CHOOSE LIFE; THE LUNCH GUEST THAT WASN’T AFRAID TO SPEAK HIS MIND
OLD TESTAMENT READING: Deuteronomy 29-30:20
THE HIDDEN GREATER PURPOSE
Having clearly defined the rewards of obedience (blessings) and the consequences of disobedience (curses) in Chapters 27-28, Moses summons the people to renew their covenant commitment to Yahweh in Deuteronomy Chapters 29 and 30.
God has His purposes for initiating this covenant with Israel. Some are revealed and some are hidden. The revealed purposes now belong with the people. God has called them to be a holy nation, the treasured people of His possession, faithful to His Word and subject to His dealings. Some of God’s purposes remain secret and belong to (and pertain to) the Lord (Deut 29:29).
These secret things pertain to God’s greater purpose yet unseen. God is laying down the infrastructure for world redemption through the gift of His Son. We are to trust what He reveals to us by faith. We are to walk in the light of the revealed truth that has been given. This law would reveal sin and provide a legal framework for the putting away of sin illustrated in the sacrifices and ordinances of the Tabernacle. We have seen how the articles and activities of the Tabernacle and the Feasts of Israel prophetically speak of the person and work of the Messiah- the promised offering of a sinless substitute. (Remember? God, Himself will provide the sacrifice; Gen 22:13-14). Jesus would be born under this law, fulfill this law, and by virtue of His life offered for us on the cross and given to us by the Holy Spirit, free us from living under it, as slaves to its letter.
Galatians 4:4-7 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law,  so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.  Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”  Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.
We are declared righteous before God on the grounds of Jesus Christ’s redemptive work on our behalf as the perfect, once and for all sacrificial offering on the altar of the cross. We hold fast to this fact by faith. On the basis of this legal justification provided by God’s grace, believers are qualified to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus that sets us free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:1-4).
Deut. 30:19-20 “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants,  by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”
One of the titles that the Jewish people give the Torah is “The Bread of Life”. Jesus said that He was the Bread of Life (John 6:33, ,35 48, 51). He is the embodiment of the Torah; the fulfillment of the Torah. He is the Living Torah. He is the bread from heaven, the partaking of which is essential for our survival. He continually offers us His rescue from the death that the law says we deserve for our transgressions.
Listen to the gospel’s invitation to LIFE:
Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)
John wrote, “but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31).
Hear Jesus saying “Choose salvation” in the gospels. “Choose life”.
Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.  “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.
There is only One Door (John 10:7). There is only One Savior. There is only one way to satisfy God’s terms for righteousness in order to live.
Many are invited. Few are chosen. We fail to make the gospel call effectual when we fail to respond to it. (Matthew 22:14). We must accept God’s verdict in the cross where our life as sinners received its judgment.
Mark 8:35 “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.
The Apostle Paul sets before us life and death in his letter to the Romans. Will we choose to live in sin, only to reap its wages? Or will we choose life?
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
NEW TESTAMENT READING: LUKE 11:37-12:7
Jesus is invited to have a meal with one of the Pharisees (Luke 11:37). The conversation becomes quite tense when the Pharisee announces his surprise that Jesus did not first ceremonially wash His hands before the meal. Jesus responds with a politically incorrect tirade against the mindset of his hosts.
Jesus condemns the hypocrisy of those who conform to outward ceremonies, pretending to be clean and pleasing to God on the outside, yet failing to acknowledge the horror of their sin on the inside. The law blinded the Pharisees to the degree that they did not recognize a clean vessel when they saw one. (Jesus was clean on the inside and the outside; Luke 11:41).
Another dinner guest, an expert in the law, feels the force of Jesus’ words and says:
Luke 11:45 “Teacher, when You say this, You insult us too.”
Altogether Jesus pronounces 6 woes upon them, paralleling the woes of Matthew 23.
(It is quite alarming to consider that the Lord is aware of the internal workings of our hearts with all our selfish inconsistencies. We should appreciate His merciful provision of forgiveness all the more!)
