Wednesday, May 29, 2019
School is almost done for the summer. Students are rejoicing. Parents are preparing for the growth of sibling rivalries lived out in the home. Then, in less than three months, they will return to school as parents rejoice. Some students will anticipate the joys of renewed friendships and meeting new friends. They have hopes of accomplishment in sports and extra-curricular activities. But how many of them have high expectations of finding fulfillment in learning? So many of them feel that most of what they learn is unusable and inapplicable to their lives and their goals. It is a societal stipulation and a parental prerogative but not a personal passion.
Then, to make matters seemingly worse for the student, the first few days or weeks are spent reviewing what they learned the previous year. Teachers understand the importance of this, but the students are bored with it. Teachers know that all the new lessons will only make sense if they are built on the foundation of the basics taught in previous years.
We as Christians sometimes get bored with the basics. We are always looking for the new and exciting. We want the Pastor to tell more stories or teach new revelation. We want the new land or the new building, so we can have new ministries and new opportunities to experience new activities. The Israelites were the same. They were about to enter the Promised Land and experience the fulfillment of their lives in materialistic measure. Sacrifice would be replaced with success. Suffering would give way to supply. Unfortunately, self-sufficiency would also replace spiritual submission.
In his farewell book to the Israelites, Moses reviews God’s basic building blocks of success for the people and reminds them to never forget them.
Deuteronomy 4:12-14, 23-24 Then the LORD spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice. He declared to you his covenant, the Ten Commandments, which he commanded you to follow and then wrote them on two stone tablets. And the LORD directed me at that time to teach you the decrees and laws you are to follow in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess. Be careful not to forget the covenant of the LORD your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the LORD your God has forbidden. For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
Moses begins with a warning against idolatry and an encouragement to maintain a proper view of God. Moses emphasizes that when all the people heard the voice of God they saw no form. God is beyond the limitations of space and time. He is beyond our human comprehension. He has chosen to reveal Himself to us in creation, in His Son Jesus, in His Word, and in His activity in the world, but we cannot know His ways or His purpose unless He chooses to reveal them to us specifically. That is a good thing, for if we could understand all of God in our finite mind, then that would make God finite or us infinite. Either way it makes us equal to Him. That is exactly what caused the rebellion in heaven in the first place: Satan attempted to be equal with God.
That is why idolatry is so dangerous. When we minimize God by making Him visible, touchable, and understandable we have made ourselves equal with God. Moses states that the basic building block of our faith is this: God is a jealous God who will share no glory because there is none that can compare to Him. The consuming fire of His holiness and perfection will be released against any and all who attempt to share His glory.
Have we taken any credit for what we have and what we have accomplished? We must be careful to heed the warning of Moses in Deuteronomy 8:17 where he says, “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.”
If God does not receive all the glory for our lives, then we are guilty of idolatry. This is a foundational building block of faith.