Day 084: Sovereign Through Our Mistakes (Joshua 9-11)

42 And Joshua captured all these kings and their land at one time, because the Lord God of Israel fought for Israel. Joshua 10:42

In chapter 9, Joshua gets conned by the Gibeonites, one of the neighboring people groups. They approach Joshua with worn-out clothes and dried-up wineskins, saying, “Make a treaty with us and protect us from our enemies, because we live so far away we’ll never be a threat to you!” And as verse 14 makes clear, Joshua and the other leaders fall for it because they “did not ask counsel from the Lord.”

Oops. This isn’t the first time Joshua makes a decision without inquiring of God first. He did the same thing in yesterday’s reading, when he failed to inquire of the Lord before going up against Ai (see Joshua 7:1-5).

Now, thanks to Joshua’s unforced error, Israel is stuck in a treaty with a group they were supposed to destroy. And it isn’t long before the Gibeonites cash in.

Eventually, the Gibeonites come back to Israel and ask them to make good on their treaty. Seems that five other local kings all want to gang up on Gibeon now for making an alliance with Israel. Joshua honors the treaty, fights the Amorites all day long, prays for God to extend the day so he can finish the job, then traps all five kings in one cave and puts them all to death at once. 

Now, notice how God made the most of Joshua’s mistake.  Follow the sequence:

  • If Gibeon hadn’t deceived Joshua, Joshua wouldn’t have made a treaty with them.
  • If Joshua hadn’t made a treaty with Gibeon, the five Amorite kings wouldn’t have gone against Gibeon.
  • If all five hadn’t been grouped together, Joshua would have had to defeat each one individually, prolonging the conquest and delaying the fulfillment of the promise.

God is sovereign over our mistakes! Obviously, it would have been better for Joshua to check with God before entering into the treaty to begin with. But God has an amazing ability to spin gold from our goofs. Romans 8:28 promises that God causes all things to work together for the good of those that love God and are called according to His purposes.

Think about your biggest regret. Your worst wrong turn. The season you’re most sorry for. Picture it in your mind. Relive all the anguish you’ve dealt with for making such a bad decision.

Now, whisper two words to yourself:

All things.

Did you do it? Good. Now, whisper two words to God:

Thank You.

Day 083: Aching Israelites, and an Israelite Named Achan (Joshua 5-8)

“When the circumcising of the whole nation was finished, they remained in their places in the camp until they were healed. And the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” And so the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day.” (Joshua 5:8-9)

When I read about the men of Israel getting circumcised when they entered the Promised Land, I have a strong visceral reaction. Sorry, I can’t help it. Circumcision is about taking what is most personal and private and intimate and making it vulnerable and exposed. And that can be super painful (And yes, we’ve dealt with this before on the blog. See Day 017: Guys, We Need to Talk About Genesis 17:23).

So I imagine that Joshua might have met some resistance in the camp when he ordered the men to be circumcised en masse. Bear in mind that at this point, the people had not conquered any of the Canaanites in the land. For what it’s worth, way back in Genesis 34 the sons of Israel themselves had used circumcision as a battle strategy. They had convinced the men of Shechem to be circumcised so they could intermarry with Israel, and then slaughtered them while they were all recovering. So I can imagine that at least a few of the men were saying, “Joshua, wouldn’t it make sense to delay this little procedure until after we’ve conquered our enemies? We don’t want them doing to us what we did to the men of Shechem. It’s just common sense” (And, yes, we’ve talked about this, too. (See Day 052: Was Jubilee Ever Observed?)

Did you know that in God’s eyes, there is no distinction between delayed obedience and immediate disobedience? Joshua was wise enough to realize that there would be no victories in the Promised Land if they did not commit to obedience from the moment they crossed the Jordan. He was one of two people (along with Caleb, whom we will talk about later this week) who understood firsthand the cost of disobedience. So if there were objections voiced to the mass circumcision, they were not entertained. It was not put to a vote.

