God's Chosen People, Lesson 9, by Bro. John Marshall
We will now go to God’s Word. I will spend much time in Deuteronomy 28 because it is of great importance to the unfolding of Jewish history. Bear in mind that this is Moses that is giving the Lord’s instructions to the children of Israel. For ease of reading and understanding, I will use the New Living Translation of the Bible.
“If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully keep all His commands that I am giving you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the world. You will experience all these blessings if you obey the Lord your God:” Deuteronomy 28:1-2 NLT)
At one point, under the kings David and Solomon, Israel was preeminent. God is slow to anger, not willing that any should perish, but He is swift to show mercy to those that love Him. He would much rather that we would obey Him and live than sin and die. He does not take pleasure in the death of anyone. In the matter of obedience and disobedience, it is always best to obey willingly, out of a love for God and a desire to please Him, rather than to obey because it is an obligation, or because of fear of His great wrath.
The Mosaic covenant was made with a people who had already been redeemed by God’s gracious deliverance from Egypt. The covenant was given to Israel that they might enjoy fellowship with God, and be prepared to receive His blessings, one of which would be the exalting of Israel above all nations. Specific blessings are listed in the following verses.
“Your towns and fields will be blessed. Your children and your crops will be blessed. The offspring of your herds and flocks will be blessed. Your fruit baskets and breadboards will be blessed. Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will be blessed.” (Deuteronomy 28:3-6 NLT)
Not only in Jerusalem, where the temple would be built, and there be blessed with the service, worship, and ordinances of God, but in all other cities of the land, where they shall dwell in security, within walls and fences, and be very populous. They would enjoy good health and have plenty of all sorts of provisions brought upon them, as well as prosper in all kinds of merchandise, manufactures, trades and livelihoods. Their beasts of burden, camels and donkeys, their herds of cows and oxen, their flocks of sheep and goats would multiply. A man’s wealth was indicated, to a large extent, by the size of his herds and flocks, and by the success of his endeavors. Their families would be greatly multiplied, so that, following the Abrahamic covenant, “your seed shall be as the stars in the sky.” Their gardens, orchards, and fields; grass for the cattle, and the wheat, barley, vines, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates would flourish. Their every daily need would be met there would always be sufficient bread, oil, wine, and grain on their plates, in their pantries, cellars, storehouses, and barns. They would be blessed in all their business ventures, and employments of life whether indoors or out-of-doors; in the administration of every office, whether public or private; and in all their journeys, going out or coming home; and particularly when they went out to war, and returned: all should be attended with success. Human happiness comes from obeying God’s commands. God, in His foreknowledge, could see ahead to Israel’s eventual rebellion, yet still, He set before them the option: obey and be blessed or disobey and be cursed. He was, in effect telling them what He already knew that the future held for them.
“The Lord will conquer your enemies when they attack you. They will attack you from one direction, but they will scatter from you in seven! The Lord will guarantee a blessing on everything you do and will fill your storehouses with grain. The Lord your God will bless you in the land He is giving you. If you obey the commands of the Lord your God and walk in His ways, the Lord will establish you as His holy people as he swore He would do. Then all the nations of the world will see that you are a people claimed by the Lord, and they will stand in awe of you. The Lord will give you prosperity in the land He swore to your ancestors to give you, blessing you with many children, numerous livestock, and abundant crops. The Lord will send rain at the proper time from His rich treasury in the heavens and will bless all the work that you do. You will lend to many nations, but you will never need to borrow from them. If you listen to these commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today, and if you carefully obey them, the Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you will always be on top and never at the bottom. You must not turn away from any of the commands I am giving you today, nor follow after gods and worship them.” (Deuteronomy 28:7-14 NLT)
In this section are singled out three separate areas of blessing. The first is as to the nation of Israel; the second refers to agriculture endeavors; the third has to do with Israel’s reputation.
Number one: Israel would have supernatural military success and financial prosperity that would cause them to be above all other nations. They would be lending, but never borrowing, and always be a leader and never a follower. Number two: Israel would experience abundant prosperity in her farming and family life. The Canaanites believed that the rain was sent by their fertility god, Baal, but the Hebrews were to know that the early rains, for planting and sowing, and the latter rains, for the final maturity of the crops, were sent out of the Lord’s bounty. Number three: By being God’s obedient and holy people, the Israelites would enjoy such an intimacy with God that they would become a testimony to all the peoples on earth who would fear and stand in awe of Israel. Israel would experience blessings in all three areas if she did not turn aside from any of the Lord’s commands or follow other gods.
