Snapshots: Day 108

Snapshots: Day 108

The Snapshot: “The king… is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law” (Deut 17:16,18) Deuteronomy is filled with remarkable gems. This chapter virtually prophesies what will happen in the days of Samuel (see Deut 17:14,15 and 1 Sam 8:4,5); the Lord knew what would happen, but look at the guidelines given for such a king: He is to write out the Law (v.18), read it all the days of his life (v.19a) and follow carefully all the words of this law (v.19b). This king is to establish his reign on the Law of God, ensuring that the design of God for His people is followed throughout the nation. If every king had done that, there was promise of God’s blessing. “One nation under God” so the US pledge of allegiance goes. If only it was, if only we were.

Further Consideration:  Psalm 2 comes as a complete contrast: “The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, “Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.” (Psa 2:2,3) What folly, what misunderstanding! Instead of realizing that God’s Law given to Moses was His blueprint, His design for how He has designed us so we can work best, live in peace and harmony, people full of pride see this design as restrictive.

The trouble is that ‘rulers’ are so often prone to pride, feeling that they are all-important, not realizing that it just needs some form of sickness or illness to bring them down. Nebuchadnezzar (see Dan 4) had to have a bout of insanity before he came to his senses and then he worshiped the Lord.

In our starter verse above, Moses was prophesying what would happen in the days to come and gave express instructions how the king, whoever he was, was to keep on the right path before the Lord – but not only reading the Law but by writing out a copy for himself. He wasn’t just to rely on the copy that the priests had, he had to have his own copy and to make it more memorable, he wasn’t to delegate the job to a scribe, he was to write it out himself.  Now to my understanding Saul never did that and as a result he got in a mess!

In a day when fewer and fewer Christians, we are told, are reading the Bible, there is a challenge to the present generations to get the word of God under their belts, not just the Law found in the Pentateuch, but the whole of the New Testament especially. We don’t need to write it out like was being suggested here because today we have so many copies, so many versions available to us that we can find for free on the Internet. http://www.biblegateway.com have done us a great service putting the scriptures online and so accessible. No one has an excuse today that, “I couldn’t afford a Bible.” It is there free and easily accessible. Don’t make excuses Christian, read the book.

Snapshots: Day 98

Snapshots: Day 98

The Snapshot: “the words Moses spoke to all Israel in the desert.” (Deut 1:1) On the plains of Moab (1:5 & 34:1,8) Moses paused up. He’s near the end of his journey. The people will shortly enter the Land but he won’t. It is a significant time. Deuteronomy is the long record of his instructions to Israel there on the plains (except for ch.34 added by another recorder). At the end of it, he declared to them, “They are not just idle words for you – they are your life.” A book full of exhortations to obey the Lord, reject idol worship, and live for God. They could never say they weren’t told.  A blueprint for a nation blessed by God, but the trouble is blueprints get lost and forgotten. Israel forgot that. We have our New Testament; may we never forget this blueprint for blessing.

Further Consideration:  In some ways Deuteronomy is quite repetitious with similar sounding calls to obedience coming and calls to keep from idol worship, and so on, but we need repetition if we are to remember things. I teach a group about strengthening memory and of course the use of repetition is one such way, so don’t be put off by reading the same things more than once – we need that!

I wonder how Moses felt on the plains of Moab as he taught Israel over a number of days. His memory clearly went back to the times of their failures because we see him reminding Israel of them in the early chapters.  We need reminding of such times, if for no other reason than to remind us what not to do again. It also reminds us how gracious God is for putting up with us. Yet in the midst of that there is the warning of being held accountable. Many lessons.

