Friday, February 10, 2006

Deuteronomy Chapter One: A Need To Turn Away

I've been reading through Deuteronomy and have been seeing some things open up to me. I'll try to share one a week. Here is one on Deutronomy chapter one.


In Deut. 1:27 it says, "You grumbled in your tents and said, 'the Lord hates us, so he brought us out of Egypt to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us." Moses rebukes them, telling them, "Do not be terrified, do not be afraid of them. The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did in Egypt, before your very eyes" (1:29-30). Still they are afraid. Rather than hesitate, or stutter step, towards their land, they all together reject it. And then...enter God: "Not a man of this evil generation shall see the good land I swore to give your forefathers...And the little ones that you thought would be taken captive, your children who do not yet know good from bad--they will enter the land. I will give it to them and they will take possession of it. But as for you turn around and set towards the desert along the route to the Red Sea" (1:35, 39-40). Then, upon hearing this they try to atone, or put things right, for their sin. Instead of following God's new command and literally repenting (going back to the Red Sea), they say in effect, "Well, O.K. I guess I'll do it," this is akin to the child who tell his father that the task assigned him is to big:

"But Dad, the garage is huge, I really don't want to clean it; even if you will give it to me as my own hang-out space."
"Well then son, I'll discipline you."
"No, No, No--O.K I'll clean it."

In this analogy we see God's fierce desire to provide. Though God appears, at a first read, to be tyrannical a closer look shows us that the real picture is the tension that is naturally created between a holy and loving God and an obstinate and hard-headed people. God desires to bless his people with land and Israel, like spoiled children, tell him "No, it's just to much effort," even though Moses makes it clear that it will be God that will be providing everything they need to succeed in battle (1:29-30). God, instead, confers the promised land to a generation that do not yet know "right from wrong" (1:39b), perhaps implying that He will raise them up to know his ways, so that they will be fit for the promised land*.

Of course, they go anyway in so doing they reject the path of repentance of sin that God has laid out for them (1:40) and they fall deeper into sin by trying to make things "right" on their own terms, by attempting to atone for themselves. So, the end of the chapter is grim, "And you came back and wept before the Lord, but he paid no attention to your weeping and turned a deaf ear to you" (1:45).

*on this note the Bible is not explicit

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