Ways of Canaan, Ways of Christ

Scripture Focus: Deuteronomy 12.4-7, 30-31
4 You must not worship the Lord your God in their way. 5 But you are to seek the place the Lord your God will choose from among all your tribes to put his Name there for his dwelling. To that place you must go; 6 there bring your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, what you have vowed to give and your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks. 7 There, in the presence of the Lord your God, you and your families shall eat and shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the Lord your God has blessed you.

…be careful not to be ensnared by inquiring about their gods, saying, “How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same.” 31 You must not worship the Lord your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the Lord hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods.

Psalm 97.10-12
10 Let those who love the Lord hate evil, 
for he guards the lives of his faithful ones 
and delivers them from the hand of the wicked. 
11 Light shines g on the righteous 
and joy on the upright in heart. 
12 Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous, 
and praise his holy name.

Reflection: Ways of Canaan, Ways of Christ
By John Tillman

Despite Moses’ warnings, eventually the Israelites would accommodate to the practices of the land, even while claiming to be God’s people. Every evil thing that God sent Israel to destroy Israel would eventually set back up. 

They topple corrupt and brutal kings, then ask for their own. They cleanse the land of cultic prostitution, only to become prostitutes themselves. They destroy shrines and altars soaked in the blood of children, and later set them back up. The Temple in Jerusalem that Babylon would later destroy had been debased with the very Asherah poles God commanded Joshua to cut down. Some children in the line of Christ’s human ancestors would be sacrificed to Molech by wicked kings in David’s line.

The way the world worships, the way the world operates, and the way our world’s kings lead will always be a temptation for us, just as they were for Israel. 

The way of the world is the way of Canaan. The world idolizes brutality in leaders, demanding our opponents to be crushed and dominated. The world lusts after promiscuity, desiring endless and unlimited sexual conquest. The world sacrifices others (children, family, friendship) for self-empowerment in the form of financial success, political acceptability, and personal advancement. 

As in Israel, some will take up these practices while claiming to serve God. But God will not be mocked in this way by us any more than he would by Israel. In our devotion to God, we must not take up these ways of Canaan but the way of Christ.

God would eventually choose Jerusalem as the place for his name and for centralized worship. Our worship must stay centered on Christ. Christ is the city where God dwells with us, the temple through which God meets us, the priest who serves us, the king who rules us, and the sacrifice which saves us.

We must admire gentleness instead of brutality in our leaders. We must maintain a passion for pure and holy ways of loving others, rather than satisfying our own desires. We must be willing to sacrifice our own empowerment for the benefit of others.

Our priestly task is to set before the world a better way, a light in the darkness.
Seek God’s face and ask him to reveal and remove “ways of Canaan” within you, replacing them with the ways of Christ.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Greeting
Awesome things will you show us in your righteousness, O God of our salvation, O Hope of all the ends of the earth and of the seas that are far away. — Psalm 65.5

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 12 (Listen – 5:11)
Psalm 97-98 (Listen – 2:19)

Read more about Over Jordan
When we cross over the Jordan with Christ, the land has no enemies to be defeated.

Read more about Ready to Exit the Desert
The exit from Egypt was more than salvation from slavery. God began shaping Israel to walk in their role as his priestly nation, to bless all nations.

His Blessings, Our Curse :: A Guided Prayer

Deuteronomy 11.26-28
See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse—the blessing if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the Lord your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known.

Reflection: His Blessings, Our Curse :: A Guided Prayer
By John Tillman

The blessings and curses of the law were a consistent theme of Moses’s final messages to the people of Israel. Moses gave instructions for a gigantic visual demonstration as a community learning event that was eventually carried out by Joshua.

Half the tribes would stand on Mount Gerazim and half on Mount Ebal. The tribes on Gerazim would pronounce the blessings that could be theirs if they obeyed. The tribes on Ebal would pronounce the curses if they failed to follow the laws that Moses was leaving them.

May we hear in God’s Word, always the tender love of our father who wants blessings for us.

May we also give thanks for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who became a curse for us. He died to release the curse’s hold on us, then he rose to bring to us the full blessings of life that overflows with good things.

Praise and thank him this week using the prayer below that is based on our readings for today:

His Blessings, Our Curse
Oh, Lord, we are your people.
We are the sheep of your pasture and we need your provision.

Your care for us Lord goes deeper than
The superficial service of hired help.
You are our Good Shepherd who lays down his life for us.
You became a curse for us.
You became sin for us.

We have your blessings today, Lord,
Because you took our curse!
We stand on Gerazim and you stand on Ebal.

If only we would hear your voice today, Lord.
If only we would walk your path of service.
If only we would walk your path of grace.

May we proclaim your salvation day after day and
May we never cease telling of your wonderful deeds.

Let the heavens, the seas, the fields, and the trees resound with praise
As you come to judge the world with equity!

As Israel was to be your instrument in the world, Lord, make us instruments of your grace and truth to others.

Amen!

Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Bless our God, you peoples; make the voice of his praise to be heart;
Who holds our souls in life, and will not allow our feet to slip. — Psalm 66.7-8

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 11 (Listen – 4:38) 
Psalm 95-96 (Listen – 2:37) 

This Weekend’s Readings
Deuteronomy 12 (Listen – 5:11) Psalm 97-98 (Listen – 2:19) 
Deuteronomy 13 (Listen – 3:05) Psalm 99-101 (Listen – 2:48) 

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Read more about Balaam’s Success
No matter what sins or idols we are tempted with, may we approach God humbly, seeking repentance and redemption through Christ.

Read more about The Value of Words
Our purpose at The Park Forum is to produce words that are filled with life, not death.
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