I’m ashamed to admit it, but I am forty-seven years old, I’ve been a Christian for most of my life, and I’ve just now read Deuteronomy in its entirety.
I don’t know why I missed Deuteronomy all those years of my Christian walk. Perhaps it didn’t seem so inspirational or motivational. Who knows? Regretfully, I overlooked it.
But, I am fascinated by Deuteronomy now.
Perhaps the reason that I’m so fascinated by this book is that I feel much like the Israelites must have felt as they reached the end of their forty years of wandering through the desert.
Deuteronomy opens with the Israelites waiting to cross into the Promise Land. They’ve been wandering aimlessly in the desert for forty years (which oddly enough is about as long as I’ve been a Christian) due to their disobedience.
But, before they can cross into this bountiful land of blessing and riches, God directs Moses to give them instructions.
The Israelites are preparing to access the promise of all promises! Freedom! Riches! A land of their own! An end to slavery and nomadic life.
But, God stopped them. Wait! I have something to say! And that is the entire book of Deuteronomy. God gives the Israelites a list of instructions on how to live in the Promise Land. He also teaches them a song, again through Moses, foretelling that the Israelites will begin turning their backs on God as soon as they get their first taste of the milk and honey they’d been hearing about for so long.
Finally, at the end of Deuteronomy, God tells Moses he is going to die without ever setting as much as a pinky toe in this land that was promised to him. But God does allow Moses to see the land before he dies.
That’s Deuteronomy, ya’ll. And as much as I’d like to say it’s just a bunch of Old Testament, talking donkey kind of history, it feels too much like my own life to discard as some sort of precautionary fable.
Recently, I fought for eight long months to be given permission to move to my own promise land with my kids. When we finally received permission, God patiently directed me to the perfect home in the perfect neighborhood in the perfect town. He even showered me with blessings like a general contractor and home inspector within my local church! There was so much of God’s provision, planning, and love in this move, there would be no way for any believing person to deny there was a divine hand moving things to make a way for my family.
But, when I got to my new beginning, it didn’t feel like an end worthy of celebration to me. Milk and honey it was not. The popcorn ceilings I hadn’t noticed when I first toured my home started to feel like they were caving in on me.
My toilet sat in the garage for weeks while the plumbing was repaired.
Even though there couldn’t have been any doubt in my mind that a mighty God had set me at that specific address at that specific time, I started to feel like maybe I had made a mistake.
I began to wonder if maybe another town would have been better. Or a different house.
Deuteronomy fascinates me because as much as I want to laugh at the Israelites for being so ignorant as to keep making the mistake of doubting the mightiness of God, as I read the verses, I realized I am cut from the same ignorant cloth as my ancestors.
God performed amazing miracles to set the Israelites free from captivity in Egypt. And He did the same for me when he released me from more than twenty years of captivity in a place I didn’t belong.
Yet, as soon as I got to my place of deliverance, I took it for granted and questioned the hand that delivered me.
New beginnings are interesting like that. You think you’ve grown so much getting to the place where God allows you to take that next step into His promise that you stumble right over your pride and fall face-first into a newfound humility.
And that is where I am, here, with my Bible open to Deuteronomy 30, claiming the promise God made through Moses and the Israelites. When they look to God, He will bless them. When they turn away from God, He will curse them.