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Deuteronomy 1:68, 2633, 4246comment (0)

May 31, 2007

Related Scripture: Deuteronomy 1:68, 2633, 4246

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

Admit Your Struggle with Sin
Deuteronomy 1:6–8, 26–33, 42–46

In a culture of increasing moral relativism, distinctions between right and wrong seem increasingly difficult to make, let alone firm statements about sin. Yet a serious commitment to biblical faith demands an honest admission that sin saturates our lives and communities, stunting spiritual growth and creating a deep rift between God and humanity. Deuteronomy tells the story of a people grappling with the depravity of sin, its immediate and long-term consequences and its stunting effect on spiritual growth.

As the Israelites traveled from Egypt and prepared to enter the promised land, their slavery and sin led them inevitably to question their status as God’s chosen people. Deuteronomy — written in the form of Moses’ farewell sermon — reaffirms that God’s covenant with Israel remains in effect. The book calls God’s people to spiritual renewal prior to taking the promised land. Israel was to obey the law faithfully and gratefully. Failing to do so would threaten the success of the coming conquest. The story calls us to ask some pressing questions of ourselves and our churches.

Are you going where God leads? (6–8)
Moses reminded the people of the Lord’s instructions at Horeb, the region of Mount Sinai, to leave the mountain and to take possession of the land that He promised them. The people obeyed God’s command to leave Sinai but faltered when they reached the land and faced the giants. Obedience may seem comfortable until unexpected challenges test our faith. Like the Israelites, we need to be reminded of God’s command and covenant. He will never direct us toward an objective that He does not prepare and equip us to face.

Are you controlled by discouragement? (26–28)
Moses called attention to the Israelites’ discouragement at Kadesh (also called Kadesh-barnea in v. 19) that led to their rebellion and grumbling against the Lord. In the face of serious opposition, they became discouraged and faltered in their faith in God’s provision. Contemporary life often involves serious challenges that can potentially lead to frustration, discouragement and even despair. The life of faith calls us to see our challenges realistically, avoiding the temptation to minimize the harsh realities of life or to exaggerate them in self-pity. We are to remain consistent in our obedience and trusting of God’s promises so that we see our situation both honestly and hopefully.

Are you distrustful of God’s help? (29–33)
Moses recalled that at Kadesh, he instructed the Israelites to overcome their fear and trust in the Lord’s power and presence. They had experienced the Lord’s protection during their exodus from Egypt and wanderings in the wilderness.

Yet in spite of such remarkable experiences in the past, they allowed the immediate threat to overwhelm their memory of the Lord’s provision in the past. What short memories they seemed to have. What short memories we have. How often do we, in the face of a present crisis, fail to recall God’s faithful providence in the past?

Are you defying God’s commands? (42–46)
Moses recounted the Israelites’ sin at Kadesh was compounded by their disobedient attack on the Amorites. First God commanded them to take possession of the land but they recoiled in fear. Then God instructed them to stay out of the land and they marched to attack anyway. Their lack of faith at first could not simply be reversed by their ill-advised attack later. The Israelites were to obey not only God’s tasks but also God’s timing. Failing to do so, they invited upon themselves the spiritual defeat that always comes as a result of sin.

Our impatience often leads us to do the right thing at the wrong time and in the wrong way. Deuteronomy reminds us that the life of faith requires detailed attention to the specifics of God’s plan for us. Anything less damages our relationship with God and deters His plan for our lives.

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