With the gold-colored Chevy van towing a pop-up camper, jammed full of camping equipment, three teens and four adults (me and my beau very young adults), personal belongings, our entertainment stash of books, puzzle books and the van radio we were off to exotic excitement! After stops that included Walls Drug Store, Mt. Rushmore and Banff and Jaspar State Park we'd find a campground every night to be our sleeping spot. Imagine seven voices offering advice on which site to choose and how to park at the perfect angle! Once the tedious tasks of setting up camp were completed we ate supper and explored or relaxed. Even though we never lingered longer than overnight at these reststops, we were glad for the relief from driving and a chance to sleep in a prone position.
I grabbed this definition for CAMP from dicitonary.com:
to settle down securely and comfortably; become ensconced
I sometimes do this with a section of Scripture--- Just hang out in a certain book for a few days, or go back to a favorite passage and settle down securely and comfortably with the familiar words of the text. I became ensconced in Deuteronomy the last few weeks. I encountered tense feelings where God seems harsh and confusing at times. Yet amid all the commandments, blessings, curses and warnings of this austere book, I found some observations worth sharing.
These repeated imperatives run rampant through this book...Hear, Obey, Observe, Be Careful, Follow, Watch, Teach, Remember...
Moses is giving his last address to a people he loves and has endured for over 40 years. He understands the human tendencies of this multitude of Israelites and also knows the heart of the God who loves them. You can feel Moses' passionate appeal to them as he pleads for them to stay on the right path and keep themselves distinct and different from the heathen nations around them. In text 5:29 Moses shares God's longing. "Oh, that their heats would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always so that it might go well with them and their chidren forever!" My parent heart prays this, too. AMEN! Please help me stay inclined to you and your ways, Father.
4:9-"Only be careful and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live". Heb. 2:1 reiterates this thought-"We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away."
Yikes, I wonder how leaky my God-container is. My memory and hearing are susceptible to slipping and drifting. Father help me to take in more and to guard your words more closely to make up for any deficits.
Yes, there were verses of comfort to me in Dueteronomy.
"What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him?" 4:7 I'm so glad for your closeness, Father.
"Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of LOVE to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands." 7:9 I'm in this chain of convenant love. Thank you, Father!
"For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory." 20:4 Thank you that your presence and your leading go with me in the battles I face.
"And the Lord has declared this day that you are his people, his treasured possession as he promised, and that you are to keep all his commands." 26:18 I'm a treasure to you, Father!
Committed for a Cause!
Chapter 12 was interesting. Moses asks the people to 'seek the place where God will choose to put His name for his dwelling'. This is the tabernacle or will be the temple when it is later built. They were to bring their tithes, offerings, sacrifices and special gifts vowed to the Lord to that central place of worship. This was commanded for several reasons:
--So everyone wouldn't sacrifice as they saw fit, independently v. 8
--So it wouldn't be just anywhere they pleased v. 13
--To rejoice corporately together v.12
--So the Levitical leaders wouldn't be neglected-they were the recipients of the tithes and had no allotment or inheritance of their own v. 19
--So they wouldn't worship God in the way the heathens worshipped their gods v. 31
Are we gathering with other believers regularly? It can keep us from all doing our own thing in our own way any way we please. We need the rejoicing-with-other-believers piece in our worship. Our gifts, sacrifices, and offerings encourage and inspire each other. God's design for support and livelihood for pastors is our tithes. How many leaders are being neglected? This meeting together thing, lastly, is a safe-guard against false worship and worshipping at foreign altars. The further we get from the real thing, the better we become at exploring alternate paths, reasoning with unreasonable things and losing discernment of God's truth and heart of love towards us. Who would have guessed Deuteronomy could be so contemporary! Forgive my independent spirit, Father! Help me love your church like you do.
"He has declared that he will set you in praise, fame and honor high above all the nations he has made and that you will be a people holy to the Lord your God , as he promised." v. 26:19. He still wants a holy people who belong to him. I want to be set apart for you and only you, Father!
"The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever..." v. 29:29. We'll never understand everything about this awesome God but: help me live in what I do know and to pass it on to the next generation.
"He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he." v.32:4
Take a camping trip soon! You never know what you may discover. That young man I wriggled into the family vacation became my fiancee on the trip!