I can’t begin a new book without taking a minute to celebrate finishing another book. As this whole blogging is a big experiment, I’m encouraged that I haven’t quit yet. This summer was hit and miss, but anyone that is following along, I appreciate the patience, and let’s keep going! I want to give a little bit of background moving into Deuteronomy. I think it will help contextualize what we’re reading. And, if you’re anything like me, sometimes the Penteteuch (the first five books of the OT) can seem redundant. And so it’s always nice to have a grid- even if it is just to help distinguish why we’re hearing lots of similar information again!
Have I mentioned recently how much I’m enjoying having a study Bible? At the beginning of every book there is an intro, with some helpful information. Who wrote the book, when they wrote it, why, to whom etc. Some of it I’m not even close to being smart enough to understand the significance, but I always find the historical context piece very helpful. Which brings me to my point. In the historical context, the intro explained that Deuteronomy takes place on one side of the Jordan River before they cross over into the Promised Land. This is Moses’ farewell address as he hands leadership over to Joshua (remember- Moses can’t enter the Promised Land). And the whole book takes place there. There isn’t any geographical movement towards receiving God’s promise, but there is a huge movement in spiritual authority. As we read through the book, it is important to remember this context. It’s a pretty big deal!
The beginning of Moses’ address is reminiscent of the speeches I remember hearing at graduation ceremonies. A retelling of the times and years before and how everyone arrived to this day. Even now at big milestones there is a desire to recap the road already travelled before taking the final step of completetion. Partially I think this is in hope that the lessons learned along the previous road will not need to be retaught on any future road. We don’t want to lose any of the ground that we’ve gained. And Moses begins the same way. He recounts all the times God asked them to do something, if they did or didn’t listen, and then the outcome of that.
The interesting thing is that when you read a recap of 40 years of events and history, there are very few things that are left when you boil everything down. In all the situations, it essentially boils down to: 1. God asks them to do something and 2. They either obey or don’t. And when you condense the 40 years, to the listeners (and us readers) it really highlights how little sense it makes to be disobedient and fearful. When they obeyed, things went well, and when they didn’t- it didn’t. Not too hard. (Especially when you throw in there the whole pillar of fire and cloud thing. If God sends clouds and fire to direct them, then it seems really silly to not just obey His instructions.)
I don’t know about you- but in the midst of the everyday things of life, I forget what the important things are that will still be there when I condense 40 years of my life. My toddler pooping in his underwear and then the underwear falling into the toliet that then I have to dig out (true story- just happened like an hour ago) – that won’t make the short list. Although in the moment I can react in a way that would make you think it would be worthy! But even more stressful and serious things than that. How much (or little) money is in my bank account, not having a steady income, not knowing what the future holds etc. All those things won’t be there when 40 years gets boiled down. It’s just true. And it plays out in smaller things too. Really hard seasons of life, years later boil down to a lot less than what they were at the time. In the midst of my health problems while being pregnant with our daughter, every day seemed to add something huge on the plate. And if I sat down to tell someone the story, I included a lot more than I do now. Even that, only 2 1/2 years later, boils down to: bad things were happening, but God took care of us and it all worked out. And I don’t even know if after 40 years, that whole season would get even that much ink. The point is, that whatever I’m going through right now- whatever you’re going through- it all boils down to the same thing. 1. What is God asking (or has asked) me to do? and 2. Am I being obedient? At the end, most of the hurdles we have had to jump over won’t even be worth mentioning, and the ones that stop us dead in our tracks will seem trivial.
I hope that my 40 years will boil down to just plain and simple obedience. How about you?