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Follow your heart? Deuteronomy 11

In Summary: You are welcome to check the prior Deuteronomy entries to catch up on the setting at this point. I think it would belabor the point to rehash it all, so I’ll move on.

That is, after all, what Moses is doing in this chapter. We are through with the recapitulation of the journey and have moved on to the final preparation for the journey in. Moses is giving instructions for what the people are to inside the Promised Land.

It is noteworthy that the warning is consistently about idolatry. Not specifically about the making of graven images or carved images, but about the shifting of allegiances from YHWH, Covenant God of Israel, to other gods. Even with all that God had done for the Israelites, this remained their greatest danger.

It was an even greater danger than immorality! Most of the condemnation of immorality that comes on the Israelites in the years to come stem from the blending of immorality with the worship of idols. Their pursuit of wealth to the point of injustice also starts there: seeking more to build bigger idols.

This is certainly worth noting in our day. It is extraordinarily easy to find fault with immorality, and immorality is everywhere to be found. We should, perhaps, pay greater attention to where worship is centered than we do with what behavior occurs. Why? Because behavior follows worship. Focusing on behavior only makes an idol of the rules (or of breaking them!)

In Focus: I would like to put the focus on one particular verse today. Take a long, hard look at 11:16 about making sure your hearts are not deceived, and pulled away to worship another god.

The people of Israel are being warned here that they cannot trust their hearts to guide their worship. The heart can be deceived—and so “follow your heart” becomes bad advice. It is worth noting, though, that heart here implies not only emotions but the will and thoughts as well.

Every part of our decision making process is vulnerable to deception if we are not careful, not just our emotions. It is, however, preventable. A deceived heart is an option.

In Practice: If that is the case, then what do we do? How do we prevent the deception of our hearts?

First, we remember what God has done for us. How easily we forget, it seems, the distance that God has covered for us. Eternity is no small thing, and yet He came for us anyway. Our memory should be filled with the knowledge of what God has done, and this anchors us against drifting from His truth.

Second, we actively seek to learn His word. In this, we do not simply trust memory, for we are blessed to have an available Bible. The more we pour in the Word of God, the less likely we are to fall into deception.

Third, we join together with our fellow believers. Not a one of us are smart enough, nor committed enough, to walk alone before the Lord God Almighty. Let us join each other to strengthen and encourage, and hold one another close as we walk the path God has given us.

In Nerdiness: Just a short nerd moment in Deuteronomy 11:10. Moses refers to the use of the foot to water the land in Egypt. This is attested to by history as we see pictures of treadmill and pedal powered irrigation systems.

That’s right—we can see how these worked. And the difference in Egypt and Canaan? Rain. Rain watered the land, and there were myriads of small, seasonal streams. There was no need for major irrigation works to sustain life.


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