Carefully Walking the Straight Line (Deuteronomy 5:23-33)
The word picture that Moses gives the Israelites in today’s reading is of a person walking a straight line of obedience through life – undistracted to the left or the right by those side shows that might cause one to drift from the proper path and into disobedience.
As a classic Attention Deficit Disorder person, this sort of word picture especially grabs my imagination as descriptive of one of life’s great difficulties – focus! That is what it takes for genuine life success – a focus on the goal at the end … upon the big prize.
It is not that we A.D.D. types cannot focus on something; in fact, if we are REALLY interested in an activity, we can super-focus on one thing and forget everything else.
I honestly was a rather compliant child and did not rebel much against authorities (people pleasing was likely a very early value with me!). I remember being in 2nd grade, and the teacher told us to quietly read at our desks while she did something else … so I did as instructed. I must have really liked what I was reading, because the next thing I remember was the teacher pounding on my desk to get my attention. As I looked up and saw everyone in the room laughing at me, I realized that the rest of the class were several words into a verbal spelling test … but I never heard the instructions to put things away and get out a piece of paper!
If we are going to be focused on the big goal of obeying God, we have to be compliant by valuing this as the greatest truth in life; and beyond that, we must also set upon it as that which captures our greatest interest. Moses will especially make that second point the theme of tomorrow’s reading.
OK Randy… focus on today …
OK … notice from today’s reading this wonderful 29th verse where it says, “Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!” This is God speaking, and it tells about his desires for us. He is not there to frustrate us or trick us or anything of the sort. He so deeply desires our success, and it is stated throughout all of these passages in repeated ways as to wanting to see “that it may go well” etc. God is for us! That is a thought to “revive” us!
23 When you heard the voice out of the darkness, while the mountain was ablaze with fire, all the leaders of your tribes and your elders came to me. 24 And you said, “The Lord our God has shown us his glory and his majesty, and we have heard his voice from the fire. Today we have seen that a person can live even if God speaks with them. 25 But now, why should we die? This great fire will consume us, and we will die if we hear the voice of the Lord our God any longer. 26 For what mortal has ever heard the voice of the living God speaking out of fire, as we have, and survived? 27 Go near and listen to all that the Lord our God says. Then tell us whatever the Lord our God tells you. We will listen and obey.”
28 The Lord heard you when you spoke to me, and the Lord said to me, “I have heard what this people said to you. Everything they said was good. 29 Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!
30 “Go, tell them to return to their tents. 31 But you stay here with me so that I may give you all the commands, decrees and laws you are to teach them to follow in the land I am giving them to possess.”
32 So be careful to do what the Lord your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. 33 Walk in obedience to all that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.