Picture this: you are sitting in a cave, it is dark, but not the scary kind of dark, more of a comforting kind of dark, the kind of dark that keeps you snuggled under your covers on a cold night, drinking in the warmth of your bed, the peace of the silence and the knowledge that you are safe and all is well. In the middle of the cave is a chair, which you feel drawn to sit in. As you take your place in that chair, you being to see a faint glow coming from the rock wall in front of you, a glow that soon grows and warms, like an old tube TV slowly coming to life. As the glow grows you notice a picture beginning to take form…it is the moment of your birth. The hospital room, the doctors, nurses, and, of course, your parents.
The clarity in the picture gets stronger, but you notice out of the corner of your eyes, more glows beginning to flicker to life. Each glow contains a picture from your life, a picture of happiness and sorrow, pain and victory, defeat and lessons learned. Soon the pictures encircle the cave, bearing witness to the events in your life that have caused you to be…you. In the midst of those picture, you feel the presence of God, you see his Hand moving in the background, always present, always watching, always loving and always looking for your attention. As you sit and watch, you hear God speak to you saying: “I have watched and guided your life, and I will always do so, because I love you and care about who you are.”
As we read the closing chapter of Numbers and the opening chapters of Deuteronomy, we get this sort of scene opening up before us. Moses is walking Israel through their recent history, reminding them of where they’ve come from, why they are where they are, and what God has been up to all through that process. I realize that, as you begin to read Deuteronomy, you might be tempted to say: what, more repeat! We’ve read all this before! You would be correct, you have read some of this before. But this time you are hearing Moses tell this stuff from his own perspective, with his own words. Remember, Moses is facing his death here. Israel is preparing to enter the Promised Land, God has told Moses that he will not be participating in that entry, and so Moses is giving Israel his closing thoughts, his final address as their leader. He uses that opportunity to remind them of what is important, of what they have to pay attention to. I like reading through Deuteronomy (well most of it), because it really highlights what is in God’s heart. We will see God’s compassion for the alien, the fatherless and the widow come out in this book. We will read about how God cares about the heart we bring to worship, not the sacrifices he ordains for Israel. We will read about the importance of loving God and following his commands above everything else. We will read about Israel’s victories as well as their defeats and failures; both are important. God uses both things to teach us, correct us and make us who he needs us to be.
We all need reminders from time-t0-time of where we’ve come from and a reminder of where we are going. One thing I want to make clear, God does not use these reminders to put us down, or to rub our noses in our failures, or bring fresh guilt. He uses these reminders to tell us that he still loves us, that he can redeem what was intended for evil and us it instead for good. God uses these reminders to show us his faithfulness and his care for us. God had a plan for Israel, and not matter what they did, he was constantly moving them toward the fulfillment of that plan. Sometimes they took 20 giant steps forward, other times they took 2 steps back, and sometimes they refused to move one way or the other. But in all things God is in control, God is constantly calling us to trust him and follow him. When we do, he is always faithful.
I would encourage you as you read further into Deuteronomy to pay attention to what it has to say about how we are to follow after God and what it means to have a heart that beats with God’s heart.
- What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
- What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
- Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
- How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
- What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?
Tomorrow’s Reading: Deuteronomy 3-4