"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .


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Tuesday, January 31, 2023


Contributing commentaries by pastors Sonny Islas, Albert Lopez, and James Fire

DEUTERONOMY 9: “Stubborn Sin vs. Sanctified Security” by James Fire; check out the SHINE BRIGHT Church teaching by Sonny Islas here!

INTRODUCTION: We have a contrast between the faithfulness of GOD and the unfaithfulness of man. GOD can be expected to keep His Word, to remain faithful to His promises and oaths (HEB 6:13-18), while we who are weak specks of dust are prone to failure and lacking in integrity. But we have every hope that keeps us secure in that the Spirit of GOD is able to work through us the nature of JESUS, which we experience in the new man.

The LORD in this chapter reminds Israel of their unfaithfulness and even outright rebellion as well as His faithfulness despite them. He also promises to be with them as they confront the Canaanites and conquer them by faith in and obedience to the LORD.

Just as they crossed the river Jordan and into a new life, not as Hebrew slaves, but as the nation of GOD, children of Abraham – we too have entered into new life in Christ. We, like Israel will meet new and different challenges we’ve never experienced before, but our LORD has gone ahead and prepared the way for our victory, and all He asks of us is hearts of loving obedience that will follow wherever He leads!

 1 "Hear, O Israel: You are to cross over the Jordan today and go in to dispossess nations greater and mightier than yourself, cities great and fortified up to heaven, 2 "a people great and tall, the descendants of the Anakim, whom you know, and of whom you heard it said, 'Who can stand before the descendants of Anak?' 3 "Therefore understand today that the LORD your God is He who goes over before you as a consuming fire. He will destroy them and bring them down before you; so you shall drive them out and destroy them quickly, as the LORD has said to you

Israel crossed the Jordan River and we learn from the book of JOSHUA that they were all circumcised right before their major assault against Jericho (JOSH 5:2).

Crossing the Jordan in many of the old Negro spirituals was considered crossing over from this life and into heaven. Yet for this analogy to hold true, then Canaan should have been blissful peace and everlasting blessing and rest. But there were foreign nations to combat, huge cities and awesome giants to overcome, and temptations and failings galore!

That isn’t a very good picture of heaven to me!

Rather, crossing the Jordan (bearing in mind that the Hebrews were circumcised just prior to the crossing) is leaving the old life of sin behind and entering into the new life – where the struggle against sin is real, but one with a destiny of total victory by the power of GOD!

GOD calls them to “hear” – that is, to listen with the intent to obey the word of the LORD, that they were to cross over and into the land promised them.
GOD reminds Israel that they will be encountering “nations greater and mightier” than themselves, “cities fortified up to heaven” and the giant descendants of Anak; NUM 13:33 (Goliath the opponent of king David was quite possibly also of Anak).

While Israel was certainly to engage the enemy, it would be the power of GOD working in and through them, rendering judgment upon these Canaanite tribes, including the Amorites – which GOD declared already would fall in judgment because of their abominations and unrepentance (GEN 15:16).

Many are critical of the conquests of Canaan, expressing that Israel was acting on their own behalf so that they could gain “the riches of war”, when in fact they were conducting themselves as the vassal of the LORD and in agreement to their suzerain relationship with YHWH. He is the Holy Judge, and He declared these nations guilty as His holy gavel struck the judge’s bench with thunderous resolve!

4 "Do not think in your heart, after the LORD your God has cast them out before you, saying, 'Because of my righteousness the LORD has brought me in to possess this land'; but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is driving them out from before you. 5 "It is not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you go in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD your God drives them out from before you, and that He may fulfill the word which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 6 "Therefore understand that the LORD your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stiff-necked people

The LORD admonishes caution on behalf of the nation, that they dare not believe they inherited the blessing of the land because of their own righteousness. There were two reasons why the LORD did this, just as we alluded to a moment ago:

1) The LORD told Abraham that He would do this, for him and his descendants – not because of their own worthiness or righteousness or any sort of condition that they were obligated to fulfill. This was solely on the good promise of GOD Himself.

What is the Abrahamic Covenant?

These promises of GOD to bring Israel into the land also have to do with the Land Covenant, or what some call the Palestinian Covenant, which was also unconditional.

So, while the Mosaic Covenant was in fact quite conditional, filled with all sorts of “IFS…THENS” the Abrahamic Covenant is entirely unconditional save for the single qualifier – like Abraham, we must simply believe the Gospel by faith: and that gets us into the kingdom of GOD as surely as Abraham and his descendants will ultimately inherit the kingdom of Israel under the rule of the Messiah.
In this way, the Christian faith is comparable to the Abrahamic Covenant rather than it is the Mosaic Covenant:
ROMANS 4:7-16
7 "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sins are covered; 8 Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin." 9 Does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness. 10 How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised. 11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also, 12 and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised. 13 For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect, 15 because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression. 16 Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.
We as Christians ought never to see ourselves as better or more deserving than Israel just as GOD warned His people to not think such prideful thoughts. We are admonished by the apostle Paul in this regard:
ROMANS 11:13-22
13 For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, 14 if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them. 15 For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 16 For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. 17 And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, 18 do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you. 19 You will say then, "Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in." 20 Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. 22 Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.
2) The nations of Canaan were unrepentant in their sins, primarily in the sacrificial offerings of their babies to their false gods, and would be judged for their sins; GOD, as the supreme Suzerain used Israel as His holy hammer to smite them with.