Please permit me to digress again for one short observation: The Jews are a living miracle! Despite being scattered all over the face of the earth, and suffering unimaginable abominable atrocities and massacres, they have not only survived, but they are also flourishing! The Jews have contributed so much to make this world a better, safer, more enjoyable place in which to live, notably, in the fields of medicine, science, technology, agriculture, music, and entertainment. More importantly, through the Jews, God has given us His written Word, the Bible. But most important of all, through the Jews He has given us the hope of salvation, in the person of His Son, our Lord, and Savior, Jesus Christ!
The Jewish People made new homes in the foreign countries to which they were dispersed only to be later kicked out, blamed for the world’s problems, and nearly exterminated multiple times. Their temples and synagogues were burned, they were tortured and massacred, and their books and Holy Scriptures were destroyed. No matter what Israel does, whether good or bad, it is viewed by most of the world as a provocation that justifies the world’s hatred toward God’s covenant nation. The Jews’ tragic story culminated in one of the worst episodes in human history: The Holocaust, when six million men, women, and children were murdered by shooting, beatings, poisonous gas, torture, and starvation.
But amid persecution, remarkably, the Jews survived! Even while being dispersed all over the world, they maintained their cultural and religious distinctions. God has kept a watchful eye over this tiny nation: “Behold, He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.” (Psalm 121:4) the Jews not only survived but they thrived after the Holocaust and continue to bring blessing to the world in many areas. John Adams, the second president of the United States said, “The Hebrews, the Jews, have contributed more to civilized man than any other nation. They have given religion to three-quarters of the globe and have influenced the affairs of mankind more and more happily than any other nation, ancient or modern.”
Having strayed farther afield than I intended, I will again open the New Living Translation to examine the curses that should attend the disobedience of Israel. One might say that Deuteronomy 28:15-68 serves a dual purpose. Not only does it inform the people of Israel what curses would overtake them should they choose to disobey God and rebel against Him, but it is also a vivid picture of what, in fact, did befall these people. Israel did enjoy a period of peace, prosperity, and expansion. Under the kings David and Solomon, they were enormously blessed! After Solomon’s death, however, the nation was split. Ten of the twelve tribes severed themselves and became the northern kingdom, Israel, while the other two tribes became the southern kingdom, Judah.
Sanctification by Pastor Todd Nance
I started out as a small child in a Southern Baptist church and now I am pastor of an independent Baptist church. There was a time in my life, however, where I went "church-hopping" for a while and found myself frequenting a Wesleyan church. It was at this church that for the first time in my life I heard the term "sanctification". Having never once heard a Baptist pastor use this term, I was confused. I remember thinking that this was "false doctrine", but in recent years, I have learned that sanctification is indeed a Biblical doctrine. I want to explain very briefly what the Bible teaches about sanctification.
Sanctification must be seen as a three-fold process in the life of the believer and not an event by which the Christian enters a state of "sinless perfection". To teach that sin is something a child of God "outgrows" is false doctrine. Therefore, it must be understood that the process of sanctification involves 3 steps:
First, there is Positional sanctification (Heb. 10:10, 14; I Cor. 6:11). This happens the moment a sinner trusts Christ as Savior. Having trusted the gospel message, the new convert is then plucked from the body of unbelievers and placed by God into the body of believers (the church). This is a one-time act of God in response to our faith in Christ.
Next, there is the aspect of Practical sanctification (Jn. 15:3; Gal. 5:16). If positional sanctification is to be seen as an act of God, where the change is in our standing before Him, then practical sanctification must be viewed as our daily responsibility to grow in Christ through the Word of God, through prayer, through obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit in all that we think, say, and do. The verses listed above explain to us that God has given us all that we need to live clean and holy lives unto Him.
The final aspect is permanent sanctification (Eph. 5:25-27; I Jn. 3:1-3). These verses teach us that, even though we will never on earth attain a position of sinless perfection, there is coming a time when we will indeed move beyond the temptation to sin, and even the capacity to commit sin. What must be understood about this aspect, is that this final process takes place in eternity. Initially at death when the believer goes on to be with God in heaven, but ultimately at the rapture of the church when even our bodies will be redeemed for eternity.
Until that time comes, I hope you will keep pressing on and keep listening for the shout! God bless.