“Tell me a story,” says our children and grandchildren – often at bedtime or another teachable moment of life. I believe that in some way this in a divinely-infused innate desire to connect with the wisdom of the past. Children need to hear the stories of the past – of their family, of the human family, of the story of stories of what God has been doing from the beginning of time. These stories need to be honest and truthful – about the good AND the bad. There are, of course, lessons in each. Unless children are told, they will not know, because they cannot remember.
That is the summary of today’s reading. Moses reminds the people for the umpteenth time to love and obey God, AND, to be sure to tell the children what this generation of adults saw with their own eyes about God’s dealings.
There are essentially two parts of stories Moses commands to be told: first, the collection of major events concerning God’s miracles at the Exodus – which was a very positive story. And secondly, a lesser-known account of what happened to some people who actively rebelled against God.
Concerning the Exodus – Among the events of God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt as particularly outstanding were the signs and wonders done to Pharaoh, the miraculous deliverance of the nation from a great and powerful country, and the defeat of the Egyptian army when swallowed alive by the waters of the Red Sea.
Concerning a Rebellion against the Ministry of Aaron – This account comprises the 16th chapter of the book of Numbers. These Reubenite families, along with a host of Levites, disputed the selection of Aaron as the high priest to represent the nation before God. In the confrontation that followed, the result was that these rebels were swallowed up by the ground opening around them, others were burned alive by fire from the Lord, and a plague claimed another 14,700 lives before Aaron was able to quell it by his intercessory atonement.
We all have stories in our lives – accounts of when we found God to be our great provider and sustainer, yet accounts also of where we failed to trust in full obedience. The generations behind us need to hear these stories, as it gives them a framework upon which to build the values and decisions of their lives.
Love and Obey the Lord
11:1 Love the Lord your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always. 2 Remember today that your children were not the ones who saw and experienced the discipline of the Lord your God: his majesty, his mighty hand, his outstretched arm; 3 the signs he performed and the things he did in the heart of Egypt, both to Pharaoh king of Egypt and to his whole country; 4 what he did to the Egyptian army, to its horses and chariots, how he overwhelmed them with the waters of the Red Sea as they were pursuing you, and how the Lord brought lasting ruin on them. 5 It was not your children who saw what he did for you in the wilderness until you arrived at this place, 6 and what he did to Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab the Reubenite, when the earth opened its mouth right in the middle of all Israel and swallowed them up with their households, their tents and every living thing that belonged to them. 7 But it was your own eyes that saw all these great things the Lord has done.