Take care lest you forget the LORD.
After centuries of bondage in a strange land and after decades of roaming around in the wilderness, God’s people were on the verge of possessing a land flowing with milk and honey. How often they had cried unto the Lord for deliverance and for a land of their own? How often had they dreamed of having houses, crops and wells? In Deuteronomy they find themselves preparing for the long awaited fulfillment of their dreams and prayers.
But as their anticipation heightened, Moses deemed it necessary to caution them about their mind. A very real threat presented itself. This threat was more dangerous than the giants in the land. It was the threat that in their victories and in their plenty, that they would forget the Lord.
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Full bellies often crowd out godly thinking. This is the reason that Moses provides them a second rendering of God’s law and recounts the works of the Lord as they prepare. On the positive side, Moses provided them with what Jesus would later cite as the greatest commandment, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might (Deuteronomy 6:5).”
Loving God was to be thoroughly saturated into their entire being. We humans tend to be better at this when we are in need or on the verge of important events. The real test comes when we find ourselves satisfied with the blessings God has provided.
So great is this tendency that Moses issues this warning about not forgetting the Lord three times in the space of only a few chapters. In chapter 4 of the book, he words it this way,
Only take care, and keep your soul diligently , lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life.
This warning focuses on the works which the Lord has done on their behalf. He promised their forefathers a land. He delivered them from Egypt. He brought them through the wilderness. He was bringing them into a land. Once settled, they would face the temptation to forget their history and think only of the present. That would be a mistake. If their history was relegated to the history books, they would begin to think that they were responsible for all that they possessed.
In the passage quoted at the beginning, the warning is not only to not forget the works of the Lord but to not forget the Lord himself. This is why Moses prefaced the greatest commandment with the theological truth about who the Lord is. Good God-centered theology will help you to see your current situation in light of the Lord. You will be mindful that we have been graced by the mighty God.
In chapter 8 Moses again reminds them not to forget the Lord.
Take care lest you forget the LORD your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today.
This time he spells out the wide range of blessings they have received as potential pitfalls. Once they had food, houses, herds, livestock, silver and gold, they would be tempted to find contentment in these things. They would be tempted to trust in these things or themselves as the possessors of these things.
How prevalent is the Lord in your mind today? Moses provided the best way to make sure you don’t forget the Lord and his ways. Talk about him when you sit. Talk of him when you walk. Talk of him when you lie down. Talk of him when you rise up.