So perhaps Moses is very much aware of how vulnerable Israel are to getting it wrong and so he keeps on saying the same thing to try to get them to get the message to obey God in the new land. But at that point he has the recognition that he will not be going in with them. He has a date with God in heaven, so they will be going in without him. Mixed emotions surely. Regret at having blown it at the rock? Regret at not going in, perhaps? Or maybe relief that he’s come to the end of his road with Israel. It has often been a tough time and he’s now 120, it’s now time to go home. I wonder if he felt like the apostle Paul felt centuries later: “The time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim 4:6,7)

Yes, probably a mixed bag of emotions, but whatever they were he remained faithful to his task of shepherding and guiding Israel so that there on the plains as his time draws near to leave, he pours his heart out for this people to remain faithful. What an example!

10. Deuteronomy (2)

Meditations of Old Testament Highlights: 10.  Deuteronomy (2)

Deut 6:4,5   Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength    

Six times in Deuteronomy Moses uses this formula, “Hear O Israel” (4:1, 5:1, 6:3, 6:4,  9:1, 20:3) as a special call to take note of what he is saying. In it’s first usage when he turns from reminding them of their history since leaving Mount Sinai nearly forty years before, he used “Hear now O Israel,” as a pivotal point calling them to now heed his teaching there on the Plains of Moab. He is going to remind them of the Law that has been imparted to them, and then there are going to be multiple but varied calls to faithfulness. In some ways Deuteronomy is the most compact and dense book in the Bible and it is Moses discharging his role as their leader before he leaves them to die on Mount Nebo.

It would appear that Moses spoke before the nation several times there. The second, “Hear O Israel” appears in 5:1 at what appears to be the start of his second talk to Israel: Moses summoned all Israel and said….” Now in chapter six we observed the third “Hear O Israel” in the previous meditation noting it was a refocusing on the blessings that would follow their complete obedience.

Now as we arrive at this fourth usage we observe it goes to the very heart of their existence, a relationship based upon love. Now of course we find Jesus referring to this command: Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Mt 22:37,38) Thus we now find ourselves meditating upon a command that Jesus considered the greatest of all commands and, when linked with the command to love your neighbour as yourself (see Mt 22:39), he declared that all the law and the prophets hung on these two commands, essentially meaning that they sum up all other laws.  That is how important this verse is that we have before us.

I suspect that to many, if not most of us, this is a very well-known command, one that perhaps we almost take for granted,  but I want us to step into the shoes of the Israelites who are listening to Moses. What would they think about that command? How do you love a God you cannot see? In fact I think that many Christians have this deep down worry, “How do I love God? Do I really love God?”

Let’s be absolutely basic. What is love? In the past when I have looked in a dictionary I have found, “warm affection, attachment, liking, benevolence or strong benign feelings”  which, if you translate that in respect of all that we know of God, then in respect of Him it means, “selfless, sacrificial, unrestricted good will towards us.” Do either of those sets of definitions suggest what we can feel about God?  Let’s stick with the Law for the moment, trying to apply definitions to our thoughts, feelings and behaviour. I’m struggling. The first definition, I think I can go along with but then I think, there seems a difference between the two sets; the first seem to be about emotions and the second seem to be more about will.

Let’s think about what I have learned about love from my marriage. It started out very emotional but there were times, over the years, when for a variety of reasons (tiredness probably being the main one) I couldn’t conjure up the same emotional buzz that I had for my wife when we first went out together. But then I ponder on what our love is about today after well over forty years of married life. On a good day I am absolutely sure I love my wife more now than I ever did in the past. If you like, I appreciate her more and am amazed at her love for me which constantly blesses me. On a tired day when emotions are all over the place, I declare my love, if for no other reason than loyalty. She has stuck with me over forty years and that’s amazing! I will stick with her accordingly.

So yes, love seems to vary between being an emotional thing and an act of the will. So what was Moses call? To love God with all your heart, soul and strength, that last one changed to ‘mind’ in the New Testament. So what do those three things mean? Heart has to do with acts of the will. Pharaoh was hard hearted in Exodus and set his heart against God. It was an act of will. Soul is all about feelings (ever heard ‘soul music’?) and mind is about intellect and reason.  (Strength is about energy and direction).

