Bible Basics: Torah

Worship on the Lord’s Day
Pentecost 13      10:00 am       27 August 2023
Online & Onsite (Mixed Presence) Gathering as a Worshipping Community
Led by the Rev Brad Childs
Music director: Binu Kapadia     Elder: Jane de Caen

We gather to worship God

Music prelude

L: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
P: and also with you.

Lighting of the Christ candle
Welcome and announcements
Silent preparation for worship

Call to Worship
L: We gather this day, and much is visible:
P: Our smiles may show our joy; our eyes may speak of pain.
L: We come to this place, seeking signs of the living God:
P: We may sense something holy here; we may reach out to mystery.
L: Will we see God today? Will our living make God’s love visible?
P: Let us worship God, Holy Mystery, Eternal Love.

Opening praise: I lift my eyes up

Prayers of approach and confession

Eternal God, you are the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, and yet you come to us afresh each new day.

You breathe new life into what has grown tired and discouraged.

You offer healing for what is worn or broken.

You restore hope when things seem impossible.

You are the source of life and love for all your creatures, and you renew us to put our love for you into action for the wellbeing of your creation.

And so we worship you, Creator, Christ and Holy Spirit, offering our prayers and praise to you, eternal and ever-present God, now and always. Amen.

Merciful God, we confess that we have strayed from your purposes.

You set a path for us to follow, but we conform to the ways of this world.

You give each of us gifts to use for the work of your kingdom, but we wait for others to do what needs doing.

Forgive us for taking the easy way out and renew in us the eagerness and energy to serve.

Forgive us and take away the things that make us impure. Whatever our wrongs are our sins or our errors or our omissions Wipe them from your mind. Forgive us and give us a new eagerness and energy to serve and in a better way. In the name of Christ we pray.

Response: Glory, Glory, Hallelujah

Assurance of God’s grace

Believe in the good news. Our sins are forgiven in Jesus Christ. Put your faith in him and then start over feeling completely refreshed Thanks be to God and amen.

We listen for the voice of God

Children’s time

Response: Jesus, we are gathered (514)

Story: There was a lawyer, and he was brand spankin’ new in town – just arrived so no real friends in town. He hasn’t really met anybody yet. It’s a new town, a new building, a new office, a new space, new everything. New clients even.

And one day at the very beginning of the day as he was sitting as his desk, he heard somebody jiggling the door. It was the first person coming in to see him.

A client, he thinks. Quickly though, he runs back to the office, picks up the phone and says, oh yes, pretending that he’s on the phone with someone.

He says, yeah, it’s important that I’ll be flying to New York to deal with the Timmins case. And it looks like a real biggie. So, bring in Paul from New Jersey for the Pilates case too and also I’ll be joining Hoch and start up an patent with new partners here pretty soon.

I’ve got to go though. A new client has just walked in. And with that, the man walked into the room.

The lawyer said, how may I help you? And the man responded, I’m here to hook up your phone.

Sometimes we try and impress each other. Sometimes we try and impress God. It doesn’t work and it doesn’t need to.

First John 4:10 says this it’s love that gives us a sense of self-worth – not that we love God, but that God first loved us and sent his son for us. I want you to say this verse with me. “This is love -not that we loved God first, but that God loved us and sent his son.”

Prayer: Our God, we thank you for our wonderful lives. We know that you bless us with so much, but we don’t need to show off we don’t need to be the best we don’t need to feel like we’re in important to every person in the world. We know we’re important to you just the way we are.

The Lord’s Prayer (535)

Transition music

Song: All things bright and beautiful (435)

Today’s Message

Scripture reading: Genesis 1:1; Exodus 12:2-3; Leviticus 20:7-8; Deuteronomy 30:13

Response: Be still and know

Message: “Bible Basics: Torah” Part 1

Our Christian Scripture is not one but rather a library of ancient scrolls. Contained in the bibles we have in the pews, are 66 different books in the New and Old Testament with 39 books from the Old and 27 in the new. Sadly today, many Christians ignore the majority of the Old Testament. But that is a huge mistake. The Old Testament is THE ONLY BIBLE of Paul, the only Bible the Apostle Peter knew, and the only Bible Jesus knew and taught from.

