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Deuteronomy 29:1–29 (LEB)

Covenant Renewal, Oaths, Restoration, Charges to the Nation

29 These are the words of the covenant that Yahweh commanded Moses to make with the Israelites in the land of Moab besides the covenant that he made with them at Horeb.

And Moses summoned all of Israel and said to them, “You saw all that Yahweh did before your eyes in the land of Egypt and to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land; that is, the great trials that your eyes saw, and those great signs and wonders. But Yahweh has not given to you a heart to understand, or eyes to see, or ears to hear, even to this day. And I have led you forty years in the desert; your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandal has not worn out on your foot. You have not eaten bread, and you have not drunk wine and strong drink, so that you may know that I am Yahweh your God. And when you came to this place then Sihon the king of Heshbon, and Og the king of Bashan, came out to meet you for battle, and we defeated them. And we took their land and gave it as an inheritance to the Reubenites and to the Gadites and to the half-tribe of Manasseh. And you must diligently observe the words of this covenant, so that you may succeed in all that you do.

10 “You are standing today, all of you, before Yahweh your God, your leaders, your tribes, your elders, and your officials, all the men of Israel, 11 your little children, your women and your aliens who are in the midst of your camp, from the choppers of your wood to the drawers of your water, 12 in order for you to enter into the covenant of Yahweh your God, and into his oath that Yahweh your God is making with you today, 13 in order to establish you today to himself as a people and so that he may be for you as God, just as he promised to you and just as he swore to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.

14 “Now I am not making this covenant and this oath with you alone. 15 But with whoever is standing here with us today before Yahweh our God, and with whoever is not standing here with us today. 16 For you know how we lived in the land of Egypt and how we traveled through the midst of the nations that you traveled through. 17 And you have seen their detestable things and their idols of wood and stone, silver, and gold that were among them, 18 so that there is not among you a man or a woman or a clan or a tribe whose heart turns today from being with Yahweh our God to go to serve the gods of these nations, so that there is not among you a root sprouting poison and wormwood. 19 And then when he hears the words of this oath, then he will assure himself in his heart, saying,Safety shall be mine even though I go in the stubbornness of my heart,’ thereby destroying the well-watered land along with the parched. 20 Yahweh will not be willing to forgive him, for by then the anger of Yahweh will smoke, and his passion against that man and all the curses written in this scroll will descend on him, and Yahweh will blot out his name from under heaven. 21 And Yahweh will single him out for calamity out of all the tribes of Israel, according to all the curses of the covenant written in the scroll of this law.

22 “And the next generation, that is, your children who will rise up after you, and the foreigner who will come from a distant land, when they will see the plagues of that land and its diseases that Yahweh has inflicted upon it, will say, 23 ‘All its land is brimstone and salt left by fire, none of its land will be sown, and it will not make plants sprout out and it will not grow any vegetation; it is as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Adman and Zeboiim, which Yahweh overturned in his anger and in his wrath.’ 24 And all the nations will say, ‘Why has Yahweh done such a thing to this land? What caused the fierceness of this great anger?’ 25 And they will say,It is because they abandoned the covenant of Yahweh, the God of their ancestors, which he made with them when he brought them out from the land of Egypt. 26 And they went and served other gods and bowed down to them, gods whom they did not know them and he had not allotted to them. 27 So the anger of Yahweh was kindled against that land to bring upon it all the curses written in this scroll, 28 and Yahweh uprooted them from their land in anger and in wrath and in great fury, and he cast them into another land, just as it is today.’

29 “The hidden things belong to Yahweh our God, but the revealed things belong to us to know and to our children forever, in order to do all the words of this law.”

2 Corinthians 7:8–16 (LEB)

For if indeed I grieved you by my letter, I do not regret it. Even if I did regret it (I see that that letter grieved you, even though for a short time), now I rejoice, not that you were grieved, but that you were grieved to repentance. For you were grieved according to the will of God, so that you suffered loss in no way through us. 10 For grief according to the will of God brings about a repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted, but worldly grief brings about death. 11 For behold how much diligence this very thing, being grieved according to the will of God, has brought about in you: what defense of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! In everything you have demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in this matter. 12 Consequently, even if I wrote to you, it was not because of the one who did wrong or because of the one who had been wronged, but in order that your diligence on our behalf might be revealed to you before God. 13 Because of this we have been encouraged, and in addition to our encouragement, we rejoiced much more over the joy of Titus, because his spirit had been refreshed by all of you. 14 For if I have boasted anything to him about you, I have not been put to shame, but as I have spoken everything to you in truth, thus also our boasting to Titus has proven to be true. 15 And his affection for you is all the more when he​ remembers the obedience of all of you as you welcomed him with fear and trembling. 16 I rejoice, because in everything I am completely confident in you.

Psalm 42:1–43:5 (LEB)

As a deer longs for streams of water,

so my soul longs for you, O God.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.