So let’s take them in reverse order. Intellect & Reason: When you know about someone you have reason to appreciate them. Israel had been through the Exodus and all that that meant and so their ‘faith’ is built on the testimony of God, what He had done, what He had revealed to them. For us, our knowledge of God through His Son, Jesus Christ has had the content of the Gospels added to it.

Feelings/Emotions: When God had blessed them, like the psalmist they could rejoice and praise Him. When we find ourselves forgiven and adopted as His children and are then indwelt by His Spirit and even filled with His Spirit, we too find ourselves overflowing with gratefulness, thankfulness, praise and worship, all of which involve our emotions.

Will: And whether it is a good day or a bad day we resolve we will remain faithful. That was the call to Israel and to us, and it has nothing to do with how we ‘feel’. It is a pure act of will.

Now as I ponder this, three conclusion rise in my consciousness. The first is that my ‘loving God’ can include emotions but in the absence of emotions then all that is required as my expression of my love for Him is my faithful obedience. (This is love for God: to obey his commands.” 1 Jn 5:3).

The second is that without His grace (the presence of his Holy Spirit within) I am doomed to remain a self-centred, godless being. It is His grace than enables me to love my neighbour etc. Grace is more and more available the more and more we draw near to Him and experience His presence.

Third, and finally, because I am less than a perfect (yes, I am in His sight, but we are talking about daily experience!) my love (reason, feelings and actions) may fall short and therefore, ultimately, I rely upon the Cross. The truth is that Moses’ command was ‘the Law’ and we all fall short when it comes to law-keeping and therefore I must rely on the Cross for my salvation in this area as much as in any other area.

Yes, I will use my intellect to build my intellectual knowledge of Him. Yes, I will worship and pray and praise to build my emotional experience of Him and, yes, I will seek at all times to be obedient, but while I do this, I will turn to Him and seek both His grace as the provision I need, and His forgiveness through the Cross to cover my failures and my inadequacies. When I declare, “Lord, I love you,” He knows the reality of that, my seeking to obey His leading and His word, my yearning to feel more about Him, and my desire to be found faithful when He returns. Yes, Lord, I love you, you know I love you, you know all things (Jn 21:15-17).

17. Hold the Truth

Meditations in Deuteronomy : 17 :  Hold to the Truth

(Focus: Deut 6:4-12)

Deut 6:4,5 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

I did warn you that these are studies for serious seekers of the truth. You will only continue these if you really want to understand Deuteronomy, for there is such a solid repetition in this book that you’ll give up unless your heart is set to learn!

In chapter 5 we found Moses spelling out the Ten Commandments again followed by, These are the commandments the LORD proclaimed.” (5:22). Starting chapter 6 we found, “These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe.” (6:1) i.e. he keeps on focusing his listeners on the Law. It is followed by a call: “Hear, O Israel,” (6:3) and now we are followed by exactly the same refrain. It is as if Moses is saying, “Israel, please, please, listen to me and take note of what I am saying.”

What is it that he wants his listeners to be so careful to take on board?   It comes in two simple parts.  First, “The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” This sounds so simple but it is profound in the face of what the rest of the world believed. All the surrounding nations had their gods and their idols. Moses says, “The ‘I AM’ who has revealed Himself to us is one God, for there is only one God!” As a starting point for belief this sounds simple but is so significant. It rules out all idol worship, worship of many gods. The second part calls us to love this one God. Note it is love, not fear. This call to love God is to be whole-hearted, from deep within expressed with all you have. Later in this chapter we’ll see descriptions of this One we are called to love and it should not be difficult to love one so described.

But then Moses does another call to hold on to these commands of the Law and he does it in a more detailed way than he has done previously: “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” (6:6-9). We noted in the previous meditation an earlier call along these same lines: “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.” (4:9,10) That had been a call to remember and pass on “the things your eyes have seen” i.e. their testimony, and also “my words” i.e. the Law itself.

