Moses pleads with the people to get their hearts in order. Don’t be like their parents; stubborn and resisting God’s designs.
This generation is called to do something the last generation wouldn’t. They are called to “fear the Lord you God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord” (verse 12b-13a). In our last time together I talked about the first generation treating God like a “vending machine” except they didn’t think they had to put in any kind of “payment”, beyond grumbling, to get what they wanted. I honestly don’t think they “Feared” God.
They were certainly afraid when God struck them with some form of tragedy but they didn’t “fear” Him in between those moments. They didn’t change their behavior to prevent angering God. Someone who “fears” someone or something will do their best not to anger what they fear. A man afraid of heights is not going to climb up ladders just to see if the fear is still present. A child who fears dogs is not going to take a dog’s toy just to see what happens. They both understand that bad things happen when you tempt what you fear. Of course some fears are irrational but that doesn’t make them any less real nor the action to avoid them any less present.
God is not looking for a “cowering fear” but a respect and reverence of Who He is and what He is capable of. In all the times that Israel’s first generation forced God into action it was out of their disrespect of distrust of Him. Instead of simply asking God for His help they insult Him. “Why did He bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Weren’t there enough graves in Egypt?” Not once did the people petition God for help. Instead they griped and complained and blamed Him for their circumstances. They flatly refused to look to Him with love and respect. Yes, they performed the required sacrifices but they didn’t give Him their hearts. They did lip service.
Moses pleads with this next generation to give God their hearts. “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your hearts, and be no longer stubborn” (verse 16). Do away with the shell of stubbornness and self-sufficiency. You were never self-sufficient in the first place. God carried you all this way. Acknowledge that fact and give Him praise that is due. Let Him love you. “For the Lord YOUR God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God” (verse 17a). There is NO other god like Him!
There is NOTHING too difficult for Him. He knows what is BEST for each life. He LOVES us with His whole heart and wants our love in return. Follow His commands not simply out of fear for what might happen if you fail to do so but out of love. If you love someone you WANT to see them happy. You want to show them how much they mean to you. You treat them with respect. You show them your heart and eagerly search out theirs. You want to know everything about them. No detail is too small if it matters to the one you love. Love God this way! “With all your heart and with all your soul” (verse 12c).
Father God I don’t live in the times that the children of Israel are in You stories. In their lives they didn’t have Your completed promise of redemption. They lived under the weight of Your Law. But I live in Your age of grace. I don’t know if I “fear” You like they were supposed to. I CERTAINLY respect Your power and KNOW that You are above ALL else. I try my hardest to please You though because I love You and want Your love in return. I don’t fear You withholding it from me like they did.
My heart breaks for what the first generation put You through. My heart breaks for what I’ve put You through too. Thank You for loving me and never giving up on me. That’s the grace I’m SO grateful for. I pray I would have tried just as hard out of love and fear if I had lived in the times in Your word. What more can I do to show You my love? Let me be Your hands and feet, or maybe just fingers for now. Thank You that I can bring ANYTHING to You and trust You to show me where to go. Show me how to love.