OT: Deut. 28:1-68
Well. If for some reason you are checking this blog before you read today's passage, let me sum it up for you:
Moses says, "If you obey God, life will be perfect. If you don't obey God, life will be your worst nightmare."
Now, while that summary is pretty accurate, I would never want to deprive anyone of reading about eating afterbirth (yeah), so if you haven't read, just know that that's in there.
These blessings and curses seem so over the top to me. For one thing, I definitely don't remember all that stuff happening one way or another, so I kind of feel like these blessings and curses have a kind of symbolic or representative function. Moses' point is, life is good with God, and it is horrible without Him. It is funny to me, as a NT Christian, how Moses puts everything on the physical level. In the NT, Jesus takes all the physicality of the old Law and plunges it to a much deeper, spiritual level. Yes, the new covenant has physical ramifications, but, for example, the kingdom of God is not a literal, earthly monarchy (like the Israelites thought it would be), but something that is inside of people. It is not what goes into a man that makes him unclean (like the OT dietary laws would suggest), but the evil that comes out of him, that makes him unclean. And so on. Thinking about the physical/spiritual contrast of the old and new covenants reminds me of the verse in Hebrews that says, "The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming--not the good things themselves" (10:1). In describing all manner of physical blessings and curses, Moses was describing a mere shadow of heaven and hell, of life with God and without Him. At least, that's my interpretation.
NT: Luke 11:14-36
Hmmm...I know I've already talked about Beelzebub driving out demons and tying up the strong man, but I'm not sure if I've talked about the guy with the evil spirit. And even if I have, I figure that if I don't remember writing it, you probably don't remember reading it:). What I've always heard about this passage is that it is an example of why you replace bad things with good things. That seems like a good interpretation to me. This guy gets an evil spirit out of his life and cleans himself up, but he is not filled with good things to replace the bad. And furthermore, he doesn't have God's Spirit in him as the ultimate replacement. Therefore, he is very likely to fall back into his bad ways, especially when that demon goes and gets all of his buddies. That idea reminds me of a passage in Ephesians that I am going to teach to the teen girls in a few weeks. Ephesians 4 tells us to put off the old self, put off falsehood, stop stealing, stop any unwholesome talk from coming out of our mouths, and to get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger. However, it doesn't just stop with the negative commands. If a person did those things and just stopped there, he would be in the same position as the man with the vacating evil spirit. His "house" would be clean, but empty. In Ephesians, though, Paul always gives a positive thing to replace the negative. We are to put off the old self, and put on the new self. We are to put off falsehood, and speak truthfully. We are to stop stealing, and to do something useful with our hands. We are to stop unwholesome talk, and instead to say only what is helpful for building each other up. We are to get rid of bitterness, and instead to be kind, compassionate, and forgiving. It is not enough just to stop doing bad things. That will leave you "clean" but empty. You have to fill that void with goodness, with God.
Wow. After reading this psalm, I decided that I needed to figure out who this Asaph guy was, and so I googled it. Here is the article I came up with. I urge you to give it a read. You may not agree with everything the author says about Solomon (I don't agree with everything, though I do agree with a lot), but he gives some very useful background and interpretation of Asaph's position. His interpretation even helps to explain the emotions in this psalm.
"Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." This verse has incredibly apt imagery to me. I really do feel like I have felt the piercing sword of reckless words, as well as the sheer and powerful healing that comes from the words of wise people.