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Refreshment in Refuge

    by Gina Burgess

Life and good, or death and evil - our choice
Date Posted: January 26, 2020

Deuteronomy 30:19 I call Heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Therefore, choose life, that you may live, you and your seed,

Deuteronomy 30:20 to love Jehovah your God, to listen to His voice, and to cleave to Him. For He is your life, and the length of your days so that you may live in the land which Jehovah has sworn to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give it to them.

Actually, to get the full effect of God's command here, we need to explore chapter 30 from the beginning. And it shall be when all these things have come upon you... notice God uses "have come upon you". That's the past tense version. The curse God spoke about has already come upon Israel because they were so disobedient corporately that Jesus spoke the "Woe to you" on them.

Deuteronomy 30 we see that the ear is deeply involved in the act of worship. Listening, along with the heart and service, makes up a huge part of worship. This describes the will of man. It is a choice to hear. My daughter tells me all the time, “You are not listening to me.” I am listening to her. I’m looking right at her, hearing the words come from her lips but what I hear may not be what she means. We must be on the same wavelength in order to understand what we hear. That involves paying attention while we listen, not thinking about what we’re going to cook for supper while we listen. This also means the heart which is our understanding and willingness to serve.

Look at verse 14 -- “But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart that you may do it.” God gave them a choice, God’s relationship to mankind has changed because He sent His son. We are reconciled to Him now. But how God deals with us remains the same from Adam to now through the 1000 years of peace. God has given us a choice. His command is not far away. As He states in verse 12, “it isn’t in Heaven where we cannot get to it, nor in the sea... but right in our hearts.” The choice is given between “life and good” or “death and evil”, verse 15. This is one of several warnings to Israel not to be drawn away into serving the gods of foreign countries. Jesus said that where your treasure is, there your heart will be also Matthew 6:21 and in Matthew 12:35 He says that out of the good treasure of the heart comes good things and out of the evil treasure of the heart comes evil things. Our heart is most definitely required to be engaged when we worship.

There is so much in Judges about worship and obedience but we don’t have time to discuss that except that it gives us the stories of how the children of Israel departed from God and made their hearts stones. The sons of Israel worshiped and served the Baalim which is plural of Ba’al. That word “served” is translated “worship” in several places and it means exactly to be enslaved, to work for. Remember that is the Hebrew abad. When they turn from God, they are overrun by the foreign countries, put under much duress. Then a judge like Deborah comes along who is also a prophetess and the people are turned back to God. (Judges 4) Peace in the land lasts for as long as the people have their face turned toward God.

I want you to note a pattern here. As long as a strong leader held sway and had his (or her, as in the case of Deborah) face and ear, mind and heart toward God, the people did not turn from God. When the judge or ruler turned, so did the people. I am so tempted to camp here for a long while and discuss the two Sams - Sampson and Samuel. Perhaps we'll have that discussion later in the year. For now, though, we'll keep on track with our study of worship and Isaiah 58.

1 Samuel 1:3 here is the story of Hannah. Her husband regularly went up before the Lord of Hosts of Shiloh to worship and sacrifice. Here there is a distinction between worshipping and sacrifice. In Genesis, it was implied that the sacrifice was the worship of Abraham. But actually the worship was obedience or more at submission by Abraham. Elkanah was obedient to God’s ordinances. It wasn’t that he could not worship God within his own house, but that was not where God wanted the people to sacrifice unless it was a hardship to travel to the Tabernacle. Therefore, sacrifice by itself is not worship. The reason that sacrifices had to be included in worship was because the remission of sins required the shedding of blood. We find that in Hebrews.

Hebrews 9:22 And almost all things are purified by blood according to the Law; and apart from shedding of blood no remission occurs.

The sacrifices pointed toward Jesus and had a purpose of softening or tenderizing hearts; making them look toward Him. This meant more to God than all the burnt offerings or sacrifices.

And in Mark …

Mark 12:33 "and to love Him from all the heart", and from all the understanding, "and from all the soul, and from all the strength;" Deuteronomy 6:4,5 and "to love one's neighbor as oneself" Leviticus 19:18 is more than all the burnt offerings and the sacrifices.

That is the crucial lesson here. God points out the heart must be involved in worship of Him.

Psalm 32David is prostrate in repentance and worship. This was after Nathan had confronted him about his sin with Bathsheba. We get a peek into his heart in this Psalm.

Psalm 32:3 When I kept silence, then my bones became old, through my howling all day.

Psalm 32:4 For by day and by night Your hand was heavy on me; my sap was turned into the droughts of summer. Selah.

His bones became old. Now, I’m growing older and I have more aches and pains than I ever had when I was younger. Just to get out of bed sometimes sounds like a tool box being turned over with all the clanks and grindings. He was howling all day. Imagine that. King James translates it roaring. The word means literally “a rumbling or moan”, so I translate that as loud groaning. Have you ever taken a cat to the vet? We had to take our cat to the vet a few weeks ago and the caterwauling he set up all the way there and all the way back! I was grateful it was only a 30 minute drive. “Out, out, I want out,” was his plaintive cry. I can imagine David’s misery. Unconfessed sin makes the body sick. It is like borrowing money that you know you can’t pay back. After awhile you want to avoid at all costs the person you borrowed from because you have built a wall. The person you borrowed from doesn’t care about the money but loves the fellowship with you. That’s how God is. He wants that relationship with you, but sin breaks the fellowship on your part, not His. David understood this.

He says in verse 5:

Psalm 32:5 I confessed my sin to You, and I have not hidden my iniquity; I said, I will confess over my transgression to Jehovah; and You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah.

Glory! There is something so incredibly important here. First we see David angry at the injustice, then he is deeply repentant when he recognizes his own sin. (2 Samuel 12:13), Then he is prostrate (2 Samuel 12:16) for his son, fasting, seeking God in the hope God may have mercy and let his son live. David understands the deep necessity of confession in order to be right with the Lord and how God forgives. It is essential that we know beyond doubt that God forgives our transgressions.

Without that knowledge, we cannot worship from our heart. Without that knowledge, Satan builds a web of guilt and shame around us to keep us from Worshipping God.

Psalm 32:11 Be glad in Jehovah and rejoice, you righteous ones; and all the upright in heart, shout for joy.

Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Psalm 51:11 Do not cast me out from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

Psalm 51:12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

We have established that there is much more to worship than singing and praising, although that is part of worship.

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Biography Information:
Gina Burgess has taught Sunday School and Discipleship Training for almost three decades. (Don't tell her that makes her old.) She earned her Master's in Communication in 2013.

She is the author of several books including: When Christians Hurt Christians, The Crowns of the Believers and others available in online bookstores. She authors several columns, using her God-given talent to shine a light in a dark world. You can browse her blog at Refreshment In Refuge.

If you'd like to take a look at some Christian fiction and Christian non-fiction book reviews before the books hit the book store shelves, check out Gina's book reviews at Upon Reflection

Gina is a partner and COO of Common Sense Marketing Strategies, LLC that owns Authors Community and
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