Deuteronomy – Freedom
- Ever had a really strict teacher who then had to be out for a few days?
- How did the class act when there was an easygoing substitute in the room?
- Did you take advantage of the situation or act as you would had the strict teacher still been there?
The wandering was almost done. It had been thirty-nine years, eleven months and one day since they had begun their march through the wilderness. Moses was now an ancient man and his assistants helped him to a place from which he could address the people. He cleared his throat and began his last great message to them, reminding them of all that they had endured because of their lack of faith in God’s protection and plan for them.
He reminded them that they were a chosen people, that they would be blessed if they obeyed God’s commands, that they would be tempted to abandon God once they were comfortable and that the penalty for this would be severe. He explained to them the fulfillment they would experience in life if they did choose to stay faithful to God.
Moses gave the people ten great commandments by which to order their relationships with God and with each other. He went on to explain how to do almost everything that they would have to do once he was no longer there to guide them — like how to set property boundaries, how to prepare food, how to bear witness in a dispute, how to care for women and children, how to worship. Worship was extremely important to Moses. They were to have a class of priests among them, yes. But unlike other people in their region, God’s expectation was that all of them would live priestly lives. All of their personal decisions, all of their relationships, all of their communities would be a reflection of God.
Hear, O Israel: The LORD is our God, the LORD alone.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.
Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and why you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them down on the doorstops of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)
Moses did not free the Israelites from Pharaoh in order to become their king. When he knew he was close to death, he turned over leadership to a capable successor, not to someone simply because they were a member of his family. To the end, he did everything he could to make sure the people knew that he was simply a humble servant of the same God.
But ultimately, it would not be up to Moses whether or not each of the Israelites would stay faithful to God. It would be up to each of them.
Parents screw up. Sometimes they even act like the children in a family. Youth directors get us all excited be part of the group and then leave for another church. Friends who were once so inspiring and on fire for God get thrown for a loop in their own lives and begin doing all kinds of reckless things we could have never imagined them doing. People, even godly people, are only a part of your journey towards God. They may not always be around. Or they may let us down. In the end, it is your responsibly to stay focused on God.
Remember: God is God. Get it right.
Never confuse your relationship with God with your relationship with a parent, a friend, a significant other, a pastor or a youth director.
Find a way for you to keep the Great Commandment of Deuteronomy 6:5 with you at all times. You don’t have to literally see the words to remember it. Maybe it’s a symbol next to your bed or on your bathroom mirror. Or maybe it is something you can carry with you to school. Pray a prayer of obedience. Explain to God why you think you need to be reminded of his love for you. Explain to God why it’s easy to get distracted. Explain to God why you think your life would be changed by keeping this commandment. Make sure that this isn’t about you and anyone else but God.