshipers first declaration. With this gift, I acknowledge to Yahweh, your God, that I have entered the land. He swore to our ancestors He would give us notice. The first person singular. This is not one of the three required festivals. It is not the community gathered. It is the household. Declaring to God individually and they come on their own. We don't know where everybody else is. It could be that the harvest in one part of the country is is two weeks later than the other. You know, where it's cooler, it doesn't ripen as quickly. And so and it depends on what your crops are. And some places they grow olives, and some places it's grapes or whatever. It depends on what your crops are. So this is a this is not a scheduled or you say scheduled. This is not a scheduled celebration. It's at the moment you harvest the first stuff. Be sure. Forgive the Lord the first as your expression.


[00:13:33] Notice this is a formal declaration. I declare this day before Yahoo! That's part of what he says. And then he embeds the actual kind of quotation. This declaration repudiates at least three other interpretations of why Israel occupies the land. First, we possess the land because of our superior size and significance. Remember when we were in seven, 7 to 16? Moses says it's not because you are so great or so numerous that the Lord is giving you this land. This is a reward. I mean, we are. We are special. No, no, no, no. Second, it's not we. We possess the land because of our superior talent. Chapter eight. See what my hands of God. And we. Hey, we. We. We earned it. We, we, we. We done it. And third, we possess the land because of our superior righteousness. It's none of these I declare this day be for your way, your God. It's something quite different from that which we would write ourselves. But I have entered the land that Yahweh swore to our fathers to give us. This is. This is like those. The fruit that the scouts brought back. This is a symbolic gesture of what the land is like, and it's proof that God has fulfilled his promise to us. It's not about us. I have entered the land that he swore to our fathers. God has kept his promise to the ancestors. Which is really important. And we'll come back and talk about this later. Again, this is not merely fertility religion. Think about it. This is the opposite of fertility, religion, infertility, religion. It's all about the harvest. The well, the the big crops, big herds, big flocks, big families. But this is not about that. He starts the story way back.


[00:16:12] It's about history, who we are as the people of God. And then the priests actions. Verse four. Then the priest will take the basket from your hand and set it before the altar of your way. Your God. Of course, Moses is talking to the Israelites, the alter your God as God's representative. The priests receive it as the Leviticus. Priests represent a representative. He then performs the rest of his of the actions. But what does the worshiper then say? The worshipers. Second declaration. The first one is short. I declare this day to the Lord. My God, Yahweh, My God, I. I've entered the land. Which the Lord. I didn't get this from Egypt. I didn't get this from Moab or eat it. We needed food when we were down there and we had to buy it. No, I didn't get it from there. I. I got it from the land he gave me. And after the priest receives it, then you shall answer and say. Before God, This is to the face of God. It's a one on one conversation. And look at what he says. This is gospel. A wandering aramin was my father. Now, right off the bat, we have a problem. What does that mean? A wandering around me. And who is this? Aramid? The word wandering. Well, error me in that the word is clear around me. A person from Iran up there. But as she talking about Abraham. Or are you talking about? Jacob Isaac's wife is from Rome. Rebecca Remember when they go to get his wife from Iran? Isaac's wife, Isaac, wasn't from there, but Abraham came from up there at Haran, And Jacob went for a while up there. And when he came back, the first thing he did is first stopping point was Shechem, just like Abraham's had been.


[00:18:32] So I think it's actually he is merging the two ancestors into a single figure. But but wandering this, it's around me all vague. Actually, it looks like this word comes from the root to perish of bad means to perish with an within with an olive at the beginning to perish. So some translations of perishing. Aramin He was. It doesn't really make much sense in the context wandering. There is another similar kind of word that can mean this. I think it actually in context actually means an insecure my grade three C So long until you have land, you're at the mercy of your hosts. You're never anything more than a giver, an alien resident alien. And Abraham didn't have a place to bury his wife. And so the long process and in Genesis 23 of getting this cave. And as for Isaac, his father was not he never settle down anywhere. And Jacob himself, I mean, he spent 20 years up there. And then finally he came down after he got shafted by his father in law. That's not a pleasant story up there. This is a precarious existence they had. And of course, it didn't end when they came to the Promised Land. They come to the promised land and the law says this is all yours, except they never get it. In fact, they went down to Egypt and sojourn there. That's the verb daydream. They were and they were just a handful. 70. And they're all but they're something happened. In in Exodus chapter one versus seven and eight, where you have the actual narrative of this, there are seven expressions for what I call the birth weight. The last time the name Israel means the family of Israel. Is in the first verse of Exodus one eight.


