Carefully Walking the Straight Line (Deuteronomy 5:23-33)

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!

Deuteronomy 5:23-33

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.


The 10 Suggestions? (Deuteronomy 5:1-22)

The 10 Suggestions Commandments (Deuteronomy 5:1-22)

Imagine if we were playing basketball together, and suddenly I put the ball under my arm like a football running back and bullied my way to the basket for a layup. You would say, “What are you doing? That is against the rules – that is travelling with the ball!”  And imagine if I said, “Well, I never liked that rule and I think it is stupid and out of date for the modern game!”  So, the game begins again, when suddenly one of my teammates dribbles and stops, then dribbles some more and stops, and then for a third time dribbles quickly to the basket for a score. And again you ask, “What’s he doing? You can’t do that – that is double dribbling.”  And once more I answer, “Well, he really hates that rule and finds it to be too restrictive of his creative style of playing the game, so he ignores it when he sees fit.”

Ridiculous?  Of course!  What happens to any game when the written rules are not followed? It becomes bedlam; it ruins everything, and before long it is no fun for anyone! The rules, the boundaries – they bring health and order and vitality … not just with games, but with life.

The passage today is the beginning of Moses’ second “sermon” to the new generation that is poised to enter the Promised Land. This is essentially the second giving of the Ten Commandments – which are elaborated upon in more details in chapters 12-26 (which will not be a part of our reading/devotional schedule). Moses reminds these Israelites of the health-giving benefits of obedience to the wonderful covenant that God made with His people, their ancestors.

There is a timeless truth: obedience to God’s ways leads to God’s blessings of our ways. His commandments are more than mere suggestions!

One of the great and increasingly common problems in our world today is the disintegration of the concept of timeless, objective truth. In the world of those outside any allegiance to faith and truth, it is often total bedlam, as there no longer exists any moral anchor. But even in the faith community – even the evangelical church – there is too much of a comfort with picking and choosing what Scripture teachings to obey. It has become like a buffet line – you pick what you want and leave behind whatever you want to reject.

But there is only one way to be blessed ultimately, and that is to obey God’s Word. It would serve to revive the Joshua generation conquering the land, and it serves to revive us as well.

Deuteronomy 5:1-22

Moses summoned all Israel and said:

Hear, Israel, the decrees and laws I declare in your hearing today. Learn them and be sure to follow them. The Lord our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. It was not with our ancestors <the meaning is that it was not ONLY with the ancestors> that the Lord made this covenant, but with us, with all of us who are alive here today. The Lord spoke to you face to face out of the fire on the mountain. (At that time I stood between the Lord and you to declare to you the word of the Lord, because you were afraid of the fire and did not go up the mountain.) And he said:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

“You shall have no other gods before[b] me.

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 10 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

11 “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

12 “Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do. 15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.

16 “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

17 “You shall not murder.

18 “You shall not commit adultery.

19 “You shall not steal.

20 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

21 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor’s house or land, his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

22 These are the commandments the Lord proclaimed in a loud voice to your whole assembly there on the mountain from out of the fire, the cloud and the deep darkness; and he added nothing more. Then he wrote them on two stone tablets and gave them to me.