Sunday, March 07, 2010

Paul Barker. Deuteronomy.

Nom-ed-At Tomato and Spinach Quiche from Cedele Virgil's Microbrewed Root Beer
Chickpeas, Pinto Beans, White Beans etc, Red Peppers, Tomatoes, Chorizo Stew-type Thing Old Baguette, Broken Beef Shortribs Braised in Red Wine(s of Varying Dodginess)

Hearing Paul Barker [1] speak so tantalisingly on Deuteronomy made one desire nothing more than to rush home and read the whole of Moses' sermon at one go, sustained physically by reheated leftovers, since Deuteronomy seemed itself a smörgåsbord of immensely grand proportions.

According to Paul Barker, Deuteronomy not only sums up the first four books of the Old Testament with its record of God's promises to Abraham and the purposes of God, it also gives the basis for God's judgement of the goodness or badness of Israel's actions in the books that follow - eg. treaties with other nations and the setting up of different places of worship, and so the successes and failures of her kings in leading the nation, and also what she should have understood from the blessings and curses that befell her through her history. So really, Israel (together with her scribes and Pharisees), by the time of Jesus, was without excuse.

Deuteronomy is no mere listing of laws ("here are the ten commandments, obey them yeah") but is/was an expository sermon by Moses on these laws on the basis of Israel's existing grace relationship with God, just as they were poised to enter the Promised Land. His last nag was no usual pep talk; he tried to persuade the new generation of Israelites that God was a faithful God who had fulfilled his promise of a populous people and was also willing and able to fulfil his promise of land to the descendants of Abraham. He warned them to love and obey God with the full expectation that they would fail and be just as unfaithful and disobedient as their fathers who were condemned to die in the desert, and would therefore lose the land and be sent into exile. Yet, just like that little gem of a promise of a serpent-crusher in Genesis 3 as Adam and Eve were exiled from the Garden of Eden, so Deuteronomy 30 promises/d that after the Israelites had been exiled, there would come a day when God would circumcise their hearts so that they would be able to love and obey him properly and completely.

That the language of seeing and hearing yet in reality suffering from lackoffaith-induced blindness and deafness came up so early on in God's dealing with his people soaks Jesus' healing of the deaf and blind men in Mark 7-8 in a whole lot more meaning than "oh yeah, it's the fulfilment of Isaiah's prophecy of the salvation wrought by God in Isaiah 35 and therefore Jesus is God" and "it's a picture of the deafness and blindness of the Pharisees and the disciples whereas the Syrophoenician woman etc see and hear with faith", though that's certainly pertinent.

Clearly there will need be a lot of chewing and digesting these next few weeks. Quite fantastic God's work (and patience!) through all this human history! Most chuffed.
[1] It seems he's somewhat of an expert on the book, having done his PhD on it and, as tends to happen with the contents with doctoral theses, written a book - The Triumph of Grace in Deuteronomy. Here's an article from the Tyndale Bulletin in 1998 on The Theology of Deuteronomy 27. He was also contributor of notes on Deuteronomy for the ESV Study Bible.

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This post is brought to you by Cedele's tomato and spinach quiche, Virgil's microbrewed root beer, an adaption of Nigel Slater's chickpeas with chorizo, a stale baguette, and another adaptation of Smitten Kitchen's beef short ribs.

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