Monday, February 15, 2010

As You Enter Your New World - Remember...

The book of Deuteronomy, serves as a reminder of God’s love, faithfulness and sovereignty as well as His commands and plans for His chosen people. Like a parent, wanting to provide their child every last piece of advice, blessing, warning and assurance before sending them off into the world, God reiterates for His chosen children His commands, His warnings, His promises so that they might enjoy long life as they enter their new land.

Entering a world full of idols and lesser gods, the Lord reaffirms His sovereignty, so that there could be no doubt that He is the Lord, our God, The one true Lord, whom we are called to love with all our heart and soul and strength.

My mind drew a loose parallel between this book and the lives of our young people. 18 years,  perhaps brought up in Christian homes, raised on the word of the Lord, relatively protected in the safety net of the Christian bubble, now they prepare to leave home anticipating entrance into a new land. They enter this land with a new found freedom, a land abundant in temptation, rampant with foreign idols and lesser gods. How easily they can forget, and be drawn away from all that they have seen and heard, all that God has provided for them, when faced with a new world such as this. God’s word and warnings to the Israelites remains pertinent to us even now, “be careful and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. (4:9)”.

I loved the image presented in verse 1:31 of God carrying them "as a father carries his son all the way until they reached this place".

The lesson from Deuteronomy that remained with me, and I believe is crucial for our generation to grasp is that our obedience to God and his ordinances begets blessing, while our disobedience will result in consequence. While it is encouraging to know that God’s enduring love can result in us being restored, it seems that this is sometimes taken to liberally and with an aloof attitude. Deuteronomy in conjunction with  many other books in the bible clearly indicates that there is such a thing as wasted opportunity, missing a blessing, and turning your back on God’s calling. While God’s plan will ultimately come to fruition it may not necessarily be through us if we walk in disobedience. Like Moses, Aaron and the 1st generation Israelites, our actions resulting from a lack of trust and faith, or plain disobedience may prevent us from ever reaching the proverbial promised land.

Like the Israelites we can bask in the glory and provision of the Lord, and become prideful and self-righteous, which results in our arrogance and leads us to rebellion (1:43). Yet the Lord calls us to remember that it is He who gives us the ability to produce wealth; it is not because of our righteousness but His will (8:18; 9:6)

The theme of God’s love for His children, and the call for His children to love one another, persists throughout Deuteronomy, continuing to emphasize the importance of relationship with God and one another, with the greatest commandment reiterated to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and strength.” Even God’s commands are not presented as a kill joy to the people of Israel but as a covenant of love so that they, and their children after them may fear the Lord their God as long as they live and by keeping these decrees and commands that God gives them, they will enjoy Long life. (6:2). The discipline of God is a discipline of love, “as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you”

The verse from Deuteronomy that remains with me is 30:11 “Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach”. God would not command us to do the impossible, it is possible to love God and others with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, with Him helping us, and so that should be our goal, Perfect Love or Christian Perfection as John Wesley would have it.

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