While originally these were individual scrolls made from other collections of stories, entire books were then even later collected, complied into groups, and put together with what we might call “cross references” at the beginning and ending of each scroll which served the purpose of adjoining them and setting challenges not just for the people in the story from long ago but also for the current reader or more likely listener. We also have fragments of some texts in a fourth and earlier language. These are Hebrew for the oldest sections with Aramaic in the more recent textual revision (from about 400BCE) and koine Greek. Some similar texts exist in Ugarit and even proto-language script Hittite.

There are possible hints and similarities stemming from Cuneiform texts which is the worlds oldest form of written language and is from over 5,500 years ago – but that’s another story.

These scrolls we find in our bibles were written by many different authors over large periods of time and in three different languages and thus at least three completely unique time periods. Some portions come from a time as old as from 3,500 years ago and dating back and probably much further in the form of oral traditions used long before the written word even existed. And while the construction of the text is a work of many hands, the “final” or “authoritative version” of these documents have come to us with historically few errors in transmission.

Most of the time when people say “they changed the bible” or “they kept that book out” it’s because the book in question is 1000 years too late to be authentic, was never considered genuine or the simple result of historians and linguists learning more detail about how a word was used in different contexts. In other words, rejected for ridiculously good reasons or corrected because we learned more about a word used in the text than previously understood.

The Old Testament or Tanak is divided into three main sections The Torah, Nevi-im and Ketuvim or Law, Prophets, and Writings.  The writing are things like Proverbs, the Prophets like Isaiah and the Law is found in the first five books or Torah. And that’s what we will be looking at today. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. These are often called the 5 books of Moses because he is said to have authored portions of the texts.

The authors, however, are technically anonymous and generally referred to only in the generic sense as “scribes”. And while they present the earliest narratives, they likely come from a later period with Numbers containing what looks like the some of our earliest examples of the written Hebrew language. What this means is that while Genesis to Deuteronomy may be books about the earliest period, they are not the first books that were written. Like looking at Old English verses modern English – the language of the ancient Hebrews also changed dramatically over time. Thus, we can say with relative ease that Job is likely the first book of the bible that put pen to paper. But Numbers might also have been written at nearly the same time. The New Testament is the same because while Matthew comes first, James, Galatians and Mark were all clearly written earlier. But we will get to that in a month or so. For now…


Genesis means Beginning. And that’s what part of it’s about. It’s prehistory that deals with the nature and state of humanity in a poetic form and formula that runs from the first verse through the first 11 chapters. The book’s focus is on purpose, relationships, shame, and redemption. It’s filled with familiar stories like Adam and Eve, Cain and Able, The Tower of Bable, Noah’s ark and more.  The first part (chapters 1-11) is a part of “primeval history” and considers all of humanity and all of creation. Chapters 12-50 tell the ancestral accounts of a particular people (the descendants of Abraham). Genesis begins with Creation and traces the origins of Israelite people through their ancestors.

In the book God creates heaven for the people typified in a garden. Eve means LIFE and Adam means HUMANITY. What happens in the story well, humanity is corrupted, and life is as well. Both suffer from that point on. But the people decide to ignore God’s word, become corrupted by sin and the entire rest of the bible concerns just one question from this point on – How do we get back into heaven?

Some of the most interesting things to note: The God saves the people with an Ark or Chest described the same way the Ark of the Covenant is and that’s the same description we have for the Tabernacle and the Temple. It’s like a huge hint that God’s Word saves Noah. Also, the rainbow is not a rainbow but a weapon in the sky suggesting God has hung up his weapon of war now that he has flooded the earth. And while the name of the book means beginning, it ends with God’s people in slavery in Egypt.

It turns out that people aren’t great at determining what is right to do. And yet God is continually searching after them. He calls to them in the Garden and searches for them. They hide in shame from him and from each other. But God says, Eve will be saved through her Childbearing. Where these two people failed their kids will get a shot of their own and possibly redeem the whole system. All the children must do is live rightly. People oversee earth – humans fail. God promises a new human who will crush the serpent.

Next, we find out that Eve has given birth and we think, hooray a chance to get back into heaven. Where the parents failed, God says “Eve will [still] be saved through her childbearing”. This means that her descendants will someday fix this problem and we will return to the heavenly garden. Oh, by the way, in case it’s confusing… “Heaven”, the “Presence of God”, “Perfection”, “Holy Spaces”, the “original intention for us,” the “Garden of Eden” are really all described in the same ways. But it seems that must wait. Cain kills Abel.. This is not the New Adam. The people leave the garden and move to cities, they build a “gate to God” or Ziggurat called the Tower of Babel. and attempt to force their will into God’s space.

