2/20/23 Devotional from Ed
February 20, 2023
Text: Deuteronomy 6:1-15
1Now this is the commandment — the statutes and the ordinances — that the LORD your God charged me to teach you to observe in the land that you are about to cross into and occupy, 2so that you and your children and your children’s children, may fear the LORD your God all the days of your life, and keep all his decrees and his commandments that I am commanding you, so that your days may be long. 3Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe them diligently, so that it may go well with you, and so that you may multiply greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, has promised you.
4Hear, O Israel: The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. 5You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. 6Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. 7Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. 8Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, 9and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
10When the LORD your God has brought you into the land that he swore to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you — a land with fine, large cities that you did not build, 11houses filled with all sorts of goods that you did not fill, hewn cisterns that you did not hew, vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant — and when you have eaten your fill, 12take care that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 13The LORD your God you shall fear; him you shall serve, and by his name alone you shall swear. 14Do not follow other gods, any of the gods of the peoples who are all around you, 15because the LORD your God, who is present with you, is a jealous God. The anger of the LORD your God would be kindled against you and he would destroy you from the face of the earth.
Devotional: When I read verse 12, I'm immediately drawn to "take care," which seems soft in the context of this entire passage. Since verse 15 reminds us that the "anger of the Lord could destroy us," shouldn't we do more than "take care" that we do not forget the Lord?
The original Hebrew, which has been translated in our pew Bibles as "take care," actually can be translated as "lest you forget the Lord." I like that better, especially because I picture hearing that from an older, wiser, senior mentor who casually reminds me on the way out the door that I'm indebted to someone or something.
In this case, we're indebted to God, the God who gives each of us life and has one "simple" expectation: see verse 5. And despite these words we hear or read often in church, we mess it up. As we confess each Sunday during worship, we fall short of loving God or loving our neighbor to God's expectations. I consider the prayer of confession, coupled with an assurance of pardon, as a "lest you forget" reminder that we suffer from being human. However, the good news we hear in the assurance of pardon is another "lest you forget" that God is faithful and cleanses us from unrighteousness. The key, though, is repenting and turning toward God.
On Wednesday during the Ash Wednesday service (or drive-through imposition), we will be reminded of our sinful nature, but we will also have another chance to turn to God and repent. And when those ashes are placed on our forehead or hands, we receive a reminder of our overall place in the world: To dust we were born, and to dust we will return. God is God, and we are not.
Lest we forget that we need the creator and forgiving God.
Prayer: Cleanse us, dear God, from all unrighteousness. Wash us thoroughly from our iniquities. Amen.