|Volume 24 Number 5 May 2022
In his book, Renewing Your Spiritual Life, Aubrey Johnson addresses “A Study of Deuteronomy: 13 Simple Steps for Maximum Spiritual Growth.” In the introduction to the background of Israel, he makes these observations. “When Israel was preparing to enter the Promised Land, Moses revealed a secret that would guarantee the people military victory, economic prosperity and spiritual vitality. That secret was to honor God’s covenant. Those who follow Moses’ advice find that it still works today! Simply put, renewal is the result of committed love for God and obedience to His Word.”
In Deuteronomy 4-30, Moses told Israel to listen to the statutes and judgments, which he taught them to observe, so that they might go in to take possession of the land that the LORD God of their fathers was giving them. Moses’ “aim was not to provide a new and distinct body of teaching different from what he delivered earlier at Sinai. Rather, his intent was to restate the same law and urge the Israelites to reaffirm it” (Johnson 10). The focus of this article is what God did for the Israelites for their good and what He continues to do in the lives of 21st century Christians for their good. Selected passages in Deuteronomy, along with other noted Scriptures, deserve special attention, and Job is the stellar example of God always working for the good of His children.
Moses cautioned the children of Israel in Deuteronomy 6:10-25 against disobedience. He told them how to respond when their children asked what was the meaning of the testimonies, statutes and judgments that the LORD God had commanded. Moses said, tell your son, “We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, and the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand… Then He brought us out from there, that He might bring us in, to give us the land of which He swore to our fathers. And the LORD commanded us to observe all these statutes to fear the LORD our God for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is this day” (Deuteronomy 6:21, 23-24 NKJV).
Deuteronomy 8 only has 20 verses, and Moses exhorted the children of Israel in the first 18 verses to remember the LORD their God and how He had lavishly blessed them beyond measure! Beginning in verse 11, Moses said:
Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, lest – when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them… when your heart is lifted up, and you forget about the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage… who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do you good in the end – then you say in your heart, “My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.” And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. (Deuteronomy 8:11-18)
In Deuteronomy 10:12-13, Moses continued to teach and question the children of Israel regarding the essence of the Law. “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statues which I command you today for your good?”
Jesus openly communicated to His disciples His expectations for them to endure and the need for them to press on in obedient faith. In John 15:1-2, He told them, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” To prune involves cutting off undesired twigs, branches or roots – to remove anything undesirable. What is our attitude toward that discipline when we as 21st century Christians are spiritually pruned? The Holy Spirit convicts us through the Word that He caused to be written. He forces us to face the greed, selfishness, pride, misguided zeal, lukewarmness and the many other sins that we may have in our lives and which must be purged. Hebrews 12:9-11 forthrightly states:
Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
After all Job had endured emotionally, materially, physically and spiritually, Job 42 records his repentance and restoration. Job 42:10-11 states:
And the LORD restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before. Then all his brothers, all his sisters, and all those who had been his acquaintances before, came to him and ate food with him in his house; and they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversity that the LORD had brought upon him. Each one gave him a piece of silver and each a ring of gold.
The last two verses of the book, Job 42:16-17, tell us, “After this Job lived one hundred and forty years and saw his children and grandchildren for four generations. So Job died, old and full of days.” James 5:10-11 gives us such a precious insight into how God deals with us when we correctly endure our afflictions. “My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord – that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.”
Following are some of the key thoughts from three authors regarding what it means to have unwavering trust, confidence, submission, obedience and enduring faith in all circumstances of this life. “Looking backward and evaluating Job’s life, one can see his faith in God was completely justified. God was ultimately in control. The contrast in Job’s case is striking. The devil’s end was to drive him to despair, and to cause him to blaspheme his Maker. God’s end was to reward his faith (Job 42:10-15)” (Bragg 102). “If any man ever had good reason to quit, to forsake the Lord, it was Job. But he did not. He didn’t understand why all these things were happening to him, but he declared that he was on God’s side – and there he would stay (Job 1:21; 13:15)!” (Roper 118). “No matter what happens, therefore, we, like Job, can trust God. The ‘patience of Job’ is not just a proverbial statement, but a historical fact that should motivate us to trust God to work all things for our good” (Turner 154).
The same Holy Spirit that inspired Moses to convey the Father’s determination to demonstrate good and benevolent actions toward Israel – as long as it obeyed Him – likewise inspired the apostle Paul to proclaim the Father’s divine benevolence to spiritual Israel in the New Testament era. “And the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is this day” (Deuteronomy 6:24). “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Bragg, David. Pure Religion: A Study of James. Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 2008.
Johnson, Aubrey. Renewing Your Spiritual Life. Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 2005.
Roper, David L. Practical Christianity: Studies in the Book of James. Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 1987.
Turner, J.J. The Book of James. Fort Worth: Quality P., 1976.