The world becomes corrupt with murder and misdeeds. Eventually God redoes creation and cleans the slate with a flood where God unleashes “the Waters from above and the Waters from below.” These are the very same waters of chaos God pushed back in the first creation story from chapter 1.

One thing worth noting is the incredible grace of God in Genesis. God says, don’t sin, the people sin. God says the punishment for sin is death. But he lets them live. Cain kills Abel. He deserves and eye for an eye, but God puts a mark of protection on his forehead instead. Noah is faithful but his story ends with an unseemly drunken episode. God picks Abraham (a gentile). Abrham is a disaster. God makes a covenant with Him. He’s still a disaster. God says he’ll bring a whole nation into being through Abraham. Issac, Jacob, all the Hero’s fail spectacularly. Adam failed. Noah failed. Abraham failed. Isaac failed. Jacob failed. Joseph failed. God makes promises, keeps them and when the people break the deal, just keeps taking them back.

When the book ends it ends with death and a call for something new. You remember Joseph and his colorful coat. Well, that’s not the end of the story. Here’s the end. Joseph said to his brothers, I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and will take you up out of this land to the land God has promised… (The book of Genesis awaits a Savior). So, Joseph died at the age of 110 and after they embalmed him, he was placed in a sarcophagus in Egypt.”

Things to remember: People are to listen and follow the Word of God. God’s word Saves and Following our own ways is a recipe for disaster. God Promises to be with them. While we keep failing God keeps taking us back. Our Goal is to return to the Garden, but we would corrupt it. God has promised a new Adam to come, who will not fail but live life as intended – in the image of God.


Exodus means exit. It is about the exit of the slaves from Egypt. The book is broken up into three sections. In the first part, the People are in Egypt. In the second part the people are in the wilderness and at the end they are Mt. Siani at the edge of the promised land.

The themes covered are Themes like Whose Slaves or Servants, are you? Law, Rescue, Nation.

Note that according to 1 Kings: 6:1 the exodus took place in the year 1446bc which would make the ruler Pharoah Thutmose III and Moses’ brother Amunhotep II. But shortly after this the text also mentions the City of “Ramses” which would not exist at the time of the story and so we know at least this part of the story has come from a much later author.

Remember: the descendants of Abraham are enslaved in Egypt. And Genesis ends as Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and will take you up of this land to the land he promised… What happens next. Well, that’s Exodus.

Exodus is where we meet Moses. It is now some 400 years later. It’s the story of the people in slavery, their freedom being purchased. On the mountain God tells Moses that the Israelites are not Pharoah servants or slaves but God’s servants or slaves. After the exodus the people turn on God and Moses almost immediately. God frees them, they complain, he gives them food and they complain, he gives them a nation and they complain. And in the end God determines that an entire generation needs to pass away before they see the promise land. And so, for 40 years 600,000 some people wander around a space that takes less than two weeks to cross.

This is where we first see the 10 commandments. But here is something most don’t consider. The 10 commandments where only one part of what Moses receives from God on his several trips up the mountain. The way the story unfolds is odd and has at least two different perspectives written on the events (first in Exodus and then in Deuteronomy (second version). This is also where the people built the first Temple which was a cloth tent version made for traveling in the desert. It was called “The Tabernacle”.

Exodus contains the ten commandments (not all what you think they are) so let me give you the Ten Commandments as I understand them.

  1. Don’t worship Baal or the Dragon or the King of Egypt.
  2. Don’t make things and worship them.
  3. Don’t lie in God’s name or attempt to use the name given to Moses “YHWH” as if it were magic or as if it forces God to act.
  4. Keep the Sabbath day free from work and provide rest for others.
  5. “Highly prize” your parents and obey them. Care for them when they cannot and give them honor which should then also be given to you.
  6. Do not deliberately kill a human being (note – this does not include during war and does not include accidents and does not include capital punishment and does not include restrictions on killing non-humans.)
  7. Do not commit adultery. Or perhaps, “Women – Do Not Commit Adultery or break engagement vows.” (NOTE: Men technically could not commit adultery as it was viewed as a property rights issue. This one is technically for wives.) That’s not permission to find a newer model man! Don’t worry Jesus is going to address this one. In addition, the “bride price” men paid was under the Law, held for the wife’s entire life because if she were “dismissed” or “divorced” that price had to be returned as a portion of her “settlement” (which also makes this very uniquely feminist in this way, for the ancient world).
  8. Do not steal and probably in it’s earliest understanding, a little more like, “Do not steal children” (kidnapping). Covet and steal are more alike. That’s coming.
  9. Do not lie in court where you must be one of three witnesses to a serious crime. To do so is evil.
  10. Do not covet what others have, and do not plan to obtain them from others.

