Deuteronomy, Part 2
Two summary statements give us personal application to the Book of Deuteronomy. First, God chooses his people. Second, God’s people must choose him. (The Message of The Old Testament: Mark Dever, Crossway Books, 2006). Today we will examine the truth and implication of the first statement.
The one true God (4:35-39), who is sovereign over all (7:18-19) chose Israel, not because they deserved his salvation, not because they were any better than any other people, but simply and only because of his grace.
For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. (Deu 7:6-8 NIV)
After the LORD your God has driven them out before you, do not say to yourself, “The LORD has brought me here to take possession of this land because of my righteousness.” No, it is on account of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is going to drive them out before you. It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land; but on account of the wickedness of these nations, the LORD your God will drive them out before you, to accomplish what he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Understand, then, that it is not because of your righteousness that the LORD your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stiff-necked people. (Deu 9:4-6 NIV)
When God chose Israel, he gave Israel an identity. No longer were they a horde of disorganized and helpless slaves. Now they were a kingdom of priests. What other nation could say that they have the LORD at their side, to pray to, and to guide them? (Deut 4:5-8) As his chosen people, Israel had the promise that he would never leave them nor forsake them (31:6,8) and the assurance that he would be their refuge and strength (33:27). Let’s camp on this idea of identity for a while and make application for us today.
It has been rightfully said that a person does not need to attend church in order to be a Christian. True. But unless a person becomes part of a local fellowship of believers, he is a disobedient Christian. I think one of the reasons church membership is such a challenge for some is that membership obligates a person to other people. No longer can they simply live for themselves. They now have to consider others. But this is not a burden. It is a tremendous gift, because now, in the community of believers, our joys are multiplied and our burdens are shared. God wanted Israel to experience the joys and blessings of community, so he chose them and created the People of God. What about you? Are you a committed member of a local fellowship of believers? Consider the following quote from R. Kent Hughes, a long-time pastor and Bible teacher:
Church attendance is infected with a malaise of conditional loyalty, which has produced an army of ecclesiastical hitchhikers. The hitchhiker’s thumb says, “You buy the car, pay for the repairs and upkeep insurance, fill the car with gas—and I’ll ride with you,. But if you have an accident, you are on your own!” So it is with the credo of some church attenders. “You go to the meetings and support the programs, you grapple with the issues and do the work for the church and pay the bills—I’ll come along for the ride. But if things don’t suit me, I’ll criticize and complain and probably bail out. My thumb is always out for a better ride.”
If you are not a member of a local fellowship of believers, why not take steps to make that commitment.
- Read Ephesians 1:3-14. Note all the times Paul reminds us that we are God’s chosen people. Now note all the blessings we enjoy because we are his chosen people.
- Read Philippians 4:6-7. If God has chosen us, what cause do we have for anxiety and worry?