Three Reasons to Dig into Deuteronomy

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Three Reasons 

to Dig 

into Deuteronomy

By Robert Krumrey

Sermon Podcast/Reading Plan

Over the past few weeks, I've been asked this question several times -  "What are you preaching on this Fall?"  It's hard to know how to make small talk with the pastor, but this question seems as good as any.  When I say, "Deuteronomy", they usually respond with a bewildered look or blurt out "Why".  While I don't recommend Deuteronomy as a first sermon series to launch your preaching career, I can think of several reasons why we, as a church, should be digging into Deuteronomy.  

Here are three:

#1 - It's in the Bible

Christians like to say a lot of glowing things about the Bible.  It's God's word.  It's inspired.  It's the ultimate authority that we turn to for understanding our faith and the practice of that faith.   When they say those things, I'm pretty sure they're including books like Deuteronomy and Leviticus.  If we believe that every word of the Bible is important and placed there by God for the building up of his church, then I'd say at some point we need to get around to Deuteronomy.  

Here's what the Apostle Paul says about the Bible in his letter to Timothy:

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16,17) 

When Paul is writing this, the New Testament books have yet to be gathered up by the church and officially sanctioned.  When Paul says here that scripture is useful and can equip the Christian, he's talking about the Old Testament.  He's talking about Deuteronomy!

#2 - It reveals Jesus 

One of the startling things about our experience so far, is that we've met Jesus in the text every week.  Actually I've not been startled because I know that Jesus is the interpretive key for every scripture in the Bible, both Old Testament and New.  Jesus himself teaches his disciples to study the Bible this way after he rises from the dead. 

Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, (Luke 24:44,45)

Jesus teaches the disciples that the Law (first five books of Old Testament) and the Prophets (minor and major Prophetic books) and the Psalms (sometimes known as the "writings" which also include books like Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon) are all about him.  This is Jesus' way of saying that the Old Testament should be interpreted through a Christ centered lens to get the ultimate meaning out of each passage.  This means that the more we study Deuteronomy, the more we see Jesus and that leads us to a deeper knowledge of Him!

#3 - You'll learn how to talk to your friends about Jesus

We are dealing with some tough passages in these sermons.  The annihilation of whole groups of people is no laughing matter.  Topics like God's unconditional election of Israel and his temporal punishment of people for their sin are not usual Sunday morning fare in America.  Honestly, in our academic context, these tough passages are the first place that many people go to try and undermine the authority of the Bible.  We can ignore these, or we can dig in and try to think well about these passages in light of their context and God's larger plan for redemption.  These "crazy" passages that people bring up, as if they are a silver bullet that undermines all of Christianity, can become a jumping off place for talking about God's love and justice displayed most evidently at the cross.  

So don't give up.  Dig in!  And we'll see you on Sunday for Deuteronomy Chapter 5.  

3 Tough Questions From Deuteronomy!

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3 Tough Questions

From Deuteronomy chapter 2

by Robert Krumrey

Sunday's Sermon got more feedback (positive & negative) than any sermon I've ever preached.  By the way, what I'm calling "negative" was very gracious disagreement and not mean spirited at all.  Several questions came out of the experience.  Here are three that have been reoccurring:

1.  Why is Israel given permission to kill the Canaanites if everyone is a sinner and deserves to die?  

I'm actually going to answer this question in a future sermon (OCT 15th), but I will give you a hint where to find the answer.  Read Deuteronomy 7 and see if that helps.  You may not necessarily like the answer, but God is very direct about why it's Israel and not another people group. 


2.  You said God is consistent with his character.  How is God being consistent if he's wiping people out in the Old Testament and forgiving them in the New Testament? 

I think this is an excellent question.  I also think a more in-depth look at scripture shows that he is forgiving people in the Old Testament (as well as wiping them out) and wiping people out in the New Testament (as well as forgiving them).  We all have biases that we need to watch out for.  Some of us seem to gravitate toward God's holiness and truth telling.  Others of us gravitate toward his love and tenderness.  There is so much that is wrapped up in that - temperament, spiritual gifts, past wounds, experiences with our parents . . .  We must keep going back to scripture again and again to help us see more clearly who God really is and reject the God of our own making which is a false idol.  This includes our personal reading and reflection and discussion with others.

Here is an example of God forgiving in the Old Testament:

Jonah 3:10
When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.  

God sends the prophet Jonah to declare judgment on a people group that is not Israel (Ninevites) and when they hear the words of the prophet, they repent and God holds back the judgment.  He gives mercy to them.  One might say this is inconsistent with God's character in the Old Testament, but that's not what Jonah thinks:  

Jonah 4:2
And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. 