When Jesus is asked what the most important verse is in scripture, he notes that the First Tablet is about respecting God and the second tablet about respecting our neighbours. He thus concludes that the ten commandments are two in nature. Love God and Love Neighbour. He also uses two references including one to the Shema (we will get to that).

A few more fun facts for you. After the plague the people cross the Reed Sea. Yes, you heard that right. No, we don’t know exactly what that is. It’s clear the text says it, but we don’t have that name appearing for a body of water at that time. Still, the Red Sea is certainly not accurate. The text says they cross the Sea of Reeds in every early document we have (though again, we don’t know where or what exactly that is).

Next comes the Golden Calf. And note that the “idol” worshipers strangely call the Calf “Lord” and even call it by the divine name Moses gets in the burning bush – YHWH or I Am what I Am. In other words, they refer to the calf as “the one who brought us up out of Egypt”. They think they are properly worshiping the God of Israel (who they design just like Baal by the way) by inviting God into their camp by making an image FOR HIM to rest on like a chair. The “golden calf” (made from the nose rings – Moses’ wife has  one so big it also serves as a bracelet) as well as earrings and other jewelry of the people) are not as much an idol in the strictest sense as it is supposed to function as a chair for the God of Israel to sit on if he were to be lured into visiting.

And oddly while angry about this very situation, this is also EXACTLY what God is about to do for them. He asks them to make the Tabernacle so that he might come and “dwell in their midst” and “sit upon the Mercy Seat” which is the lid to the Ark of the Covenant that contained Aaron’s Staff and the 10 commandment tablets. It is a little hint in the larger story, and oft repeated that outsiders are always called in and God is always the One who knocks and not the other way around. Other interesting points to note include the burning bush, the idea of Holy spaces, the 10 plagues, God purchasing the lives of all first-born Hebrew boys through a blood sacrifice and an innocent offering among others.

Also, while most people think Moses came down Sainai with just two tablets and ten suggestions. He goes up and down the mountain several different times and returns with not just 10 but 631 commandments. By they way, outright rejection of the commandments is a disgusting and very early Christian/Anti-Semitic heresy called Marcionism which rejected all things Jewish from the Christian Scriptures. It sounds bad but… what is your current stance on the Old verses New Testament? I dare say, many a modern Christian is a functional maricon without realizing it.

Throughout the book one central idea has shown itself time and time again and summarized best in these words: “and I will be their God and they will be my people”. In other words, they believed that God chose them (not the other way around like all the other deities of the day) and called them His. And that God was the kind that Moved with them instead of being assigned a region. It was a completely different understanding of God.

This God doesn’t want you to put your family on an alter to make a deal with God (like Abraham) but instead wants to provide you with a sacrifice that saves and takes their place without any personal cost (like Abraham). Like in Genesis, this God isn’t a part of nature. God’s not a tree or alligator or the sun but something else. It comes before and is beyond. He is. This God provides.  buys them with the blood of an innocent lamb and makes them into a nation just as he promised. This God chooses us. And this God brings these descendants of Abraham to the edge of the land God promised.

When the book ends, it ends with the people following Gods Presence both day and night observed by the cloud of smoke and fire above the Tabernacle. Now I will say something you may not like. My personal view is that this is not a miracle being described. I believe they are talking about the smoke from the Golden Lampstand and the Firey Incense in the Tent of Meeting. By day this would be smoke and by night it would be a glowing light. I’m not by the way denying the scripture but I’m wondering how poetic the language is in this short but interesting description. The final text reads and the glory of the lord filled the tabernacle. In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle they would set out. 38 So the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels.

Song: Great is Thy faithfulness (324)

Message: “Bible Basics: Torah” Part 2


So far, the Adam and the New Adams have continued to fail. The people were enslaved and are now free. But what does a newly freed nation look like with no homeland? Leviticus is a book of regulations and rules of the Levites (priests) during the time in the desert. It is filled with laws about what is safe to eat, what is not, how to live with neighbours, how to settle legal disputes and much more.

