Reader: “Be careful.”
Response: “Don’t let your heart be deceived.”
Scripture: Deuteronomy 11:1-17
“You must love the Lord your God and always obey his requirements, decrees, regulations, and commands. Keep in mind that I am not talking now to your children, who have never experienced the discipline of the Lord your God or seen his greatness and his strong hand and powerful arm. They didn’t see the miraculous signs and wonders he performed in Egypt against Pharaoh and all his land. They didn’t see what the Lord did to the armies of Egypt and to their horses and chariots—how he drowned them in the Red Sea as they were chasing you. He destroyed them, and they have not recovered to this very day!
“Your children didn’t see how the Lord cared for you in the wilderness until you arrived here. They didn’t see what he did to Dathan and Abiram (the sons of Eliab, a descendant of Reuben) when the earth opened its mouth in the Israelite camp and swallowed them, along with their households and tents and every living thing that belonged to them. But you have seen the Lord perform all these mighty deeds with your own eyes!
“Therefore, be careful to obey every command I am giving you today, so you may have strength to go in and take over the land you are about to enter. If you obey, you will enjoy a long life in the land the Lord swore to give to your ancestors and to you, their descendants—a land flowing with milk and honey! For the land you are about to enter and take over is not like the land of Egypt from which you came, where you planted your seed and made irrigation ditches with your foot as in a vegetable garden. Rather, the land you will soon take over is a land of hills and valleys with plenty of rain— a land that the Lord your God cares for. He watches over it through each season of the year!
“If you carefully obey the commands I am giving you today, and if you love the Lord your God and serve him with all your heart and soul, then he will send the rains in their proper seasons—the early and late rains—so you can bring in your harvests of grain, new wine, and olive oil. He will give you lush pastureland for your livestock, and you yourselves will have all you want to eat.
“But be careful. Don’t let your heart be deceived so that you turn away from the Lord and serve and worship other gods. If you do, the Lord’s anger will burn against you. He will shut up the sky and hold back the rain, and the ground will fail to produce its harvests. Then you will quickly die in that good land the Lord is giving you.
Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
I find this passage quite interesting and instructive, particularly for our days and some of the things with which our societies are dealing. This is another part of Moses’ speech to the Israelites as they stand on the east side of the Jordan River preparing to enter Canaan, the Promised Land. As a nation, they are nearing the end of a forty year discipline. As Moses gets ready to leave this earth, he is giving a parting word, the book of Deuteronomy!
This section begins with his thesis statement: love God and obey all that he has said. Then what repeated phrase did you notice as you read as he speaks to the parents? Why would he use variants of the phrase “Your children didn’t see?” five times! He explains all the past history their children did not experience or see. They weren’t born when you crossed the Red Sea. So their view of God, his care, his discipline, and miraculous powers are not part of their life.
Then Moses makes a great pivot with these words. “But you have seen the Lord perform all these mighty deeds with your own eyes!” While your children may be somewhat hesitant due to their limited encounters with God, you have no excuse for not obeying God. You have seen what he has done with your own eyes. Trust God and obey and it will go well with you. Moses goes on. To help you people understand the enjoyment and benefits of obeying God, I’ll describe where you are going. In a nutshell, it’s like nothing you’ve experienced in the past. God is the gardener of where you are headed! He’s the owner of the land and your provider. You are the tenants.
Your part in this whole thing is to love, obey, and serve him with all your heart, soul, and mind. He wants your undivided heart. He’ll take care of the rest. Just a word of warning. Don’t let your heart be deceived so that you think you have a better way. You don’t. If you do decide to chase another way, rest assured, it won’t go well and the Lord will discipline you and it won’t be pleasant. Can’t you just see an old 120 year old Moses talking to the people. His eyesight was sharp and he was as strong as ever. How do we have all this information? God told him to write it down, remember Moses was educated in the palace of Egypt. He was a learned man.
So are there some things here we can glean? It is most important to know all of the past history, the good and the bad. The good enables us to learn and celebrate the noble and see the benefits of following godliness whether as a people or a nation in this case. Knowing the bad enables us to not repeat it and to see the consequences of wrong actions. Covering up either the good or the bad warps and distorts the present. Ignoring, “cleansing,” or rewriting history is both dishonest and foolish.
Apparently the parents to which Moses was talking got the message. Under Joshua’s leadership and the elders who outlived him, Israel served the Lord. These were those who experienced all the Lord did for them as they gradually conquered the land of Canaan. Then a sad thing happened. Another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord. In other words, they lost their identity as God’s people and joined in the pagan culture. Disaster followed. Godly leadership, good parenting, and learning from past history seem to be key in this passage. Parents and grandparents, uncles and aunts, and neighbors and friends telling the children what God has done in the past is powerful as evidenced by the lives of Moses and Joshua. Children love true stories. Take the opportunity!
Music: “I Love to Tell the Story” Chris Rupp Quartet
Bonus: “I Love to Tell the Story” Alan Jackson Country Classic, beautiful!
Lord Jesus, help us to look for opportunities to tell the next generation of your working in our lives both when we followed you and when we followed ourselves. Give us the courage to be honest and transparent. Help us to model what it means to follow you in the midst of a very secular world. May we live and speak boldly and truthfully in the days you have given us. These things we ask in the name of Jesus our Lord. Amen. ―Daniel Sharp