If You Are Loyal to the Lord,
Moses said to Israel:
1The Lord is your God, so you must always love him and obey his laws and teachings. 2Remember, he corrected you and not your children. You are the ones who saw the Lord use his great power 3 when he worked miracles in Egypt, making terrible things happen to the king and all his people. 4 And when the Egyptian army chased you in their chariots, you saw the Lord drown them and their horses in the Red Sea. Egypt still suffers from that defeat!
5You saw what the Lord did for you while you were in the desert, right up to the time you arrived here. 6 And you saw how the Lord made the ground open up in the middle of our camp underneath the tents of Dathan and Abiram, who were swallowed up along with their families, their animals, and their tents.
7With your own eyes, you saw the Lord's mighty power do all these things.
8Soon you will cross the Jordan River, and if you obey the laws and teachings I'm giving you today, you will be strong enough to conquer the land 9that the Lord promised your ancestors and their descendants. It's rich with milk and honey, and you will live there and enjoy it for a long time. 10It's better land than you had in Egypt, where you had to struggle just to water your crops. 11But the hills and valleys in the promised land are watered by rain from heaven, 12because the Lord your God keeps his eye on this land and takes care of it all year long.
13 The Lord your God commands you to love him and to serve him with all your heart and soul. If you obey him, 14-15he will send rain at the right seasons, so you will have more than enough food, wine, and olive oil, and there will be plenty of grass for your cattle.
16But watch out! You will be tempted to turn your backs on the Lord. And if you worship other gods, 17the Lord will become angry and keep the rain from falling. Nothing will grow in your fields, and you will die and disappear from the good land that the Lord is giving you.
18 Memorize these laws and think about them. Write down copies and tie them to your wrists and your foreheads to help you obey them. 19Teach them to your children. Talk about them all the time—whether you're at home or walking along the road or going to bed at night, or getting up in the morning. 20Write them on the door frames of your homes and on your town gates. 21Then you and your descendants will live a long time in the land that the Lord promised your ancestors. Your families will live there as long as the sky is above the earth.
22Love the Lord your God faithfully and obey all the laws and teachings I'm giving you today. If you live the way the Lord wants, 23he will help you take the land. And even though the nations there are more powerful than you, the Lord will force them to leave when you attack. 24 You will capture the land everywhere you go, from the Southern Desert to the Lebanon Mountains, and from the Euphrates River west to the Mediterranean Sea. 25No one will be able to stand up to you. The Lord will make everyone terrified of you, just as he promised.
26You have a choice—do you want the Lord to bless you, or do you want him to put a curse on you? 27Today I am giving you his laws, and if you obey him, he will bless you. 28But if you disobey him and worship those gods that have never done anything for you, the Lord will put a curse on you.
29 After the Lord your God helps you take the land, you must have a ceremony where you announce his blessings from Mount Gerizim and his curses from Mount Ebal. 30You know that these two mountains are west of the Jordan River in land now controlled by the Canaanites living in the Jordan River valley. The mountains are west of the road near the sacred trees of Moreh on the other side of Gilgal.
31Soon you will cross the Jordan River to conquer the land that the Lord your God is giving you. And when you have settled there, 32be careful to obey his laws and teachings that I am giving you today.
Moses was a master preacher. His speeches are a guide for this emerging nation-state. Following these rules Israel can become the example. Surrounding nations will recognize God’s love for all humanity, and the creatures too. But Moses was more than a powerful preacher. He was also the accomplished teacher, a master of his craft.
Now he gives us his secret. Do you want to be remembered? Here is how it is done. “You saw it with your own eyes!” It is there right in front of you. The land is a glowing and overflowing example of God’s love for you and for his creation. So love, serve and obey God. The first lesson in both preaching and teaching is to have a memorable message, and place it in an unforgettable setting. Remember, the land is extraordinary.
Moses’ three-point approach is to teach, to talk and to write about the goodness of God. Do it every day, and do it in everything you do. Jesus too was a master teacher. And his approach was just like Moses’. Notice how Jesus draws on every day events. He looks carefully at the creatures surrounding him – fishing and field, market-place and home. His eye is tuned to relationships with the creation. “Don’t worry”, he says. “You are worth more than the flowers of the field.” The Father has a relationship with every creature. So he is sure to take care of you as well. This was Moses’ story too. “Remember” he said, God loves you and has his eye on the land. “Always love the Lord and obey his laws and teachings”, he reminds them. “Love,”“obey” and “serve” are the guidelines of life. Keep drawing inside the boundaries and you are bound to have a beautiful result.
Creator God, Lord of the universe, you have opened the door of creation. We are on your stage, under your direction. A world of rich possibilities opens before us. Let our lives be expressions of love and obedience from the time we rise to the end of this day. Guide us Lord we pray in Jesus’ name.
Dr. Wood is Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies at The King's University and Dean of the Natural Sciences Faculty. His research is on urban ecology, campus sustainability and food insects. John was born in Japan, grew up on a clear-cut in western Washington State and attended North Park University in Chicago. He has written and spoken widely on caring for creation to church and campus groups. His recent publications include: How Then Shall We Eat? Insect-Eating Attitudes and Sustainable Foodways; Stewarding the gift of land: Christian campuses as land management models; and Sustainable Missions: Ethical Principles for Holistic Practice in a Broken World.