[00:20:58] Something happens by the time we get to the second paragraph in that chapter. We are now a nation. A great and mighty and populous nation. So great, in fact, that we are threatening Pharaoh. They're going to take over these people. Something is happening here that's extraordinary. There we became a great mighty nation agoi. Which is interesting. I said before, a guy is typically a a significant politically identifiable entity with a king at the head. We don't have a king yet, but he uses the word it. When is Israel called agoI? It's fascinating. Very rarely. Often when they're behaving like the goyim then. But here, in a strange context. But they are great. They were mighty. They were populous, of course. In what sense were they mighty well, mighty enough to threaten Pharaoh's security. And he says, We've got to take action against them. So what did the Egyptians do? They attacked the fertility issue. Our population is just exploding. And that's what God had predicted in Genesis 15. The Egyptians treated us harshly and humiliated us, imposing labor on us. When they saw that, they were bursting out all over. They tried, first of all. To work the men harder. So that when they got home from the fields and the brick work, they'd have no energy left for the women and you'd have no conception. And no, it's to cut off the birth rate. But of course it didn't. That didn't help because the text tells us the harder they made them work, the more kids they had. This is not now. Something is happening here. And so he said, well, if if attacking the men won't work, will attack the women. And so the decree is out to go and kill the first kill the.


[00:23:16] Any boys that are born, we're going to kill them. And so that's what they were doing. It was a harsh time imposing on us. But he remembers not the schemes against the birthrate. He remembers the schemes against the labor. We were slaves in Egypt. And we cry to your way. The God of our fathers. Well, I'd like to see that in. In the narratives. If you look at I.B., this is this. This is an optimistic picture. But if you look at Exodus to the end of the chapter, that's fascinating. Now, in the course of many days, the Sons of Israel sighed Because of the bondage they cried out and their cry for help. Because of their bondage roles up to God. When God heard their gut groaning and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jake. God saw the Sons of Israel. And God knew. That's the end of the sentence. And God knew. Now, my translation is that God took notice of them. That's not in the Hebrew. Some of your translations of God knew what? What did he know? Any variations of the theme concerned. All that he was concerned about. Well, I mean, really. That's all. And God remembered. Remembered what? Yeah. All right. Yeah. At the end of the verse. It ends with and God knew. I have a completely different interpretation. Knew what? The time has come. The time has come. We've got the coincidence of the thing he predicted to Abraham in Genesis 15, where he said, Your descendants will be slaves in a foreign land and when the cup of the Emirates is full. I will bring them out and they'll come out. A rich people. Now we have the coincidence of the two things that had to happen.


[00:25:53] The time has come. God knew this is the moment we're going forward. But the other thing to notice here in our text, we cried too Yong way. The narrator doesn't say that. He says, simply weak. They cried out and God heard. There isn't a hint. They were crying out to Yahweh. In fact, I am so pessimistic about their spiritual condition at this point. That's why they fall so easily into the golden calf. That's why when Abraham says they're going to say, Who sent you? What's your God, what's his name, What do you what can you tell us? They know nothing. That's why none of the names except your Kev. Ed Moses mother. Cameraman Joe covered his her number. Her name has yo at the front. That looks like Jacqui. There are no personal names other than that one that have your way as a feature of the name. And in the Bible, you can tell people's faith by what they call the kids. If anything, they're using only Elohim. Here is your God who brought you ought to be here is not. Here is your. They don't know and they don't have a clue. So when God rescues them from Israel, he rescues a people who have zero qualification for redemption. There's nothing within them that warrants his gracious attention other than the plan of redemption. God knew. God knew they were pious and ready to go. No, he didn't. That's not what he saw. But here he is. Of course, he's prescribing this as a ritual. We cried out to God. And so he gives it a positive spin. The God of our fathers. And yeah. Where they don't even know his name. No, Moses didn't know his name. What's your name? Yeah, we heard our voice, our affliction, our toil.


