Read Deuteronomy 6
History repeats itself…In the book of Genesis, the story of beginnings, family systems replicated questionable actions generation after generation (think, “She’s my sister, not my wife!”). In the book of Exodus, the Israelites wandered in the desert—around and around, complaining about circumstances, forgetting God, and forming idols—around and around. In the books of Leviticus and Numbers, God had to lay out guidelines for living over and again, because history kept repeating itself!
It must be something in our nature that prevents us from learning from the mistakes of others, and instead making the same mistakes ourselves…Ignorance? Stubbornness? Pride? Indeed, I think we all caught it in the Fall.
So, it’s no surprise, in Deuteronomy, when Moses gives his 34 chapter farewell address, that the basis of the speech hinges on a little blurb in chapter 6. Known as the Shema to our Jewish brothers and sisters, Deuteronomy 6:4 (coming from the Hebrew “to hear”) says, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” The following verses say, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframe of your houses and on your gates.”
In other words: remember, remember, remember.
Did an exasperated teacher or parent ever say to you, “Do you need a reminder written on your forehead?!” Well, this started with Moses apparently, “Tie [the commandments] as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.”
Israel couldn’t stay on the straight and narrow, and neither can we, without constant reminders. But it all boils down to this “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. ” Orient your lives toward God. Remember. Turn your gaze toward the Lord. Remember. Fix your feet on the path of the Spirit. Remember. It all boils down to the orientation of our hearts—toward God or toward idols. When you hear the word idol, you may think ancient statue, but an idol is anything that we orient our hearts towards, other than God.
How many times we forget this simple idea! But like a sunflower, head facing directly into the light, for nourishment, sustenance, and growth; so too, our lives would be so much better lived if we oriented our hearts toward God for nourishment, sustenance, and growth. Just as red poppies remind us of fallen heroes, consider sunflowers as a reminder of how our lives ought to be oriented toward God.
What is getting in the way of you orienting your life toward Jesus? In what ways have you forgotten God? What helps you remember God, and remember the bigger picture of why we were created?