The Scriptorium

You Gotta Have Heart

And Israel did not. Deuteronomy 29.2-9

The Covenant Renewed: Deuteronomy 29  (2)

Opening Prayer: Psalm 139.23, 24
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139.23, 24

(Ripley: Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah, O My Soul)
Search my heart, O Lord, and know me, as You only, Lord, can do.
Test my thoughts and contemplations, whether they be vain or true.
Let there be no sin in me, Lord, nothing that Your Spirit grieves.
Lead me in the righteous way, Lord, unto everlasting peace!

Today’s Text: Deuteronomy 29.2-9

Preparation

1. How had the people experienced the love and blessings of God?

2. What were they yet lacking so that they would obey Him?

Mediation
This is now the third time Moses has told the people that they did not have a heart for God (Deut. 5.29; 10.16). Three times Moses said that, without a heart circumcised to love God, the people would not be able to obey His Law and enter His blessings. I can’t help but wonder why the people didn’t cry out earnestly for such a heart. When Jesus once mentioned living water to the woman at the well, she pleaded with Him to give it to her (Jn. 4.13-15). What was keeping the people of Israel from doing the same?

I suspect their minds were so clouded with the precious and very great promises of blessing they’d just heard, that they were more focused on those than on the Lord Himself.

The rest of this section is given to reminding the people yet again of the many ways God had shown His grace and love for them (vv. 2, 3, 5-8). He never failed them, provided for them in all their ways, showed them great signs and mysteries, and overthrew all their enemies. Out of gratitude, therefore, and the fear of God, the people should “keep the words of this covenant, and do them, that you may prosper in all you do” (v. 9).

Not a hand went up to ask, “Excuse me, Moses, but shouldn’t we ask God to give us the heart He says we need?” As we will see in chapter 30, even though the people did not ask for such a heart, God promised to give it to them. But not to this generation. And not for many generations to come. Except for a handful of faithful people here and there, who sought the Lord with all their heart, and called on Him to cleanse their hearts of sin, Israel would fall woefully short of the promised blessings of God, betrayed by deceitful and wicked hearts (Jer. 17.9). You gotta have heart to love and serve God, and you can only get such a heart from Him.

Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
While pondering the name of a shoe store years ago, our daughter Ashley had a flash of insight. An “Aha!” moment. Rather than the store being named after Mr. and Mrs. Payless, it was named Payless because you, well, pay less. It was an epiphany of such grandness that it has become embedded in our family’s vernacular as a “PayLess Moment.” And while we’re on the subject of shoes, here the Israelites were, wearing the same shoes and clothes for forty years, and they haven’t worn out yet(v. 5). Still good. Still useable. Still a really good buy. The Israelites needed a “PayLess Moment” about God, Who had taken care of them all those years – food to eat, water to drink, clothes and shoes, and all while working off a disciplinary action of God against them. Moses wants them to look at their sturdy shoes and know that the LORD is God (v. 6). God calls them to love Him, see Him, hear and obey Him, and to observe His commandments (v. 9). Do we need a “PayLess Moment” of our own? Like Nicodemus, when he asked, “How can these things be?” Jesus chided him: “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” (Jn. 3.9-12) We don’t need to wander in the desert for forty years because Jesus has taken care of that for us. But we do need to love, see, hear, and obey this One Who has given us shoes that don’t wear out and a heart to know Him.

Reflection
1. What daily blessings of the Lord are you in danger of overlooking? Why must we not fail to give God thanks for His constant provision?

2. What would you say are the primary characteristics of a heart committed to the Lord?

3. How can believers encourage one another to keep our hearts fervently devoted to the Lord?

he does not merely condemn their senselessness, and blindness, and deafness, but declares that they were thus senseless, and blind, and deaf, because they were not inspired with grace from above to profit duly by so many lessons. Thence we learn that a clear and powerful understanding is a special gift of the Spirit, since men are ever blind even in the brightest light, until they have been enlightened by God. John Calvin (1506-1564), Commentary on Deuteronomy 29.4

Set my heart to know and love You, Lord, so that I…

Closing Prayer: Psalm 139.1-18
Thank God for having made you, saved you, and called you to be part of His set-aside people. Pray that you will know His Presence with you throughout this day. Praise and thank Him as you are aware of His Presence.

Psalm 139.1-18
(Ripley: Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah, O My Soul)
You have searched me, Lord, and known me, when I sit and when I rise;
From afar, my thoughts discerning, all my path before You lies.
Every word, before it’s spoken, You behold and know it well.
Both behind me and before me, Your sweet presence I can tell!

Just to know this is more wondrous than my seeking soul can know.
From Your ever-present Spirit there is nowhere I can go.
Whether high above the heaven or below the earth in hell,
even there Your hand shall lead me and Your Right Hand hold me well!

Neither light nor dark conceals me; day as night is with You, Lord!
All my inward parts You fashioned by Your all-decreeing Word.
Praise the Lord, for You have made me; all Your wondrous works I’ll tell!
All Your works declare Your glory, and my soul knows this full well!

All my unformed frame You witnessed when You destined all my days.
Precious to me, Lord, Your precepts; all Your wondrous Word I praise.
More than sand, Your thoughts to me, Lord, far too vast their sum for me!
When the morning breaks upon me, in Your presence I shall be.

T. M. and Susie Moore

Listen to our summary of last week’s study in Deuteronomy by clicking here. You can download all the studies in the series by clicking here. And check out our current ReVision series on encouragement.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers from
Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy: Ancient Christian Commentary Series III, Joseph T. Lienhard, S. J. ed. in collaboration with Ronnie J. Rombs, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2001). All quotations from John Calvin from John Calvin, Commentaries on The Four Last Books of Moses Arranged in the Order of A Harmony, Rev. Charles William Bingham M. A., tr. and ed. (Edinburgh: The Calvin Translation Society, 1863. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore