Day 45—Is there an echo in here?—“Spiritual Feeding” Deuteronomy 9:1 -12:32
February 14, 2021, 5:00 AM

Day 45—Is there an echo in here?—“Spiritual Feeding” Deuteronomy 9:1 -12:32

Could you repeat that again? Could you repeat that again?

That’s what reading Deuteronomy is like. Moses is sharing the story again, sharing the pitfalls again, restating the LORD’s purpose for his people again. Remember that the word Deuteronomy means “Second Law”, so you can assume that’s what you are going to hear, and the neat thing is this: it’s starting to sound familiar, isn’t it? What I mean is that when you read Deuteronomy, and you hear the same themes over and over again, you start to remember them, recognize them, internalize them. That’s why Moses is telling the stories again. “Don’t forget who you were, where you were and who saved you.” But most importantly, “Don’t forget WHOSE you are.” In other words, don’t forget who chose you.

Moses seems to acknowledge for the people that it is not their goodness that has brought them to the Promised Land, but God’s compassion and generosity. And for the first time, we hear a metaphor about circumcision that will be repeated again in both the Old and New Testaments—that the people should ‘circumcise the foreskin of their hearts’ (Deut 10:16) So while following the law is important, the ultimate sacrifice or proof that the people have followed God is a change in their hearts, not just a change in behavior. And this is equal opportunity—men and women can circumcise their hearts!  Those words are followed by Moses instructing the people to be just, to care for the widow and the orphan, to love the stranger. The consistency between what we think of as “New Testament” ideas and these words spoken by Moses should wake us up a bit. God is consistent in his love for us, consistent in his desire that we all become holier, consistent in his desire to care for the least, the lost and the left out.

But the key is this: God’s chosen people are different. They are to behave differently. They are to be humble before God. They are to stand for justice and for righteousness. They are to recognize and tear down idols and other objects of worship that distract from God. Take care of those who have less and accept their care as your responsibility. Treat foreigners the way you treat your own children. Don’t envy what other people have. Keep marriage pure. They need to be reminded of this as they stand at the very edge of the land God has promised them, the land they will turn into a nation. Moses’ words, which are God’s words, remind them of God’s purposes.

The list of resonant verses in this section goes on and on, but it brings me, finally, to the contemplation at the end of today’s reading which I found amazing. Eugene Peterson, editor of the Message translation of the Bible, shared 5 ways to stay connected to God, or to have a deep spirituality. In a Christian context, spirituality is not vague and formless. It is specific and clear—we worship one God, we trust the Word of the One God as we find it in the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. And Peterson writes this as a guide: “Shun spirituality that does not require commitment.”

BAM! That certainly sums up what we have been reading in our study of the bible, and it sums up everything I know about Jesus. Of course we have a jealous God—he wants us to commit to him just as we commit to any valued relationship in our lives, whether it is our marriage, our friendships, our children. What are we willing to give up, to turn away from, in order to make sure those relationships are primary in our lives? How deeply do we love the people we care about? How hurt would we be if any of those people turned their backs on us?

When a child, grown into adulthood, has a broken relationship with a parent, that wound cuts deeply for life. That wound infects the lives of all the people involved and it may never heal.

How deeply does God desire to be in relationship with his people? Moses is going to explain just how much God desires that in the rest of the book of Deuteronomy, and it is the story of a yearning God who knows his people and claims them as his family. And yet they turn away, they give up on the relationship, they find replacements, because following God is hard. The world, and all its charms, is much easier.

“Shun spirituality that doesn’t require commitment” has more truth in one phrase than entire books I have read. The picture is clear—to follow this God is not easy. It requires us to give up our whole selves, to circumcise our hearts—which means that we are changed to the core of our being—to put aside false idols of all sorts, and to know that the God who calls us by name knows us far better than we know ourselves, and he chooses us anyway.

Deuteronomy 10: 12:

“The Lord set his heart in love on your ancestors alone and chose you…out of all the peoples.” That’s a Valentine’s Day message worth getting.

Be blessed, and be a blessing to others,

ML

 

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