NO, You Didn’t Build That! (Deuteronomy 6:10-25)

“Lest We Forget”

President Obama took a lot of heat in the last campaign for a speech he made  in Roanoke, Virginia where he said, “If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business—you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” Of course, for those who have taken the risks associated with business entrepreneurship, this seemed condescending. Having watched (and to some extent participated with) family who have built businesses, I understand the offense, even as there is a point to be made about those who have gone before us and created the infrastructure upon which we all stand. One commentator wryly remarked, “Yes, we are all ultimately indebted in some measure to the inventor of the wheel, but as anyone who has built his own successful business knows, it was good to him because he was first good to it.”

But if there was ever a group who legitimately needed to be told “you didn’t build that” it was the Israelites … if there was ever a group who might get a false notion of personal excellence … if there was ever a group who might forget that their abundance came not from their own strength and construction, it was the Israelites. They were going to inherit a land with houses and wells and vineyards all in place. Yes, they would fight the battles, but they could not have prevailed apart from the Lord removing the defenses of their enemies from them.

Time is not only the great healer, it is the great “forgetter-maker.”  It is easy to forget the sacrifices of someone in the past who you do not personally remember. Most of us do not even remember anything about our own ancestors more than about four generations before us. Forgetting is easy – hence the appropriate abundance of memorials in stone built to commemorate great moments of sacrifice to achieve victories and abundance. There is no greater sacrifice than of one life laid down for another. And Christ’s death is the ultimate example, which we commemorate regularly in the communion … “in remembrance.”

“Lest we forget” is a phrase that is oft found on memorials, shrines, and graves. It comes from the final line in the five-stanza Rudyard Kipling poem of 1897 upon the Diamond Jubilee celebration of Queen Victoria … here are the first and fourth stanzas:

God of our fathers, known of old—
Lord of our far-flung battle line—
Beneath whose awful hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe—
Such boastings as the Gentiles use,
Or lesser breeds without the Law—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

Deuteronomy 6:10-25

10 When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, 11 houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, 12 be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

13 Fear the Lord your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. 14 Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; 15 for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you, and he will destroy you from the face of the land. 16 Do not put the Lord your God to the test as you did at Massah. 17 Be sure to keep the commands of the Lord your God and the stipulations and decrees he has given you. 18 Do what is right and good in the Lord’s sight, so that it may go well with you and you may go in and take over the good land the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors, 19 thrusting out all your enemies before you, as the Lord said.

20 In the future, when your son asks you, “What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the Lord our God has commanded you?” 21 tell him: “We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. 22 Before our eyes the Lord sent signs and wonders—great and terrible—on Egypt and Pharaoh and his whole household. 23 But he brought us out from there to bring us in and give us the land he promised on oath to our ancestors. 24 The Lord commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the Lord our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today. 25 And if we are careful to obey all this law before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.”

This entry was posted in Revive and tagged by Randy Buchman. Bookmark the permalink.

About Randy Buchman

I live in Western Maryland, and among my too many pursuits and hobbies, I regularly feed multiple hungry blogs. I played college baseball, coached championship cross country teams at Williamsport (MD) High School, and have been a sportswriter for various publications and online venues. My main profession is as the lead pastor of a church in Hagerstown called Tri-State Fellowship. And I'm active in Civil War history and work/serve at Antietam National Battlefield with the Antietam Battlefield Guides organization. Occasionally I sleep.

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