I want peace.  I think we all want peace.  And I’m warned that in rebellion against God, I can say in my heart, “I shall have peace, even though I follow the dictates of my own heart.” (Deuteronomy 29:19)

Yet, peace won’t come apart from doing things God’s way.  These words become a grave warning that God gave to Israel, and they warn us today too.  The human heart is prone to following our own dictates, instead of God’s, and we’re also prone to declaring that we will have peace anyway.  Search your heart carefully, and admit you may have rehearsed this line a time or two when you knew God’s command, but you thought your circumstances required doing it your own way.

Let me paint the backdrop of the passage.  In both Leviticus 26, and Deuteronomy 28-30, the children of Israel were warned about the specific blessings of obedience, and the curses of disobedience.  The timeline of these two passages were separated by over 40 years.  In Leviticus, they had just come out of Egypt.  In Deuteronomy, they had experienced wilderness wandering for 40 years and were about to enter the land of promise. 

God begs them to never forget what He did for them.  In other words (my words), He said, “Don’t forget what I did you for by rescuing you from slavery in Egypt.  And don’t forget that you never lacked in these 40 years.  Your shoes didn’t wear, and I provided your every need.  Now, the training wheels will come off.  You will enter the land I’ve promised.  Here’s a reminder of all I’ve said.  Now go.  And I will bless you abundantly if you are willing and obey (Leviticus 26:21; Isaiah 1:19).”

We know Israel needed the warnings.  We know God would hold true to His word of both the blessings of obedience and the curses of disobedience.  We know they ultimately rebelled.  We know they experienced the difficulty of doing things contrary to God’s way.  

We also know that there is a little of Israel in all of us.   

One of my all time favorite quotes hangs on my refrigerator to serve as a reminder of the heart of God regarding my obedience.

“Sin doesn’t bring destruction because it’s forbidden.  It’s forbidden because it brings destruction.” 

God knows sin hurts.  It hurts relationships, it effects ourselves and others, and it harms the most important things to God – our hearts and our relationship with Him.  God gives them and us these words:

Deuteronomy 29:18-19 so that there may not be among you man or woman or family or tribe, whose heart turns away today from the Lord our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations, and that there may not be among you a root bearing bitterness or wormwood;  and so it may not happen, when he hears the words of this curse, that he blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall have peace, even though I follow the dictates of my heart’–as though the drunkard could be included with the sober.    

Today, may we be challenged to be a people that doesn’t look for peace outside of God’s boundaries of obedience.  In our rebellion of doing things outside of God’s way, when we hear the words of warning, may we not bless ourselves in our hearts and say, “I shall have peace” in this thing, or that, and then just continue on following the dictates of our own hearts.

Those are words that justify our choices and behaviors.  They are words of deception.  

Instead, may we be like Caleb, of whom God said at the beginning of Deuteronomy that he would possess the land, unlike others in his generation who had rebelled, because he wholly followed the Lord (Deuteronomy 1:36).

Do the right thing today.  God will bless it.  Let Him work out the details.  You and I just need to obey.  And perhaps the peace we long for will be ours.






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