Thought for the Day by Hilary Larkin (St Chad’s)
Today’s reading from Deuteronomy comes towards the end of Moses’ farewell address to the people of Israel, just before they are about to enter the Promised Land. He wanted to prepare them for life in Canaan and he tells them to listen to the voice of God and obey Him and they would be generously blessed.
God would bless them in the city and in the country. He would bless their children and their land, their livestock, calves and lambs, their bread bowl and kneading trough. Their enemies would be defeated, their land, workplaces and barns would be blessed. There would be plenty of rain and their crops would grow. In fact everything they might wish for to settle comfortably in their new land. They were to obey God and follow the covenant God had made with them and not turn aside. If they did not obey they would suffer many curses. The choice was up to Israel.
God is slow to anger and swift to show mercy, He wanted to bless the people and for them to be established as His Holy People. He wanted a loving relationship with them and for the world to come to know God by witnessing the blessings he’d bestowed on them, but they would be tested.
‘All the peoples on Earth will see you living under the Name of God and hold you in respectful awe’Deuteronomy 28:10
If there wasn’t a relationship all the material blessings would be empty. At a much later time when the Queen of Sheba came to visit Solomon and saw that he ruled wisely and that the nation was blessed, she saw a connection between his wisdom and the God he served and acknowledged God with praise. So many of the Kings of Israel at this time worshipped other gods and sought wealth and power and ruled wickedly.
How does this relate to us? I think its’ the relationship we have with God that is the Important thing. God loves us and wants us to be committed to Him.
However comfortable and well provided for that we are, if we live just to satisfy our own needs and ‘worship’ material things (ie they become our overiding focus) it can lead to greed and selfishness. It doesn’t necessarily bring happiness and we lose our focus on God.
In Peter’s letter to the scattered 1st Century Christians, who were experiencing much political and social persecution for their faith, he tells them that they must expect fierce trials and not be surprised if they suffer.
‘Friends when life gets really difficult don’t jump to conclusions that God isn’t on the job. Instead be glad that you are in the thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.’The Message, 1 Peter 4: 12-13
Maybe Peter wanted to shock his hearers into being more committed to their faith in God. Sometimes we need to be shocked out of our complacency and be tested.
Perhaps we should ponder on how much we are committed to our faith and how far we are willing to stand out as Christians. What might the temptations be? What art the risks? What are the benefits?