Bible in a Year – Day 62: Fair Warning
Maintaining unity and community is a difficult thing to do, especially when you have a really large number of people and people who are somewhat disgruntled. It seems to be part of human nature that when we aren’t happy, we either withdraw to our selves, grumble to other people or, in the worst scenario, we do both. We find other people who agree with our grumbling and, as a group, we withdraw and grumble together.
I’m guessing that this is the kind of behavior the God, through Moses, is trying to discourage by setting up one dedicated place where the people are to come worship. You see, if the people all have to go to the same place to worship, then they don’t have the luxury of just withdrawing into their own tribes – at least not all of the time.
Can you imagine what would have happened if Moses had told the people that they could each set up a place of worship in their own town and worship there. How quickly would people have simply withdrawn with “their own people” and turned inward. Disunity would have pulled the people of Israel apart, which, during this God-granted peacetime may not have seemed like a big deal. However, there will come a time down the road where the people of Israel will need to stand together as a people (and their failure to do so will be their downfall).
As is so often the case, God is making every effort to educate people in their own nature – trying to help them understand what is almost certain to happen and giving them steps to avoid it. You can hear the urgency in Moses’ writing as if he is worried that he won’t be able to get all of his instructions written down. He is a desperate man trying to save his people from a lot of suffering. And yet, there isn’t much he can do.
We’ve all seen this scenario play out in our own lives. I remember when I was a kid, my grandparents had a tall block wall along one side of their house. My parents warned me not to walk along the top of that wall or I would fall and hurt myself. Of course, I didn’t heed their warning and, naturally, I fell off that wall, scraped my leg, got some other bruises and was fortunate I didn’t break an arm or a leg.
Just like my parents knew I probably wasn’t going to listen to their safety advice, Moses probably knew that the people of Israel wouldn’t listen to his advice about where and how to worship. He certainly seemed to know that they would not only be tempted to follow other gods, but that they would, indeed, fall into that trap and suffer the consequences. But like a good parent, Moses tried. He did everything he could do to warn the people of the consequences of certain actions (and to remind them of the rewards of other actions.)
I have to wonder, to what degree did Moses know that he was writing in vain? How much were these writings meant for the people he was leading and how much were they meant for future generations – those who had suffered the consequences and were looking back on past writings in a search for the meaning of it all.
- TED Talk Tuesday: The Future of Lying
- Bible in a Year – Day 353: Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing
- Bible in a Year – Day 335: Oh, Man!
- Bible in a Year – Day 319: Make the Most of It
- Bible in a Year – Day 284: Jesus’ Cleaning Service
- Bible in a Year – Day 282: Divorce Realities
- Bible in a Year – Day 281: Faithful Dog
- Bible in a Year – Day 269: Win-Win
- Bible in a Year – Day 266: Famine of God
- Bible in a Year – Day 265: Not Impressed