The Top Of The Mountain
You have lived at the top of the mountain long enough.
Deuteronomy 1:6 Ė Walker paraphrase
Iím going to switch from my normal study mode, and today chat with you in devotional mode. Deuteronomy means quite literally ďsecond law.Ē More practically, it is the second giving of the law. And the whole book lends itself to devotion. I will say openly that I reworded todayís focus verse to suit my purpose Ė though I in no way took a pithy catchphrase and ran with it. The commandments of the second giving appear, just as in the first giving of the law. But they tend to speak more to the person in you, than to the lawyer in you. If you are into long passage Bible memory, go straight to Deuteronomy 6. It is a brilliant description of what a God-decorated house looks like.
In an earlier comment, I described Deuteronomy as a pep rally. And I stand by that description. It is the pre-game locker room speech. It is Mosesí last message to the people before Game Time in Jericho. I dare you to finish each day where the assignment markers say to Ė and not to yield to the temptation to read ahead a few chapters every now and then. If there is an Old Testament book you canít put down, Deuteronomy is that book.
Deuteronomy 6:4 is to Israel as John 3:16 is to the Church. The verse is called the ďSchmaĒ Ė the Hebrew word for LISTEN! Not so coincidentally it is the first word of Deuteronomy 6:4. And itís easy to find in the Hebrew text. If the Masoretic scribes were editing a bible today, Iím fairly sure they would highlight the verse in glitter. And music would play when your Bible opened to that page Ė much like some greeting cards do today when opened.
Every Christian knows that when Christ was tempted in the wilderness, He defeated temptation with Scripture. If you look carefully at your reference study Bible, you may notice that Jesus defeated temptation with Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy is not void of insider talk to Israel. But rarely will you read a passage in Deuteronomy and dismiss it as Old Testament. There is one chronicled event in Deuteronomy, and that appears in the final verses.
But Deuteronomy is completely Israel-centered. It discusses the state of Israel then, of Israel now, and of Israel future. Deuteronomy contains the first biblical reference to the Church Ė and it is one verse long. It may annoy you that Iím going to wait until we get there to point to it. But it may annoy you even more when you see how little the verse says Ė notwithstanding it says it in a rather profound manner. But in a similar manner, just as Moses is preparing to take Israel into the Promised Land, we also get our first glimpse of prophetic Israel entering the Kingdom.
But the first task is to get ourselves off this mountain. Nobody likes change. When a politician campaigns for change, he always means that someone elseís behavior and accountability will change. He certainly isnít suggesting that members of his audience need to change. If our Church shifts from one to two services, we groan. If it changes back to one service, we groan. We get too comfortable in our ways. We like it. It becomes as though we have reached the top of the mountain, and we are never ready to leave. And the words grind on us when someone comes along saying ďYou have lived at the top of the mountain long enough.Ē
Itís time for new challenges, new goals, new endeavors. The old goals that once were a challenge are too easy for you to achieve. They have become outdated, and it is time to re-forge the direction you are heading Ė even if it means that at first, you will come short of your new goals.
You have lived at the top of the mountain long enough. Itís time for you to get out of your Sunday School seat, and sit facing the other way. Itís time to assume leadership roles in the Church. Itís time to expand your vision of what Godís will is for you in the universal Church. Itís time to take on a new level of Bible study; itís time to take classes. This mountain youíve been living on: congratulate yourself on reaching the top. But move on.
Donít worry about if someone is already standing where you are heading. He has also lived at the top of the mountain long enough. He is just about to leave anyway. You have lived at the top of the mountain long enough.
When Moses spoke those words, he continued speaking until his dying breath. And no Knute Rockne speech ever motivated so many people for so many centuries. When Moses was done talking, Israel came down from the mountain, crossed a river, sounded the trumpet, and a whole new world opened up for them.
I donít know what new world awaits you. You will have to move down off your mountain to find out. You have lived at the top of your mountain long enough.
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