Deuteronomy 32-34

Deuteronomy 32-34…The song of Moses, and his death.

Moses’ final words to Israel include a reminder of their history, an outline of God’s blessings on them, and a dose of reality regarding God’s sovereignty and wrath. This section in Deuteronomy contains the famous verse in 32:35, which the Lord used powerfully during The Great Awakening in early to mid-18th century New England. Jonathan Edwards used this text when he preached “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” in Enfield, Connecticut during the summer of 1741. It is probably the most famous of all American sermons. The sermon lays out the dreadful consequences of man’s sin, and Edwards sought to persuade his listeners that they might at any moment be called to judgment for their sins. Reportedly some in Edwards’s audience cried out in response to his terrible imagery. At the end of the sermon, though, Edwards preached about “an extraordinary opportunity, a day wherein Christ has thrown the door of mercy wide open.”

This serves as an example to us in our evangelism. The objective reality of both God’s wrath against our sin, and the amazing grace He has extended us in Christ need to be presented. We certainly want to hold out the hope of being with God in heaven as a reason for repentance and faith in Christ. We should also emphasize that we were made for something more than what we can see with our eyes today. However, we do not want to neglect the whole truth, and the bible is clear about hell. In fact, no one in the bible talked more about hell than Jesus. So, while it is not popular, the doctrine of hell needs to be woven into our evangelism. A right view of hell should in fact motivate us to tell others about Christ, because according to Deuteronomy 32:35, “their foot shall slip; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and their doom comes swiftly.” Outside of Christ, God wrath is terrible; and this life is short, so we should seek to share the gospel with those God has placed in our lives today.

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Isaiah 40:29

Isaiah 40:29…”He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.”

In our prideful, unbelief, we think we’re strong enough to function without God. Its easy to think this way because we cannot see God, and quickly forget about Him. His word is clear though, teaching us that we need Him, and that He wants us to depend upon Him for everything. When we go to Him in utter dependence, He gives us strength. Not necessarily strength to always win, or be successful in a worldly sense, but strength to persevere with an eternal perspective. Strength to fix our eyes on Christ, who is to be esteemed above everything and everyone. Strength to love in difficult circumstances and strength to hold our tongues. Strength to refrain from lust, and strength to trust God’s goodness when we don’t really understand His purpose. This is all to be for His glory, not ours. However, this strength is only granted when the object of our worship is Him. If we go to Him as a means to some other end like health or wealth or special earthly blessings, them we miss the point. Christ didn’t die for us to experience the American Dream more fully. The Creator of the Universe devised a rescue plan because we needed to be saved from our sins, and have no other hope against His wrath. We have to see ourselves as completely without hope or power, and incapable of standing before Him on the day of judgement, outside of Christ. When we grasp this, we’ll see the true beauty of Christ, and the grace and mercy of our Father in heaven. Until then, we’re trying to use a god that actually doesn’t exist, which is a dangerous place to be.

Isaiah 40:23

Isaiah 40:23…”He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.”

God is sovereign over authority in this world. He places people in positions of leadership for His glory. Since we’re not Him, we can’t fully understand His plan, but because of His character and word, we know that His plan is good. If we’re in a position of leadership, be it in our families, churches, or work, He put us there. As Christians, we are constantly either telling the truth about what Christ is like through our actions and words as leaders, or we’re giving false witness. This is true of the times when we do nothing as well. When we fail to lead through not speaking or not acting, we abdicate our responsibility, and lie about Christ. Thankfully, He perfectly led, and always spoke and acted in holiness. If we repent and believe in Him, His perfect life is imputed to us. However, we need to take spiritual inventory of where we are falling short, because where there is no recognition of sin there is no repentance, and where there is no repentance there is spiritual immaturity.

Isaiah 40:4

Isaiah 40:4…”Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.” The idea of preparing the way of the LORD is a word picture including valleys, mountains, and hills, because the real preparation must take place in our hearts. Building a road is very much like the preparation God must do in our hearts. They are both expensive, they both must deal with many different problems and environments incapable of fixing themselves, and they both take an expert engineer.

