March 27, 2017

Deuteronomy 1:30-31 “The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the desert. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.”

The whole book of Deuteronomy is a recounting of what had already happened. In some ways it is Moses’ edit of what he had written in Exodus through Numbers. The thing is, we need to be reminded of what God has said to us and done for us in the past. Somewhat like a cow chewing their cud, we need to ruminate over such things so that we won’t miss the lessons God wants us to learn. Here, the specific imagery Moses uses is both meaningful and beautiful. We can all relate to the picture of a father carrying his child, and it’s a very apt one. Just like a father doesn’t carry his child all the time, but only when it might be dangerous for the child to walk, or the child might be too tired, in the same way, God doesn’t spoil us, but He does protect us. Just as a child sometimes kicks and squirms, wanting to get down even when the father knows it isn’t wise, so we kick and squirm against God, not recognizing what He is doing and wanting to do things our own way. The Israelites whom Moses was addressing were certainly good examples of that. As Paul pointed out, much of the Old Testament was recorded precisely so that we could learn from such examples. (1 Corinthians 10:11) Sometimes we think that short attention spans are a modern malady, but mankind has a long history of failing to remember lessons they have already been taught. As the saying goes, those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it. We need to follow Moses’ example in Deuteronomy and consider what God has already taught us, so that He won’t have to teach it to us all over again.

When I look back over my own life, some of the lessons God has taught me have been delightful and some have been painful. The thing is, I tend to remember the delightful ones and expect more of the same, but push the painful ones out of my mind, and for that very reason have to go through them again. God isn’t mean, but as has been said, He’s more interested in my character than in my comfort. That’s the lesson of one of Paul’s very famous statements: “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4) I have been shaped and grown by the pains in my life, probably more than by the pleasures. I need to recognize better how God has supported and protected me even when the way seemed hard. Rather than complain like the Israelites, I need to “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for [me] in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Father, thank You for this reminder. It’s interesting how often I need it! Help me encourage all the believers in the same way, so that together we may “Through Jesus continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name.” (Hebrews 13:15) Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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