Daily Office Readings for Tuesday of the First Week in Lent: Year 1
“It is not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you are going in to occupy their land; but because of the wickedness of those nations that the Lord your God is dispossessing them before you, in order to fulfill the promise that the Lord made on oath to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. (Deuteronomy 9:5)
Today’s readings give us food for “ponder.” In Deuteronomy we learn that God was upset with the people occupying the land promised to the descendants of Abraham, perhaps before it was set aside for Abraham. The greater learning curve for us is to learn that God had a relationship with people other than Israel, but they failed to do what was righteous in the sight of God.
From the Prophet Amos we learn the same thing as we can read; “Are you not like the Ethiopians to me, O people of Israel? says the LORD. Did I not bring Israel up from the land of Egypt, and the Philistines from Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir?” (Amos 9:7) So it becomes clear that God tried to have leadership relationships with others but was only able to maintain this relationship with the descendants of Abraham; and through our Lord Jesus, with us Christians today.
So what happens to such untrusting people? I think the Holy Spirit teaches us about what happens when we become stiff-necked in our own egos, and when we harden our hearts to truth and love. Today we read from the writer to the Hebrews, “Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, as on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your ancestors put me to the test, though they had seen my works for forty years. Therefore I was angry with that generation, and I said, “They always go astray in their hearts, and they have not known my ways.” As in my anger I swore, “They will not enter my rest.” (Hebrews 3: 7 to 11)
To be denied access to an earthly land is one thing. But to be denied entrance into the “Rest of God, that is the comfort of God” is life ending. God loves us, and even more so if we show that we are also loving in return; loving both to God, and to one another. This is what Jesus’ ministry is really all about. We must learn to listen to the loving leadership-relationship of God in our lives and act accordingly.
Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to, and through, the saints of God, and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do. John