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“Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet they neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.”
Welcome to the Foundational Tutorial lessons on the Ten Commandments! These lessons are intended for you to learn what you need to learn; they are not meant as a condemnation or judgement. As born-again followers of Jesus, we’re all still here on Earth because we’re all still learning about the Kingdom and how to live in it. As much as he was the Messiah, Jesus was also a teacher during his time here. His followers are likewise expected to teach others, after they themselves have learned what they need to learn, and practiced it.
We aren’t expected to be perfect (even Jesus wasn’t perfect), but we are expected to strive for perfection (“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect”) and to constantly work at improving ourselves.
The foundation of Jesus’ teachings was the Ten Commandments and everything that stemmed from the Commandments, so we clearly need to focus on them. They are the lifeline for staying on God’s Way, particularly in times of trouble and temptation. You’ll note that there are no asterisks (*) on any of the Commandments. That means there are no exceptions to these ten rules. You break them, you pay the price.
For an overview of the blessings that come from keeping the Commandments and the curses that come from not keeping them, see Deuteronomy 28.
LESSON ONE CONTENTS
- COVETING: A DEFINITION
- A WANT OR A NEED?
- SERIAL COVETING: Collecting, investing, prepping
- JOHN THE BAPTIST’S QUICK GUIDE ON HOW NOT TO COVET
- CREDIT CARDS, MORTGAGES, AND OTHER LENDING TEMPTATIONS
- THE EVIL ROOT OF COVETING
- tl;dr: SUMMARY
1. COVETING: A DEFINITION
Coveting is no different than any of the other Commandments that we’re not supposed to break. It’s not optional not to covet: It’s a Commandment not to covet.
But what exactly is coveting?
The world “covet” is rarely used these days, and I would argue that the word’s fall out of fashion is by design – of the devil. If you don’t know you’re doing something wrong, you’ll likely keep doing it. That’s a form of temptation. But not knowing you’re breaking a Commandment doesn’t make you entirely guilt-free, because God’s Commandments are written on your heart, just as they’re written on mine and on the heart of every person on Earth, including unbelievers. We may not call what we do “coveting”, but we do have the sense that it’s somehow wrong and is prompted by a spirit other than God’s. As born-again believers, it’s our job to know a temptation when we see one, and it’s definitely our job to know and keep the Commandments, even the ones that seem to belong to another age.
The Commandment not to covet specifically frames coveting in relation to your neighbour. However, we know from Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan that your neighbour can be anyone and everyone, not just your actual next-door neighbour. Your neighbour can even be a bank, a business, or even your enemy. So coveting has quite a broad reach.
But again, what is coveting? Simply put, to covet is to have an inordinate (unnaturally strong) desire to acquire something that you don’t actually need. It’s a want rather than a need – something or someone you desire without God’s prompting or blessing. It may also be something (or someone) that someone else has and that you want to take possession of. In this way, coveting includes aspects of greed and jealousy mixed in with desire and pride. Coveting is progressively obsessive and can lead to breaking nearly all the other Commandments in one fell swoop (think of David’s coveting of Bathsheba, and the fall-out from that).
In short, if you want what someone else has but you don’t need, you’re coveting.
The opposite of coveting is contentment with what you have, and cheerful and generous charity.
2. A WANT OR A NEED?
How can you make a distinction between things that you want and things that you need? When you covet (that is, desire something that you want rather than need), it’s almost like a game that you can’t stop playing. You strategize the acquisition; you plan the acquisition; you obsess over the acquisition. You must have the acquisition, and at any price. Maybe you saw what you want in an advertisement, or maybe you saw something that someone else has and that you decided you also must have. This is the classic “keeping up with the Joneses” that was the foundation for much of the now defunct American Dream.
Mass consumerism is based on coveting. It’s the devil’s temptation, mainly through ads, to get you to want what you don’t need, and to prompt you to act on your wants with lures and pressure tactics such as “no money down”, “zero interest payments”, and “Today Only!”. If you want to know what your neighbour has coveted in the past, go to a garage sale. Wants that weren’t actual needs are on full display, ranging from barely used gym equipment to “As Seen On TV!” kitchen gadgets with their box seals still unbroken. None of these things, obviously, were needed or they would have been used and would still be used.
