Dr. Mark Scott wrote this treatment of the International Sunday School Lesson. Scott teaches preaching and New Testament at Ozark Christian College, Joplin, Missouri. This lesson treatment is published in the April 2020 issue of Christian Standard + The Lookout. (Subscribe to our print edition.)
Lesson Aim: Because he is holy, walk as his holy people.
By Mark Scott
God’s chosen people are holy and wholly his. They are to be set apart for him (holy) and entirely devoted to him (wholly his). At times we have emphasized the “purity” side of holiness but have failed to emphasize the “possession” side of it. To be holy is to live with the moral excellence of God himself. But to be holy also is to realize that we belong to him. He is our very great possession and inheritance, and we are his peculiar people.
The next four lessons emphasize how God’s people are to be “wholly his.” The texts are from Moses’ preaching (Deuteronomy) and from the code that uses “holiness” more than any other book in the Bible (Leviticus).
As the people were getting ready to cross the Jordan into the land of promise, Moses reminded them of God’s law (Deuteronomy 5), God’s heart (6), God’s love (7), God’s word (8), and God’s discipline (9). God then commanded Moses to cut two new stone tablets since Moses had broken the first ones (Deuteronomy 10:2) and to make sure the law traveled with Israel in their journeys in the ark box. God’s purpose was to ensure that Israel’s wholeness was located in God himself.
Israel’s Choice Was Due to God’s Greatness and Goodness | Deuteronomy 10:12-22
In language similar to that of the prophet Micah (6:8), Moses reminded Israel of what God required (asked) of them. Basically God asked Israel to do five things (and these greatly overlap): to fear (reverence) God, obey God, love God with everything, serve (work for) God, and observe (heed or retain) God’s commands and decrees.
In doing these five things, Israel would not make a name for themselves. They would simply make God’s name great. After all, the heavens and the earth belong to him. He is God of gods and Lord of lords. He is mighty (strong) and awesome (fearsome). He has shown himself to be good. He plays no favorites (even though he chose Israel) and accepts no bribes. He defends the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner by giving them food and clothing. And, after all, the Lord performed miracles for Israel (great and awesome wonders).
God wanted Israel to demonstrate his greatness and goodness to show his affection (mercy) toward them; in other words, to love the foreigner, fear the Lord and serve him, hold him fast, and take oaths in his name. God helped Israel multiply from a family of 70 (cf. Exodus 1:5; Acts 7:14, 15) to a nation as numerous as the stars.
Israel’s Greatness Was Due to God’s Promises | Deuteronomy 7:6-9; 4:5-9
God’s promises were not given to Israel because Israel was so compliant, intelligent, shrewd, or numerous. The promises of God were rooted in his consistent character. At least three fulfilled promises are highlighted in these two sections of Scripture. First, to make Israel his treasured possession the Lord kept his oath to Israel of “redemption.” God redeemed (ransomed or paid a price for) Israel from the land of slavery.
God’s second promise was that of his covenant. The Lord’s covenant of love established an agreement between God and his people. Israel did not have to wonder about how this covenant worked because the third promise was that of revelation. God’s unveiling of himself to Israel came through his law. The law of God (specifically given in the Ten Commandments) made known his mind, will, and way. As Israel would observe these laws, they would demonstrate God’s wisdom and understanding to the nations. In this sense the law became an avenue of evangelism. The nations would respond, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.”
Unlike the gods of other nations, God’s people have a God who is near them. The Lord’s righteous decrees and laws were set before Israel so Israel could perpetuate God’s promises to the generations to come. Diligence in maintaining the promises of God would help Israel to prevent God’s laws from fading from the peoples’ hearts.
Israel’s Glory Was Due to God’s Power | Leviticus 9:23, 24
The first seven chapters of Leviticus marked out the various offerings and sacrifices to the Lord. Leviticus 8 and 9 dealt with the consecration of the priests. These last two verses of chapter 9 are the epilogue of these two chapters. When Moses and Aaron came out of the tent of meeting, they blessed the people and God put on a display of his power. God’s purifying fire from heaven was his stamp of approval for the sacrifices made. When the people witnessed this power they shouted for joy and fell facedown. What else could his chosen people do?
Lesson study ©2019, Christian Standard Media. Print and digital subscribers are permitted to make one print copy per week of lesson material for personal use. Lesson based on the scope and sequence, ©2019 by Christian Standard Media. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.