Jesus brings to light the crime of the Pharisees and experts of the law– They take away the key to knowledge, the revelation of Jesus as the Christ. They obscure God’s plan of salvation and fail to heed it themselves.
Luke 11:52 “Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you yourselves did not enter, and you hindered those who were entering.”
They were blind men leading the blind on the broad way to destruction. They passed by the gate and the way that leads to life. They were not even looking for it.
The Gospel of John explains further:
Jesus warns his disciples of the danger in adopting a Pharisaical mindset. “Beware the leaven of the Pharisees.” Beware the hypocrisy of thinking you are made righteous before God through anything other than coming to the cross of Christ and trusting His saving work.
The disciples could easily become influenced by the leaven of the Pharisees, taking pride in having been personally called by Jesus, having sat with Him, lived with Him, served with Him, conformed to His outward way of praying and teaching, as if that made them right with God. Like the Pharisees and the experts of the Law, the disciples were to be markers, signposts, and heralds of the saving work of Christ. We need to humble ourselves to receive it and help others discover it.
Jesus demonstrated courage even at the dinner table! He had a fearlessness about Him and was not afraid to speak the truth in love whenever and wherever it would be helpful. This is because He feared God more than men. He feared God more than the devil. He feared God more than the prospect of dying. He calls us to do the same.
Luke 12:4-7 “I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do.  “But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!  “Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God.  “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.
God cares for us and has our best interests in view. He loves people enough to tell them the truth.
One of the reasons I am preparing this commentary to accompany the One Year Bible readings is that I am planning to pass it on to my grandchildren.
That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born,
That they may arise and tell them to their children,
 That they should put their confidence in God
And not forget the works of God,
But keep His commandments,
 And not be like their fathers,
A stubborn and rebellious generation,
A generation that did not prepare its heart
And whose spirit was not faithful to God.
Proverbs 12:19-20 (NASB) 19 Truthful lips will be established forever, but a lying tongue is only for a moment. 20 Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but counselors of peace have joy.
The lying tongue gets away with deceit only for a moment. The Hebrew idiom for “a moment” is found in Job 20:5 meaning “the blinking of the eyes”.
Have you ever assessed those who have real joy? They are those who are rightly related to God, communicate truth in love, and have peace in their hearts (Romans 14:17; Isaiah 32:17). They will counsel others to experience the same.
HONG KONG, Special Administrative Region of China
(p. 252-253 in “Operation World”)
Answer to Prayer
The rightful return of Hong Kong to China has seen most freedoms retained in this Special Administrative Region. Continued religious liberty is praiseworthy as is the opportunity for appropriate Christian testimony by Christians in Hong Kong (HK) to much of the rest of China.
Challenge for Prayer
The future of Hong Kong’s freedoms is uncertain. Some aspire to full representative democracy; others foresee increasing state control over politics, the press, and jurisprudence. The Chief Executive and all others in leadership must balance satisfying Beijing with satisfying their own people in Hong Kong. Pray for wisdom, discernment, and courage to take the right path.
Hong Kong’s role within China can potentially be a powerfully redemptive one- financially, socially, culturally, and spiritually. There is an incredible opportunity to influence the PRC, still taking shape as a 21rst century nation, with the gospel that impacts every area of life. Alternatively, Hong Kong could acquiesce to being a mere financial spearhead for the Chinese economic juggernaut, gaining the world but losing its soul.
PRAYER: Father in heaven, You are so merciful in that You offer us life when our own actions incurred a sentence of death. We thank You for the New Covenant of Grace in which the forgiveness of sins and the power of a deathless life can release us from the hell-bound course of our own destinies. We now share the destiny of Your holy Son Jesus, who is our Lord, our Savior, and our Life. Make us a people who will demonstrate and declare Your good news to this generation in such a way that it impacts generations to come. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
So, naturally, we proclaim Christ! We warn everyone we meet, and we teach everyone we can, all that we know about him, so that, if possible, we may bring every man up to his full maturity in Christ. (Colossians 1:28, J.B. Phillips paraphrase)
New Life Community Church, Concord, MA 10742