Trek through Deuteronomy
Scripture Reading for February 23: Deuteronomy 5-7
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your foreheads. Write them on the door-frames of your houses and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9
This passage from our reading today is known by faithful Jews as the “Shema”. This Hebrew word simply means “listen”. The Shema is quoted twice daily by devout Jews around the world reminding them of the importance of a relationship with the one true God. This passage was quoted by Jesus in part when he was asked which was the greatest commandment. He answered with “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matthew 22:37-38) This ancient word from a sermon of Moses around 1500 years before Christ was foundational in the devotional life of God’s people. Let’s examine it closer today and seek to apply it to our lives as twenty-first century AD Christians.
First, hearing is important! God wants us to have ears to hear His voice! Remember that the nation of Israel did not want to hear God’s voice speaking His commandments. They had asked Moses to hear for them so they would not die. Moses was repeating what God had told him. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God! (Romans 10:17) God sends His people out to speak His Word to bring faith and obedience and the resulting blessing on His own.
Second, the Lord is one! There is no other God but God! He is the creator of heaven and earth. He is holy and complete in Himself. He desires the love of His children and loves them infinitely, desiring the best for them. His love is expressed in his Word and commandments. When we love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, we are actively responding to His Word in obedience. If we love Him, we obey His commands. (John 15:9-11) His joy will be in us and our life will be full!
The last point to look at in this devotion is the need to impress these commands of the Lord on our children. If these commands are on our hearts, we will pass them on. The most effective way to pass them on is to live them out and speak about them in the normal flow of life. Live them out from morning to night. Make them the focus of all you do because they are on your own heart! It’s pretty simple really! What an impact on the next generation! Are you listening?
Scripture Reading for February 21st: Deuteronomy 1-4
The name “Deuteronomy” literally means “second law”. Deuteronomy is quoted directly in 17 of the twenty seven New Testament books and alluded to nearly 80 more times. This book is a record of four sermons given by Moses to the congregation of Israel in the last months of his leadership. It records lessons he learned and wanted to pass on to the next generation who would possess the promised land.
Moses has led the nation for forty long years around the wilderness. A journey that should have taken less than two weeks stretched out because of grumbling and complaining and doubt and unbelief. (Deuteronomy 1:26-27) Moses, himself, will not get to enter the promised land due to his own dishonoring of God at Kadesh. (Numbers 20:8-12) Moses seems to blame the Israelites for his own sin. (Deuteronomy 1:37) God does hold leaders to a higher standard because of the revelation and intimacy they share with Him. Moses is trying to impress upon this next generation why their parents suffered consequences of the wandering and death.
Moses also preaches to this next generation to inspire faith in God. His questions to them are typical of the Jewish style of teaching. In chapter 4 he asks them about God. “What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him?” “And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?” (Deuteronomy 4:7-8) The obvious answer is “none!” They are a special people marked by God traveling with them. They are marked by the holiness and love of God’s law which sets them apart from all other nations! They must be careful to teach these truths to their children and grandchildren!
From these first chapters of Deuteronomy, I see several key lessons for us today. First, a record of the past history of God’s dealings helps the next generation learn faith. Moses wanted to pass on the lessons he learned so his children and grandchildren would enter in and possess all God intended for them. We must honor our elders and learn from them. Secondly, the Law, represented by Moses cannot take us into the promised land on our own effort. We need grace and faith in the sacrifice for sins and cleansing. Moses, himself, disobeyed God’s holy Word and was forbidden to enter Canaan. Third, God promises victory to His followers. He disciplines and warns them of potential trouble so that they might succeed. God is truly for his people!
“Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on earth below. There is no other. Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the Lord your God gives you for all time.” Deuteronomy 4:39-40