Read This Week’s Passage: Deuteronomy 4:7–40
Deuteronomy 1–4 retells the story of Israel as they were rescued from slavery in Egypt and all the ways that God delivered them along the way to the Jordan. Right before Moses reiterates the Ten Words, he makes one more appeal based on the past rebellion of the people and the consequences that resulted. In addition, he warns them that if they continue in rebellion, more consequences will follow. Along with many other places in the Old Testament, this is a prediction of the exile that the people will experience when they are totally given over to evil. The exile will be God’s last resort to bring them back to Him. And yet Yahweh is a God of compassion and forgiveness, who promises never to ultimately forsake them. While God wants us to be happy here on earth, His ultimate goal is eternal happiness with Him in heaven, and He will leave out no possibility to bring us to repentance, even if it means privation and exile.
The key to remaining faithful to God has to do with one’s heart. Deuteronomy is full of references to the heart, and it notes how that is where we connect with God and He speaks to us and changes us. Moses reminds the people that they need to examine themselves and watch to make sure they do not forget what they have seen. All that God has done for them is in their hearts, and it is when they forget this that they are in danger of rebellion. Part of the remembering also involves telling others about what God has done; this cements it in the memory. Even in the middle of exile, when they choose to seek God with all their hearts He will bring them back. Israel was to know and consider in their hearts that the God they serve is the only God, the one who loves them and chose them. It is only as they focus on this love that they will remain faithful.