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Deuteronomy 8:114, 1718comment (0)

June 14, 2007

By Matthew S. Kerlin

Related Scripture: Deuteronomy 8:114, 1718

Bible Studies for Life 
Minister to the University, Samford University, Ph.D.

Returning Loyalty to Your Relationship with God
Deuteronomy 8:1–14, 17–18

My grandfather worked for the same company for 35 years. I have had three jobs in the last eight years. Loyalty to employers seems a thing of the past. Loyalty in other areas of life seems lacking as well. One-third of married men and one-quarter of married women admit to having had at least one extramarital sexual experience. Weakening loyalty in these and other human relationships underscores the need for Christians to consider the strength of their loyalty to God.

In our passage for this week, Moses calls upon the Israelites to remember their covenant with God. The people are to respond to God’s faithfulness with careful attention to God’s command and grateful recognition for God’s provision. As they faced the challenges of the promised land, the Israelites would need to remember their past and remain loyal to God’s direction for their future.

Do you learn from God’s discipline? (1–5)
Moses often uses the word “remember” in his instructions to the Israelites. They are to remember the promise and demand of the covenant. God promised Abraham that he would be blessed with land and descendants and that the people of the earth would be blessed through him. The promise included a demand that Abraham and his descendants were to remain loyal to God and His instructions. Moses captures the covenant demand in the often repeated “Shema” (Deut. 6:4–5): “Hear O Israel ... .” Shema is a Hebrew imperative that means both hear and obey, signifying that in ancient Jewish thought, the two concepts were inextricably linked. To hear was to obey; only those who’ve obeyed have truly heard. Yet, even when the Israelites failed to obey, God continues to bless them and provide for them, but He disciplines them as well. The call to remember is a call to learn from God’s discipline in the past to move forward into the future with the wisdom accumulated from years of relating to God.

Do you trust the Lord’s purposes? (6–10)
Moses draws their attention to God’s promise of a better life ahead to encourage them to praise. Knowing they were to face serious challenges, Moses deems it necessary to remind the people what they would enjoy in the future. He encourages them with hope in God’s promise. Hope energizes the Christian’s faith journey by placing both the blessings and trials in proper perspective. We place our faith not in the blessings but in the One who gives them because we know that they will one day pass away. We are not discouraged by the trials because we know that they, too, are temporary and that they are a means to a greater end. No blessing comes by chance, and no difficulty escapes God’s watchful providence. As Jonathan Edwards wrote, “Everything needful God sends, nothing needful God withholds.” Loyalty demands that as we remember the Lord’s discipline, we also trust His purposes.

Do you remember the source of your success? (11–14, 17–18)
Moses cautions the Israelites to remember the source of their prosperity because he knew that they would be tempted to claim the credit for their success. How often do we credit ourselves for our successes, forgetting the God who made us all that we are and created the circumstance that made our circumstances possible? Conversely how often do we blame God and others when things go badly? The tendency to claim credit for good and blame others for ill stems from our own pride. Christians will do well to remember that while God rewarded the Israelites’ obedience with material prosperity, God does not always work in this manner. Neither success nor the lack of it necessarily indicates the status of our relationship with God. During times of difficulty, we trust God’s purposes and during times of prosperity, we thank God for His provision. Loyalty to God removes the burden of failure, deconstructs the logic of pride and calls us to face our circumstances, whatever they are, with humble gratitude.

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