After 40 years of wandering in the desert, you’d think that the Israelites would have learned their lesson. In the book of Numbers, we see the Israelites leaving Egypt behind, as they were challenged to obey God’s commands, have faith, and trust Him through what seemed like impossible circumstances. Miracles were performed before their very eyes, God Himself provided their daily needs, and the Promised Land was so very near. Yet, the Israelites complained and grumbled about their journey in the desert. They glorified their former lives in Egypt and whined about returning to slavery. They worshipped gods that they had formed with their hands, forsaking the one true God. And they died in that desert, never experiencing the fullness that God had in store for them.
Beginning in the book of Deuteronomy, we read the account of Moses standing east of the Jordan river before the children of that faithless generation. These children had witnessed their parents’ obedience and rebellion and the blessings and curses that resulted from their choices. Moses reminded the children once more of the history of the prior generation and reviewed God’s mighty works, the principles of Godly living, and the covenant of renewal that God wanted to make with them. He called them to love and obey the Lord, to keep His commandments and follow the Law, and to teach their children to do the same.
In Deuteronomy 11:26-28 we read, “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse—the blessing if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the Lord your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known.” Sadly, many of the children followed in the footsteps of their parents and taught their children to do the same. They chose rebellion and ended in destruction. The choice was up to them, and seemed simple. But taming their rebellious wills was not as easy. Yet, the ones who chose the way of obedience ended up on the path of blessings.
Rebellion begins like a sly snake whispering lies into our ears. If we believe those lies and replace them with the truth of God’s words, we choose a spiraling downward path that leads to destruction. And the worst part is, our children are watching and learning from us. If we show them how to rebel even in small ways, they, too, learn how to rebel. What messages are we sending our children, for example, when we fill up our schedules with nonsense and neglect time for prayer, worship, and reading and studying the Bible individually and together? What do our children learn when we prioritize time online over time at the dinner table? What gods do they see us worship? What paths are we modeling for our children…rebellion that leads to destruction or obedience that leads to blessing?
Take some time to reflect on Deuteronomy 11:26-28 today. Ask the Lord to reveal the path on which you are currently walking. The great news is, He always offers a better road when you set in your heart to obey Him, because He loves you and desires blessing for you and your children. The choice is yours. Choose to obey.