Pastor Jerry Donovan
In the Bible’s book of Deuteronomy, Moses speaks to the Israelites as they are camped next to the Jordan river on the Moab plain. The setting is in an area North of the Dead Sea and East of the Jordan river on the eve of crossing the river to take possession of the land in Canaan.
Moses reviews the people of Israel’s recent history of disobedience to God’s commandments and he reminds them of what will be required of them from now on. This is a farewell speech by Moses to the people of Israel because God has forbidden Moses to travel any further as they enter and receive their promised land. He is laying out a blueprint of how they are to live their lives in this new land, and receive the Lord’s blessings and protection. Many scholars view it as the last will and testament of Moses, the nation of Israel’s greatest leader, and the book of Deuteronomy as foundational as they receive their promised land.
The purpose of Moses’s speech is not simply to advise the Israelites what is in their best interest, but that there is no other god in heaven or on earth other than the one true God. He explains that God’s commandments are the most just laws that could be created (Deuteronomy 4:8), and the world will see Israel to be a great, wise, and discerning people by obeying them in verse 6.
Moses uses potential blessings from God in his speeches about the covenant. He also lists the curses that will be on them if they fail to keep the covenant. This link between blessings and curses means that the Israelites must choose to keep the covenant which results in blessings and life, or not keep the covenant which results in curses and death. This concept is called retribution theology and is especially important throughout the Old Testament Bible
Deuteronomy 4:9 states, “9 Again, however, pay very careful attention, lest you forget the things you have seen and disregard them for the rest of your life; instead teach them to your children and grandchildren.” Throughout Deuteronomy Moses implores the people of Israel not only to remember this covenant made with God, but most importantly teach them to their children and grandchildren. Throughout the Old Testament Israel breaks the covenant, is punished by God and forgiven until the next time. A common thread is that the people have not remembered and/or forgotten the covenant. The people have forgotten because they have taken God for granted just like spoiled undisciplined children, because the people for whatever reason are not teaching their children and grandchildren.
We need to constantly remind ourselves to remember and even pray these words that Jesus Christ gave us in Matthew 22: “37 Jesus said to him, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’” 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”
J ust like ancient Israel over the last 100 years God has abundantly blessed us, our families, and our country. Just like Israel our culture now ignores God and does not even bother to ask for his blessings. Our responsibly as followers in the Way of Jesus Christ is to imitate the prophets of the Old Testament and sound the warning to repent and discover the love of God through Jesus Christ and “teach it to our children and grandchildren.”