But now, notice the tenderness of God. While the men were recovering, God protected them from their enemies. And not only did He protect them, He forgave them. On that day, the people were able to put the humiliation and shame of Egypt completely behind them. And when they went to battle against Jericho, God gave them a mighty victory.

Contrast this to what happens two chapters later. In Joshua 7, Israel is humiliated by Ai, a town they thought would be a cakewalk after the mighty Jericho fell. Joshua learns the defeat was due to one man, Achan, who tried to hide some of the things he plundered from Jericho. And until his sin was brought out in the open, Israel couldn’t prevail against her enemies. Achan’s sin affected him, his family, and his family of faith. What he attempted to conceal resulted in their ruin.

Do you see the contrast? The men of Israel laid themselves bare before God, and He protected them and gave them the victory. God guards what we give Him. He who knows our innermost being (Psalm 139) will keep safe what we bring to Him.

On the other hand, Achan tried to conceal something from God. The entire community suffered defeat because of his attempts to keep his sin secret.

What we try to keep from God, God will expose. But what we expose to God, God will keep. We can’t hide anything from Him, but praise God that we can entrust everything to Him.

Day 082: “Very Far Away, at Adam” (Joshua 1-4)

15 and as soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest), 16 the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away, at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, and those flowing down toward the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. And the people passed over opposite Jericho. (Joshua 3:15-16)

For the second time in their history, Israel experienced a miraculous water crossing. In Exodus 14, Moses led the people across the Red Sea. A generation later, Joshua led the people across the Jordan. One led the people out of slavery. One led them into promise.

So which crossing required more faith? At first glance, the Red Sea seems like the bigger obstacle. While Joshua 3:15 does note that the Jordan was at flood stage at this time, it’s still just a river, and not a very wide one at that. Compared to the Red Sea, it feels like not as big a deal.

And yet, notice how the directions are different. In Exodus, Moses raised his staff and the waters parted. His instruction to the people was,  “Stand still, and you will see God’s salvation. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent (Exodus 14:13-14).”

But in Joshua 3, the priests had to get their feet wet before they saw the miracle. The soles of their feet had to be in the Jordan before the waters were cut off.  The command wasn’t “Stand still.” It was “Get moving.”

And as you think about which required more faith, consider this as well: Moses had the Egyptian army on his heels. The enemy was behind him, and the people were desperate. They had nothing to lose by going forward. In contrast, Joshua had the walls of Jericho in his sights. This time, the enemy was in front of the people, and they had everything to lose by going forward. Two and a half tribes had already decided things weren’t so bad on this side of the Jordan. What would keep the rest of the tribes from following suit?  

I think it takes more faith to be on the march than it does to be on the run. Complacency is a bigger challenge to walking in faith than desperation. Embracing God’s promises might require more trust than escaping from bondage.  

Now, before we leave this story, let’s consider one more thing: In Joshua 3:16, we read that “the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away, at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan.” We don’t know exactly how far away this was, only that it was “very far” upstream. So, given the speed of the current, God must have begun piling up the water WAY in advance, yet He timed it so that the people would see that water dry up the moment the priests set their feet in the river! Even before the people started moving, God had already prepared the way.

And this is true for us as well. What looks like the next step of faith for you is only the most recent in a series of steps for God.

Take one more look at Joshua 3:16 and consider this:

The waters piled up at a city called Adam. At Adam, God began to make the way for the Israelites to cross to the Promised Land.

When did God begin laying the groundwork for the day you would take your first step of faith– the day you trusted Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins? Wasn’t it at the point at which Adam experienced the fall that made it necessary?

It was “very far away, at Adam.” That was when God made the way for you to cross over.

Day 081: “Upright One” or “Beloved One”? (Deuteronomy 32-34; Psalm 91)

“There is no one like the God of Jeshurun,
    who rides across the heavens to help you
    and on the clouds in his majesty. (Dt. 33:26)

As Tara-Leigh pointed out, the name Jeshurun is used three times in the Song of Moses (Dt. 32-33) and only one other place in Scripture. Jeshurun means “Upright one,” and it feels out of place when describing Israel, because Israel has been anything but upright.