Sounds like Jonah is talking about the New Testament God - gracious, merciful, slow to anger, abounding in love.  The truth is he is talking about God. The same God we read about in the Old AND New Testaments.  He is merciful and he expresses that mercy to Israel and to those who are not Israel. 

He's also just. There is an end to his mercy if humans are not willing to respond with repentance and faith.  This is true in the New Testament too - mostly in the descriptions of the final judgment in Revelation.  These verses come to mind: 

Revelation 16:1
Then I heard a loud voice from the temple telling the seven angels, “Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.”

It's the beginning of the wrath section in the description of end times.  Do realize that God has been holding back for the entire book of Rev.; releasing partial judgment (much like ONLY judging the 2 cities of Sodom and Gomorrah on the Canaanite plain in Abraham's day).  There does come a time when mercy runs out and full on judgment is delivered.  You see the end of this wrath section here:

Revelation 18:21-24
21 Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying,
“So will Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence,
    and will be found no more;
22 and the sound of harpists and musicians, of flute players and trumpeters,
    will be heard in you no more,
and a craftsman of any craft
    will be found in you no more,
and the sound of the mill
    will be heard in you no more,
23 and the light of a lamp
    will shine in you no more,
and the voice of bridegroom and bride
    will be heard in you no more,
for your merchants were the great ones of the earth,
    and all nations were deceived by your sorcery.
24 And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints,
    and of all who have been slain on earth.”

God's mercy is over.  Judgment against Babylon (representing all that is opposed to God) is final and complete.  

He's the same God in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.  Loving, gracious, full of mercy, AND holy, just, and delivers judgment.  This is what we see at the cross.  Love and justice.  

Remember these verses from Sunday's sermon that show how the cross demonstrates the justice or righteousness of God: 

Romans 3:25-26
God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. (NIV)

Only two chapters later, Paul points to how the cross points to the love of God:

Romans 5:8
 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (NIV)

Many of you reading this know Romans 5:8 really well, but couldn't have found that Romans 3:26 verse to save your life.  We are biased toward the love of God for all sorts of reasons as I mentioned before.  God is revealed consistently throughout all of scripture as both loving and righteous.  Look at Paul's command to his readers toward the end of the book of Romans:

Romans 11:22a
Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God . . . (NIV)

They are both characteristics of God and are incredibly valuable for us to consider!

 


3. Why does God use the Israelites to deliver the judgment of the Canaanites?  Why doesn't he just do it himself?  I'm thinking this was very traumatic for the men who had to carry this out.    

One thing about God's relationship to humans that is consistent throughout the creation, fall, redemption, and restoration is that he is always inviting human beings to co-labor with him. Part of our image bearing is to use our mind, will, and emotions to help move ahead the agenda of our Creator. This is true in the garden of Eden when God asks Adam to name the animals (see Genesis 2:19). Surely God could have come up with some awesome animal names, but he wants Adam to work in his Father's business. This is true in Redemption as well. At EVERY phase of the plan, humans are invited to participate in the reintegration of the universe. At the point in redemptive history represented by Deuteronomy (and really no other) the way in which humans were called to co-labor with God was to annihilate those who lived on the Canaanite plain. It was hard and emotional and risky and and and .  . . and it always is. Whatever God is inviting us into is a stretch for us and requires dependence on him. He is sustaining the OT people throughout this conquest as he does for us in this current season of making disciples of all nations - which can include being beheaded, having family members imprisoned, being ostracized, etc.

Also, we must remember that the people of the OT lived in a culture of bloodshed. Killing people that were not in your people group was a cultural norm. It's partly why God is telling the Israelites "an eye for an eye". It wasn't harsh, it was to dial them down so that they wouldn't seek retribution that was x 100. When reading both OT and NT, we have to try to put ourselves into the mindset of the original hearers. I think their hesitation regarding the conquest was more about fear of getting their butts kicked rather than fear of killing someone with their bare hands.

I liken it to growing up on a farm vs. growing up in the city. I grew up around animals and helped my family slaughter them. It was normal. We treated the animals humanely, but I never thought twice about wringing a chicken's neck or slitting the throat of a calf. I actually thought it was kind of cool. I tell those stories around here and people wince. Even though they just ate a chicken sandwich for lunch.  

The mess we made in allowing sin into the universe was a huge one and required an incredibly complex plan of redemption that was carried out over thousands of years.  What we are looking at in Deuteronomy is one small part of that plan.  The goal was to set up a kingdom from which God could bring about a King who would save the world and he did just that in Jesus.  

