Fr. James' Lectionary

The Lectionary is both a reading program for completing all of Holy Scripture on a one year schedule, and a daily comment on a portion of the day's reading wedded to a poem to give an added perspective on the theme.

Location: Amherst, Virginia, United States

Friday, April 21, 2006

The Good Land: Bible Comment on Deuteronomy 11 with poem by Rufus Learsi, On to the Promised Land

Daily Readings
Psalm 67, Numbers 17, Deuteronomy 11, Matthew 16

Daily Text: Deuteronomy 11

The Good Land
There may be resident in Deuteronomy 11 two notions of the LORD’s discipline or instruction: first, that of the mighty signs and deeds done in Egypt to Pharoah, and subsequently to the children of Israel crossing the Red Sea and the great wilderness sojourn of 40 years with water, meat, manna, the cloud by day and cloud of fire by night—so many signs. The second notion of His discipline or instruction is that of binding the Ten Words on their hands and foreheads. This sort of instruction would remind the children and all others who had not known the former signs and wonders of the loving and clear commands of the LORD. Through it all the LORD teaches those he loves the benefits of obedience and the dangers of willfulness.

In the middle of these instruction foci is a piece on the geography of the good land promised to the people of God. It is, compared to Egypt, thought to be a far superior land. It has mountains and valleys, and is watered by rain rather than by the back breaking work of digging irrigation canals. Actually, the rainfall, though only coming early and late between October and April. sees is as plentiful as in the temperate zone. While most temperate zones see rainfall year around on about 180 days and Canaan receives all of its rainfall on 40-60 days in the aforementioned months, Northern Galilee still has up to 44 inches a year. Undoubtedly, at the time of the Exodus its forests were much more extensive and the rainfall far more efficiently absorbed than it is today, but still it is part of the Fertile Crescent, in a well-watered part of the world (cf. 185:1410).

Finally, the conclusion of Deuteronomy 11, verses 26-32, introduces the subject of blessings and curses that are tied to the coverage of the law in chapters 12-26, and provides with chapters 27-31 an envelope for the descriptions in chapter 27:11-26 as relates to the curses and chapter 28:1-14 for the blessings.

On to the Promised Land
Rufus Learsi

A dawning sun breaks through the sable cloud!
Oh, see the East ablaze n crimson hue!
There peals a mighty blast triumphant, loud,
A call to rouse the ever-striving Jew!

Arise my people grand in story,
Thy little ones and patriarchs hoary,
Illumined by they pristine glory,
And form one mighty band!
And let thy shout ascend to heaven,
For lo! the clouds thy dawn hast riven,
Behold fulfilled the promise given,
On to the promised land!

Now beam the rosy rays throughout the lands,
And eyes with sorrow dim light up anew!
In every clime the call is joining bands
Who swing aloft the standard of the Jew!

Oh! let the mountain land beloved of God,
Where heroes bled and prophets falsehood slew!
No longer mourning-wrapt, the sacred sod
Blooms forth to greet the home-returning Jew!

The torrent sweeps and melts the crags away,
A nation’s cherished dream at last comes true!
For now indeed has come the promised day
Of freedom for the never-conquered Jew!

Collect for the Day
Blessed are you, Lord our God, light of the earth and health of the nations; you lead us in the way of justice and mercy, through Jesus Christ our Lord. [476:788:67 psalm prayer]


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