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Sunday, March 20, 2016

Past, Present, Future

Along with the regulations for social engagement Moses includes a number of promises regarding the future. One of those promises concerns the Amalekites, their warfare against the Israelites, and God’s promise regarding the Amalekites made nearly forty years earlier, “Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven” (Exodus 17:14). So significant was this promise that Moses built an altar and called its name, The-LORD-Is-My-Banner.” 
Nearly forty years later Moses reminds the new generation of Israelites of God’s past promise, “When the LORD your God gives you rest from all the enemies around you in the land he is giving you to possess as an inheritance, you shall blot out the memory of the Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget!” (Deuteronomy 25:19)
The repetition of this promise first recorded in Exodus 17:14 reveals a number of truths about God, the enemy, and His instructions:
  • Sometimes people appear to “get away” with sin NOW. Nearly forty years have passed since the Amalekites fought against the Israelites. God has not forgotten His promise. Vindication, however, is through a future generation of Israelites, which leads to another truth.
  • Sometimes God raises up others to vindicate you LATER.
  • Knowing what God has purposed in the past allows His people to live in hope in the PRESENT. 
  • Knowing what God has established in the past and passing on those truths to future generations prepares those generations to embrace His will for them THEN.
  • God NEVER forgets the promises He makes! 
Promises made by God in the past keep hope alive in the present until He brings about absolute fulfillment in the future

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"When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands" (Deuteronomy 24:19).


I worked as a volunteer on two different Israeli kibbutzim from 1980-82. Volunteer workers were utilized in the orchards during harvest times. We were instructed to sparsely pick the oranges, grapefruit, and pears from the trees next to the road. These "deliberate leftovers" provided refreshment for the poor and hungry travelers passing through. Unlike American orchards, there were no "No Trespassing" signs.


This regulation given in Deuteronomy ensured that the poor would be taken care of and that orchard owners wouldn't be consumed by greed. This lesson has been lost in contemporary America. Today restaurants, by law, can't give away leftover food to their employees or the homeless; they throw it out at the end of the day. Restaurants and grocery stores routinely used to give away leftovers to those raising livestock or to soup kitchens. Laws now prohibit the decent disposal of leftovers through sharing; instead, they throw away perfectly good food while people in our towns go hungry.

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
Deuteronomy 23:1-26:19
  • What do the regulations in today's reading tell you about covenant community relationships?
  • How does God ensure that the Levites, aliens, fatherless and widows are taken care of?
  • How does the behavior of the covenant community affect the reputation of God among the nations?
Turning truth into prayer:
Ask the Lord to make you more sensitive to the "leftovers" in your life and how you can become more involved in caring for the alien, the Levites, the fatherless, and the widows.