As the people travel in the wilderness, the book of Leviticus is about Worshiping a Holy God and Living a Holy Life while they travel. Remember they are nomads. The books focus is on the Holy Tabernacle being with them and how they treat that. Its focus is on the Priests and Priestly duties. It’s about Law, Justice, Hygiene, Culture, religious observance, identity, as well clean and unclean foods and items and acts. It’s about sacrifice, worship, health, holiness, and justice. It is also the clearest description of the early Israelite system of sacrifices. In Leviticus, God’s grace comes through blood just as it does in Genesis with Abraham, the Covenant, and in the exodus of Egypt but because no offering is perfect, they look forward to a day when One offering will cover all sins forever.

When we left off God was residing in the Tabernacle and only certain people would go in. He does this “to be with His people”. But there is a problem. The Tent is like the Garden. It’s a Holy Place where God is. And the Hebrews wanted to make sure if you went close to it, you didn’t just burn up. Clear / Pure vs Unclean / Impure – you wanted to make sure you are pure to be near God. The idea was simple, God, like the Sun is very powerful and if you get to close, it burns away everything impure.

People died and people were afraid. God they thought, is both powerful and dangerous. And while the people had all kinds of rules for keeping pure, it generally didn’t mean bad. Unclean and Sinful are not the same. As you might imagine, the Levite Priests who go inside the Holy Place are held to a higher standard. BEING RITUALLY impure is not the same thing as Sinful. It just means not currently fit to enter the tabernacle in God’s presence. So, you do rituals and have a bath and pray and then a couple days later your clean again. That’s very different from willfully rejecting God don’t you think? The ancient Hebrews certainly found a difference.

There are two very important things to say about these laws:

The first is to say that Leviticus is not a book written to us. It is for us but not to us or about us. Many laws contained in this book are for a particular time and place. They are also a Theocracy. They have no king, just a religious class. And so, the laws are a mix of Moral laws that are always true, governmental laws and punishments for that time only. This is the view of every single major Christian denomination on planet earth.

A Two-Fold or Three-Fold for us, view of the Law is a basic tenet of our understanding of scripture. Make no mistake – we do not follow all these laws. And that is because we believe the messiah has come. And much in the same way that we do not put-up posters for concerts that have already taken place, we also do not follow ancient sacrificial and civil laws – the purpose of which was to point to a someday perfect sacrifice and eternal judge – that we believe already came. We are not bound by laws meant to point to a future freedom from those very same laws.

Second the laws generally come without much context. As such it’s hard to formulate a consistent understanding of them. One of the theories I hold to, an idea from Dan Kimball. His theory is simply that in the nomadic Hebrew culture there were “No Oddballs Allowed”. So, for example, if it has hooves but eats meat, it’s an oddball animal, don’t eat it. Something seems off. Does it come from the water but isn’t a fish, can’t see its face, know how to humanly kill it as required? Then don’t try and eat it. Is it something you know is safe? The world is not safe! Is it a shirt but it’s made with three different materials? It’s probably weak, don’t wear it. Do we understand that certain meat makes you VERY sick if not cooked hot enough EVERY SINGLE TIME? No, then maybe don’t eat it, don’t try to eat it, don’t raise it and if you get sick, stay away from others because we don’t understand the difference between food poisoning and the flu!

Everything was intended to make these people visibly stand out as separate, to be safe, to live carefully and grow. It meant, other people knew this group avoiding that food or wearing those clothes or walking that way, were the God of Israel’s people just by how they dressed, ate, walked, talked, everything! And I would say to drive the point home for both health and for undeniability of ethnicity, circumcision became paramount to faithfulness.

Side note: In the New Testament Baptism is sort of the reclaiming of circumcision rights but for everyone. It’s about people being Holy or otherworldly as God is and even seeming out of place in a world otherwise uninterested. “Dedicate yourselves to me and be Holy because Holy, I Am, the Lord your God. I have chosen you as my people and I expect you to obey my laws and follow me”.

If there is one thing you remember about this book it’s this: Leviticus is designed as a Chiasm. It builds up to One central story surrounded by mirrored events. This is done to tell the reader what the most important portion is. In this case right in the center of the structure is The Day of Atonement.

