In Chapters 9-11 of Deuteronomy, Moses reminds the Israelites of all that has happened in their past. He reminds them how stubborn they have been toward God; he reminds them of all that God has done for them, bringing them out of the land of Egypt and through the wilderness; he reminds them that he prayed God would not destroy them but keep His covenant with them according to His promise.
God tells them that the Promised Land will not be like Egypt, where they worked laboriously but reaped none of the benefit. God promises them rain for their land (v. 14). To me, this implies that the work they put into their land will be profitable because God will supply the right kind of weather to give them a good crop. He says He will drive out all the enemies from the land little by little. He says if they keep His commands, they will be blessed, but if they turn from His commands, they will be cursed.
Finally, in Chapter 11:31, He says they shall go over the Jordan to the land God is giving them and they “shall possess and live in it.”
What does it mean to “live” in the land that God has given us to possess? What is “living” by God’s definition?
In our media-driven culture, where we see images of the rich and famous everyday, where we even see evidence of the powerful things God is doing through the great Bible teachers and evangelists of our times, it is tempting to buy in to Satan’s lie that our lives don’t have much value because we are not doing something BIG. We are not winning souls to Christ by the thousands; we are not feeding the hungry by the millions; we are not leading oversize crowds in worship. What are we doing anyway? Are we living? Are we missing out? Are we not doing our part? So what does it mean to live? It is evident that not all of us can be called to preach to thousands or sing to millions. But we still have value. We are still living.
Look back at the earlier verses in Chapter 11:14-20. Here is a clue to God’s definition of living. I see five things God lists.
- Work: Verse 14 says, “Gather in your grain, wine, and oil.” This implies the work that we do on a daily basis to gain what we need to survive. We have jobs and family responsibilities. This work is a part of living.
- Health and Fellowship: Verse 15 says, “Eat and be full.” This verse implies health and fellowship. Eating is essential to living. It gives us energy to do work. It provides nutrients to our body. It often provides opportunity for fellowship. Many activities that we enjoy with family and friends include breaking bread together. To be full implies not only enough food to eat, but the joy that comes from living the abundant life God has promised.
- Study: Verse 18 says, “You shall lay up my words in your [minds and hearts] and in your entire being…” We cannot lay up God’s Word if we do not study. Study involves individual study and devotions, as well as hearing the Word through church services and other means available to us. “Bind them for a sign upon (our) hands and as forehead bands between (our) eyes” implies keeping God’s Word ever before us. That may include memorizing Scripture, “hiding God’s Word in our hearts,” so that we will be able to keep His commands and use the Word as a weapon when temptation comes before us.
- Teach: Verse 19 says, “Teach them to your children, speaking of them when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you rise up.” That pretty much implies every day, all the time. Take everyday moments as opportunities to teach the children in your life about God and His statutes. This may mean your own children, your grandchildren, or any children you come into contact with during the course of your weekly activities.
- Share and witness: Verse 20 says, “Write them upon your doorposts of your house and on your gates.” This implies to me that others should be aware of your testimony. If you are writing God’s Word on your doorpost, people are going to see it. Take opportunities to share God’s Word with others, both as a witness to unbelievers and as an encouragement to brothers and sisters in the Lord.
All of us do work, eat, and have some kind of fellowship. But what about studying, teaching, and sharing? Are we doing these as frequently as we could? If not, perhaps that is why we wonder if we are living. When we are in God’s Word, He continually directs us, leading us to new ways to do all the things that constitute living in Him. I believe if we do these things, our lives will be full and abundant, and we won’t have to wonder if we are accomplishing things for the Kingdom. God’s Word gives us the guidance we need to live the lives He planned for us.
Until next time. . .