The present call is first to have these commands “upon your hearts”. i.e. as close as possible, even within you. They are not merely to mention them to their children; they are to Impress them on your children.” i.e. impact your children with them; make sure they are well and truly taught these laws. They are to talk about them in all areas of their lives with their children – when sitting, walking, lying down, getting up – these are laws that impact all of life and are to be explained in the context of all of life. Then he uses language that speaks of fixing them in their very psyche – tie, bind, write – ensure they are never going to be lost, never forgotten. Whether God intended them to do this literally we don’t know but conservative Jews still do this literally.

Then Moses considers the future, a future of abundant prosperity and blessing, and seeing that time he foresees a danger which is simply an extension of what he has just been saying: “When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you–a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant–then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” (6:10-12). In other words, when you are settled in your new land and are prosperous, the temptation will be to forget God. You will think you are all right without Him. You are not!  Don’t forget the Lord and don’t forget what He has done by delivering you out of Egypt and into this fruitful land.

Within these verses we have considered today there are several clear instructions which we Christians today would do well to hold on to:

1. Realise who God is. Put content to your faith! Read the Bible and understand what you can about your Lord.

2. Love this God. Love is the currency of the kingdom, not legalistic rule keeping. Our following Jesus is to be an act of love.

3. In our affluence don’t forget God. In the affluent West it is so easy to think we are all right on our own. Everything is provided for us, we have so much. Who provided it? The Lord! We need Him just as much whether we have little or much.

These are simple but significant instructions and they apply as much to us today as they did to Israel thousands of years ago!

 

16. Conditional Future

Meditations in Deuteronomy : 16 :  Conditional Future

(Focus: Deut 6:1-3)

Deut 6:1,2 These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life.

There is a repetition in Deuteronomy which, for anyone less than a genuine seeker of God’s truth, will appear tedious, but it only goes to show Moses strong desire to convey to Israel the importance and significance of what he is saying.  Let’s see this in a number of instances.

1. The laws. For instance the opening sentence in chapter six has already had a number of echoes of the same thing:Hear now, O Israel, the decrees and laws I am about to teach you.” (4:1), keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you..” (4:2), “See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the LORD my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it.” (4;5), “And the LORD directed me at that time to teach you the decrees and laws you are to follow in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess.” (4:14), “Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today.” (4:40), “This is the law Moses set before the Israelites. These are the stipulations, decrees and laws Moses gave them when they came out of Egypt.” (4:44,45), “Hear, O Israel, the decrees and laws I declare in your hearing today.” (5:1), “stay here with me so that I may give you all the commands, decrees and laws you are to teach them to follow in the land I am giving them to possess.” (5:31) i.e. at least eight times in two chapters he speaks about these commands or decrees or laws that the Lord had given them to follow in their new land.

2. Pass it on. It’s not only for them but also for future generations. Again the reference here to children and future generations has come before: “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” (4:9) , “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.” (4:10) These laws aren’t just for now; they are for the whole future of Israel.

3. The Conditional Outworking. The fruit or outworking of keeping these laws is also another subject that keeps appearing, seen in 6:2 as so that you may enjoy long life.” and in the following verse it continues, “Hear, O Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, promised you.” (6:3)  We saw this previously: “Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the LORD your God gives you for all time.” (4:40). It also appeared in the Ten Commandments: “Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” (5:16) Yet further, “Walk in all the way that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess,” (5:33) which then brings us to chapter six: Their future blessing will be conditional on obeying these laws; that is how important they are and Israel need to realise that.

There is an additional motivating factor in our verses today: so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live.” (6:2) Yes, we’ve seen that in the previous chapter as well: “Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!” (5:29)  This awesome respect grew out of their experience of the Lord, seeing the things He did to deliver them out of Egypt, seeing the fire and hearing His voice at Sinai, and experiencing His discipline when they refused to enter the land originally. All of these things appear in the earlier chapters and this awesome respect which had grown through these things is now to be one of the motivating factors that helps Israel obey all the laws.