The Lord is with them and they are called to be Holy. This is not only individuals but also the entire nation as well. And not everyone is consistent in their sacrifices. So, to be sure and on behalf of the entire nation – the Priests offer this One major yearly sacrifice to cover all the sins of all the people. This remains today the most important day in the Jewish calendar year. So, what is it about? Its about an offering God takes on behalf of the people. It is an offering from among the people but not one of the people. It is One innocent lamb for all the sins of a nation. And yet again, in this also, the people find it imperfect. There must be a final Adam and a final offering that lasts forever.


So far, the children of Israel have left paradise, been promised a land, been enslaved, been freed, received the law, and wandered around the wilderness for 40 years. Now what?

In Hebrew they title this book, Ba-Mit-Bah or “In the wilderness.” In English we call it Numbers because it’s just full of numbers. It contains accounts of land, journeys, family records, counts of livestock and much more. It also records the reasons for the Nation of Israel failing to enter the promised land. It lists all the tribes and the people in the tribes. This is a Census accounting. Accounting for each Tribe is done twice. Once in chapter 1 when they start off from Sinai and once in chapter 26 when they get to the boarder in Moab. And it shows that there are 601,730 Hebrews. As a fun fact, Numbers contains one of the most difficult stories in all of the bible, it’s called the bitter water test and it’s wild and disturbing – if you look it up – call me!

But overall Numbers is the story of the end of the journey, after 40 years of wandering with the people sitting at the edge of the promised land but not entering yet. The central passage is “I swear that not one of these Israelites will enter the land I promised to give their ancestors. They have disobeyed and tested me too many times.” 14:22-23.

The book begins with the people at Sinai, then traveling to Paran and then traveling to Moab. They’ve been in Sinai for one year when they take a census. As the census is describe you come to realise that the encampment is designed from a central point (the tabernacle) moving out in four directions in connection with priests and then older tribes to younger. (THE TABERNACLE IS EVEN THEIR GEOGRAPHICAL CENTER OF LIFE AND PEOPLE)

On the way to Paran, they walk 3 days on the road and people complain and Moses’ brother and sister blame him in front of others. They also send spies into the land. But the Spies are terrified of Canaan which is 7-fold in man and number and so start a mutiny and attempt to convince the people once more to just go back to Egypt. The result is 40 years of wandering in punishment. Basically, what God does is gives them what they want. They don’t want to go into he promised land. Fine – Don’t. Maybe your kids will want to do it.

Next, they set off for Moab. It’s the last stop along the way. Moses has a little rebellion. And yet again, at each step God keeps giving them chance after chance to get it right. Each step God forgives them and gives them water and manna and ways out and fail. This chosen people, a priestly and holy nation, fails.

At the end of Numbers, the people arrive in Moab, right at the border of the desert. And the King of Moab is afraid. He sees 600,000 people marching through his land. And Moab’s king hires a professional sorcerer called Balaam; educated in the gods of many peoples. He asks Balaam to pronounce mysterious curses on the Hebrew intruders. Balaam thinks in his studies, “I will pray to the Hebrew God to curse His own people.” But each time Balaam speaks a curse, only good comes from his mouth and blessings instead. And so, the scroll of Numbers ends with the people waiting at the very edge of Moab having received a final blessing from their enemy Balaam, that “Out of Israel will come a King of Victory by the Covenant to Abraham”. So as the scene unfolds, the Lord’s people are down in the valley turning on their God and on each other while at that exact same time, the peoples God is up on the hill with Balaam moving their very enemies to bless them. His blessing (in part) includes the following: “I see someone who will come someday [but not now], someone I see arriving [but not soon], I see him [from afar] He is a star from Jacobs family; a scepter [a leader] rising from Israel”.

Part of the theme here is this: Someone you have waited for is coming. And yet, this is meant not for you but for your children’s children. Can you trust me?


Deuteronomy is an oddity. It is the Second Telling (Deuteronomy) of the law of Moses. It’s also Moses’s goodbye speech and Pep-Talk as he passes the touch to a new leader Joshua; knowing he is not to enter the promised land either. This book means Second Law and it’s partially because it’s a repeat of other information. Deuteronomy is also interesting because it was most likely lost (or created very late?) when Hilkiah “found” a copy of the book in the Temple which the people had somehow lost. 2 Kings 22:8. Many believe it was less found than constructed at this time. Perhaps. 25 different sections of the book are exact quotations from Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers.

