Throughout this book, the last book of the Torah, we hear Moshe (Moses) constantly remind the people about all the good that God has done for them, and constantly warn them against turning away from God. Over and over he reminds them of the mighty acts performed by God, of how God has gone before them in battle and he reinforces the fact that God will continue to go before them, as long as they keep their side of the covenant.
He also chastises them regarding how rebellious they have been; he reminds them of all the places where they rebelled, and how God punished them as a result of their stiff-necked, rebellious attitudes. And Moses doesn’t fail to lay a guilt trip on them, either, retelling how he suffered on account of them, fasted for 40 days (twice!) so that God would not destroy them, and so forth.
We find also the foundation for many of the messages that the Prophets gave and of what Yeshua taught. For instance, in the last parashah we were given the 10 Commandments, the V’Ahavtah, and the Shema. In this parashah, Deuteronomy 10:12-13 must be the basis for Micah 6:8-9:
And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him, and to to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul; to keep for thy good the commandments of the Lord, and His statues, which I command thee this day?
Micah 6:8-9: He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Over and over, again and again, Moses tells the people not to fear or look to their own strength for success. They are not to forget, when they are relaxed, happy and blessed, that it is because God provided all this for them that they are so well off. Moses also tells them, in no uncertain way, the reason that God is going ahead of Israel and destroying the nations currently living in the land is because those people have polluted the land with their sinfulness. Israel is not being given the land because they deserve it- they are being used to rid the land of the pestilence that is in it. And, after having done so, Moses tells them that if they fall into the same pattern of sinfulness and pollute the land, that they, also, will be thrown out of it.
How often do we, today, forget to credit God as the provider of our goodness? I hear people more than willing to blame God for their problems, for illness and financial ruin: “Why me, God? What have I done?” People are fast to blame the Lord for their problems, and very, VERY slow to accept their responsibility for what they are going through. Yet, when things are going well and they have more than they need, do they praise God? Do they thank the Lord for His provision? Do they remember what it was like and appreciate all that God has done to bring them to where they are now?
I am afraid that it doesn’t always seem that way. We are fast to accept responsibility for our success, and fast to blame God for our failures. The fact is, it is almost always the other way around: we are the reason for our failures and God is the cause of our success.
I am often blessed to teach on Shabbat, and when I get compliments from people I am quick (and this is NOT false modesty) to say if it was that good, then it wasn’t from me. When I do something really well, I give the credit to God for the leading of His Ruach (Spirit) and the gifts He gave me; when I totally screw something up, that’s when I can take full credit.
We need to apply every single warning that Moses gave to the Israelites to our own lives. We need to be careful not to pollute what God has given us by our sins, and not to allow things in our life to separate us from God . What would those things be? They could be sports, money, Face Book, Porn, video games…anything that brings you to a place where you are focused on yourself and not on God. Now, don’t get me wrong- I am not saying that being a baseball fan or managing your finances is sinful, but when it becomes a wedge between you and your worship, then you have a problem. As an example, watching baseball is not a problem, but watching it at the expense of being a husband and father, well, that is not right. If you begin to idolize the baseball players and begin gambling, then you have a problem. If you are so busy trying to attain wealth by working yourself to a frazzle, ignoring family and friends, then you have a problem. If you are spending half your life on Face Book or Twitter, you need to shut the computer off and talk to someone face-to-face.
Do you see my point? We should not be so intent and focused on something that it becomes a barrier to our relationships with God, family and friends. Brothers and Sisters, please believe me when I say that IM’ing people on Face Book or sending emails is not really how we should communicate.
And we should not ever think that the success we have in life is due to our own power. I have a gift for teaching, which has been confirmed by others: and it is not something I gave myself, it is from God. When I use it to glorify and honor Him, I am using it correctly. When I use it for my own purposes, to glorify myself, I am misusing it and that will result in failure.
If you ever find yourself wondering why something you do well is not working, try to remember the last time you thanked God for His provision and gifts, and ask yourself if you have been using your talents to glorify God. I am willing to bet you will then find the answer to why things aren’t working.