I've been working through Deuteronomy this week for class. From blessings to curses and everything in between, this book's got it all. Undeniably there are some difficult things to swallow here. More than once the Lord commands the army of Israel to utterly annihilate the inhabitants of the Promised Land (we're talking men, women, and children). It also talks about Israel turning away from the Lord and worshiping other gods and doing every detestable thing imaginable, including mothers eating their babies! (Whoa. Intense, I know). One might conclude from this (and other Old Testament books) that this harsh and furious God is not the same one as in the New Testament. Well, let's explore a little further.
Deuteronomy means "repetition of the law." After one reading it's easy to see why. There is a lot of repetition. Why? Because the Israelites are hard-headed, stubborn, and rebellious people (just like you and me :). They are slow learners, hence the repetition. I said hence the repetition. Countless times the Israelites rebel against God, forgetting it was Him that brought them out of slavery in Egypt. They are an ungrateful bunch of complainers! If I were in God's position I'd probably smite them all with a snap of my fingers. Thankfully I'm not God because He doesn't do that. True, He gets mighty angry with them and there are always consequences for their sin, but He always gives them an opportunity to reconcile and repent. Why? Because He is teaching them grace. This is no doubt the same God we are so familiar with in the New Testament.
I cannot help but think how similar I am to those ungrateful Israelites. Like them, I have memory failure. I tend to forget all that God has done for me. He has done so much! He is constantly lavishing His grace upon me, yet I lose sight. I grumble just like those Israelites wandering in the desert. Worse yet, I turn my heart from God all too often. Yes, those Israelites were a stubborn people and so am I. I just can't seem to learn sometimes. Thankfully, our God is patient in every way. Though it may take a while, He will never stop teaching me the lesson of grace.