Jesus says that God knows what we need even before we tell him. God knows what we need, and he’s ready and eager to provide it for us. All we have to do is say the word that we need this or that, and if God deems that it is a need, he will provide it. If you’re genuinely born-again, you’ll have extensives experience with this.
3. SERIAL COVETING: Collecting, investing, and prepping
People who engage in collecting, investing and prepping are actually breaking the Commandment not to covet, as collecting, investing and prepping are a form of serial coveting.
You can argue that a child needs a doll, but there is no arguing that an adult needs 100 dolls, or 100 collector plates, or 100 pieces of art. Collecting is a form of coveting. It is always prompted by desire or obsession to have something, rather than the need to have something. It may, on the surface, seem relatively harmless, but it is still a form of coveting and shouldn’t be done.
There is also no arguing that an adult needs 100 homes (or even more than one). Real estate investment is a major temptation in coveting, and we’re seeing the impact of this particular form of coveting today. The more people pour into the real estate investment market, the higher the demand for real estate, and so the higher the real estate valuations. The result is skyrocketing real estate prices that are not only preventing much of the world’s population from purchasing a home, but also causing rental prices to soar. The cost of basic shelter now takes up most of renters’ earnings. The coveting of real estate by investors is the reason for this. If you currently hold a mortgage, you’re part of the problem. You’re also guilty of coveting.
Investing in the stock market is another glaring form of coveting. The whole idea behind it is to get more money than you need by investing more money than you need. If ever there was a realm of mammon, this is it. Stock market investing also includes elements of obsession, greed, addiction, recklessness, and fear-driven decision-making. Steer clear of the stock market or any form of investment.
Besides, investing is a form of money-lending. Jesus says we’re to lend, expecting nothing in return, and that’s not much of an investment strategy. You’re better off taking any “extra” money you might have laying around and giving it (not lending it, giving it, no strings attached) to someone you know personally who’s working hard but struggling financially. That is far better stewardship of God’s blessings to you, and you will be bountifully blessed in return.
As much as many of you won’t want to hear this, prepping is a form of coveting. When you buy or plan to buy more food and supplies than you need at any given time, you’re coveting food and supplies. We live in New Testament times, not Old Testament times. We’re not like Joseph in Egypt, who stashed away enough food for seven years to survive a famine; we’re like Jesus, who had just enough food for his needs at any given time.
Now, your needs at any given time are linked to your access to food and supplies. If you only go shopping once a month, you should get a month’s worth of food and supplies; if you go shopping once every six months, you get six months’ worth of food and supplies. God gave us a brain and expects us to use it. It would be illogical and foolish to get one day’s worth of food and supplies if we’re not able to shop again for nearly a month. We should get what we need, not what we want or what others tell us we should want.
And there’s the crux of prepping: Prepping is an industry that is at heart a cult. As an industry, it’s built on pressure sales tactics, and as a cult, it’s driven by fear. According to preppers, you can never have enough food or supplies stashed away, so you’re always accumulating more and more, well beyond your needs. This is all done in preparation for a fabled time (SHTF) that has yet to come.
You should also keep in mind that when you buy more food and supplies than you need at any given time, the demand for the food and supplies goes up, which means the price goes up. So prepping is not only contributing to shortages in food and supplies for other people, but is also contributing to increases in the cost of food and supplies. If you’re a prepper, you’re guilty of causing hardship to others through shortages and rising costs.
If you’re still hanging onto Joseph as an example of your alleged need to prep, remember that Joseph was a prophet. Through an ability and blessing given to him by God, Joseph was able to interpret Pharaoh’s dream about the coming famine. Joseph didn’t advise Pharaoh to accumulate 7 years’ worth of food and supplies because he was pressured into doing so by sales tactics and fear; he acted based on a dream interpretation given to him directly from God.
