If you knew that you were in the last few weeks of your life, what would you want to communicate to the people around you? The book of Deuteronomy is just that…the “last will and testament” of Moses, just before he goes up on Mount Nebo to view the Promised Land before his death.
A lot has happened since God brought this great company out of Egypt and across the Red Sea. What should have taken them eleven days turned into forty years because of their lack of faith. Now they are camped in preparation to finally begin the process of possessing the land God promised to give them. Moses isn’t going with them; a moment of anger and frustration brought the consequences of God’s discipline, so he takes this time to speak and write all that he wants them to remember.
The book is both a historical record and a sermon. Moses recounts all that has happened and restates the laws given forty years earlier at Mt. Sinai. He describes in detail both the promised blessings Israel will enjoy if they remain faithful to God and the extensive curse that will fall on everything and everyone they know and love if they turn away to other gods. Knowing his people’s weaknesses, and with spiritual insight provided by the Spirit of God who inspired him to write, Moses warns that they will certainly fall away.
Before they ever set foot in the Promised Land, God knows His people will abandon and break His laws, intermarry with the foreign nations against His clear and direct command, and worship the gods of the Canaanites. In keeping with His character, He provides the solution they will need. We find it in Deuteronomy 30:1-3,6,9.
So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind in all nations where the Lord your God has banished you, and you return to the Lord your God and obey Him with all your heart and soul according to all that I command you today, you and your sons, then the Lord your God will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you. … Moreover the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live. … Then the Lord your God will prosper you abundantly in all the work of your hand, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your cattle and in the produce of your ground, for the Lord will again rejoice over you for good, just as He rejoiced over your fathers.
While these words are specifically addressed to the nation of Israel, the principles of what to do as God’s people when we lose our way still apply today.
First, we must remember what God told us. We must “call to mind” the truth of His Word, placing our faith in the authority of scripture. Second, we must return or repent, turning away from the secular lies and philosophies that led us astray. We must confess that we’ve strayed from the right path, God’s path, and turn back to the narrow way God says is right. Third, we must renew our commitment by obeying God with all our heart and soul.
It’s not enough just to know what God says is right. If we want God’s blessing on our lives, we must deliberately choose to turn away from all that is wrong and intentionally live by His truth.
What does God promise to do? He will restore us, bringing us back into close fellowship with Him. He will renew our hearts to love and obey Him (giving us both the desire and ability, see Philippians 2:13), and He will rejoice over us.
Have you ever lost your way in your relationship with God? The way home is simple but requires humility and faith. Don’t wait too long.