Deuteronomy has two extremely important verses. The first Moses says “I set before you life and death, blessing and destruction. Choose life”, a verse about always trusting in God and Following His path. The second is the Shema. To the Jewish people this is almost unanimously viewed as the most important phrase in the entire bible. It’s Shema (listen). The Lord is One and the Lord is ours.

The people have been protected. They are in Moab sitting by the river. The river is the boundary. Here Moses challenges the new generation to be different from their parents’ generation who rebelled, who didn’t love each other enough to think of the community above self. They saw miracles but doubted God at seemingly every turn. They sin and are forgiven, they become “unclean”, but God gives them a way back.

Moses stands before the people and says, you, the next generation must do better, be better and respond to grace with obedience to Him and Love for each other. Moses appoints Joshuah his successor. Moses then takes the entire law code scroll (613 laws), Aaron’s staff from the Sea of Reeds and the tablets of the 10 commandments and places them into the Ark.

The Book ends with Moses making a prediction about the future. In his speech he states that the people cannot help but be disobedient. If they listen and love, they will experience great prosperity. If not, he says, they will be kicked out and lose the blessings. Moses predicts the people will fail and be exiled because of their hardened hearts. And YET Moses says, on the other side of Israel, God will transform them, and they will Listen and Love. He then climbs to the highest point he can find to get a glimpse of the Holy Land he will not enter. And then Moses dies.

Will they obey and live long in the land promised to them through Abraham? Will there be a New Adam who lives a Holy life? Will God send a sacrifice to end all sacrifices? Will the people keep the law or not? And the Torah ends here.

It ends with the people waiting of the promise fulfilled and perfected. These five books end with the people moving forward, being hopeful of Gods intention to bless the entire world through a new and transformed heart that listens to God and loves each other. But they live in a world not yet perfected. Their nation has not perfected it yet. Their priests have not perfected it yet. Their leaders and patriarchs have all failed. They as individuals have not perfected it yet.

What’s next?

We respond to serve God

Reflection on giving: Dayspring is empowered to carry out our mission of worship, service, and care by generously given volunteer time, talent, and treasure. Many thanks to all who give so generously!

Prayer of gratitude and for others and ourselves

Life-giving God, you equip your people with gifts to work for your kingdom, bringing justice and peace to every land and community.

We thank you that you will work through us, even when we don’t feel equal to the task.

Help us recognize your Spirit at work among us.

Through your Spirit, O God, you give the gift of prophecy.

With this gift, empower the church to speak words of justice and truth into situations where people are exploited or treated unfairly.

Guide us to bring change for good in the world, and bring hope to the hopeless.

In the example of your Son Jesus, O God, you give the gift of serving.

With this gift, encourage your servant Church to work with those made vulnerable by structures of power and privilege.

Show us how to share the abundance in our country with lives and communities that often lack even basic resources.

With the inspiration of your Spirit, O God, you give the gift of teaching.

As a church that values teaching, engage us to support access to education for every child.

We pray for teachers and students as they prepare for another year of working together.

Help us encourage each person who shares in a learning community this year.

Through the love and compassion of Christ, O God, you give the gift of encouragement.

As a congregation, show us where and how to reach out to hearten any who are struggling.

Give us the words and actions to comfort those who mourn, to be companions to those coping with mental or physical illness, and support any who feel isolated or left behind.

Through the examples of prophets and apostles, O God, you give the gift of leadership.

Call up leaders within the Church to build up our ministries and model respectful ways of living and loving together.

Call up leaders in our nation and neighbourhood who model respect and attend to the common good and the needs of the earth itself.

Gift-giving God, we are grateful for all the people in whom we meet your gifts at work.

Inspire us to add our energy and experience to the care of creation as the loyal followers of Jesus who embodied all your gifts.

Song:  Saviour, like a shepherd lead us (485)

Sending out with God’s blessing

And may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Response: Go forth into the world

Music postlude


Numbers in brackets after a song/hymn indicate that it is from the 1997 Book of Praise of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. Those and other songs are being used in accordance with the specifications of Dayspring’s licensing with One Licence (3095377) and CLC (A735555).

The Rev. Brad Childs retains the copyright (© 2023) on all original material in this service. As far as Brad Childs is aware, all of the material that has not been attributed to others is his own creation or is in the public domain. Unacknowledged use of copyrighted material is unintentional and will be corrected immediately upon notification being received.

Posted in Recent Sermons.