When shall I come and appear before God?

My tears have been my food day and night,

while they say to me all day long,

“Where is your God?”

These I remember and I pour out my soul within me:

that I would go with the multitude;

I led them in procession to the house of God,

with a voice of rejoicing and thanksgiving,

a crowd celebrating a festival.

Why are you in despair, O my soul,

and disturbed within me?

Hope in God, because I will again praise him,

for the salvation of his presence.

O my God, within me my soul is in despair;

therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan

and the heights of Hermon, from the mountain of Mizar.

Deep is calling to deep

at the thunder of your waterfalls.

All your breakers and your waves

have passed over me.

By day Yahweh commands his loyal love,

and in the night his song is with me,

a prayer to the God of my life.

I say to God, my rock,

“Why have you forgotten me?

Why must I walk about mourning

because of the oppression of the enemy?”

10 As with a shattering in my bones

my oppressors taunt me,

while they say to me all day,

“Where is your God?”

11 Why are you in despair, O my soul?

And why are you disturbed within me?

Hope in God, because I shall again praise him,

my salvation and my God.

A Prayer for Rescue

43 Judge me, O God, and plead my case

against an unfaithful nation.

From a man of deceit and wickedness rescue me,

because you are the God of my refuge.

Why have you rejected me?

Why must I go about mourning

because of the oppression of the enemy?

Send your light and your truth;

they shall lead me.

They shall bring me to your holy mountain

and to your dwelling places.

Then I will go to the altar of God,

to God, my surpassing joy,

and I will praise you with lyre,

O God, my God.

Why are you in despair, O my soul?

And why are you disturbed within me?

Hope in God, because I will again praise him,

my salvation and my God.

April 15

“Better is an arrow from a friend than a kiss from an enemy.”

When I first heard this saying, I was struck by what a truism it is. It wasn’t until years later, though, that I began surrounding myself with wise friends who would tell me the truth even when it was difficult to hear.

Paul was a true friend to the Corinthians, and it’s for this reason that he rebuked them: “For if indeed I grieved you by my letter, I do not regret it.… For grief according to the will of God brings about a repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted, but worldly grief brings about death” (2 Cor 7:8, 10).

I recently felt God asking me to rebuke someone. I was hesitant at first, but I followed through. Afterward, I was tempted to lighten the weight of my words by writing a follow-up explanation, but I was certain that it wasn’t God’s will that I do so; I felt that nearly all the words I had spoken were in His will. I had to be confident that the rebuke had power to lead the person to repentance and that the repentance could lead to salvation. I shouldn’t regret what I had done, but embrace it.

Moses had a similar experience to Paul’s. He spoke harsh words into the lives of the Israelites when renewing God’s covenant with them. He said things like: “You have not eaten bread, and you have not drunk wine and strong drink, so that you may know that I am Yahweh your God” (Deut 29:6). When the Israelites were deprived of things they thought they deserved, it was so that they could learn about God; such deprivation would force them to be dependent upon Yahweh.

I had another experience lately where I was on the receiving end of a truthful rebuke. My typical response is defensiveness, but I sensed from my friend’s voice that he was genuine. He was speaking words of experience, love, and godly wisdom. God worked in my heart and I listened. Even though they hurt, I had to be thankful for the wise words. As I’ve been tempted to fall into my old patterns since then, that rebuke continues to make a difference. I’m thankful for honest friends.

We often use the phrase “Judge not lest you be judged” as an excuse for not speaking the truth to someone (Matt 7:1). But Paul clearly didn’t use it that way. He understood that he was the worst of sinners, and he gladly admitted it. In grace, he issued rebukes.

Judging people incorrectly and out of hate or envy is a problem in our world. But so is failing to speak up when we see someone going astray. Paul didn’t judge—rather, he stated that God would judge according to His plans and oracles. Paul said it like it was, based on what God led him to say. He didn’t degrade people; he promoted godly behavior.

Do you have godly friends who speak honest words to you? If not, how can you go about making friends that will? How can you be open to speaking the truth to others without judging them?

John D. Barry is the publisher of Lexham Press, general editor of Faithlife Study Bible and Lexham Bible Dictionary, and the previous editor-in-chief of Bible Study Magazine. He is the author of The Resurrected Servant in Isaiah, Cutting Ties with Darkness, and Letters to a Christian, as well as the coauthor of Mary: Devoted to God's Plan. John is also the author of Not Your Average Bible Study volumes on Malachi, Colossians, Hebrews, James, and 1 Peter, and the coauthor of a study on 2 Peter–Jude.

Connect the Testaments: A Daily Devotional

Author: John D. Barry & Rebecca Van Noord

Publisher: Lexham Press

Publication Date: 2012

This 365-day devotional walks you through the Bible in a year, following a custom reading plan that delves into the stories of the Bible from five unique perspectives.