Monday, May 20, 2019
The time has come for the Israelites to enter the Promised Land, and that means it is time for Moses to say good-bye. His farewell address to the nation is recorded for us in the book of Deuteronomy. It is a personal challenge to obedience and faithfulness, and has much to say to us today.
In the first 3 chapters of Deuteronomy, Moses gives the people a historical review of their journey from Egypt. It would be good for you to read that review and reflect on the faithfulness and power of God. When we get to chapter 4, Moses is ready to start giving the people their instructions for successful and victorious living in their new land.
Deuteronomy 4:1, 6-8 Hear now, O Israel, the decrees and laws I am about to teach you. Follow them so that you may live and may go in and take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you…Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” 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?
His first statement is most significant – Hear now, O Israel, the decrees and laws I am about to teach you. Follow them so that you may live and may go in and take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you…Follow them!
Simple words, yet so deep in significance. The Hebrew word used here means to do. Moses is telling the people that if they want to live they need to do what God says. Then he defines for them what real living is –
- To be wise and understanding
- To be in intimate relationship with God so He hears our prayers and answers them
- To model righteousness
Let’s do some personal reflection on those three areas. Are you considered wise and understanding by the people with whom you relate every day? Do they sense an extraordinary ability in you to understand the situations of life and discern the will of God in them? Do people around you come to you when they are in difficult situations because they know you are powerful in prayer and can touch and understand God’s heart? Do they see in you a consistency that reflects the holy integrity of God’s law?
All these questions can and should be able to be answered in the affirmative for every one of us, if we are following the laws of God. Unfortunately, many of us are only good listeners, but not good laborers. We hear what God says, but we fail to do it.
James, the half-brother of Jesus Christ, in his New Testament book, wrote this – Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. If we are to be people of great faith who really know how to live, then we must be doers of the Word of God. Faith is of no value without the actions that prove it. Moses knew this was the key for the Israelites to truly possess life in the new land.
When we claim to have eternal life, but the life we are living so resembles the life of a spiritually dead person, there is something drastically wrong. Moses uses the term the Lord Your God over 300 times in his farewell address. He knew that to live victoriously we must get up close and personal with God. We must be intimately in love with God, and we must conclude that true love is defined by obedience. Every aspect of our lives is to be governed and guided by God.
God is calling us to a deeper and more meaningful life, and that life begins with obedience to His Word. Won’t you begin that life today?