But here’s the thing. Jeshurun, according to, can also be translated “Beloved One.” In the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the word is rendered ἠγαπημένος (Agapemenos). Agape is the unconditional love of Christ poured out on us.

The only other place Jeshurun is used outside of Deut. 32-33 is Isaiah 44:1-2:

“But now listen, Jacob, my servant,
Israel, whom I have chosen.
This is what the Lord says—
he who made you, who formed you in the womb,
and who will help you:
Do not be afraid, Jacob, my servant,
Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.”

So if Jeshurun is “Upright One,” then it does feel ironic when applied to Israel. Because upright describes human behavior, and, well, Israel has behaved very badly at this point.

But if Jeshurun is “Beloved One” then it is more about God’s attitude toward us, and not our behavior toward God. We are beloved by God in spite of our behavior, not because of it. Israel is the agapemenos—the Beloved One, because God formed her. He chose her.

I am Jeshurun! Left to myself, I am so far from upright. But God has pronounced me upright. I am so much less than lovely, God’s heart toward me is only love. Oh my God, I praise you for singing over me!

Day 080: These are Not Hard Things (Deuteronomy 30-31)

11 “For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 14 But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it. (Dt. 30:11-14)

As harsh and horrifying as yesterday’s reading was, today’s reading was just as tender and reassuring. In 30:11, God tells His people through Moses, “Look— these are not hard things. This commandment is not some secret knowledge or some impossible quest. You don’t have to be Nicolas Cage deciphering a secret treasure map, and you don’t have to be Indiana Jones traveling the world to discover what has been lost. No:

The word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.”

Michael Card, a gifted theologian/songwriter, captured the simple beauty of Deuteronomy 30:14 with this song:

So far, the law has seemed incredibly complex. Random. Harsh. Incomprehensible in places. But actually, has it? Even before there was a law to tell him so, Cain knew killing his brother was wrong (Genesis 4:9-10). Shellfish and mixed fibers aside, much of the law has just been common sense. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and might, and things will go well for you (Deut. 6:3-8).

Through Moses, God reassures Israel that “the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and on your heart, so that you can do it.

Leave it to man to muddy it up. Leave it to the Pharisees to take the word out of the mouths of men and make it all about external observances. Leave it to the rabbis to get consumed with gematria, seeing numbers and codes and “deeper meanings” in every character of the plain text.

Leave it to the premillenialists to pile charts and timelines and bestselling books on top of Revelation; obscuring its encouragement and hope, so that the glory of every tribe and tongue and nation gathered before the throne and singing “Worthy is the Lamb” (Rev. 7:9-11) gets Left Behind.

God tells His people on the edge of the Promised Land that the word is near them. It is in their heart and on their lips, that they may obey it.

Centuries later, the apostle John would tell us that the word has been with us from the beginning. It was with God. It was God. The word was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by Him (John 1:1-2).

And then, as if the word couldn’t be made any nearer, suddenly, it was: the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14).

And even so, yet nearer still:  Christ—the Word—in us, the hope of glory (Col. 1:27) Oh, praise Jesus that we didn’t have to ascend to heaven to get the Word. The Word descended from Heaven and came to us. And lives in us still.

Day 079: Does God Really Delight in the Destruction of His People? (Deuteronomy 28-29)

““All these curses shall come upon you and pursue you and overtake you till you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that he commanded you. They shall be a sign and a wonder against you and your offspring forever. Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things,” (Deuteronomy 28:45-47 ESV)

I struggle with chapter 28 because it is a threat to my systematic theology. It’s a challenge to my core conviction that every word of the Bible agrees with every other word of the Bible. Here’s what I mean: Deuteronomy 28:63 says,

63 And as the Lord took delight in doing you good and multiplying you, so the Lord will take delight in bringing ruin upon you and destroying you. And you shall be plucked off the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 

The issue is that twice in Ezekiel, God says he does not take pleasure in the death of the Israelites:

For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD; so turn, and live.” (Ezekiel 18:32)
Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel? (Ezekiel 33:11)

So which is it? God delights in the destruction of rebellious Israel, or God takes no pleasure in the death of anyone?