No less today, our blessing is determined by how we love and follow Jesus, obeying the instructions we find in the New Testament and responding to the prompting of his Holy Spirit. May we understand these things and follow them!

 

3. Law Administration

Meditations in Deuteronomy : 3 :  Law Administration

(Focus: Deut 1:9-18)

Deut 1:9,10,12,13 At that time I said to you, “You are too heavy a burden for me to carry alone. The LORD your God has increased your numbers so that today you are as many as the stars in the sky. But how can I bear your problems and your burdens and your disputes all by myself? Choose some wise, understanding and respected men from each of your tribes, and I will set them over you.”

We have seen in the first two meditations how all that Moses is about to say, which is recorded in this book, is grounded in history. There is an historical context which shows why Israel are where there are, to the east of the river Jordan, and why Moses is speaking to them. In the previous meditation we saw how Moses reminds them of the start of their walk with the Lord, back at Mount Sinai, which in itself is founded on promises that the Lord made to Abraham four hundred years beforehand!

While they were at Sinai something had happened and Moses now goes on to remind them of that. It actually had been at the prompting of his father-in-law that he had appointed judges for the people (see Ex 18:13-26). Moses had referred this problem back to the people and had asked them to choose wise, understanding and respected men from each tribe who could act as leaders and judges to share the load. That appealed to the people and so that was what had happened and Moses had charged those leaders, “Hear the disputes between your brothers and judge fairly, whether the case is between brother Israelites or between one of them and an alien. Do not show partiality in judging; hear both small and great alike. Do not be afraid of any man, for judgment belongs to God. Bring me any case too hard for you, and I will hear it.” (Deut 1:16,17)

Now what we have here is a simple recounting of what had happened and it is legitimate to ask the question, why was Moses bothering to include this account in this book now? We can make several suggestions.

First, as we have gone to some lengths to show, Moses is setting everything in the context of history so that Israel can see that everything about the Law and everything about how they should live is set in the context of all of their dealings with the Lord – except this is more about Moses than it is about the Lord.

Second, it is possibly a gentle attempt by Moses to show the people that he had not been a domineering leader but had always had their welfare at heart and had sought to share the burden of leadership among the tribes.

Third, it is an explanation of how the nation is now being run, and why it is being run like it is. We may take this for granted but Moses is speaking to the many older people and their younger family members and is seeking to put everything in context. There is a reason that they are a people ruled by judges, and it goes back to that time at Sinai when Moses alone was their leader and he wanted to ensure they were better cared for.

Fourth, although we have said this passage is mainly about Moses it does bring a reminder, as we saw above in verse 17, that judgment and justice are essentially things that belong to God or, if you like, all such judgment is answerable to God. They ARE a people under God and answerable to him. The very application of the Law, or its administration, if you like, is through the judicial system that Moses established back at Sinai. It is still like that and nothing has changed! These judges are the means of applying the Law that Moses will go on to expound.

There is, within all this, an implied duty laid upon those judges to uphold the Law rightly and wisely before the Lord. What starts out appearing a rather mundane passage about Moses not being able to carry the burden of Israel alone, produces a legal system through which the Law will be administered. Without it, the Law could not be administered in the years and centuries ahead. This actually becomes a vital reminder, a foundation stone, for the administration of the Law.

Yes, it might have started out as a means of lifting the burden from Moses, but it has resulted in raising up a large number of judges from each tribe who are now responsible for applying that Law. Moses brings the Law and it will be down to them to apply it in the centuries to come. This comes as such a gentle recounting of history that many of us miss the significance of this.

This is Moses saying, very gently, this is the administrative foundation that was established right back at Sinai to help you administer all the laws that I have brought you from the Lord. Again, we may take the laws for granted, and they do bring the greatest thrust through this book, but unless these appointed judges fulfil their roles, these laws will not get to be applied. This is the primary significance that lies just below the surface of these verses!  So, no, they are not a mundane recounting of history, they are a foundation stone for the life of the nation.

