Sunday, September 23, 2012

LXI - Beware of the Pitfalls of Prosperity

Deuteronomy 7 - 11

Brief reminder:  This book of Deuteronomy is a series of sermons given by Moses, emphasizing the important things he feels he needs to remind Israel about before they enter the Promised Land. 

Moses realizes he is not going to enter the Promised Land with them, but still feels at least partially responsible for their future actions. 

As you read the seventh chapter, pay particular attention to the first seven verses.  God names seven nations that Israel is commissioned to defeat in taking their Promised Land.  But understand God's words.  He says to utterly destroy these people.  Make no treaties with them.  Do not intermarry with them.  Show them no mercy.  They will corrupt you and your children.  {We'll see in our study that the Israelites did not obey this command from God and they will pay dearly for it.}
In the early verses of chapter 8, Moses gets stern in his warnings to these people.  He knows that human nature will lead these people to forget some basics.  He knows they will taste of prosperity.  {Prosperity, more than adversity, will test one's faith and will lead to dangerous compromises.  That is a great cautionary statement for all generations.}  In verse 1, Moses tells them that keeping their
oath to God and His commandments is a requirement in order to possess and keep the land.  In verse 2 Moses has them recall their forty years in the wilderness, and remind them that the hardships were tests of their faith and obedience.  Read again carefully vss 3-5.  It describes how God disciplines us, tempers us, prepares us for life, but all the while protecting us and providing our every need.

Skipping to vss 11-20  -  In vss 11-13 Moses continues to warn Israel of the dangers of properity.  With abundant food, housing rather than tents, growing flocks and herds, one tends to concentrate on his/her wealth and less on the Source of all that prosperity:  God.  {The Israelites in that society, and we in this society today are always inclined to give ourselves too much credit for what we have.  We are inclined to boast, and flaunt our possessions as trophies to our success.  I want my children and grandchildren to prosper because I want them to have everything good that this world has to offer.  But NOT to the point that they forget the Source.  I would rather them suffer financial adversity, and
that is very difficult for me to say.  I don't want to get too far off course, but I beseech you as my children and grandchildren to live within or below your means.  It will protect your attitudes about God and prosperity.  One last thought:  It is easy to live like a poor man when you don't have to.  It is when you have to that it gets difficult and unpleasant, and almost unbearable if you are unprepared.}

Moses gets more and more stern in his warnings in vss 17-20, keeping the subject of prosperity.  He ends this chapter with a destructive warning about how punishment awaits those who choose to be disobedient to God and His Commandments.

Interesting in chapter 9 how Moses tells Israel that it is not because of the righteousness of Israel that they are to utterly destroy the current occupants of the land, but rather because of the wickedness of the other people.  {That is a good thing to remember as we will follow Joshua through his conquests.   God knows the damage that a little bit of wickedness can cause to a great number of people.  God could have easily destroyed these wicked people before the Israelites even crossed the Jordan, but He chose to have Israel do it instead.}

In the remainder of chapters 9-11, Moses challenged Israel to learn from their past mistakes, especially the golden calf at the bottom of Mt. Siana, and further rebellion at Kadesh-barnea.  Remember this is a sermon, and although it seems that Moses sounds a bit redundant through this book of Deuteronomy, these "basics" are soooo important.  And Moses knows that these people are weak and inclined to forget, disobey, and rebel.

The next post will cover up to fifteen chapters as we continue this review what we've studied since Exodus.

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