The NIV Quest Study Bible (online) gives us one possible way to reconcile this. It suggests that, “punishment does not please God in the sense of making him feel good. Rather it pleases him that justice is done.”

Which makes me feel a little better, I guess. But it sounds a little like “God-splaining” (which is like man-splaining, where a guy tries to rationalize and justify something that he shouldn’t have said, only its on God’s behalf).

I hear Tara-Leigh say that verse 63 is typical covenant language that doesn’t reflect the character of God. But if it doesn’t reflect the character of God, then why is it in the Bible? Unlike the book of Job, where anything that seems contrary to God’s character can be written off as coming from a human being that doesn’t speak the truth about God (Job 42:7), we don’t get an easy out in Deuteronomy 28, because these words are coming from God himself, through Moses.

But if I struggle with seeing God’s character in this chapter, I don’t struggle at all with seeing human nature. Because for whatever reason, we are wired to respond to the fear of bad things more than the promise of good things. In the 68 verses of chapter 28, only 14 of them are about the blessings of obedience, compared to 54 dealing with the curses of disobedience. Nearly four times as many!

There’s a reason “judgment house” presentations at churches are so popular at Halloween. There’s a reason why the only sermon most people know from Jonathan Edwards is “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” Human nature tells us that fear motivates. A recruit in boot camp is trained for battle by a drill sergeant, not by Mister Rogers. Many preachers spend more time on graphic depictions of hell than glorious depictions of heaven.

So while the whole of Scripture is God saying to us, “This is who I am,” Scripture also says to us, “This is who you are.” It is a horrifying thing to turn away from God. The truth of Deuteronomy 28 is that I need constant reminders of the consequences of rejecting God. Because I am a sinful, fallen, forgetful, broken, rebellious child, and sometimes that’s what it takes.

Day 078: East Toward Holiness (Deuteronomy 24-27)

A Jewish mizrah, intended to hang on the eastern wall of a home.
11 That day Moses charged the people, saying, 12 “When you have crossed over the Jordan, these shall stand on Mount Gerizim to bless the people: Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin. 13 And these shall stand on Mount Ebal for the curse: Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali. (Deuteronomy 27:11-13)

In today’s podcast, I got stuck on something Tara-Leigh said, almost in passing: that east was the direction associated with holiness.  I would love to learn more about that. I found one article (again from, which is becoming my go-to for articles about Jewish customs and practices) and it talked about why Jews after the Diaspora face east when they pray. East is the direction of Jerusalem for European Jews. Many Jewish households have a plaque called a mizrah (Hebrew for east) hanging on an eastern wall of their home, to help them orient themselves in prayer. The image here is of a mizrah, and its definitely on my shopping list for when I go back to Israel next year!

But for Jews crossing the Jordan into the Promised Land, east would have been looking back the way they came. East was Egypt. East was slavery and bondage.  East was wilderness wandering. East was forty years in the desert. East was rebellion and disobedience and the death of a generation who turned away from God.

So if they truly oriented themselves with Mt Ebal to the left and Mt Gerazim to the right, then they would be looking back on where they had been.  

This doesn’t contradict the idea that east is associated with holiness. In fact, it reinforces it. Every experience we go through is meant for our sanctification, which is another word for the process of making us holy. So maybe facing east was meant to renew the commitment never to return to bondage and rebellion. As the curses echoed down the mountain to their left, I can imagine this new generation looking over the Jordan, thanking God for all He had brought them through on the way to holiness. Then I can imagine them turning away, setting their faces toward the Jerusalem that was to come, further up and further in to the land of promise.