[00:28:05] And this is what separates Yahweh from all the other gods. He hears. He sees. He acts. It's an amazing text. But it doesn't end here. And Yahweh, we brought us out of Egypt. The word is exodus. We exited. We exited from Egypt. He brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and great deeds of terror with signs and wonders. We've heard all this before half a dozen times in the book, and he has brought us into this place and gave us this land a land for you with milk and honey. Now, look, I am bringing the first of the produce of the ground with you. Oh, yea, we have given me. This is a formal declaration. You shall answer and say in the presence of Yahoo! Your God. This is a narrative declaration. It tells a story. It's like the answer to the the child's question in chapter six. What's the point of these laws? And you don't go and compare them with Hammurabi or anybody else or structure or style. What the point is. The story, the Gospel. This is the gospel celebrating the gospel. And of course, we've heard this story before in numbers chapter 28. You have a recitation of this. Our fathers went down to Egypt. We lived in Egypt a long time. The Egyptians treated us and our fathers harshly. We cried to the Lord. He heard our voice. He sent an angel. He brought us out. We've heard that before in numbers. But now it's built into the ritual. Well, the questions we already addressed is who is the ancestor? I think it's it's a conflation of of Abraham and Isaac. What is the problem? They are wandering, they are vulnerable. They're. It's a pretty precarious existence.


[00:30:16] Uh, what else can we say? Here's a map reminding us where we came. Except I'm not convinced of this map. We got a problem. There are two others in the Bible. This one is always identified as Chaldean or. We almost automatically associate it with, or which is very prominent in ancient Near Eastern texts. It was a sacred city. And so we always think Abraham came from here. A very prominent city in Down in Sumer, a Sumerian city at that time. And so we have Abraham going all the way up here. But then why does it say you're the Celtics? Tell the Cal there is a region way up here on this map or of Chaldeans. I mean, it's a guess where that is. I actually think it was probably in this area rather than there, but it ain't down there. So that when Abraham traveled from Earth Chaldean or to her Iran. Which is right here. It's right next door. It's in the same general region. And he buries his father and whatever else and he stays with his father. It's not like they made this long journey and they got stuck up there. No. Until his father dies. He has family responsibilities. But as soon as his father has been buried in taking care of honor. Your father and your mother. Then he's free to go and he sets off down here. But it's a journey. He comes down here and then he goes to Egypt and then he comes back. And if you and if we're thinking in terms of Jacob's travels, this is a slightly different map. You have Jacob going up there to Haran. He comes back from her region. He goes, he ends his life in Egypt. And you wonder what is going to happen to these guys.


[00:32:29] All the promises are gone. I mean, we have no home. This world is not my home. I am just passing through. But but the Lord has promised us. You know, at first Abraham is frustrated with the first anger promise. You shall have many kids. Why? You can't even give me one. Chapter 50. Well, here never had the land. And then he comes back and is buried, given a royal Egyptian funeral, which is really interesting. So what are the essential elements of Israel's story? The vulnerable, marginalized ancestor? The Israelites sojourn in growth in Egypt. The Israelites, oppression and slavery. The Israelites cry for attention. All right. We hurt the Israelites. Rescue, by our way. Their presence, security and well-being. God has kept his promise. Every one of them. Every one of them. He said this would happen, and it's exactly according to script. And I am here now bringing this food not as a matter of a fertility cult. You get more food. No. It gives me an occasion to tell the story of where we came from. This is not cyclical. Religion, fertility. Religion is all about the Four Seasons, and every year you go through the same motions. No. The harvest is an occasion to praise God for our salvation. Thank you, Lord, for saving my soul. It's not. Thank you. Only for giving me this food. It's a magnificent story. What's missing in this statement? This is the gospel according to Moses. But remarkably, there's no reference here to the Torah. And on those grounds critical scholars will argued fun ride and others that the Sinai episodes are late insertions into the story. The original Creed knew nothing about Sinai. Later authors invented that and inserted it. This is the problem. But absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.