Finally, does your desire to prep come directly from God or from the prepping cult? In one of his parables, Jesus talks about a prepper-type character who had enough food and supplies to last him for a lifetime. He had so much, he had to tear down his storage barns and build bigger ones to hold everything. But did Jesus admire him for him that? No, he called him a fool. Within 24 hours of the guy thinking he could take it easy for the rest of his days, he died. All his prepping was in vain. He had put his faith in his own preps instead of putting it in God to provide for him. As a born-again believer, you don’t want to be that guy.
4. JOHN THE BAPTIST’S QUICK GUIDE ON HOW NOT TO COVET
John was Jesus’ cousin and was older than Jesus by a few months only. Even so, he’d started his ministry work well before Jesus did, and had gathered quite a loyal following by the time Jesus arrived on the scene. As a prophet, John well knew his role as “the voice of one crying in the wilderness to prepare the way of the Lord, and to make his paths straight”. He baptised people in the River Jordan as a sign of their repentance. He even baptised Jesus.
During one of his baptising sessions, John was asked by various people how they should live their lives as newly baptised penitents. This is what he advised:
“He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise…. Exact no more than that which is appointed you…. And be content with your wages” (Luke 3: 11-14).
This is a good summation of how to live a life free of coveting, to show gratitude to God for his blessings, and to cheerfully and willingly help others in need. Being born-again doesn’t make you exempt from any of these things; in fact, being born-again makes you even more beholden to live a life that’s free of coveting.
5. CREDIT CARDS, MORTGAGES, AND OTHER LENDING TEMPTATIONS
The Old Testament tells us that “neither a borrower nor a lender be”, and Jesus tells us that we should “lend without expecting anything in return.” Both of these directives fly in the face of borrowing or lending money through common mechanisms like credit cards, mortgages, or other loans.
It’s quite possible to live without a credit card. I do. I have a “smart card” that acts like a VISA card, but is loaded with my money. If you’re a born-again believer, there’s no reason to have a “dumb card” (that is, a traditional credit card) if the smart card option is available. Non-smart credit cards act as a form of loan, which means they are a form of coveting that enables you to buy more than you need. You don’t need to use them.
It’s also quite possible to live without a mortgage or any other form of loan. I do. I rent and I make do with the money that I earn or is given to me. It’s always enough. It’s extraordinary how God provides exactly the amount I need at any given time, almost to the penny.
As my grandmother used to say: “The Good Lord provides”, and indeed he does. As long as we keep our end of the deal, God will keep his. The only time I ever went short as a born-again believer was many years ago, when I broke a Commandment and didn’t heed God’s advice to do something. I learned my lesson from these mistakes and have never done them again.
We can’t expect to live as we choose, breaking the Commandments at will, and then expect God to keep blessing us. Born-again believers are especially held to task in this regard: We’re like the family’s eldest children who have to set a good example for the younger ones. That’s also Jesus’ role for us.
There’s no need either to lend or to borrow, not for any reason. If we keep up our end of the deal, the Good Lord provides us with more than enough. If you can’t afford to buy a house, rent one. There is no excuse or justification for a born-again believer to be in debt to anyone for any reason. Jesus never was, and we’re to follow the example set by Jesus, not by the world.
6. THE EVIL ROOT OF COVETING
The root of coveting – the reason that it’s wrong – is this: When you covet, you’re saying that God is either unable or unwilling to provide for your needs. You’re saying that you know better than God, and that what God is providing for you is insufficient. Coveting is a sign of ingratitude for God’s blessings. It’s a sign of weak faith or even no faith. Instead of saying “I rely on God”, you’re saying “I rely on me”. It’s a shifting from worship of God and his abilities to a worship of you and your abilities. It’s cutting God out of the life equation.
Are you guilty of coveting?
This is the question you need to ask yourself.
Don’t tell me the answer; I don’t want to know. It’s none of my business. You’re the only one who needs to know whether or not you’re guilty of coveting, and if you are, you’re the one who needs to make the decision to stop doing it. That’s the right thing to do. God is patient, but at some point, time is up, so don’t wait too long do to the right thing when you know it is the right thing to do.
