The Scriptorium

Blameless before the Lord

This is what God is looking for in us. Deuteronomy 18.9-13

A Holy Nation (1): Deuteronomy 17, 18 (5)

Opening Prayer: Psalm 135.19-21
Bless the LORD, O house of Israel!
Bless the LORD, O house of Aaron!
Bless the LORD, O house of Levi!
You who fear the LORD, bless the LORD!
Blessed be the LORD out of Zion,
Who dwells in Jerusalem!
Praise the LORD!

Psalm 135.1-21
(St. Gertrude: Onward, Christian Soldiers)
Bless the Lord you people, all who love the Lord!
Bless Him, you who trust His sovereign, holy Word!
Bless the Lord from Zion, Him Who in it dwells;
praise Him! Lift your voices, all His grace and glory tell!
Refrain, v. 1
Praise the Name of Jesus, you who serve His Word!
Raise your voice and praise our good and glorious Lord!

Today’s Text: Read Deuteronomy 18.9-13

Preparation
1. Why did God expel the pagan nations from the land of Canaan?

2. What did He expect His people to learn from this?

Meditation
The pagan peoples who occupied the land of Canaan were, to be blunt, gross. Descendants of Noah, they had long ago abandoned the faith he practiced, making up religions of their own devising, which were designed to allow the powerful to keep and grow their power by subjugating the rest of the people through religious fear and ritual.

The pagan nations fairly vied with one to see who could be the more depraved, the more disgusting and vile, and the more violent. Pagans knew that violence in religion could be used to maintain power in rule.

Pagan religion was corrupt, debasing, evil, and just plain horrific. Over and over, Moses enjoined the people of Israel not to take up any of these pagan ways. Instead, they were to destroy altars, worship cites, totems, and all articles used in pagan worship. They were not to incorporate anything from pagan practice into the worship of God.

Do we suppose that God has changed His mind about that in our day? Or can we simply not resist the pagan ways that we find in the culture around us?

Like Israel of old, we the people of God today are to be “blameless.” Luke explains what that means, in his description of Zacharias and Elizabeth: “And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless” (Lk. 16).

Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Learning is defined as gaining or acquiring knowledge of or skill in something by study, experience, and being taught. It takes an effort to learn something new. It doesn’t just happen. Intentionality is involved. And so Moses warned the Israelites, “When you come into the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations” (v. 9). There must not be found among them anyone who has learned the skill set of human sacrifice, witchcraft, soothsaying, interpreting omens, sorcery, conjuring spells, being a medium or spiritist or who calls up the dead. In other words, don’t sign up for a class in Abominable Practices 101. This same warning comes to us as well. Anything that looks, tastes, feels, or seems like this is to be avoided. Period. We must learn to be like Jesus! “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow” (Is. 1.16, 17). And Jesus says to us, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matt. 11.28-30). In order to be blameless before the LORD, all our learning must be to “know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that we may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3.19).

Reflection

1. We don’t strive to be blameless so that we might be saved, but because we are saved. Explain.

2. How would you counsel new believers to guard their hearts against the corruptions of the sinful world?

3. Can we be blameless without obeying God’s Word? Explain.

This perfectness, then, is opposed to all those mixtures or corruptions which withdraw us from the sincere worship of the one true God; because the simplicity which retains us in obedience to heavenly teaching, is that spiritual chastity which God requires in His Church.
John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Deuteronomy 18.13

Lord, keep me from all idols, and from every pagan and unbelieving way as I…

Closing Prayer: Psalm 135.1-14
Give praise to our sovereign Lord for His great salvation, infinite wisdom, unfailing faithfulness and goodness, and all His steadfast love.

Psalm 135.1-14
(St. Gertrude: Onward, Christian Soldiers)
Praise the Savior, praise Him, for His Name is good;
Sing, for it is pleasant, to our glorious God!
All whom He has chosen and redeemed by grace,
praise His Name together, praise Him in this holy place!
Refrain v. 1
Praise the Name of Jesus, you who serve His Word!
Raise your voice and praise our good and glorious Lord!

Great and sovereign, Jesus rules o'er all above,
doing as He pleases, sovereign in His love.
Clouds and seas obey Him, lightning, too, and rain;
He the winds brings forth in pow'r and sends them back again.
Refrain

Egypt's firstborn fell to God's redeeming pow'r;
kings and nations crumbled in redemption's hour.
He the land of promise to His people gave;
thus His Kingdom Jesus gives to all He's pleased to save.
Refrain

Evermore Your Name, O Savior, shall endure!
Your renown throughout all ages is secure.
For You have compassion, vindicating all
those who serve Your Name and on Your saving mercy call.
Refrain


T. M. and Susie Moore

Listen to our summary of last week’s study in Deuteronomy by clicking here. You can download all the studies in the series by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers from
Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy: Ancient Christian Commentary Series III, Joseph T. Lienhard, S. J. ed. in collaboration with Ronnie J. Rombs, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2001). All quotations from John Calvin from John Calvin, Commentaries on The Four Last Books of Moses Arranged in the Order of A Harmony, Rev. Charles William Bingham M. A., tr. and ed. (Edinburgh: The Calvin Translation Society, 1863. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore