listen! | Deuteronomy 4.1-8
Now listen, Israel, listen carefully to the rules and regulations that I am teaching you to follow so that you may live and enter and take possession of the land that God, the God-of-Your-Fathers, is giving to you. Don’t add a word to what I command you, and don’t remove a word from it. Keep the commands of God, your God, that I am commanding you.
You saw with your own eyes what God did at Baal Peor, how God destroyed from among you every man who joined in the Baal Peor orgies. But you, the ones who held tight to God, your God, are alive and well, every one of you, today. Pay attention: I’m teaching you the rules and regulations that God commanded me, so that you may live by them in the land you are entering to take up ownership. Keep them. Practice them. You’ll become wise and understanding. When people hear and see what’s going on, they’ll say, “What a great nation! So wise, so understanding! We’ve never seen anything like it.”
Yes. What other great nation has gods that are intimate with them the way God, our God, is with us, always ready to listen to us? And what other great nation has rules and regulations as good and fair as this Revelation that I’m setting before you today? Deuteronomy 4.1-8 | MSG
Probably the greatest challenge for us in this or any culture. Perhaps listening is so difficult because we’re afraid we won’t like what we’ll hear. And perhaps listening to the past is so hard because we don’t like what we’ve seen.
Our past is a mixed bag.
Blessings and curses,
highs and lows.
So many intersections of life and death, glory and shame, strength and weakness. Which is perhaps why we are so eager to take Paul up on his offer to “forget the things that are behind and press on to what is ahead.” It seems that when it comes to the past we gravitate to the extremes of either living there or denying it ever happened.
The reality is the past is a slingshot, whether we like it or not. Our past launches us into our future. Yesterday is the launching pad for today, even as today will be for tomorrow. All we can decide is what will that trajectory look like?
Straight like an arrow?
High and soaring to the skies?
Low and gutter bound?
Deuteronomy is the “second word.” It’s Moses’ last word. And this week we join his audience.
His key theme? Listen.
Remember where you have been.
Remember what you have seen.
Remember what you have heard.
And as you do, as you trace the lines of your own story, watch for the movement and telltale rhythms of the formless, invisible God.
And then, listen!
The past. Do you tend to live there or to avoid it all together? Why? How do you sense God challenging you to remember and to listen?
Living God, help me not to fear the places I have been, no matter how dark the path. Shine your light in the darkness that I may trace your movements through it all. Give me the courage – and the attention span! – to remember, and to listen. Through Christ.