NIV Bible readings from the Revised Common Lectionary for Sunday, March 10, 2019
Deuteronomy 26:1-11 — Honouring God by giving Him the first of everything. The principle of worshipping God in His lordship of all our provision
Luke 4:1-13 — Jesus overcomes Satan’s attack by honouring the Word. Jesus in the wilderness uses God’s truth to break Satan’s lies
Romans 10:8b-13 — The path to salvation, declaring our faith. We honour God by speaking out our trust in Him
Also: Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16
Honouring God by giving Him the first of everything. The principle of worshipping God in His lordship of all our provision.
1-3 When you have entered the land the Lord your God (Yahweh) is giving you as an inheritance and have taken possession of it and settled in it, take some of the firstfruits of all that you produce from the soil of the land the Lord your God is giving you and put them in a basket. Then go to the place the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name and say to the priest in office at the time, “I declare today to the Lord your God that I have come to the land the Lord swore to our ancestors to give us.”
“Firstfruits” – the principal of giving back to God the firstfruits, the tithe, the first part of anything was established, Deut. 18:4. This, however, was to be an exceptional and one-only offering of the first produce from the new land God would give them.
4 The priest shall take the basket from your hands and set it down in front of the altar of the Lord your God.
5 Then you shall declare before the Lord your God: “My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down into Egypt with a few people and lived there and became a great nation, powerful and numerous.
“Wandering Aramean” – this refers to Jacob, who married the daughters of his uncle Laban, an Aramean, Genesis 28:5. Arameans were Aramaic-speaking Semitic people.
6 But the Egyptians mistreated us and made us suffer, subjecting us to harsh labour.
7 Then we cried out to the Lord, the God of our ancestors, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our misery, toil and oppression.
The first declaration of worship in the new land would begin with praising God’s deliverance and provision in the nation’s election, His protection in oppression, deliverance in exodus and the gift of land.
8-10 So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders. He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey; and now I bring the firstfruits of the soil that You, Lord, have given me.” Place the basket before the Lord your God and bow down before Him.
11 Then you and the Levites and the foreigners residing among you shall rejoice in all the good things the Lord your God has given to you and your household.
“Rejoice” – recalling the earlier commandment of Deut. 12:12 to “…celebrate there in the presence of the LORD your God with your sons and daughters and all your servants.”
IN PRACTICE Everything we have comes from God, and our relationship with Him works best when we put a high value on His provision. That is not to say we don’t do our part – it is more how we honour Him in His part. This reading assumes the practice of the tithe – literally a tenth, but in spirit, more a heart decision to give to God the firstfruits of any crop or the first part of any earnings. The passage anticipates honouring God with the offering of what is produced first, in this new land of Canaan. They haven’t made it there yet – so faith is involved. Faith, trust and honour are part of the currency of God’s kingdom, because it is a partnership like no other. God provides everything, receives back a small fraction of it as worship, and then allows us to keep all the rest. One key instruction is to celebrate and rejoice in His provision – our worship is to be characterised by joy.
QUESTION How much do we see God as the provider of everything we have, rather than our efforts in earning it? And how joyful are we in celebrating with Him?
Jesus overcomes Satan’s attack by honouring the Word.Jesus in the wilderness uses God’s truth to break Satan’s lies
1-2 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days He was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them He was hungry.
“Full of the Holy Spirit” – Jesus, full of the Spirit from birth, received a special impartation or anointing for public ministry at baptism – and received the oppressive attention of the enemy which usually comes at the start of any faith venture.
“Wilderness… forty days” – Luke’s language explicitly connects Jesus’ experience in a remote place with Israel’s ‘forty years” in the wilderness, Numbers 14:34.
• For further study, read Numbers 32:13; Deut 2:7; 29:5; Nehemiah 9:21; Amos 2:10.
3 The devil said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”
“The devil” – the term diabolos is a Greek translation of Hebrew satan, meaning ‘accuser’ or ‘adversary’. Luke uses both terms. In the Garden of Eden Adam and Eve were put to the test, and failed; here, Jesus, the second Adam, resists temptation, thereby reversing the judgment against Adam and Eve, 1 Cor. 15:22, 45.
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’ ”
“If you are… It is written” – the devil tries to bait Jesus, with some ridicule, to exercise His divine power in a wrong way. Jesus’ role, however was to endure the hardship as a perfectly obedient human waiting for God’s deliverance.
“Not… bread alone” – Jesus answers by quoting the written Word of God in Deut. 8:3. Israel’s needs in the wilderness were met not just by manna but also by the presence of God and His Word.
