If you can’t tell by the title, this is a post directed at any Christian readers, unrelated to writing. If this doesn’t interest you, click along and have a great day… 🙂
The other day I was praying and felt led to turn to Deuteronomy chapter 30. I have to admit that it’s been a while since I’ve read that part of the Old Testament: Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy tend to get skipped, like the unwanted dish at a buffet.
I can’t believe I’ve been missing out on the riches of Deuteronomy 30 for so long! I know I’ve read it before but it deserves a place if not in memory, then on my heart.
Just before we get to the delicious dish, the last verse of the preceding chapter:
The secret things belong to the Lord our God. The revealed things belong to us and to our children forever: to keep all the words of this covenant. (Deuteronomy 29:29 Common English Bible)
Being Deuteronomy, the text is directed at the Israelites. A biblical scholar might take issue with me, but I am taking that verse, and the unchanging nature of God’s personality to say that chapter 30 is at least applicable to a modern Christian in essence.
2 and when you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, 3 then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you… (NIV)
It goes on to say that the people will be gathered from afar and brought home, no matter how far they are dispersed, and will be taken to the land of their fathers.
As Christians, we can get lost in the world. We can be tempted and drawn from where God would want us. The thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy can do terrible things to us, and drive us from the flock. There are many reasons why we might not be where we should be, having been driven away or willfully wandered. God is saying that if we return to him, then he will take us back to our home, and the inheritance and blessing that he planned for us. Regardless of where we are now. All is forgiven if we return to him.
6 The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live. (NIV)
We are not capable of loving perfectly; sooner or later self-interest will creep in. When we return to God and obey him, then he will do a work in our hearts so that we may love him perfectly. To obey is an act of the will, but to love – always – is the work of a miracle. God knows our weaknesses, frailties and our inability. We simply turn to him, and he changes us so that we can enjoy the depth of a pure relationship with him.
The blessing God will give us are re-iterated several times in the passage. (I don’t believe in the so-called prosperity gospel. God does offer blessings, but we also know that he told his followers to ‘take up their cross’). We know that the greatest blessing of all is our relationship with him.
11 Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach.(NIV)
It goes on to say that we don’t need a heroic journey to do this, but that he has made it easy for us. How typically God. I love that God is so different to the gods of mythology who demand impossible challenges of their servants. “You want my favour? All you have to do is cross a desert, fight your way through a maze filled with ravenous two-headed wolves and fetch my Lost Item of Power.” Not so with God: I have done all of the the work, just accept it.
God has given us an opportunity of relationship with him, but there is another side of the coin. If we don’t accept it, there are consequences. A Just God cannot allow injustice to go unpunished indefinitely. He can withhold his righteous anger – for a time – hoping for reconciliation… but justice must occur.
15 See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
17 But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.
We can have our own plans. We can reject God – either in part, or in full – and go about our lives how we want. Let me rephrase verse 15 and 16 in the opposite to make my point:
“If you ignore me, or pay me lip-service alone; if you refuse to humble yourself and do as I ask, if you close your ears and harden your heart towards me, then you will severe your relationship with me. You may follow your own plans, chase after the corrupt desires of your heart, but they will not lead to the satisfaction that you hope for. Your plans in the end, will be proven foolish.”
God places the decision before us, and pleads with us to choose wisely.
19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. (NIV)