David Dunlop began by highlighting the importance of being devoted to the teaching of all scripture, which includes exploring the less familiar and less appealing books in the Bible.
Today he started a new ‘Devoted’ series based on the book of Deuteronomy, and David’s first challenge to us was to read the entire book of Deuteronomy over the next week.
“Deuteronomy has perhaps had more influence on the rest of the biblical story (both old and new testaments) than any other book.” (Gordon Fee & Douglas Stuart)
The concept of devotion runs throughout Deuteronomy, as seen in the ‘Shema’, a prayer quoted by Jesus in Matthew 12:29, which many Christians continue to pray today.
The word ‘HEAR’ (Shema) doesn’t simply mean to listen, but rather to respond in obedience to what you hear with wholehearted devotion to God.
Are you wholeheartedly devoted to God today?
David’s second challenge was for us to read Deuteronomy 6:4-5 each day over the next few weeks, and to pray for wholehearted devotion to God in every aspect of our life and being.
Deuteronomy begins with the Israelites about to enter the promised land. This should have been a journey of eleven days from where they were camped at Horeb (Mount. Sinai) (v.2), yet forty years had elapsed and only then were they on the cusp of their destination (v.3). What had gone wrong?
Lack of trust, rebellion, disobedience and a negative attitude
The generation of Israelites whom God had rescued from slavery in Egypt had ignored God’s instructions for how they should live, and the consequence of this was a forty-year delay during which all of them perished before reaching the promised land.
David highlighted the importance of understanding that Moses was speaking to the second generation of Israelites, whom he wanted to feel their history. He spoke to them as if speaking to their parents, so that they would not make the same mistakes as the previous generation: refusing to follow God, rebelling against God’s commands, and having an attitude of complaint.
These three things also threaten to compromise our relationship with God today: unwillingness to follow God’s leading, a tendency to disbelieve what God says, an inclination to complain and grumble, so that our perception of God becomes warped.
Wholehearted devotion to God requires that we follow his lead for our lives, that we are obedient to his word, and that we are grateful for all he has done for us.
In vv.29-31 Moses clarified how God had cared for the Israelites as a fighter and a father.
Whilst most of us are comfortable with the image of God as our Father, I find it strange to picture God as our Fighter, yet this is what he did at the Cross when he fought to disarm the powers and authorities to bring us freedom:
None of those whom God brought out of Egypt made it to the promised land, apart from Caleb, “because he followed the Lord wholeheartedly”. (Deuteronomy 1:36).
Those who follow Jesus today have God’s Holy Spirit living within them, and this enables them to be devoted to God wholeheartedly.
Why not …
- Read Deuteronomy this week
- Pray Deuteronomy 6:4-5 every day for a month
- Reflect on God as your fighter and father
- Consider Caleb