Friday, April 26, 2013

Following other gods.....

Deuteronomy 7:6-16  For you are a people holy to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on earth to be his people, his treasured possession.  It was not because you were more numerous than any other people that the LORD set his heart on you and chose you--for you were the fewest of all peoples.  It was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath that he swore to your ancestors, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who maintains covenant loyalty with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,  and who repays in their own person those who reject him. He does not delay but repays in their own person those who reject him.  Therefore, observe diligently the commandment--the statutes and the ordinances--that I am commanding you today.  If you heed these ordinances, by diligently observing them, the LORD your God will maintain with you the covenant loyalty that he swore to your ancestors;  he will love you, bless you, and multiply you; he will bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your wine and your oil, the increase of your cattle and the issue of your flock, in the land that he swore to your ancestors to give you.  You shall be the most blessed of peoples, with neither sterility nor barrenness among you or your livestock.  The LORD will turn away from you every illness; all the dread diseases of Egypt that you experienced, he will not inflict on you, but he will lay them on all who hate you.  You shall devour all the peoples that the LORD your God is giving over to you, showing them no pity; you shall not serve their gods, for that would be a snare to you.

This passage represents all that is difficult about the Old Testament writings: it seems to suggest that God ‘plays favourites’ with humanity. Some are ‘a people holy to the Lord’ and others are designated to be 'devoured' by them. Here is a limited theological understanding that turns God into a monster who urges his followers to 'show no pity'. Jesus comes as the necessary corrective to teach about a God who wants his 'holy people' to love their enemies, and to do good to those who persecute them.[1]  

That said, let us not overlook the important commandment in the passage: you shall not serve their gods, for that would be a snare to you” (Deut 7:16). In other words – beware of those things that would distract us from a single minded obedience of God. Anything that takes us away from God’s call on our lives is a 'god' that ensnares us. This can even be good things like our work, sport, house maintenance, or a favourite hobby. Once this becomes more important than a faithful following of God, then it is to be abandoned.


Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace
Helen H. Lemmel, 1922


Fifth  Sunday of Easter
Love is the Sign
Scripture reading taken from A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants p.167




[1] Matthew 5:44, Luke 6:27, Luke 6:35.

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