[00:34:49] This is shorthand. He's telling a personal story. By the time they came out of Egypt, there's no longer a wandering army. And he's talking about the origin of the journey and the goal of the journey, because when they left Egypt, they were headed for home. From Egypt to home. And of course, he's been Moses has been preaching all the way through, and the Torah is implied everywhere. In fact, we will see how this author affirms his fidelity to the Torah as he is worshiping. Well, the triangle is fully functional. Those. That's the worshipers. Second declaration. This is Israel's creed. Whenever they come with the first fruits, you don't have to make up a new sermon. Its Tell me the old, old story. You know, we think we have to be creative. We get bored with repetition. But that's why we forget. That's why the anchor truths are lost. And it becomes more about showing people how creatively we can make work creative, we can make worship rather than how substantively true. The Worshipers Final lesson Sets of actions 10 to 11. Look, I brought the produce of the ground, which you all Lord have given me. And you shall set it down before the Lord and worship before. This is prostrate. This is physical homage, incidentally, something we never do in church. We never worship. At least not in our church. If by worship we mean what the Hebrew and the Greek words represent. We do not have to bow down and. Adoration and submission and homage. And you and the Levite who is with you, You may celebrate the good that the Lord your God has granted you. We are there. We've arrived. This land is your land. This land is my land. And it's a gift from God.


[00:37:01] Well, lots of lessons on worship here. True worship focuses on the way true worship presupposes daily practical righteousness. True were truly worshipful. People are thankful people. The nature of true worship is not determined by the culture in which we live or our own imagination, but by the object of worship and the storage of drama he creates. That's it. Well, then we come to the last few verses. There's an addendum to it. When you finished paying that tithe, the title of your produce in the third year or at the third in the third year. Which is the year of tithing. This is no longer first fruits. It's a tithing celebration when you finish paying all the time of your produce in the third year, which is the year of tithing, giving it to the Levite, the Sojourner, the fatherless, the widow. So they may reach within your towns and then you shall say before Yahoo! Your God, I have removed the sacred portion out of my house. I have given it to the Levite, the Sojourner, the fatherless, the widow, according to all your command that you have commanded me. I have not transgressed any of your commands, nor have I forgotten them. Now, of course, to forget now doesn't mean amnesia. Again, I have not excluded intentionally excluded any of them. I have taken them all into account in my life. I haven't eaten any of the tide while I was in mourning. I haven't removed any of it while I was in unclean. I'm defiled. I haven't offered any of it to the dead. This is the big seduction. CAIN Tonight, religion is ancestor worship and you can get sucked into this is a private thing. This is not one of those annual festivals which are not about ancestor worship.


[00:38:55] This one is a response to ancestor worship. It is to remind us that we are not dependent on the spirits of our ancestors for our well-being. Yahweh alone, I have obeyed the voice of my God. Or we should say, listen to I have done according to all that you've commanded me. And then he ends with a beautiful prayer. He recognizes. Yes, this is the sanctuary. The house of God. But look down from your holy habitation from heaven. Bless your people, Israel, and the ground that you have given us as you swore to our fathers, a land flowing with money, with milk and honey. The combination is money, milk and honey. Well, this is another ritual about offering the products of the land. Structurally, there's a temporal process when followed by the apoptosis. What? Stylistically? It's dominated by a prescribed direct speech. Then you shall say this is what you shall say. Functionally, it challenges the worshiper to demonstrate concern for Levites and aliens the ties you give to them and yours. And and I think we should imagine that not necessarily everybody is this third year ties for the leverage that you put into the local warehouse. Not everybody's having the same third year. Because there's no beginning or a starting point. Presumably it is based on the year when you start farming. When you establish your household every third year, that means that over time that those houses, that warehouses are stocked all the time. If you're doing what you're supposed, it's not like in one year you put enough in there for three years that it would perish. But let's be a little bit more realistic theologically. It celebrates Israel occupation of the land Yahoo! Gave them in fulfillment of the old flowing with milk and honey.


