Obedience and fear are huge words and growing up they always sounded “demanding.” It’s only in the last few years that I’ve really come to understand them as loving and what God is calling Israel to is more like a marriage covenant than some list of demands.
Obedience and fear are “demanding” in that there ARE rigors of a covenant relationship. Marriage should be a covenant relationship and even those words are helpful in describing the deep covenant underpinnings that will truly keep two people together.
We have a God who is incredibly jealous for us. He is consumed with passion for us. All he asks is a return on that attention. Instead, we are consumed too often with ourselves and what this “wonderful” God can instead do for us.
Deuteronomy 6 is a wonderful passage of delight. It is a call to obedience, but who would NOT want to obey a loving God who provides all we need for abundant living? Too often we want abundant living without the obligation. It just won’t work that way.
Why should I not be consumed with knowing this loving God?
Why should I not be consumed with the written Word, longing to understand the most obvious place to know this loving God? Why would I want to explain away this treasure? Why would I hide this written Word from others, or from my children? Why would I NOT be consumed with the Word and talking about it all time?
We are so consumed with so many other things and we do not mind talking about them! We talk about our favorite shows, movies, music, people… and we talk about what we hate in those categories as well. And it’s normal.
But start talking about what you’re learning in the written Word and you get, “Oh, there you go again! Being condemning! Being ‘holier than thou!'”
It’s about being consumed with a Savior who is consumed with passion for me. I am longing to know him as he knows me.
This jealous God is a beautiful God and I want to know him!
11 Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. 12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. (Deut. 8:11-14, NIV)
Why Lent? Because we have bad memories. If we do not have regular cycles in our lives to REMEMBER the goodness of God, and, yes, the awfulness of our sin, we tend to drift off and think WE are something.
Again, there is the argument as to doing it right during Lent. You know… that time when all those godless liberal “Christians” are remembering something when they aren’t “really serving God.” It’s just “dead ritual.” So the arguments go.
It’s just good to have a cycle, a rhythm, in our lives where we can circle back and remember the goodness of God. Israel had it in their feasts. Face it. THAT is the possibility of “dead ritual.” Same meal every year? Come on!
So, don’t call it Lent. But how about in these next 40 days or so you call to remembrance the goodness of God. Maybe even reflect on the pit from which the Lord brought you so you realize you’re not “all that.” How about doing that until… say… Easter.
Just reflect. Often.
It may just bring some powerful reality into your next Easter.
The Book of Deuteronomy is the “second law.” It’s the reiteration of the law for the people of Israel because a new generation was under Moses and they were the ones to take the Promised Land. The law needed to be repeated. Along with that, Moses reminded them of the story. He reminded Israel of their failures.
Deuteronomy 9 is part of our reading this week and the question has to be posed, “Why re-hash this stuff?”
There is a delicate balance between beating ourselves up with our past and remembering the past so we don’t forget the incredible grace of God. Yet, it is important to remember. If we fail to remember from the place God delivered us, we will begin to think we made it here all on our own.
I don’t remember my past to beat myself up. There are times the Spirit does remind me of something to gracefully show me the mercy of God. He will also gently prod me (or knock me over the head) when I get too proud and think I’ve done something completely on my own.
As I prepare my heart during this season I am deeply grateful for the incredible mercy of God!