Do any of you watch anime? If you have absolutely no idea what I am talking about, it is a common term used for Japanese cartoons (yes I proudly still watch cartoons!). I particularly enjoy them because there is an artistic style that just cannot be found in American animation. Many of their series are limited; usually twenty-five episodes to tell an entire story and, most of the time, you feel satisfied after finishing it (no endless cliffhangers here). One thing you can always count on in these types of shows is that, somewhere around two-thirds of the way through the series, there is what is called a re-cap episode. The purpose of a re-cap is to bring anyone that didn’t start watching at the beginning up to speed on what has happened in the series up to that point.
The book of Deuteronomy is like a re-cap episode for the nation of Israel. Almost all of the information is simply restating things that have been done or said since the start of the journey for anyone who wasn’t there at the beginning. Why do we need a re-cap, you ask? Because many of the people there weren’t around when they first left Egypt. We have to remember that they have been wandering around the desert for forty years at this point. God had finally had enough of the whining and bickering from the people and told them that anyone over a certain age would die off before he would allow them to enter the promised land (Numbers 14:26-35). So, here we are at the end of forty years and new generations of Israelites are among the nation that only have heard stories about all of the miracles that God had performed for them.
Moses also knows that he will not be entering the land (Numbers 20:12). Because of this, he wants the nation-to-be to remember where they came from, who they serve, and what they must do to remain in proper relationship with God.
God is in Control
Over and over again, Moses tells the people to obey the Lord. He reminds them that it was God who provided for them even though they rebelled many times. Like a loving parent, He had cares for and disciplined them for their own benefit:
Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors. Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.
Observe the commands of the Lord your God, walking in obedience to him and revering him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.
When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you. You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.
If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. Like the nations the Lord destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the Lord your God. (Deuteronomy 8)
Comfort for Today
I don’t enjoy politics and enjoy talking about them even less, so I won’t. We all, regardless of which side we are on, are stressed out and overwhelmed by the potential leadership our country will be faced with once the polls close on Tuesday. All I will say is that, regardless of the outcome of the election, we can take comfort in the knowledge that, as Moses points out time and time again, we worship a God who keeps his promises and protects his people. We have a God who, regardless of what lies ahead, will provide.