5-7 The devil led Him up to a high place and showed Him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to Him, “I will give you all their authority and splendour; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If You worship me, it will all be yours.”
“Showed Him” – this temptation is being momentarily shown, and falsely offered, the world’s power structures.
“It has been given to me” – as a result of Adam and Eve’s mistake Satan gained influence in the world, but what he says is a lie: all authority belongs to God.
8 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.’ ”
9 The devil led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw Yourself down from here.
“The highest point of the temple” – this final temptation in Luke’s order (Matthew’s varies) takes Jesus to overlook the Kidron Valley some 100 feet below the temple colonnade.
10 For it is written: “ ‘He will command His angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
“For it is written” – the devil attempts to quote Scripture, Ps. 91:11-12, but blunders by using Scripture in presumption to try to manipulate God’s provision, not faith submitted to God and His purposes.
12 Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ”
“Jesus answered” – in the words of Deut. 6:16, “Do not put the LORD your God to the test as you did at Massah.”
13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left Him until an opportune time.
“Opportune time” – at Gethsemane and the betrayal by Judas Iscariot, Luke 22:3-6,21-22,39-48
IN PRACTICE Jesus’ experience of oppressive examination by Satan teaches us an important principle about the Word of God and its power. Firstly, when we step up in faith or mission, so does our enemy. So when things start to go wrong, it can be a sign that we are starting to go right! Then there is the lesson of how we handle it – our way or the Jesus way? Not only does Jesus deftly despatch Satan’s deceptions by His use of the ‘Sword of the Spirit’, to use Paul’s illustrative phrase from Ephesians 6:17-18, but we find that even the devil has a reluctant admiration for the power of the Word. His dark kingdom is based on fear and lies, and these have
QUESTION You probably know more Scripture by heart than you think you do. Will you now use it against those fears and doubts nagging thoughts – and honour the One who is the Word?
The path to salvation, declaring our faith. We honour God by speaking out our trust in Him
8b-9 The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim:
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
“Word is near you” – alluding to Deut. 30:11 and 14. The essential principle of the Old Covenant law was not remote; if you were talking about it, you were probably doing it. The New Covenant version of this is speaking out what is in your heart, that Jesus is your Lord. Those who genuinely are the Lord’s will be saying this freely.
“Jesus is Lord” – He is Christ, the Anointed One (Hebrew Messiah) and shares the same nature with God. Declaring “Jesus is Lord” is also a statement of owning and trusting His lordship of our life – a vital transition.
10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.
“Believe and are justified” – made right with God by affirming who Christ your Lord is, His death penalty in your place and His resurrection showing the Father’s approval. The affirmation of faith, freely spoken, is outward evidence of a heart that is changed – and also confirms that faith to the one speaking it.
11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in Him will never be put to shame.”
12-13 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile – the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on Him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
“Everyone” – the OFFER of salvation is for everyone, but it is wrong to conclude that everyone is saved. Faith is required, “anyone who believes in Him…”, v.11, and the response of faith in turning to Christ, “…who calls on the name of the Lord”, v.13 This brings the assurance of salvation. Paul quoted this, from Joel 2:32, to a mainly Jewish audience on the day of Pentecost.
“No difference” – both Jew and Gentile are on exactly the same footing as far as salvation is required. The same would apply to a person given a religious upbringing. Entry to God’s kingdom comes by a personal faith in Jesus, freely expressed.
IN PRACTICE The word that seals our assurance of salvation is near, not distant or out of reach. Yet so many of us go through our lives without the encouragement to simply do what the teaching on this passage says to do. What is that? To pray out loud our personal declaration of Jesus’ lordship; and our trust in Him as the One crucified to pay our penalty and risen again to eternal life to show the Father’s glory. A ‘religion by proxy’ just doesn’t cut it, and we don’t find that anywhere in the New Testament. It is not enough for others to do the “calling on the name of the Lord” for us, when what He wants is a personal relationship with us. He longs to hear us accept it from Him through Jesus. He really does richly bless all who call on Him. We just need to exercise the bit of faith needed to do the calling, and resolve not to take a lesser path which offers no real salvation and no remedy for our soul’s historic infirmity. “Jesus is Lord” was the cry of praise of the early church. We must make it our day by day confession, too.
QUESTION How free are you to say the words of praise “Jesus is Lord” over of all areas of your life’s provision, and as one who stands in agreement with His word of truth, and personally, one whose witness is “Jesus is my Lord”?
PRAYER Father, You have given me everything, and I desire to honour You in that. Help me to steward my possessions as lent to me by You, and to love Your Word as my number one way of hearing from You. May my willingness grow to let You be Lord of my life and my future, that others may see and want to know You, too. Amen.