Remember that, when they got the call, Jesus’ disciples and followers walked away from everything – homes, spouses, children, jobs – everything. God then provided for their every need as it arose. The spirit of coveting drives us to acquire things that we want rather than need and to be discontented with the blessings that God has already given us. As such, coveting involves major aspects of “the grass is greener on the other side”, but we know from personal experience that it is never greener; it only appears to be greener when viewed from a distance.
If you are guilty of coveting through any of the various ways and means that the devil uses to tempt us, you need to stop doing it. That’s the bottom line. How and when you stop is up to you, but the sooner, the better. You have no idea how much more time you have on Earth, and you don’t want to be standing before God on Judgement Day, knowing you should have stopped doing something but choosing to keep doing it. That is not how you want to be standing before God when you’re time comes.
Again, when they got the call, the disciples left everything. They just got up and left. Jesus did, too, prior to starting his ministry work, and Paul followed suit after he’d converted. These are all excellent examples of lives lived without coveting. These examples are meant to be followed.
7. tl;dr: SUMMARY
- If you have more than you need or want more than you need, you’re coveting and need to stop doing it.
- Coveting comes wrapped up as all kinds of temptations, from collecting to investing to prepping, and even to borrowing money to buy a house or car. If you have to borrow money to buy something, you don’t need it. If you continue to want what you can’t afford and can only get through borrowing, you’re coveting.
- If you keep God’s Commandments and follow Jesus’ example in everything you do, God will provide for your every need. Jesus told us that God knows our needs even before we know them ourselves, and just as he provides for all his creatures on Earth, he gladly provides for us.
- If you’re grateful for and content with what you have, you will avoid coveting. Be grateful and content. Keep God’s Commandment.
“Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in my affliction.”
(Psalm 119: 92)
FOUNDATIONAL TUTORIAL: THE TEN COMMANDMENTS: Deuteronomy 28: The rewards of obedience and disobedience
Lesson One of the Foundational Tutorial (on coveting) will be posted shortly. However, I think what’s in order first is to remind ourselves of the very clearly stated consequences both for obeying and for disobeying God’s Commandments. God gives us equal capacity to obey and to disobey him, and he also lets us know in no uncertain terms the rewards for our obedience and disobedience. He lays all the cards on the table for us. He always does. It’s up to us how we choose to play them.
References to these rewards for obedience and disobedience appear throughout scripture, but Moses gave the most complete and detailed run-down of them in Deuteronomy 28. As you read through them, note how many of the blessings and curses came to pass already in Old Testament times, and how many of them are coming to pass today.
Below is the chapter in its entirety. The contents were originally included as a companion to the 10 Commandments, so that whenever the Commandments were read aloud to God’s people (which was at least once a year, at Passover), the blessings and curses were also read aloud. That tradition fell away over the centuries, with only occasional come-backs (depending on who was king), but the tradition has been completely lost in Christianity. It needs to come back. Even a cursory reading of Deuteronomy 28 helps to explain a lot of what’s happening in the world today, both on an individual and a collective level. In fact, Deuteronomy 28 pretty much explains everything that’s happening.
Take a read through the chapter and see how you measure up. It can be very sobering to see aspects of yourself, as a born-again believer, reflected in the list of curses. But it’s better that you know now, than to find out too late on Judgement Day. If you are living the rewards of disobedience, you need to find out what you’re doing wrong, and you need to stop doing it. That’s the main reason for the Foundational Tutorial on the Commandments: To help you get right and stay right with God.
Deuteronomy 28 (King James Version)
28 And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth:
2 And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God.
3 Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field.
4 Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.
5 Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store.
6 Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out.
7 The Lord shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways.
8 The Lord shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; and he shall bless thee in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
9 The Lord shall establish thee an holy people unto himself, as he hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, and walk in his ways.
