Isaiah 63: I’ll make a list of God’s gracious dealings.
The old gospel song says, “Count your blessings – name them one by one; and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.” I don’t know that hymn writer Johnson Oatman was inspired by this passage but it certainly fits. Isaiah says he’s going to make a list of the things “God has done that need praising” and then work his way through that list. Like many Christians I have a prayer list that’s filled with concerns and needs. I think it’s a good idea; after all, there are many genuine needs and the Lord welcomes us to share our heart’s concerns. However, I need to balance that out by having, in addition to a prayer list, a “praise list” as well. Otherwise, I’m in danger of behaving like the nine lepers who are healed by Jesus. They rush on into their new lives without a backward glance while only one returns to say “thanks” to our Lord. I need to purposely make the effort to spend time each day rejoicing in all the Lord has done for me.
Take Away: Our “need filled” prayers should be balanced by strong component of “praise filled” prayers.
It makes sense
Joshua 8: There wasn’t a word of all that Moses commanded that Joshua didn’t read to the entire congregation.
There’s both good news and bad news. The good news is that the Israelites have just won their second major victory. The bad news is that because of Achan’s sin, that victory was preceded by their first defeat. In spite of the clear statement of the Law Achan’s greed led to the deaths of several. Now, Achan, and those close to him, have paid for his sin with his own lives and the humiliation dealt the army of Israel has been erased by the total destruction of Ai. Joshua wisely calls for a time out. The people gather at the twin Mounts of Ebal and Gerisim and Joshua has half the people turn their backs on one of the mountains and the other half turn their backs on its twin. Then Joshua gives them a refresher course on God’s Law. The blessing of the Law is represented by Gerisim and the curse of the Law is represented by Ebal. Clearly, Joshua wants the people to remember that what they’re doing in Canaan isn’t all about combat and conquest. If they don’t remain firmly connected to the Lord God their future is bleak. Their only hope is to remain on the “blessing” side of things. This isn’t magic. In fact, it’s quite practical. Life works better for those who live in a consistent relationship with God than it does for those who reject him and live by some other standard. I realize that there’s more in play here, but I can’t help but note that the bottom line is based on plain good sense.
Take Away: There’s a way of life that is blessed by the Lord.