Does the gospel you believe have any cost? The good news as outlined in the bible includes denying yourself:

Matthew 16:24-25Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”

Acts 28:24

Acts 28:24…”Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe.” This verse should encourage us in our evangelism. Even Paul, arguably the greatest evangelist in the history of the world, did not convert everyone to whom he preached the gospel. Of course this is because it is God who saves. We certainly want to be persuasive, but there is great freedom in knowing that our duty in evangelism is to present and live out the gospel. God will use us according to His will, and so our responsibility is to be faithful in evangelism, trusting that we are living and working where He has placed us, in part, for that purpose. Our finite humans minds struggle to grasp this truth: God’s elect were chosen before creation, but we are still used by Him to share the gospel with all, since the elect are not apparently obvious to us until after they are saved.

Acts 26:20

Acts 26:20…”I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds.” In giving his defense to King Agrippa, Paul is able to share the gospel. This particular verse is extremely helpful for us in our evangelism as well. Sharing the gospel includes the following four key elements: God, Man, Christ, Response (details have been posted previously here under Acts 18:4). All four are equally important, and all four have been watered down in the contemporary American church. Paul clearly includes in his gospel presentation a right response, which specifically describes active repentance and obedience. There is a cost to the Christian life, and any gospel promising ease of life this side of heaven is extra-biblical (outside of the bible). Your life does not get easier when you follow Jesus, and we need to make this clear in evangelism. There is a cost to following Him, mainly that you’ll have to give up your previous life and pursue Him, submitting to His ways in all things. Thankfully, we’re not saved based on our own deeds being perfect, but we have a Savior who was perfect, and laid down His life for our justification before God. But, if we are truly saved, then we will pursue sanctification, imperfectly as it may be (Romans 8:30).

Acts 15:41

Acts 15:41…”He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.” Paul took Silas, and went around building up the brothers and sisters in the faith at these churches. So, what did that look like? It certainly included preaching the gospel to them, but also likely involved some practical exhortation to holy living as well. This should be the goal of every Christian. Is this something you think about? What are you doing to spiritually strengthen the other members of your church? This is not difficult, but does require a willingness to give up your time. This is the beauty of the vision God has for His people. A variegated group of people, united by one common goal and interest: glorifying Him, through love for and submission to His Son, as well as a concern for the spiritual well-being of His people. Do you have an interest in the spiritual well-being of the members of your church? According to Jesus (John 13:35), this is a great litmus-test question to see if you are one of the elect:

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Acts 4:12

Acts 4:12…”Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” The exclusivity of the gospel is offensive, because it takes authority and control away from the individual. We want to control our own destiny and define reality. However, objective reality exists regardless of our opinion of it. We can choose to believe something is not true, but be greatly deceived. All of us have experienced this, and yet some choose to deny the objective reality that they will one day stand before God and give an account for their lives. According to this verse, the only way to be saved from His wrath (which includes eternal punishment and separation from Him) is through His Son, Jesus. This is great news, because we are in desperate need of a Savior. There is a massive chasm between God and mankind because of His holiness and our sinfulness. Christ’s perfectly holy life was laid down as a sacrifice, and through His resurrection from the dead He conquered the power of sin and death. While we all will die because of sin, the sting of death is gone for the one who has been born again. Live once, die twice; live twice, die once.

Acts 3:12

Acts 3:12…”When Peter saw this, he said to them: ‘Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?'” Observe the difference in the manner of working the miracles. Our Lord always spoke as having Almighty power, and never hesitated to receive the greatest honor that was given to him on account of his Divine miracles. But, the apostles referred all to their Lord, and refused to receive any honor, except as his undeserving instruments. This shows that Jesus was one with the Father, and co-equal with Him; while the apostles knew that they were weak, sinful men, and dependent for everything on Jesus, whose power effected the cure. If we are to be used by the Lord, we must be humble in understanding our role. He saves souls, and uses us as His tools for the work. This gives us great confidence in evangelism as the work of conversion is the Lord’s.

Acts 2:42

Acts 2:42…”They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” This is what repentance and faith in Christ looks like practically. This first group of believers responded to the gospel by identifying themselves with particular leaders through submitting to them, and began to count themselves as citizens of Christ’s kingdom. These clusters of Christians assembling in unity, holiness, and dedication to God and each other is God’s model for our lives today. The church is the bride of Christ, and is therefore to be growing in holiness to be set apart from the world, so she can be presented to Christ as blameless and spotless on the day He returns. She will never be perfect this side of heaven/His return, but she should be moving in that direction. A church which looks similar to the world around her, lies about what God is really like, and is not an accurate representation of God’s intent for Christ’s bride. Do your leaders/pastors/elders ever teach you that you need to be growing in holiness? If not, in light of Hebrews 12:14, respectfully ask them why.

Hebrews 12:14
Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.