“And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the Lord is giving you. You shall not add to the word, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you. Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today? Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children… Watch yourselves very carefully… Beware lest you act corruptly by making a carved image for yourselves… The Lord has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be a people of his own inheritance, as you are this day… Take care, lest you forget the covenant of the Lord your God… Know that the Lord is God; there is no other besides him. Know today, and lay it to your heart, that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. Therefore you shall keep his statutes and his commandments, which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you.” Deuteronomy 4:1-2,6-9,15,16,20,23,35,39-40
In this season of graduation speeches, I have heard many snippets of “Follow your dreams,” “You can do anything,” “Challenge the establishment, keep pushing, be true to yourself, command your destiny.” What strikes me in the soundbites is the assumption of independence, shrugging off authority to assume personal control, setting a self-driven course fueled by personal desire with personal standards. The messages have little regard for universal truth, and mention of helping others is defined with temporal, self-serving vocabulary.
But for Israel, their commencement into a new land would carry a wholly different perspective. Their mission was holy and eternal, set by a loving Sovereign, their ever-present Power. His was their wisdom and understanding, His word their standard. Their identity as His was the greatest of privileges, a bestowment of grace, not an entitlement. Their God-given end was to know Him and live out His life here on earth. “To go well” requires the upward and outward posture, a humble acknowledgment that we are not our own but have been bought with a price, and carry a holy name and purpose. (John 20:31; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Ephesians 2:10)
Father, may I graduate from low thinking and selfish living to flourish as Your beloved in the land You appoint. Thank You for the honor of bearing Your name and banner.