Have you ever had a song that just gets stuck in your head? Isn't it the most annoying thing in the world? Now that I have kids the songs I find myself stuck with are usually ones that are from the kids's sing along CD's we listen to in the car. Songs like one of my kids favorites, "Who built the ark? Noah! Noah! Who built the ark? Brother Noah built the ark....In came the animals two by two, hippopotamus and kangaroos..." well you you get the idea. (in case you really want this song stuck in your head too I have posted a link to a version of it) I have probably been whistling that tune at some point during the day, every day for the last 6 months. Anyway the point I want to make with this is simple. There are songs that we find irritating when they get stuck in our heads and there are songs that we love to have stuck in our heads. It is no secret that music helps us to remember things. That is why we often put simple things like counting and abc's into a song for kids to remember them by. It is amazing how the human brain processes lyrics at a much faster rate of retention by simply adding music. I think that we can all agree on this point.
Well the human race has not changed. What we do today as an aid to memory was done in ancient times as well. In fact we find this to be the case all throughout scripture. What is amazing, is that for most of us all we have to hear is the first few words, or even the first few notes in some cases, of a song and we could immediately start singing the whole thing from memory, even if there wasn't any music to accompany it. The same would have been true for many when they would hear the first line of a song from the book of Psalms for example. And the Pharisees would have known them frontwards and backwards because they had the scriptures memorized. Understanding all of that I encourage you to take a look at an example of this in action with Jesus when he was on the cross and cried out to God "My God, My God Why have you forsaken me?" This is in fact the very first line of Psalm 22. If you have never read Psalm 22, I encourage you to stop right now and read it, remembering the context of Christ hanging on the cross when he spoke this first line. Immediately, if for no one else except the Pharisees, this "song" would have started rattling through their brains, and I have to wonder if it got stuck there for several weeks after that brutal weekend, knowing what they saw, and knowing what happened.
Music has tremendous power. But as awesome as that example is I would like to bring it back to what we read in Deuteronomy.
Moses employs this technique here in today's reading to close out Deuteronomy. He puts into song a message to hopefully help Israel not forget it. Even though he knew that they would. In fact he states as much in Deut 31:27 - "For I know how rebellious and stiff-necked you are. If you have been rebellious against the Lord while I am still alive and with you, how much more will you rebel after I die!" And he said this AFTER Israel had just renewed the covenant. (see Pastor Marv's blog yesterday for some great comments on that)
Moses saw the writing on the wall and knew that Israel was going to be "faithfully challenged." So he writes them a song and assembles all the people to teach it to them. Thus we have have Deut chapter 32.
We don't have the time to unpack this song/chpater verse by verse but it is very clear that Moses is begging them, "Don't Forget!"
When we get to the end of the song Moses actually spells it out quite clearly that the entire purpose of this exercise was so that they would not forget and that they would have an easy way to pass this reminder on to the next generation. He understood that teaching kids songs helps them to remember things better and that if the kids got this into their hearts early that it would likely go much better for them later. He says in Deut32:46-47 "Take to heart these words I have solemnly declared to you today (the song he just taught them) so that you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of this law."
A lot of this is review from what we have read already to this point this year, but it is this next line that I believe sheds new light on the where Israel's heart had drifted and would eventually drift again. It is also a verse that we today should be challenged by, and it should cause us to put down our Bible and reflect on where we place God's word; and I mean really place God's word, in our lives. How is it that we view this book we call the Bible? Do we really believe that it holds the keys to living and to life? And these are not questions that I want you to answer quickly. Really think about this next verse in relation to your own life, and the choices you make regarding God's word (reading it, or not reading it, believing it, trusting it, obeying it, living it, sharing it, skimming it, forgetting it, using it to prove points or win arguments, Skipping parts of it, twisting it, rewriting it, using it at Holidays, pouring over it, Loving it, feeling empty without it....)
So here it is the verse that I believe will challenge you to your core if you stop and really REALLY spend some time prayerfully considering it and placing your life before the Lord asking him to expose what needs to be exposed, and to reveal the truth of your heart.
(speaking of the song he just taught them about Law / Gods's word / and the covenant)
"They are not just idle words for you - they are your life." - Deut 32:47
Are God's Words merely idle words that you like to use/read when they are convenient or are they your life?
God's desire is to have a relationship with you. He sent his Son pay a price for you that you could not pay. He has been writing this book for you so that you could understand what he was doing, why he was doing it and how you can be a part of it. We only need to pick it up and allow it to wash over us as we seek to know him more. Remember the goal of Bible study has never been and never will be to know the text better. The purpose of scripture and our goal should be nothing more than to know God better.