“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9 ESV).
As the Israelites were about to enter the Promised Land, Moses spent his last days teaching them once again about God and how they were to live for him.The generation who had left Egypt were now dead and the new generation needed to remember all that God had done for them. As many of them were quite young when they left Egypt, they would have a memory of what had happened. But what about their children? And their children’s children? It was important that this information be passed on to future generations.
God told them that his commands were to form part of their everyday life. They were to make sure their children knew him and his word. This was to be done in whatever they did throughout the day. Whether they were sitting in their home or walking together, as they went to bed and as they got up – whatever they were doing they were to make God a part of their conversation. Scripture was to be an integral part of their lives and it was to be passed down to their children.
This was important for God’s people long ago and it is still important for God’s people today. Jesus’ followers were first called “disciples” – a word which means a “learner” or “pupil”. Christians are to take what they have learned and teach “faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). It is important that we grow to the point that we can pass on what we know to others: “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food” (Hebrews 5:12).
The problem with not being taught is that we forget about God and forget what we should be as Christians. Moses stressed to the Israelites that once they were settled in their new homes in a new land, enjoying houses they did not build and crops they did not plant, the temptation would be to forget why they had these things. “Then take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. It is the Lord your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear” (Deuteronomy 6:12-13).
Isn’t this what has happened today? Most people are able to own and afford luxuries their parents could only dream about – and many things their parents could not even imagine. In our busy lives of working to get more and then spending time to enjoy what we have, many have forgotten about God and what is of ultimate importance.
We need to make God the centre of our lives. If our lives are based on him, this will be seen in what we do and what we talk about. We will be teaching others who can then teach others.
Readings for next week:
10 April – Deuteronomy 3
11 April – Deuteronomy 4:1-24
12 April – Deuteronomy 4:25-49
13 April – Deuteronomy 5
14 April – Deuteronomy 6