10 And all people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the Lord; and they shall be afraid of thee.
11 And the Lord shall make thee plenteous in goods, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy ground, in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers to give thee.
12 The Lord shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow.
13 And the Lord shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the Lord thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them:
14 And thou shalt not go aside from any of the words which I command thee this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.
15 But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:
16 Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field.
17 Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store.
18 Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.
19 Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out.
20 The Lord shall send upon thee cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in all that thou settest thine hand unto for to do, until thou be destroyed, and until thou perish quickly; because of the wickedness of thy doings, whereby thou hast forsaken me.
21 The Lord shall make the pestilence cleave unto thee, until he have consumed thee from off the land, whither thou goest to possess it.
22 The Lord shall smite thee with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and with the sword, and with blasting, and with mildew; and they shall pursue thee until thou perish.
23 And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron.
24 The Lord shall make the rain of thy land powder and dust: from heaven shall it come down upon thee, until thou be destroyed.
25 The Lord shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies: thou shalt go out one way against them, and flee seven ways before them: and shalt be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth.
26 And thy carcase shall be meat unto all fowls of the air, and unto the beasts of the earth, and no man shall fray them away.
27 The Lord will smite thee with the botch of Egypt, and with the emerods, and with the scab, and with the itch, whereof thou canst not be healed.
28 The Lord shall smite thee with madness, and blindness, and astonishment of heart:
29 And thou shalt grope at noonday, as the blind gropeth in darkness, and thou shalt not prosper in thy ways: and thou shalt be only oppressed and spoiled evermore, and no man shall save thee.
30 Thou shalt betroth a wife, and another man shall lie with her: thou shalt build an house, and thou shalt not dwell therein: thou shalt plant a vineyard, and shalt not gather the grapes thereof.
31 Thine ox shall be slain before thine eyes, and thou shalt not eat thereof: thine ass shall be violently taken away from before thy face, and shall not be restored to thee: thy sheep shall be given unto thine enemies, and thou shalt have none to rescue them.
32 Thy sons and thy daughters shall be given unto another people, and thine eyes shall look, and fail with longing for them all the day long; and there shall be no might in thine hand.
33 The fruit of thy land, and all thy labours, shall a nation which thou knowest not eat up; and thou shalt be only oppressed and crushed alway:
34 So that thou shalt be mad for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see.
35 The Lord shall smite thee in the knees, and in the legs, with a sore botch that cannot be healed, from the sole of thy foot unto the top of thy head.
36 The Lord shall bring thee, and thy king which thou shalt set over thee, unto a nation which neither thou nor thy fathers have known; and there shalt thou serve other gods, wood and stone.
37 And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all nations whither the Lord shall lead thee.
38 Thou shalt carry much seed out into the field, and shalt gather but little in; for the locust shall consume it.
39 Thou shalt plant vineyards, and dress them, but shalt neither drink of the wine, nor gather the grapes; for the worms shall eat them.
40 Thou shalt have olive trees throughout all thy coasts, but thou shalt not anoint thyself with the oil; for thine olive shall cast his fruit.
41 Thou shalt beget sons and daughters, but thou shalt not enjoy them; for they shall go into captivity.
42 All thy trees and fruit of thy land shall the locust consume.
43 The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high; and thou shalt come down very low.
44 He shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him: he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail.
45 Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkenedst not unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded thee:
46 And they shall be upon thee for a sign and for a wonder, and upon thy seed for ever.
47 Because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things;
48 Therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the Lord shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and he shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until he have destroyed thee.
49 The Lord shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand;
50 A nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor shew favour to the young:
51 And he shall eat the fruit of thy cattle, and the fruit of thy land, until thou be destroyed: which also shall not leave thee either corn, wine, or oil, or the increase of thy kine, or flocks of thy sheep, until he have destroyed thee.
52 And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst, throughout all thy land: and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates throughout all thy land, which the Lord thy God hath given thee.
