“But be assured today that the Lord your God is the one who goes
across ahead of you like a devouring fire…It is not because of your
righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of
their land; but on account of the wickedness of these nations,
the Lord your God will drive them out before you, to accomplish
what he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”
Deuteronomy 9:3,5 (New International Version)
Over the past couple of months, I have been slowly making my way through The Source, a novel by James A. Michener about a modern archaeological dig and the site’s significance in Jewish history . . . geographically, politically, and religiously.
I am quite fond of Michener novels. His books are long (this one happens to be just over 900 pages…and that’s with tiny print, y’all!) and extremely detailed, tend to span thousands of years, are packed with accurate historical data (he must have had quite the team of researchers!), and his stories of intertwined generations are wonderfully written.
The fact that I’ve been reading this one “slowly” is in no way a reflection on the quality of the novel; I simply have a severe lack of time to engage in what I tend to label “reading for pleasure.” So it has been nice to have a couple of weeks where life has slowed down enough to pick-up the reading pace.
Thus last week, I came to a place in the story where Dr. Cullinane (an archaeologist from America) asked Dr. Eliav (a Jewish archeologist from Israel) about new material to read in order to better understand the Jews. And after Eliav first mentioned several Jewish scholars that Cullinane had already read, the conversation took this turn:
Eliav: There’s one better.
Eliav: Read Deuteronomy five times.
Cullinane: Are you kidding?
Eliav: No. Deuteronomy. Five times.
Cullinane: What’s your thought?
Eliav: It’s the greatest central book of the Jews and if you
master it you’ll understand us.
Cullinane: But is it worth five readings?
Ultimately, following this exchange, Cullinane did read Deuteronomy five times. In various translations. Including a translation by Jewish scholars.
In the process of reading Deuteronomy over the next few days, and as the history began to come alive for Cullinane, these two central characters discussed certain aspects and details of Deuteronomy.
Details that I had forgotten.
Details that I had never really learned.
Details that were of questionable accuracy.
And it was that last one that made me stop and think:
“If a fictional character such as Cullinane can read Deuteronomy five times in varying translations for mostly academic purposes, shouldn’t I take a moment to at least check the accuracy of this particular element to really KNOW what’s in GOD’S WORD?”
Nevermindthefact that it was already late in the evening, I set about to check a few facts . . . and [save for a couple of chapters which I had read earlier in the day] ended up reading the ENTIRE book in one sitting!
Unfortunately, to best check the questionable elements, I still need to read the translation by Jewish scholars, which I fully intend to do, but just as it had for Cullinane, the book of Deuteronomy, which is [quite literally] the “second law”, or a re-statement of the law given to Moses, came very much alive that evening.
In one simple and rather fast-paced reading, I was struck by the following:
The Lord our God very much wants to bless His people/children.
Disobedience (aka: sin) is serious business.
The Lord our God demands that we be faithful to His standards (and although we are no longer “under the Old Testament law”, this truth remains).
The Lord our God is faithful…even when I am not.
And so I introduce you to my Deuteronomy Challenge 2011 (on 1/11/11, no less…):
Regardless of the context (whether it be in a novel, in a movie, or even in church), whenever (and yes. I truly mean that. in every sense of the word.) a situation arises in which the accuracy of Scripture is called into question OR the memory of Scripture is insufficient/incomplete . . . commit to going straight to the source, the Word of God.
And trust that through this commitment to testing and knowing Scripture, God will be faithful and reveal truth through His Word . . . every. single. time.
“Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you
or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have
to ask, ‘Who will ascend into heaven to get it
and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?’
No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth
and in you heart so you may obey it.”
Deuteronomy 29:11-14 (NIV)