Wisdom, Provision, Joy

Wisdom, Provision, Joy

Some of what we encounter in the book of Deuteronomy strikes us as strange and obscure (which will be true of anything written for people who lived thousands of years ago). But at the heart of Deuteronomy is a God who wants to make a covenant with his people. Deuteronomy is God’s way of saying, “Come, my beloved, let us enter into covenant relationship with each other and let us express the ways in which we will practice our faithfulness to each another.” Before Moses gets into the specifics of what this practiced faithfulness will look like, he starts by looking at the big picture. “Israel, listen to the commandments I am teaching you to observe so that you may live to enter and occupy the land the LORD is giving you.” (Deuteronomy 4:1) I hope you’re listening, says Moses. I hope you’re putting yourself in a posture of listening and openness, because what’s at stake is nothing less than living your life with all the provision and joy that God created you to experience.

When we listen to and truly receive God’s instruction and become realigned to God’s will, Moses goes on to say, “this will show your wisdom and discernment to the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and discerning people!’” The Old Testament law, the Torah (Genesis through Deuteronomy) can often receive the unfair characterization of being only a list of burdensome rules that God once imposed on his people all the while knowing they would fail. But that’s not how Moses speaks of God’s law and instruction here. Here the law is what makes us wise, what creates better understanding and discernment and healthier decision making. For Moses, to receive God’s will and instruction is to become wise, but also to further bless the world around us, to show the world something it won’t see anywhere else.

In the following chapter, Moses reiterates the ten commandments, the instruction to not chase after idols, after work and endless productivity, to let go of the need to steal and covet and lie and commit violence, that is, the need to live in a false reality that bends people and objects and outcomes to our own will. The ten commandments draw our hearts and minds back to the reality in which God is present with us right here and now with nothing left over to chase after and covet. If we want an example of what wisdom looks like in the book of Deuteronomy, this is a pretty good place to start. And when we live in the wisdom and justice toward which the ten commandments draw us, the world around us will inevitably say, “There’s a wisdom in Israel, in the Church that the rest of us haven’t discovered. Those people have figured something out that the rest of us are still fumbling around to find.”

Because God is generous toward us with provision and instruction, with his presence, with life itself – because God is so abundantly generous with these things, we, Church, are being made and remade – made wise and discerning and prayerful and just. So we will put roots down in prayer, in scripture and in praise. And our lives will bear God’s fruit of wisdom and justice, and we will experience life with the provision and joy God created us to experience.


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