53 And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters, which the Lord thy God hath given thee, in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee:
54 So that the man that is tender among you, and very delicate, his eye shall be evil toward his brother, and toward the wife of his bosom, and toward the remnant of his children which he shall leave:
55 So that he will not give to any of them of the flesh of his children whom he shall eat: because he hath nothing left him in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee in all thy gates.
56 The tender and delicate woman among you, which would not adventure to set the sole of her foot upon the ground for delicateness and tenderness, her eye shall be evil toward the husband of her bosom, and toward her son, and toward her daughter,
57 And toward her young one that cometh out from between her feet, and toward her children which she shall bear: for she shall eat them for want of all things secretly in the siege and straitness, wherewith thine enemy shall distress thee in thy gates.
58 If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, The Lord Thy God;
59 Then the Lord will make thy plagues wonderful, and the plagues of thy seed, even great plagues, and of long continuance, and sore sicknesses, and of long continuance.
60 Moreover he will bring upon thee all the diseases of Egypt, which thou wast afraid of; and they shall cleave unto thee.
61 Also every sickness, and every plague, which is not written in the book of this law, them will the Lord bring upon thee, until thou be destroyed.
62 And ye shall be left few in number, whereas ye were as the stars of heaven for multitude; because thou wouldest not obey the voice of the Lord thy God.
63 And it shall come to pass, that as the Lord rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you; so the Lord will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to nought; and ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it.
64 And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone.
65 And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the Lord shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind:
66 And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life:
67 In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! and at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning! for the fear of thine heart wherewith thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see.
68 And the Lord shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships, by the way whereof I spake unto thee, Thou shalt see it no more again: and there ye shall be sold unto your enemies for bondmen and bondwomen, and no man shall buy you.
“40 Days and 40 Nights of God’s Word”
DAY 7: JULY 29
DEUTERONOMY 1 – DEUTERONOMY 27:26
Today’s reading is the final (fifth) book of Moses’ contribution to the Old Testament. It’s essentially a summary of the highlights of the Israelite’s 40-year trek through the wilderness, as delivered in a series of speeches (or sermons) by Moses to the children of Israel just before his death and their entrance into the Promised Land. Don’t blink in this reading, because you’ll miss something important.
- What I find compelling is the repetition of important points that Moses obviously wanted to drive home to his listeners and future readers (that would be us!). When I first started reading the Old Testament years ago, I would occasionally think I had lost track of where I’d stopped reading the day before and was going back over the same text, but that wasn’t the case. It was different text but the same topics. The repetition serves the purpose of hammering into us information that needs to be so familiar that it becomes second nature or part of us, and the way to do that is stating the same things over and over but using slightly different words.
- Here are some of the main topics that are repeated by Moses: 1) We need to be obedient to God or we’ll end up like the heathens and get the same punishment as them; 2) we need to remember the children of Israel’s slavery in Egypt and how God brought them out with miracles; 3) we need teach our children and others about the Israelites’ slavery in Egypt and how God brought them out with miracles; 4) we need to keep the Commandments and all relevant laws, statutes, and holidays (note that for us born-agains, most of the laws, statutes and holidays are no longer relevant, other than for the Ten Commandments and the Passover feast, which Jesus commanded us to celebrate in the way he showed us on the night before his crucifixion. But we do – without exception – need to keep the Commandments); and 5) we need to separate ourselves from the heathen (no intermarriage) and not adopt their demonically-inspired sinful ways.
- The fifth point mentioned above became a major trap for the children of Israel. They end up intermarrying with the heathen, which then made them susceptible to adopting the culture of the heathens, which then pitted them against God. I like how God tells his people to utterly smash down the demon-worship pillars (that is, the obelisks) in the heathen cities, and yet today we see obelisks everywhere in supposed Christian nations, including and especially in Vatican City. Some of the abominations in that alleged Christian enclave have even been brought from Egypt at great financial and human cost (with several people dying in the transport of the abominations). It’s like no-one in Vatican City has ever read the Bible, or if they have read it, they decided to do the opposite of what God tells his people to do.