Day 077: Why There’s No Topical Index (Deuteronomy 21-23)

“Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it. Deuteronomy 12:32

One of the most challenging things to me about Leviticus-Deuteronomy is how random it is. My Western mind is so conditioned to things being in order and systematic (thanks, Aristotle!).

But the Torah reads like what would happen if a law library blew up. Moral, civil, and ceremonial laws all jumbled together. A prohibition against wearing clothing of mixed fibers adjacent to laws about sexual assault.

My brain wants an index. A grouping. Something I could quickly thumb through so I would know what’s “really” important.

But maybe the point is that I don’t get to decide for myself what’s “really” important. After all, wasn’t that the first temptation in the Garden? Eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Then you can decide for yourself, and you won’t need God to tell you what’s right and wrong.

And we have been deciding for ourselves ever since. What a mess we’ve made of the world because of it.

The Torah refuses to be skimmed. It’s not up to me to pick out the “really important” from the arcane and trivial. I am thankful for Jesus, that because of the Cross I am no longer bound by the Law. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter.

When Paul gives his great argument in Romans 3, that in Jesus there is a righteousness of God apart from the Law (Romans 3:21), he doesn’t end this section by saying, “Therefore, the Law is obsolete.” In fact, he says just the opposite:

“Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭3:31‬ ‭ESV‬‬

To be sure, we are not bound by the ceremonial law (who’s got two thumbs and loves bacon? THIS GUY!). And much of the civic law that regulated how Israelites were to live with one another in community does not apply.

But all of it matters! It matters because it reveals God’s character. It shows what was required to approach the holy God. And most of all, it reveals our utter inability to keep the law.

So here’s what you do when you read Deuteronomy: instead of rolling your eyes and wishing for an index, bow your head and thank God for His grace.

God, teach me to be careful to obey your law. And thank you for grace when I fail.

Day 076: Personalizing or Making It Personal? (Deuteronomy 17-20)

18 When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the Levitical priests. 19 It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees 20 and not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel. (Deuteronomy 17:18-20)

The first thing a king of Israel would do when he took the throne was sit down and write “for himself on a scroll a copy of this law.” This guaranteed at least two things: first, that the king be able to read and write (a valuable skill in the ancient world, and not necessarily a given); and two, that the king be familiar with God’s word.

Side note: I personally think every elected official in this country should be required to write a copy of the US Constitution for themselves the day they take office. For all the times they seem to ignore it, I can’t help but think many of them don’t know what it says!

Tragically, this tradition didn’t seem to be followed all that often. Throughout Israel’s sad history of the monarchy, there seem to have been more kings that didn’t know God’s word than did. Many of Solomon’s actions, for example, were everything Deuteronomy 17 said not to do. Compare 17:16-17 to the life of Solomon recorded in 1 Kings:

Verse 16: The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, 

26 Solomon also had 40,000 stalls of horses for his chariots, and 12,000 horsemen.  (1 Kings 4:26)
28 And Solomon’s import of horses was from Egypt and Kue, and the king’s traders received them from Kue at a price. (1 Kings 10:28)
Verse 17: He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh… from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the people of Israel, “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love. He had 700 wives, who were princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart. (1 Kings 11:1-3)
Verse 17: He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.All King Solomon’s drinking vessels were of gold, and all the vessels of the House of the Forest of Lebanon were of pure gold. None were of silver; silver was not considered as anything in the days of Solomon. (1 Kings 10:21)

There was a great disconnect between what Solomon wrote down and what he lived out. Maybe he didn’t understand the assignment. God didn’t say, “Write down the law for yourself.” The language is precise: “Write for yourself on a scroll a copy of THIS Law.” Let’s take that phrase by phrase, starting at the end and working our way backwards:

  • This Law: Not just any law, Not your interpretation of the law. Not picking and choosing from other religions, self-help books and civic religion. The law, the whole law, and nothing but the law.
  • A copy: When the king made a copy of the law, it wasn’t a forgery. He wasn’t pretending he owned something real that he knew was fake. God’s Word is the most real thing there is, and by copying it down exactly, the king was taking God’s great and precious promises and making them his own.
  • On a scroll: God wanted the king to carry the law with him, not engrave it on the walls of his palace. God wasn’t interested in His Word to become a museum piece on display behind a velvet rope. God’s Word is practical and portable.
  • For himself: If the king delegated this task to his scribes or slaves, he would have missed the point entirely. This was not about reproducing God’s Word. When we make God’s word our own, it will increase and multiply (see Acts 12:24).

Personalizing God’s Word is about implementation, not interpretation. One of the most useless and dangerous questions a Sunday school teacher or small group leader can ask is, “What does this verse mean to you?” The right question is, “What does this verse mean?” followed by, “What adjustments do you need to make in response to it?”

Before I judge Solomon too harshly, I have to examine my own life. Is there a disconnect between what I read, what I preach, what I’ve memorized, and how I live? Do I live my life in such a way that it is obvious I’ve internalized God’s Word and made it my own? All too often, I fear the opposite is true. What I do says more about what I believe than what I say.

Day 075: Adventures in Twisting God’s Word (Deuteronomy 14-16)

16 But if he says to you, ‘I will not go out from you,’ because he loves you and your household, since he is well-off with you, 17 then you shall take an awl, and put it through his ear into the door, and he shall be your slave forever. (Dt. 15:16-17)

In the Eighties and early Nineties, guys wearing one earring was a thing. It showed you were living on the edge. You were a rebel. It was cool. And all the guys on MTV had one.

It was important, though, that you pierced the correct ear. “Left is right; right is wrong” was the way to tell the world that, while you were going out of your way to imitate Duran Duran, you still liked girls.

So, of course, I wanted to get my left ear pierced. But I was also a seminary student and a part time youth minister, which meant that looking like one of the guys in Duran Duran wasn’t going to be a good reason to get an earring.

So I spiritualized it. I found this verse in Deuteronomy, which describes the process for an indentured servant binding himself to his master’s household. I said, “This will show that I’m so devoted to the Lord that I want to be His servant forever!”

I strengthened my argument even further when I found Psalm 40:6, which, in the 1984 version of the NIV, read,

Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced ; burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. Then I said, "Here I am, I have come-- it is written about me in the scroll. I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart."

(Note: the 1984 NIV was an outlier in translating this “My ears you have pierced.” Every other English translation understood David’s intention to be that God had opened his ears to understand God’s Word, not pierced them. When the NIV was revised in 2001, it changed Psalm 40:6 to bring it more in line with the consensus of biblical scholarship, so that now, it reads, “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire—but my ears you have opened.”)

The earring lasted, oh, about a year. And for what it’s worth, not a single person ever came up to me and said, “Wow– you’ve got an earring. I can tell you really love the Lord!” Not even once.

Mercifully, the earring went away before I met my wife’s father for the first time, which turned out to be my one moment of exercising good judgment of the whole episode.

I’m thankful that my wife (girlfriend at the time) didn’t break up with me. I’m thankful that the church didn’t fire me. I’m thankful that God loves me, no matter how much I misuse His Word.

And I’m thankful that, thirty years later, I’ve maybe learned a little more about not taking God’s word out of context or cherry-picking verses to justify what I want to do. Lord knows, we all have an amazing capacity to twist God’s Word for our own ends. Just in today’s passage alone, I could excuse binge drinking with Deuteronomy 14:26 (“Look– the Bible says I can spend my money on strong drink!”); ignoring the poor (“Deuteronomy 15:11 says there will always be poor people in the land, so there’s nothing we can do about it!”); and even slavery, with the same passage I used to justify my earring.

God will use God’s Word to accomplish God’s purposes. We don’t use God’s Word to justify our purposes.

And I’m sure there’s a verse for that, somewhere.

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