More Questions?  Q&A this Sunday (9/24) in the sanctuary after second service.  Grab a plate at lunch on the lawn and join Pastor Robert.   Want to give him a heads up?   Tweet your question to @rkrumrey

  

How Am I To Understand Old Testament Violence?

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Join us this Sunday!

Deuteronomy 2:26-37

If you've ever read much of the Old Testament, you've probably come up against verses like this: 

And we captured all his cities at that time and devoted to destruction every city, men, women, and children. We left no survivors.   Deuteronomy 2:34

This is a tough passage for modern readers and is something that detractors of the Bible like to bring up to show it to be a ridiculous book or at least to encourage a pick and choose approach to the study of the Christian Scriptures.  

Join us this Sunday (9/17/17) as we dive into a portion of Deuteronomy (2:26-37) and hear more about what these kinds of passages say about the nature of God and his overarching plan for redeeming a very messed up world.  

Listen to Sermons HERE

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How Small Groups Save You From Suffocation

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article by 

Robert Krumrey

It's that time of year again!  Church announcements are filled with info. about Small Groups and why everyone should join one.  This past Sunday we had about 300 adults attend our services and they all heard about this opportunity to connect with others around scripture, prayer, fellowship, and mission.  Yet, through the years, we've found that about 1/3 of Sunday attendees actually heed the call to engage in this more intimate experience of Christian growth known as the small group.  

And I get it!  We are all busy.  We've got schedules that are filled with REALLY important stuff.  Most of us are tired by the end of the day and don't think we can squeeze in one more thing.  It could be that this fatigue (physical, emotional, spiritual) we feel is actually a lack of oxygen for our shriveling souls.  I'd like to propose that gathering with a smaller group of Christians on a regular basis is something that could save our faith from suffocating from lack of spiritual oxygen. 

If you've spent any time reading the New Testament, you've read about the necessity of being in fellowship with other believers.  Some of these are expressed in commands sometimes called "one another" verses.  For example:

welcome one another (Romans 15:7)
love one another (John 13:34)
through love serve one another (Galatians 5:13)
confess your sins to one another (James 5:16)
pray for one another (James 5:16)

These kinds of things are hard to do when sitting in a room full of people on Sunday singing songs and listening to a sermon.  God has designed the Christian life in such a way that in order to mature, one must link their lives with at least a few other Christ followers.  We encourage people at MERCYhouse to "devote themselves to a few like family".  

Doing the Christian life alone is a lot like trying to scuba dive without adequate oxygen.  God insists that we require more air than what is coming from our individual tank.  Hard as we might try to survive listening to sermons, reading a few scripture verses, and going it alone, it will never be enough.  The small group environment creates an experience of sharing some of our oxygen with others and they with us.  As we do so, we (and they), end up being spiritually oxygenated.  This is the work of the Holy Spirit (the breath of God) among us when we join together as family.  

The ancient church understood this well and devoted themselves to joining together on a regular basis.  We learn in the second chapter of Acts that they met in the temple courts (larger group to hear the teaching of God's truth) and in homes (smaller groups to grow in fellowship).

"And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts"  (Acts 2:46)

As they did this God breathed air into their spiritual lungs and they went forth in boldness to demonstrate and proclaim the gospel.  So this semester commit yourself to joining with others to grow together in the fresh air of fellowship.  

Small groups start next week (week of Sept. 17th).  See this link for details!

 

Welcome to MERCYhouse!

Many of you are hitting our site for the very first time this week.  We are excited that you are considering being a part of the local church that is MERCYhouse.  This is our 19th year as a church and we are grateful to have seen God at work in our congregation through our entire history.  Not a year has passed that we weren't witness to a number of people deciding to become Christ followers and many others growing in their faith.  We hope you'll come join us for one of our Sunday worship services (9:15am & 11:15am) this semester and that you'll stay around for coffee and conversation so we can get to know you better.  

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While Sundays are an important part of our life as a church, we also hope you'll consider joining one of our Servant Teams and/or one of our Small Groups.  These are designed to help you connect more deeply with God and others and work out what it means to walk with Jesus.  

If you are a student and want to know more about what we are doing on your individual campus, please reach out to the CAMPUS CONTACT for your campus.  They'd be more than happy to tell you more about our ministry to students and how you can connect with others in our church.  

If you have any questions, please contact our church office at contact(at)knowmercy.org.  

We hope to see you soon!

Pastor Robert