[00:41:08] Geographically, it's performed before ja away in the presence of Ja of of the Lord. But the shift is in focus. It's interesting, whereas the speech is in one and versus three and 5 to 10 celebrated the Lord's Fidelity to Israel. In this case, it's that the worshipers testimony to Fidelity to Yahweh, the Covenant is working both ways. And he's not bragging. If he were bragging, you wouldn't have the sudden shift in the last one. The prayer is not about himself. Together, these rituals represent two sides of the coin of covenant relationship, expressing verbally the appropriate response of the vassal to the blessings given by the SUSA and Thanksgiving for the privilege and scrupulous fulfillment of his obligations. His Code of Honor IV removed the sacred portion from my house, set it apart for God. I've given away to the Levite. I've not transgressed, I've not forgotten them, have not eaten while in mourning. I've not removed any of it while I'm clean. How many of you got? One, two, three, four, five, six, seven. Eight. There's an extra. A comprehensive one. I've listened to God. And I think again, let's not just have obeyed here. You cut and paste. This is what happens. I've listened to the voice of God. I've heard his reminders of the Gospel. And I've heard his charges of what my obligations I have done according to all you've commanded. But in the prayer. What's really amazing to me is not only he recognizes that God is in heaven. But his prayers for the community. Did you see this? Looked down from heaven. And he doesn't he? He is by himself. But he doesn't say. And bless me and bless the ground that you have given me as you swore to your fathers.


[00:43:24] No, He bless your people is royal. He's looking beyond himself to the community. It's not about him. His identity is found in the group. And in their well-being. That's his joy. It's a magnificent lesson. Devotion to God is demonstrated not by lip service, but by concrete acts of obedience. Here's a lesson on worship. God's people are distinguished by the care they take of the marginalized. Although for believers, all life is sacred in particular sense, the boundaries between sacred and the profane must be scrupulously. I've set a park that which is dedicated to God. The liturgy recognizes a proper balance between the individual and the community, and it recognizes the symbiotic relationship between faith and obedience. Faith without works is dead. Works without faith is legalism, and it doesn't get you anywhere. You cannot earn the favor of God. I love this passage. I love this passage. It's a magnificent text for a Thanksgiving harvest festival. And those of you who are involved in churches. We did this once in Singapore. I know. It was, uh. Was it Singapore? Hong Kong? It was Singapore. We we did this at a harvest festival. And the whole harvest scenario, we try to. Make this come alive for us and give opportunities for people to express their faith and their generosity and their charity. That's a very moving service. Why can't we do that? Let's let's translate this into Christian terms. I've done this a couple of times with the creedal statements. I think we can do that here, too. Make this an occasion, a liturgy to add interest and spice. And I think a smile to God's face as he sees us celebrate. What a gift. The land, everything we are and have. It's a gift. What's the name of the guy who wrote the gift? I read it.


[00:45:53] I spent. I, uh, when I was doing Galatians, I read it, and all the way through he talks about the gift as a unique contribution of Pauline theology. It will come to me. You can you can Google it. And as I was reading this, I was hearing Deuteronomy. He he's writing about the New Testament. I was I was hearing Deuteronomy everywhere. But then you go to his index at the back of the book, and there's a long index of pages of Second Temple Judaism texts. One page of First Testament texts. He knows Judaism well. But he doesn't catch the echoes. Of Moses. His ears are deaf to the voice of Moses. I was so sad all the way through the year. This is this is the Torah. John. John Barclay. That's it. It's a great book. It'll warm your heart and nourish your soul. But. But. But it disappointed me because. It reminded me that Paul is so mosaic and he doesn't get it. We've dug these ditches between the Testaments so wide and so deep, we don't see it when there are bridges. We don't allow bridges. Our point is so often people ask me, Well, then what's new in the New Testament? And I say, Less than you think. Why does it have to be all new? It's all one story. That is the climax of this. And this provides the vocabulary, the theological vocabulary to interpret that. But we've lost it. That's tragic. But with that, I'm done. You're done. We're all done. Thanks to the Lord for sustaining us. For sustaining us. It's been a magnificent day with you again. I hope there is a measure of that in your heart as well.