Over the past couple of weeks, I have been studying Deuteronomy and its significance, not only in the lives of Israelites, but also in our lives as Christians. To give you a little background or refresh your memory regarding the book, its authorship is attributed to Moses and is basically a series of speeches that he gives to the Hebrew nation. After spending forty years wandering in the desert, they have arrived in Moab just outside of the Promised Land. Although Moses cannot enter the Promised Land, he has the opportunity to give the Hebrew children some very important instructions and sage wisdom.
When you read the first four chapters of this book, Moses reminds God’s chosen people of their journey and provides them with words to keep them on the straight and narrow. The encouragement can be summed up very simply in just a few words. They are to always keep their minds focused on God and love Him with all of their hearts, minds and souls. This shouldn’t be too difficult especially when you consider all of the miracles God performed as He guided them to the Promised Land.
One of the keys of keeping God first and foremost in their lives is to obey His decrees and laws. It is not enough to just acknowledge the existence of God and call Him Father. It is a lot more than that. Being a child of God means that we must love Him and obey His laws. Just as Jesus lived his life in accordance with God’s laws, we, too, must do the same thing. Jesus provided us with the example of how to live a life devoted solely to God and that is exactly how we should be in our daily life.
Moses, in chapter four, says to the Israelites, “And now, Israel, listen carefully to these decrees and regulations that I am about to teach you. Obey them so that you may live, so you may enter and occupy the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. Do not add to or subtract from these commands I am giving you. Just obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you.”
When we read scripture, we shouldn’t be putting our own spin to the words and laws given to us. Over the decades, I have seen people warp and twist God's word to suit their needs and desires. They are not content with the truth so they must change it to make it palatable to them. Moses warns the Israelites “not to add to or subtract from these commands”. It is not our place to change His commands or make them fit society. We should follow His commands as they were given and know that they were provided to us in order to build a strong relationship with Him.
Moses warns them not to be seduced into worshiping idols of any kind. In fact, Moses reminds them that it is strictly forbidden for them to make or worship idols of any shape or form. Moses also tells the Israelites that there would be a consequence to their breaking of the covenant.
Later in chapter four, Moses says, “If you break My covenant, you will quickly disappear from the land you are crossing the Jordan to occupy. You will live there only a short time; then you will be utterly destroyed. For the Lord will scatter you among the nations, where only a few of you will survive.”
When you apply these words to our own society, you can easily see the parallels. We can easily be seduced by the things of this world. The worship of money, fame or whatever has slowly infected our lives. When we see images on the television of what we could have, we begin to desire them and want more. We slowly begin to replace God with those items that have seduced us. They become our gods. Over time, God has no meaning or place in our lives. Instead of having a relationship with Him, God just becomes a distant memory or a child’s fable.
In time, we will soon be reminded of the words of Moses. Moses tells them that God is like a devouring fire and that He is a jealous God. By replacing Him with idols, they will arouse God’s anger. The same holds true for us. When a nation turns their backs on the Lord, that nation will no longer receive the blessings of the Lord and be utterly destroyed.
Instead of following the things of this world, we must dedicate ourselves to worshiping God as our one and only God. We must keep God in our hearts and make Him the center of our lives. By obeying His commandments and following the teachings of His son, Christ Jesus, our lives will be fruitful and fulfilling.
Moses says to the Israelites, “If you obey all the decrees and commands I am giving you today, all will be well with you and your children. I am giving you these instructions so you will enjoy a long life in the land the Lord your God is giving you for all time.”
As we continue our journey through 2021, we should remain devoted to God and not seek out the things of this world. Those things will only lead to disappointment and damnation. We can either live a long and happy life for all time or we can live a life that only leads to destruction and alienation.
The things of this world are certainly very appealing and they may bring you immediate happiness. But, they, in the end, will break, be stolen or just disappear.
Jesus, in chapter six of the Gospel of Matthew, tells us, “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”
By obeying God’s laws and remaining true to Him, we truly can live in a land of milk and honey and continue to receive not only God’s blessings but also His protection. If we decide to embrace idols and live a life of earthly pleasures and debauchery, then we will truly reap what we sow. By choosing not to be charmed by the delights of this world but, rather, those things that are higher and nobler, we can stand firm in His grace.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.