Category: Deuteronomy

Deuteronomy 30:15-20

This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on February 12th, 2017.

Can a word be preached from the book of Deuteronomy? Would it not be easier to preach from the gospel text this week or even Paul’s epistle? What does a speech of Moses for the Hebrew people before they enter the Promised Land have to say to us today? These might be tempting questions to ask yourself before you pass over this passage from Deuteronomy and continue that series on Matthew’s Gospel or Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth. However, Matthew’s gospel text from last week’s lection reminded us that Jesus did not come to abolish the law (Matthew 5:17). I know when I was a kid if I saw in the church bulletin that Deuteronomy was the sermon passage I could take the next hour off and wait until the next week. I just knew it would be a boring sermon. With age, though, I have come to appreciate the fact that Deuteronomy is central to understanding the Old Testament and Israel’s relationship with God. More than this, though, Jesus references Deuteronomy more than any Old Testament book save the Psalms. With this in mind, that it is neglected and rarely used in sermons is a shame.

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Isaiah 43:16-21

This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on March 13, 2016.

By the Water - Saryan
By the Water – Saryan

George Lakoff described the importance of linguistic framing in his book, Don’t Think of an Elephant. He describes an experiment. He recorded that when someone tells a listener not to think about an object, it frames the issue so that the listener now cannot avoid thinking about what you asked them not to think about. So whenever he asked people not to think of an elephant they were unable to not think about an elephant. Isaiah 43:16-21 invites the reader to disregard previous salvation history.

The passage (vv. 16-21) reframes the historical perception concerning the anticipated fall of the Babylonian Empire to Cyrus. The first section of this unit contains a description of God in history (vv. 16-17). The second section instructs and challenges the community to eschew remembrance of the past. The third section describes the “new age”(vv. 18-21).

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Deuteronomy 26:1-11

This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on February 14, 2016.

Hermano Leon Clipart
Hermano Leon Clipart

In 2008, America’s Olympic dreams were dashed when both the men’s and women’s relay teams dropped their batons. Everyone in the world expected—no, everyone in the world knew both the men’s and women’s relay teams would win. They were winning—and then, they dropped the batons. In the same way, the nation of Israel was coming into the Promised Land. God was keeping His promises to His people to bring them to a home of their own. What a journey it had been! Their very identity had been defined in the trials and triumphs of that journey. Now, how does the nation pass on this faith to a generation that wasn’t part of the journey? How do you pass along the faith to a generation that wasn’t part of the very events that informed and confirmed that faith?

What does one generation have to do to be sure the baton is passed to the next generation?

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Deuteronomy 18:15-20

This text is used for the Lectionary Year B on February 1, 2015.

A reader of this text could get hung up on the strict tone and harsh language (i.e. “any prophet who presumes to speak . . . a word I have not commanded . . . shall die” Deuteronomy 18:20). However, the more important point to note is that this is a text giving license to prophecy. Parameters are being set in place to keep the prophets in check, but it is phenomenal that prophecy is welcomed at all. Just think what prophecy entails!

Prophecy disturbs the status quo, pushes the envelope, introduces the new. Prophecy is dangerous, because it is intended to rattle the established order of things and challenge the leadership. Directly prior to this passage, the Deuteronomists have been carefully describing more conventional leadership roles. Rules and guidelines are provided for judges (Deuteronomy 17:8-13), kings (Deuteronomy 17:14-20), priests and Levites (Deuteronomy 18:1-8). These are the people responsible for preserving the tradition. Then last but not least, the writers of Deuteronomy turn their attention to prophets. (Deuteronomy 18:15-22). Here are the people responsible for upsetting the norm, and they are given license to do so by the law.

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