Day #317: Daily Bible Reading Plan - November 10th
Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 13 - 15 ...
What does it mean to be a child of God? Who are the people of the Lord today? The answers to those questions may well determine whether YOU are a child of God and where you will spend eternity! While many today believe that we are ALL God's children, the Bible says otherwise. From Genesis through Deuteronomy we see God choosing ONE nation and setting them apart for Himself. God says to them, "You are a people holy to the LORD your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the LORD has chosen YOU to be His treasured possession" (14:2). What does this mean for all the other peoples and nations of the earth? Does that mean that every person in Israel was saved, just by being part of that nation? How is this "fair"?
Going back to Chapter 9, it is clear that God chose Israel for His own purposes. God gave them the land, not because they earned it, because they deserved it or because they were more righteous than any other nation on the earth, but because He chose Abraham and his descendants to bring glory to Himself. If you miss this, you fail to understand the purpose of God from the beginning. God says to Israel through Moses, "It is on account of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is going to drive them out before you. It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land ... the LORD your God will drive them out before you to accomplish what He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob" (9:4-5).
This is an essential truth for all who know the true God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. You and I who believe in Jesus Christ for forgiveness and life are saved by GRACE! And grace comes from God's sovereign choice. If you or I have done anything to earn God's favor, then it is no longer grace. If you or I can take any credit for our salvation, then God does not get all the glory. But the principle revealed here in Deuteronomy is still true today: Those whom God chooses exist for the glory of the God who chose them and who saves them. And the result of that knowledge is humility and thankfulness, moving us to rejoice in the Lord, our God. It's so simple even a child can understand it!
You see, if knowing God is no big deal ... if it doesn't matter what you believe or whom you believe or if you believe, then none of this matters at all. Either God is who He says He is and it is a privilege to be one of His children, or it is meaningless. God made this abundantly clear to Israel. In Chapter 13 He explains that if one who claims to be a prophet has a dream and foretells the future, and if he announces a miraculous sign and it happens, but then he says, "Let us follow other gods" (13:2), he is to be stoned to death, because he has preached rebellion against the God who redeemed you.
But this gets even more personal: "If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, 'Let us go and worship other gods,' ... do not yield to him or listen to him. Show him no pity ..." (13:6-8). In fact, God says that the one closest to them must be the first to stone them. Why? "Because he tried to turn you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt" (13:9). And if a town the LORD gave to Israel tried to lead the people astray to worship other gods, the whole town was to be put to death. How can this BE?! The answer: God is holy and these were the people God had chosen to be LIKE HIM!!
God had previously told the people, "I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. ... I am the LORD who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy" (Leviticus 11:44-45). And again in Leviticus 19:2: "The LORD said to Moses, 'Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: 'Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.'" God had chosen THIS people to display His holiness, His righteousness, His majesty to the world ... and they would ... and they WILL!! God takes all of this very seriously!
For those who might think God has changed or that He operates under different principles today, you need to read I Peter 1:13-16, as God speaks to those who believe in Christ, "Prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do, for it is written, 'Be holy, because I am holy.'" And the writer of Hebrews says, "Without holiness no one will see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14).
To be a child of God is to know God and to understand the privilege of being one of His chosen people. Most of Israel never understood that, and most who claim to know Him today take it even less seriously. People act as though being a Christian is like being a Muslim or a Buddhist or a follower of any other religion ... but it's NOT!! As Moses gives the people God's instructions concerning clean and unclean food and tithing and canceling debts (Chapters 14-15), it becomes more and more obvious that these are more than just "rules to live by ..." God is telling Israel that HE is the center of their lives and obedience to His commands is not optional.
Being "holy" means first of all being "set apart." God chooses some and sets us apart to display His glory, His character, to the world. In our words and in our deeds we are to live and act like those who know and love God. Our motivation arises from the fact that we ARE the people of God, not in our attempts to BECOME the people of God by our own "goodness" or righteousness. Remember what God said about Israel ... it was not because of their integrity or righteousness that He was giving them the land. The entire Old Testament points to the need for those whom God has chosen to be washed, to be cleansed, to be purified, to be MADE HOLY!! How do you make sinful people holy??
JESUS!! While God still has plans for the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and will show Himself glorious through their deliverance when Jesus returns, God has fulfilled His promises to Abraham by calling to Himself a people from all the nations ... those who believe in Jesus Christ, the promised "Seed" of Abraham. These "called-out ones," the "ekklesia," (church), are the chosen people of God today. "YOU are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a HOLY nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the majesty of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light" (I Peter 2:9). Through faith, God DECLARES us holy in His sight through our union with Christ. HIS holiness, HIS righteousness, becomes ours ... credited to our account! Do you get this? Do you understand what this means for us who believe today? WE are the children of God, as those within Israel who truly believed in God were in the days of Moses.
And as God called Israel to be holy, so He calls us to be holy. As there were some in Israel who were not truly God's children, so there are some in the church who are not truly God's children. But as it was true then, so it is true now, we who ARE the children of God have the desire to please Him because we love Him. As He had delivered Israel from their slavery in Egypt, so He has delivered us from our slavery to sin and set us free to worship Him, our God, and to come to Him as "Abba, Father!" If you know Him as YOUR God, rejoice in the privilege of being a child of God and live every day to display His glory through your obedience to His Word. Doing so gives life meaning and purpose and brings glory to the LORD OUR God!!
"O Lord, MY God, I give You thanks for making me one of Your children by grace through faith in Your Son Jesus Christ. My heart's desire is to pursue holiness, as Your Spirit works within me. Let my life be like a light, pointing those who are in the darkness to find in You the truth that sets them free. Forgive me, Father, when I fall short of Your glory and continue Your work in me until that day when I see You face-to-face and stand in Your holy presence. In Jesus' name, Amen"