Monday, May 21, 2012

120521 - Deuteronomy 16-17 - Kings and the Law

Monday SOAP: God's humiliation program for the Kings of Israel: repeated exposure to the Law they could never live up to. Until "the Son of God, the King of Israel" (John 1:49) no one ever did. Repeated exposure to the holy demands of the Law either brings out a person's hypocrisy or humility.

S: “And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.” (Deuteronomy 17:18-20)

O: God's prescription for the future kings - the authority figures, from a human standpoint, in the Kingdom of Israel? Write yourself a copy of the Bible. Keep it with you all the time. Read it every day. Keep it and do it.

A: The scribes were among Jesus' arch-enemies in the Gospel accounts, and it was their job to copy the Scriptures. Because of this, they became experts in the content of the Word of God. But unfortunately, their hearts were not in it.

This reminds me once again of the principle that the same sun hardens the clay, yet melts the wax. Full-time ministry brings forth a hardness in some people and a softness in others. If it's possible for a person to somehow think himself free the lawful (1 Timothy 1:8) application of God's Law, yet to be required to stringently apply it to others, I think this results in that hardness. The heart is calloused, repeatedly exposed to the heat of judgment but unchanged. My impression is that this comes from hasty promotion. (1 Timothy 3:6, 5:22, 1 Peter 5:5) Someone is thrown into a position of responsibility for which he is spiritually ill-prepared, and it results in a personal disregard for that which they publicly enforce.

Sadly, I've seen this too many times to ignore it. I am in full-time ministry myself now. I'm far from a big-shot: my own ministry responsibilities are undistinguished. Yet they are so broad that I am sometimes called upon to preach at a level that is beyond my own experience/obedience. It makes me very afraid when feedback that I hear makes it sound to me as if I project more strength, self-control or maturity in an area in which I'm called upon to share God's counsel, and I must hasten to walk a fine balance between sufficient and excessive self-disclosure. At the same time, I would be doing a disservice to those new Christians who are trying to walk with God in more challenging circumstances than my own if I invited compromise in any way. (Luke 17:1-2)

Maybe all of this is why it's so hard to think of a good example of this law. Even Hezekiah fell short. (2 Chronicles 32:25) Josiah as well. (2 Chronicles 35:21-22) Ezra wasn't a king, but the passage describing his ministry preparation has always stuck with me:

For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments. (Ezra 7:10).

He first sought God's Law, then he did it, THEN taught it.

P: Lord Jesus, all of this insufficiency that is on display in your Word and in every life -- in my sight, especially my own life -- only points to your greatness. No law could possibly be superior to you as the Lawgiver. But for my sake, you lovingly and humbly placed yourself under it, so that it would not mean death to me.

(Why "SOAP?" See


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