What’s a moment from your life you know you’ll never forget?
I’ll never forget writing stories with my mom. I told a story, and she wrote it down. Then she told one, and I wrote hers down. I remember how joyful and completely content I was in those moments. I remember falling in love with writing.
I guess it stuck.
Just like for the Israelites – only they were stuck, in the desert, listening to Moses’ long, familiar sermon. Today’s section features rules about festivals, rules about the Passover, and even more rules. I don’t know about you, but I’m getting a little exhausted. This is not the first time the Israelites have heard these very words. This isn’t even the first time we’ve heard these words! Why are we going over this again? Doesn’t everyone get it by now?
Your memory is bad
If you surveyed the Israelites, they’d say yes, they do get it, and would you please point them in the direction of the milk and honey already?
But if you know anything about the Israelites, you know that although they got their milk and honey, they definitely didn’t fully get what Moses had taught them, what God had taught them. They violated God’s rules. They skipped the festivals. They defiled the things that God had declared holy. They even forgot what God had done for them, and started calling blocks of wood and stone their “gods”.
Moses’ words hadn’t stuck.
We know this. We have read this. We shake our heads over this. And while the Israelites’ story is quite a story, the central characters are more than just amusing antiheroes — they’re mirrors, reflections of you and me and how we all really are: forgetful.
Because we have our mountaintop experiences, our conversion experiences, our firsts in our relationship with God. We attend church. We call ourselves Christians. We insist that we believe in God.
It all looks and sounds very good, and probably even feels very good, but we’ve forgotten the core truth. We’ve forgotten what really matters. We’ve forgotten God’s laws, His words, His commands, His reminders, His warnings.
Casual, performant Christianity is more than just a problem, it’s a shame. It’s a thin imitation of what we should have. It means we’re missing out on real transformation, on our real God, and what He really can do for us.
The antidote is to go back. Back to the Bible, the words, the promises, and yes, the rules. Go over it again and again. Don’t just skim, study. Don’t just read, meditate. Don’t just listen, obey. Treat it like breathing, a necessity. Treat it like eating, an experience to savor.
Our memory will improve. We’ll taste and see just how good our real God is. And we’ll discover that this is the key to joy.
“I want you to be joyful.”
I don’t have to tell you that joy is not a common theme in our modern world. I don’t have to tell you that every last one of us hurts ourselves and others – easily, frequently.
God sees us. He watches us date the wrong people. He sees us fall into addictions. He knows our past traumas and our present fears.
He doesn’t want us to be like this. He is ready to listen to us. He’s anxious to forgive us. He’s been waiting to save us.
Yet, we don’t have joy. Why? We know God wants this for us.
That means the missing link must be our choice. It’s more than just a declaration, it’s a shift. It is our hearts insisting that we will know, love, and obey the real God and His words. And the instant God hears our hearts’ decision, He sends us the kind of power that raises dead people to life to make it so.
Try it, honestly. It will stick. And we’ll never forget the day our lives changed.
What do you think? Why do you think the Bible repeats the same things so many times? Have God’s words stuck with you?