7 "Remember! Do not forget how you provoked the LORD your God to wrath in the wilderness. From the day that you departed from the land of Egypt until you came to this place, you have been rebellious against the LORD. 8 "Also in Horeb you provoked the LORD to wrath, so that the LORD was angry enough with you to have destroyed you

The LORD all the more brings remembrance to Israel regarding how the nation provoked GOD, practically from Day One after they were miraculously delivered from Egypt, and this rebellious, “stiff-necked” people climaxed in their corruption when they worshiped their unholy cow that Aaron fashioned out of gold. The same gold which GOD intended to be used later for the Tabernacle! And these foul deeds were done even while Moses witnessed the finger of GOD carving the commandment into stone: “You shall not make to yourselves graven images… and… you shall not have other gods before me, I AM the LORD”.

The unbeliever looks upon the Old Testament GOD as harsh, vindictive, blood thirsty, because of such passages as above. What they fail to understand is that GOD is the LORD. All creation is ultimately under His authority and He has every right to run His creation exactly as He wills: the standard of holiness must be kept by all who inhabit His creation, and those who refuse to submit, but go even further by knowingly rebelling against His will – He has the right to judge, condemn and destroy.

He had every right to destroy Israel for their rebellion, and while the majority were destroyed, the LORD preserved a remnant according to His grace, to enter into the promised land of Israel.

Likewise, only those who come to faith in Christ will be allowed to see and enter into the Kingdom of GOD (JOHN 3:3,5; 1 PET 1:23). Any who attempt some other way, will be judged, condemned, and eternally destroyed (that is, they shall exist forever in a state of utter ruin; 2 THESS 1:9)

The Mosaic Law in the hands of GOD is a precision instrument, a sanctified scalpel that cuts deep into the heart and exposes the cancer that is sin. When we are convinced through and through of our unworthiness and our desperately wicked heart, that makes the grace of GOD all the more astounding! That GOD could take out such wicked hearts and replace them with new ones, suitable for the Holy Spirit’s habitation!
Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more,
9 "When I went up into the mountain to receive the tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant which the LORD made with you, then I stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights. I neither ate bread nor drank water. 10 "Then the LORD delivered to me two tablets of stone written with the finger of God, and on them were all the words which the LORD had spoken to you on the mountain from the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly. 11 "And it came to pass, at the end of forty days and forty nights, that the LORD gave me the two tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant. 12 "Then the LORD said to me, 'Arise, go down quickly from here, for your people whom you brought out of Egypt have acted corruptly; they have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them; they have made themselves a molded image.' 13 "Furthermore the LORD spoke to me, saying, 'I have seen this people, and indeed they are a stiff-necked people. 14 'Let Me alone, that I may destroy them and blot out their name from under heaven; and I will make of you a nation mightier and greater than they

Note here the miraculous and sustaining power of GOD! Moses went without food for forty days – which is doable. I’ve known pastors and others who went on forty day fasts, but they were led of the LORD to do so – and they knew what they were doing.
If you ever decide to go on a fast any longer than three days, I would strongly recommend you do your due diligence and study up on this, because fasting, while it has many healthful benefits, if done improperly can lead to all kinds of ill effects. And if you ever went on an extended fast between twenty one to forty days, you have to go through special procedures when you break your fast, otherwise you could die!

But Moses also went without water! An average person can last on average, anywhere between seven to fourteen days without water if they are eating food; but fasting from food and water could mean death in as little as a few days!

Yet Moses lasts the entire forty days! Our GOD is the Author of Life! He alone has the authority of life and death:
1 SAMUEL 2:6
The LORD kills and makes alive; He brings down to the grave and brings up.
Vs. 11 “…the LORD gave me the two tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant.”

Here we see the explicit indication that this covenant that the LORD, the Sovereign GOD is making with Israel is what is called the Mosaic or the Mount Sinai Covenant. The Adamic covenant was conditional upon Adam’s obedience to GOD, and likewise the Mosaic. All of the other covenants, whether you’re talking about the Edenic, the Noahic, Abrahamic, Davidic, the Land covenant and the New Covenant are all unconditional where GOD alone assumes sole responsibility in carrying them out – yet in all the covenants, faith is needed, belief and trust in the Word of GOD is required.