- I have to laugh a little bit at how God reminds his people through Moses (who, by the way, appears to be speaking for himself now that Aaron has passed away) that they were not chosen because they were such a great (i.e., populous) nation or because they were so righteous. In fact, God tells them that the only reason they were chosen is because the heathen were even wickeder than they were. So it’s like God gave the Israelites a D- for their righteousness, but because the heathen got an F, the Israelites win the prize. But a D- is nothing to crow about! One of the prophets later says that all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags, and Jesus says that none is good but God. So God isn’t actually expecting us to achieve righteousness, though we still have to try our hardest to achieve it. No dropping out or quitting, even for ‘mental health’ reasons. The harder we aim for righteousness, the more God blesses our efforts.
- Why did God make the children of Israel wander for 40 years in the wilderness? There were actually a couple of reasons, and Moses mentions them in the reading. The first is that the generation that sinned early on in the wilderness trek needed to be killed. God didn’t want to kill them all at once, as they had their uses, but none of them were allowed to cross the River Jordan into the Promised Land. So it took 40 years for them to die in various ways, most of which were natural causes.
- Another reason for the 40-year wander is that God needed to pace the overthrow of the heathen nations. This couldn’t be done all at once. So he organized for them to sack a certain place and purge (i.e., kill) all the inhabitants but keep the food and cattle, and then live there for a while until he told them to sack the next city and purge all the inhabitants but keep the food and cattle, etc. In this way, the Israelites were provided for but didn’t overextend their military resources or take on too great a burden (too much booty).
- But the main reason for the 40-year wander in the wilderness is that God needed to prove the Israelites, to humble them, to know their heart, and to see whether or not they’d keep his Commandments. If you’re born-again, you know exactly what this means. God is proving you and humbling you, even as he’s providing for you, in order to see what’s really in your heart and whether or not you’ll keep his Commandments (especially under duress). In other words, the Israelites’ 40 year-trek was a training time and a testing time as well as a filtering-out phase for what didn’t belong in the Promised Land. As a born-again believer, I 100% identify with the children of Israel’s wanderings in the wilderness, because I’m living them now. All born-again believers live them. It’s our earthly reality until we make it to our Promised Land of Heaven (that is, IF we make it to our Promised Land of Heaven).
- I’m going to include most of a passage here, because for me it sums up everything we should be and do as inheritors of God’s promise and followers of Jesus. God, through Moses, is speaking directly to us:
12 And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul,
13 To keep the commandments of the Lord, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?….
16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.
17 For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward:
18 He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment.
19 Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.
20 Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name.
21 He is thy praise, and he is thy God, that hath done for thee these great and terrible things, which thine eyes have seen.
I hope you guys are enjoying the read-through and getting out of it what you need to get out of it. Feel free to leave a comment below if something jumped out at you in this reading that you want to share. We all read the same words, but God highlights different ones for each of us at different times. In this way, God’s Word always stays fresh and always has something new to teach us, to cherish, and to apply to our lives.
For the full schedule of the BIBLE READ-THROUGH on PDF, see below:
“40 Days and 40 Nights of God’s Word”
DAY 3: JULY 25
EXODUS 5 – EXODUS 31:18
This reading is the meat and bones of the Old Testament. It’s so rich, you could read it every day for the rest of your life and still find something new, something that impresses on you in a way it hadn’t before.
- It’s good that God told Moses in advance that his efforts to persuade Pharaoh to let the Hebrews go would fail multiple times before finally succeeding. Otherwise, Moses might have given up after the fifth or sixth try. God talks to all his children, to guide and encourage them. This spiritual fact has mostly been lost on Christians today. They think prayer is a one-way channel to God, but the communication flows both ways, as we see throughout the entire Bible. God is a very present God and Father for those who love him and serve him and heed his advice.
- Interesting that the Egyptian magicians (demon-summoners) could turn a rod into a serpent and back, and turn water into blood, but they couldn’t turn dust into lice, or call forth the frogs, or any of the other miracle plagues that God struck the Egyptians with. Even today, some people who claim to be Christians can perform miracles in Jesus’ name, but they’re actually summoning demons to do the task. Jesus warned us about those people. Just because someone performs a miracle in Jesus’ name doesn’t mean the miracle is from God.
