I Found This In An Old Book...

I’ve been reading through the book of Deuteronomy lately and honestly I can say that I am not sure I would have made it during Old Testament times. There were so many rules and regulations, and I am confident I would have been scared to break a law and would have been in a fetal position somewhere in a corner just to try and exist. I joke with my husband now, but my psoriatic arthritis would have landed me on the outskirts of town for seven days before I could see the priest so he could determine if I was “clean” and could return home. While I might welcome the forced solitary vacation at this moment in my life, skin diseases usually represented something not good during those times.

Throughout Deuteronomy, Moses warned the people that God already knew they were going to sin again, again, and again. God would warn them, watch them sin, become angry, and then show some of them mercy. This cycle was on non-stop repeat. How frustrating it must have been and still be for God. 

“And the Lord said to Moses, ‘You will soon die. Then these people will not be loyal to me but will worship the foreign gods of the land they are entering. They will leave me, breaking the Agreement I made with them. Then I will become very angry at them, and I will leave them. I will turn away from them, and they will be destroyed. Many terrible things will happen to them. Then they will say, ‘It is because God is not with us that these terrible things are happening.’ I will surely turn away from them then, because they have done wrong and have turned to other gods. Now write down this song and teach it to the Israelites. Then have them sing it, because it will be my witness against them. When I bring them into the land I promised to their ancestors, a fertile land, they will eat as much as they want and get fat. Then they will turn to other gods and serve them. They will reject me and break my Agreement. Then when many troubles and terrible things happen to them, this song will testify against them, because the song will not be forgotten by their descendants. I know what they plan to do, even before I take them into the land I promised them.’” (Deuteronomy 31:16–22, New Century Version, emphasis added)

I’m currently reading Spirit Rising by Jim Cymbala. Cymbala pastors a large church called The Brooklyn Tabernacle. In the book, Pastor Cymbala says the Holy Spirit penetrates our lives and “goes beyond surface appearances to the root of our beings. The Spirit doesn’t put Band-Aids on anything — he goes to the core of your problems to provide help.” The Holy Spirit’s purpose is not to beat us down or condemn us, but he says the Spirit’s ministry “penetrates the heart, reveals sin, and vividly shows the need for Jesus Christ.”

As I have been reading Deuteronomy, I have continually prayed that the Spirit would reveal new things to me. It is so easy to gloss over this book filled with rules and regulations and think they don’t apply to us any longer, and that these are just words in a book. But day in and day out, this book has shown me the grace and love of God, and the life I have because of Jesus. God continually told the Israelites to love Him and put no other gods before Him. If the Israelites had consistently done this, their lives would have been so much better. Their eyes would have been so focused on God they would not have been swayed by all the shiny things in the new land God gave them.
God’s number one rule hasn’t changed. Even Jesus said the greatest commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind” (Matthew 22:37, ESV). While things may look a lot different today than they did during Moses’ time, we still have rules to follow. If we take our eyes off of God for just a moment and place them on other things, we can easily stumble and get caught up in the things of this world. 

Grace affords us the opportunity for eternal life, but whether we like it or not, as Christians we have standards to adhere to while on this earth. We can’t be Christ-bearers in willful disobedience and expect our fruit to be ripe and plentiful. I think this is why I love Jim Cymbala’s description of the Holy Spirit’s ministry within each one of us. The Holy Spirit doesn’t condemn or beat us down — that is certainly the job reserved for Satan — but he penetrates our heart to reveal our heart condition for our good and God’s glory.

As I read the book of Deuteronomy, I am convicted of some past and current sin. This book has revealed to me my incredible gratefulness for God’s abundant love for me. While He knew every turn I was going to make before I even made it, He never took His eyes off of me. And not only did He see me, but God also made sure Jesus made a way for me. Reviewing these rules and regulations has also reminded me how perfect and sinless Jesus was as a man. Never did Jesus sin or stumble…even with all of these rules. Not once! His perfection is continually being worked out in me through the power of the Holy Spirit. If I keep my eyes on Him, I am always looking at His perfection, not my lack thereof.

With open, submitted hearts, we can learn so much from the books in the Old Testament. Take the time to read them. I promise you will learn so much about not only your Savior but also about yourself. The Holy Spirit wants to help. Let Him.

Erin Olson

Founder and CEO of Sandalfeet Ministries

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