15 "So I turned and came down from the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire; and the two tablets of the covenant were in my two hands. 16 "And I looked, and behold, you had sinned against the LORD your God-had made for yourselves a molded calf! You had turned aside quickly from the way which the LORD had commanded you. 17 "Then I took the two tablets and threw them out of my two hands and broke them before your eyes. 18 "And I fell down before the LORD, as at the first, forty days and forty nights; I neither ate bread nor drank water, because of all your sin which you committed in doing wickedly in the sight of the LORD, to provoke Him to anger. 19 "For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure with which the LORD was angry with you, to destroy you. But the LORD listened to me at that time also. 20 "And the LORD was very angry with Aaron and would have destroyed him; so I prayed for Aaron also at the same time

As we had previously observed in our study of the book of EXODUS, GOD first revealed Himself to Moses in the burning bush. We see now that the entire mountain top is afire with the glory of GOD’s presence.

This represents the thematic doctrinal assertion of progressive revelation: that is to say, GOD reveals Himself in deeper and greater ways throughout the canon of Scripture, which climaxes with the revelation of the WORD made flesh, our LORD Jesus Christ. And the revelation of the Son will know an ever greater climax once He returns in glory and power!

At this time in Moses life, he was given the Laws of GOD as written upon those tablets of stone, written by the finger of GOD. No sooner has the LORD provided these Ten Commandments that the children of Israel violated two of them:

They erected another god to worship by making a molten image, violating the very first two commandments.

ROMANS 7:7-14
7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, "You shall not covet." 8 But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead. 9 I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. 10 And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me. 12 Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good. 13 Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.

Note also the type of Christ that Moses represents here:

He interceded for forty days, fasting, and praying on behalf of his fellow Hebrews (including his brother Aaron (the high priest!) who was responsible for fashioning the idol) who so angered GOD for their disobedience and idolatry that He would have destroyed them all. Likewise, without Christ our great High Priest Who is not after the order of Aaron interceding for us and the very propitiation for our sins, would we all perish in our sins (HEB 7:11,25; ROM 3:25; 1 JOHN 2:2)!

21 "Then I took your sin, the calf which you had made, and burned it with fire and crushed it and ground it very small, until it was as fine as dust; and I threw its dust into the brook that descended from the mountain. 22 "Also at Taberah and Massah and Kibroth Hattaavah you provoked the LORD to wrath. 23 "Likewise, when the LORD sent you from Kadesh Barnea, saying, 'Go up and possess the land which I have given you,' then you rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God, and you did not believe Him nor obey His voice. 24 "You have been rebellious against the LORD from the day that I knew you

Rather than the molten calf, it would be the LAMB of GOD that would provide deliverance for Israel – and this grave sin that these Hebrews committed was dealt with as Moses destroyed the image, rather than destroy the worshipers for their transgression.

In each of the mentioned locations, the Hebrew people tested the LORD’s patience with their murmuring against Moses’ leadership, their complaining for lack of meat and water, their disobedience and unbelief in the Word of GOD – even in the face of profound miracles they had seen in their deliverance, the crossing of the Red Sea and the wilderness wanderings.

This testifies that it’s not by witnessing and experiencing miracles, signs and wonders that changes the heart; it has been, and always shall be the working of the Word of GOD in a heart that expresses faith in the LORD:
1 Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. 2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. 3 For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: "So I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest,'" although the works were finished from the foundation of the world
To enter into GOD’s rest in Israel’s day referred to believing GOD, being blessed by Him in His faithful provisions, and despite all odds, entering into the promised land because of their loyalty to the LORD and His Word of Truth.
For us as the church, entering into GOD’s rest means that it’s not by works of our own righteousness, but by His own mercy and grace:
TITUS 3:5-7
5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
25 "Thus I prostrated myself before the LORD; forty days and forty nights I kept prostrating myself, because the LORD had said He would destroy you. 26 "Therefore I prayed to the LORD, and said: 'O Lord GOD, do not destroy Your people and Your inheritance whom You have redeemed through Your greatness, whom You have brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand. 27 'Remember Your servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; do not look on the stubbornness of this people, or on their wickedness or their sin, 28 'lest the land from which You brought us should say, "Because the LORD was not able to bring them to the land which He promised them, and because He hated them, He has brought them out to kill them in the wilderness." 29 'Yet they are Your people and Your inheritance, whom You brought out by Your mighty power and by Your outstretched arm.

While the Mosaic Covenant was conditional, the blessings of GOD or the cursings depended on Israel’s obedience of disobedience respectively, Moses doesn’t plead with GOD on that basis but rather on the unconditional Abrahamic Covenant. This is why Moses beseeches GOD to remember “Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” who heard the LORD proclaim this promise to them.

He also appealed to GOD to protect His Holy Name, lest the nations of the world should believe Him to be a deceiver who plotted the destruction of the people of Israel. Moses reminds GOD that Israel belonged to Him as His inheritance (PS 48:14; IS 43:1). The Name of the LORD is holy and reverential – His Name is associated irrevocably to His nature:
EXODUS 34:5-7
5 Now the LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. 6 And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, 7 "keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and the fourth generation."

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