- Note that the plagues didn’t affect the Hebrews, just the Egyptians. The Hebrews were protected by God. Note also that later in the reading, when the Hebrews are in the wilderness, God tells them they won’t get sick (“I will take sickness away from the midst of thee”). These are the protections promised to those who obey God’s Commandments and other directives. We are not of the world; we are in the world, not of it. Remember that.
- “SPOIL THE EGYPTIANS!” After 430 years of slavery, the Hebrews were only too happy to take whatever they could get from the Egyptians, and God made sure the Egyptians gave generously. But why on Earth did God direct the Hebrews to take gold jewelry and fabric on their wilderness journey? Would they not have been better off taking food and water? We find out later in the reading that the gold and fabrics are for the building of the Ark of the Covenant and everything that went with it (candlesticks, basins, etc.). God’s directions to you initially may seem odd and even nonsensical, but they always have a purpose, as you eventually find out.
- The Egyptians thought they had the Hebrews trapped when they heard they were camped on the shores of the Red Sea. The Hebrews, when they saw Pharaoh’s army coming for them, thought the same. But God’s whole purpose in bringing the Hebrews to the shores of the Red Sea was to trap the Egyptians, not the Hebrews. The Hebrews he safely led through the sea on dry land by miraculously parting the waters, whereas the Egyptians who followed after them he drowned. God ALWAYS makes a way for his people. No matter how hopeless and impossible it may look, GOD ALWAYS MAKES A WORKAROUND. We need to remember this for what is coming. You don’t have to give into evil because you don’t see a way around it. God will get you through it HIS way (that is, in a way that you cannot conceive at the time), if you trust him and follow his advice.
- THE TEN COMMANDMENTS! These are the core of scripture. None of them have changed, and they are all as equally valid today as they were thousands of years ago when God first gave them to Moses. Remember that, at the time, the Commandments were to apply to Hebrews only, so killing a non-Hebrew was not considered a sin. Jesus later expanded the jurisdiction of the Commandments to include everyone, whether believer or not, and God then wrote his Commandments on everyone’s heart, believer or not. So none of us now has any excuse not to follow them. No-one can claim they don’t know the Commandments, and no-one can claim they don’t apply to them. The Commandments now apply to everyone.
- Do you keep all of them? Your answer had better be “YES!” without thinking twice, or you have some repenting and restorative work to do.
- Fascinating directive about the altar – you’re not supposed to go up steps to get to it, and if it’s stone, it’s not supposed to be hewn. Strange, but nearly every altar I’ve seen in every alleged Christian church I’ve been to has steps leading up to it and is made of polished marble or some other manufactured stone, wood, iron, or artificial material. I don’t recall one altar in an alleged Christian church that was simply unhewn stone. Anyone know of any? How about graven images of people that are prayed to, decorated, or have lit candles around them – seen any of those in alleged Christian churches? “By their fruits shall ye know them.”
- I LOVE THE SABBATH! Obviously, God does, too, since he made it a Commandment and stressed that we need to keep it to “refresh” ourselves (his term). The Sabbath was made for our refreshing, so that we can rest physically and mentally and have plenty of time to get another hit of God’s Word without feeling obligated to perform other duties. It is the one day a week to be Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus rather than Martha running around like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off. There’s nothing better on Earth than spending the whole day with God and reviving yourself through scripture. If you don’t do that, you don’t have the refreshing you need to get through the next week. As Jesus said: “The Sabbath is made for man, not man for the Sabbath”. God wants us to refresh ourselves in mind, body and spirit one day out of every seven because he knows we need it. He made us that way.
What were your impressions of this blockbuster reading? Did anything jump out at you that you hadn’t noticed before? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts. Happy Sabbath, everyone!
The BIBLE READ-THROUGH SCHEDULE on PDF is directly below: