Lent Devotion for March 9
"A Chosen People”
Reader: “ The Lord, your God…”
Response: “…has chosen you out of all the people of the earth.”
SCRIPTURE: Deuteronomy 7:1–11
1 When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you— 2 and when the Lord your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. 3 Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, 4 for they will turn your children away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you. 5 This is what you are to do to them: Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols in the fire. 6 For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.
7 The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. 8 But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9 Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. 10 But those who hate him he will repay to their face by destruction; he will not be slow to repay to their face those who hate him.
11 Therefore, take care to follow the commands, decrees and laws I give you today.
Reader: "The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
Now we get down to brass tacks. Moses’ message continues. “These are the seven nations you are to totally wipe out. Leave no trace of anything.” There are several things to notice. The words are that God will clear away the nations. It is clear it will be of God because the peoples there are greater and more numerous than the Israelites. The word of the Lord is clear: no treaties, no mercy, and no intermarriages. Destroy their idols. Destroy their culture. Destroy every aspect of their religion. It is important to pay attention to what is said here. On the surface, it might seem to be a major ethical and moral problem. God commanded His people to invade and take over another people’s land and at the same time to annihilate them. It is important to understand the context from God’s perspective. First of all, God was leading the war and the Israelites were His instruments (tools) to carry out His judgment against wicked people. The various people in the land were in full rebellion against God. As descendants of Ham, one of Noah’s sons, they had forsaken God. They were involved in child sacrifice, among other vile practices. Their sin had reached the end, and God’s time of judgment had arrived (see Gen.15:16). God’s mercy and grace is not infinite or there would be no need for the cross. This particular war was limited in time and place and was not a pattern for war in general. God was endeavoring to build a holy nation, a people set apart. In fact, contained in this passage is the tender and beautiful reason God chose the Jews as His people. It was simply because the Lord loved them and kept His word to their forefathers. His covenant is forever with His people. The people’s part of the covenant is to obey the stipulations and to love their God. Failure to do that has unpleasant consequences. Love is demonstrated by obedience, then and now. Walk in God’s path everywhere you go this day.
"My Soul’s Been Anchored in the Lord” by Concordia Choir ( Watch on YouTube)
O Lord of the universe, may I always be subordinate to thee, be dependent upon thee, be found in the path where thou dost walk, and where thy Spirit moves, take heed of estrangement from thee, of becoming insensible to thy love. Thou dost not move men like stones, but doest endue them with life, not to enable them to move without thee, but in submission to thee, the first mover. O Lord, I am astonished at the difference between my receivings and my deservings, between the state I am now in and my past gracelessness, between the heaven I am bound for and the hell I merit. Who made me to differ, but thee? For I was no more ready to receive Christ than were others; I could not have begun to love thee hast thou not first loved me, or been willing unless thou hadst first made me so. O that such a crown should fit the head of such a sinner! Such high advancement be for an unfruitful person! Such joys for so vile a rebel! Infinite wisdom cast the design of salvation into the mold of purchase and freedom. Let the wrath deserved be written on the door of hell, but the free gift of grace on the gate of heaven. I know that my sufferings are the result of my sinning, but in heaven both shall cease; Grant me to attain this haven and be done with sailing, and may the gales of thy mercy blow me safely into harbor. Let thy love draw me nearer to thyself, wean me from sin, mortify me to this world, and make me ready for my departure hence. Secure me by thy grace as I sail across this stormy sea.
- from The Valley of Vision, p.8