Heart of the matter

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Readings: Hebrews 8:1-13; Psalm 106:13-31

READ (Verse chosen for reflection)
Hebrews 8:10 “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

REFLECT
What is the difference between the Old and New Covenant? In the Old Covenant, God gave laws that sought to address people’s behaviour towards God and one another. In the New Covenant, Jesus came to die for sinners so that those who have faith shall have laws written in our hearts for the purpose of transformation.

As history suggested, the Old Covenant had often led to a change in outward behaviour but not inward transformation. Hence hypocrisy was a common problem. The Pharisees, who were supposedly experts in the law; were repeatedly rebuked by Jesus for their lack of understanding of the law or even using the law to fulfil their own ends.

The Sermon on the Mount was a case example of how little the Hebrews actually know and understand about God’s laws. The New Covenant sought to change all these. No longer will knowledge lies with a small community of “teachers” in teaching others what it means to live life in God; but God shall teach us through His Word and the Holy Spirit. The Reformation was precisely born through such a movement from the Lord Himself.

RELATE
Even in the age of the New Covenant, hypocrisy remains a problem in the Christian community. The younger generation, especially those who grew up in Christian families; often quote “hypocrisy” as an obstacle for them to embrace the faith. How can this be? Didn’t God say that He will put His laws in our hearts so that we can be changed?

Hypocrisy is still possible because even as Christ died for us and those who believe have laws written in our hearts; we still struggle to live out these laws in our hearts. We struggle to live out the faith. Hence, it is important to remember that God is with us. He is our God and we are His people. This 2nd half of Hebrews 8:10 helps us to remember that as long as Jesus is not yet back for the 2nd time; we shall always adopt a posture of surrender, reverence and humility in learning to live life as He wills.

REST
Lord God, help us not to be haughty as a people living under the privilege of the New Covenant. Help us to understand the mistakes made of the past so that we can be humble become a better people with the better Covenant that God has given to us through His blood. Amen.

 

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Day 63

by Rev Joel Yong

Judges 14:1-3
When Samson went to Timnah, he saw a young Philistine woman. He went home and told his father and mother, “I’ve seen a Philistine woman at Timnah. Now get her for me so that I can marry her.” His father and mother asked him, “Aren’t there any women among our relatives or all our people? Do you have to marry a woman from those godless Philistines?” But Samson told his father, “Get her for me! She’s the one I want!”

Samson behaved like a brat.
He wanted something and even if it broke the laws- he wanted to go ahead still.

It was behavior that was consistent with who he was.

Judges 14:8-9
Later he went back to marry her. On his way he left the road to look at the lion he had killed. He saw a swarm of bees and some honey in the lion’s dead body. He scraped the honey into his hands and ate it as he walked along. When he came to his father and mother, he gave them some of the honey to eat. He didn’t tell them he had scraped it out of the lion’s dead body.

He even ate honey out of a lion’s corpse, defiling himself even though he was meant to be a Nazirite with special dietary restrictions as a sign of him being set apart as holy for the Lord.

There are many suggested explanations for this. Some scholars have even suggested that as a miracle child who came to a previously childless couple – he was doted upon and spoilt and used to getting his way.

Samson’s life as we would read, was characterised by a lack of boundaries.
He did whatever he pleased and abused his great strength. Thankfully in God’s wisdom- He used Samson despite Samson’s mistakes to achieve God’s plans still in the end.

But Samson paid a high price for reckless living.
He wound up captive to his enemies betrayed by his lover and with his eyes gouged out.

With great power, comes great responsibility.