1. Based in History

Meditations in Deuteronomy : 1 :  Based in History

(Focus: Deut 1:1-5)

Deut 1:1 These are the words Moses spoke to all Israel in the desert east of the Jordan–that is, in the Arabah–opposite Suph, between Paran and Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth and Dizahab.

I must be honest, as I start out in this new set of meditations, that until recently Deuteronomy has been a dry book to me, and that is perhaps an understatement, and yet just recently I find myself drawn back to it again and again and I find it a source of wisdom in the light of all of the negative things that have been said by crusading atheists in the early years of the twenty-first century. It has answers that challenge their shallow assumptions about God and it provides a foundation of belief that is excellent.

It starts out with an explanation of what it is: “the words Moses spoke to all Israel in the desert,” (v.1) and in case you aren’t sure which desert, the writer goes on to describe it, the land that is “east of the Jordan” and then goes on to locate it by reference to no less that seven geographical locations. Those who do not read the Bible often appear to have the idea that the Bible teaching and accounts are vague, probably made up, and therefore highly suspect, but the actual accounts throughout the Bible do not allow for that interpretation of the Bible in any way at all. Again and again we find the events being tied down by other historical events and by reference to many geographical locations. We will see this coming up in this book again and again. Everything is tied into time-space history. It did happen at a particular time and it did happen in a particular location. There is no vagueness about this!

So we have this opening introduction that this book is made up of what Moses said to Israel when they were located in the desert to the east of the Jordan. Now the only time that Moses came there was immediately before his death and before Israel moved in to start taking the Promised Land. We find this confirmed in the two verses that follow: (It takes eleven days to go from Horeb to Kadesh Barnea by the Mount Seir road.) In the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses proclaimed to the Israelites all that the LORD had commanded him concerning them.” (v.2,3) Yes, this took place near the end of the fortieth year of their desert wanderings and the scribe writing this can’t help adding that little reminder that in fact it normally only takes eleven days to get to the southern end of Canaan from Mount Horeb (or Sinai) but because of their disobedience it had taken them forty years!

But there is an additional point included in verse 3, that what we are about to read is “all that the Lord had commanded him concerning them.” This is a God-sent message or series of messages. In many ways this book is a summary of all of what had happened between God and Israel so far and all that He had said to them. In that sense it is a very useful book.

We have had one time-reference locating when this happened and now we are given another which also has strong geographical indications in it: “This was after he had defeated Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon, and at Edrei had defeated Og king of Bashan, who reigned in Ashtaroth.” (v.4). This is highly significant. On their way up to their present position, they had asked to pass peacefully through the lands of two other kings but those kings, feeling defensive about Israel, had fought against Israel and lost. Israel were now feeling a lot better about themselves than they had forty years ago. Now they have two victories under their belt. So again the time and place have been located by reference to two recent episodes in their life involving two other nations.

Thus the writer eventually sums up, “East of the Jordan in the territory of Moab, Moses began to expound this law.” (v.5) All that follows is Moses ‘report’. But note again, this ‘report’ comes in a clearly defined historical context – at a specific time in history at a specific place – and it is going to refer back to other specific times and places. This is not fiction; this is an historical record.

This point needs to be made again and again because many of us fail to realise the significance of it. Our faith today is founded on factual history. The same is true when we come into the New Testament. I particularly like Luke’s Gospel for this reason: “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar–when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene— during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert.” (Lk 3:1,2). Luke, in those two verses, anchors the coming of John the Baptist by reference to seven historical figures and five geographical locations and one very specific time reference!

The message should come over loud and clear: our faith is founded in historical fact that involves real time and space anchors. It happened and because it happened, we can believe it. It happened with Israel, it happened with Jesus – we have a book full of information upon which to build our faith. Let’s read it and take it in intelligently.