SOAP Journal – 14 June 2017 (Deuteronomy 33:3)

Indeed, He loves the people;
All Your holy ones are in Your hand,
And they lie down at Your feet;
receive of Your words.

Deuteronomy 33:3

This verse is part of Moses’ blessing on Israel. This verse makes a few statements about God’s character and His interactions with His holy ones.

Statement One: Indeed, He loves the people. The word used, so my concordance tells me, denotes people in the sense of a people group or nation. In context and by the word used, this is about God loving the Israelites.

Statement Two: All Your holy ones are in Your hand. The word used for hand, again my concordance tells me, refers specifically to the open hand and denotes power or strength. God’s holy ones, the Israelites in this context, are under His power and protection and authority.

Statement Three: they lie down at Your feet. The translation I normally read, the NASB, included a footnote that this reading was also supported by the language in the phrase. And I find it to be more in keeping with what is said in the other parts of the verse as well as what happened in The Bible generally. The idea of lying down at one’s feet carries so many connotations that it would be difficult to unpack them all, but the two that come most readily to mind are the ideas of rest and of proximity.

Statement Four: they … receive of Your words. Dovetailing nicely with the concept of being close and at God’s feet is the idea of receiving His words. But the verb used does not seem as passive as the translation might indicate. Receiving something connotes a passive activity in which the receiver is acted on. But the verb used most frequently carries some meaning of taking. It is as if the idea is that the holy ones sit down at God’s feet so as to gain better access to God’s words that they might take those words and make them their own possession.

All of these are principles of how God deals with His holy ones; His saints throughout scripture. The apostles write quite a bit about how God loves us. Jesus, Himself, speaks of believers being given to Him by the Father; being in His hand by implication. Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha, literally sits at the feet of Jesus and listens to Him talk.

God loves me and I am in His hand. I can sit at His feet, metaphorically, as I do most mornings and listen for Him to speak to me. Let me rest in His care and avail myself often of the privilege of being close to Him and of hearing Him speak.

Father, thank You that You love us. You loved us before we loved You and demonstrated that love profoundly. Please make my heart desire to be in Your presence more and more that I might sit at Your feet and receive of Your words.

Saints by Calling (1 Corinthians 1:2)

To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their [Lord] and ours

1 Corinthians 1:2

The first letter to the Corinthians has been, especially in the circles in which I move, been called the letter to the Californians. There is much in common between ancient Corinth and modern California — pleasant climate, bustling trade and healthy economy, affluence, multiculturalism, and sin of every imaginable variety. In Corinth, the sin had invaded the church in some impressively vile forms — forms that Paul tells the church not even non-believers would approve of — and the church was countenancing these sins and not dealing with them. This was a church wealthy in knowledge and material wealth; a comfortable and secure group of believers.

It sounds much like the church in modern America.

Why all that build-up? Because Paul still calls those believers saints. He does not approve of their sin or give them license to wallow in it in perpetuity, but he also recognizes that these people are believers. Wrongheaded, undisciplined, and sin-countenancing believers, but believers despite all. He tells them that they have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, reminding them that God has set them apart as something special. And he reminds them that they are part of something larger than just their local fellowship, they are a part of all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. To be a believer at all is to be a part of the body of Christ — and His body has no geographical boundaries.

As I wrap up a week that has been difficult on my family and has seen more than I would like of me failing to do what I ought to have done, it is good to be reminded that if I ever was sanctified in Christ Jesus, then I am still. God has not given up on the process of making me what He wants me to be and He has not revoked my calling to His family just because I have been a poor example of what His children should be. To the contrary, He reminds me that I am still a saint; sanctified; a part of His body in this world, however small that part may be.