By Ellen Ceely
When you come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance and have taken possession of it and live in it, you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from your land that the LORD your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket, and you shall go to the place that the LORD your God will choose, to make his name to dwell there. And you shall go to the priest who is in office at that time and say to him ‘I declare today to the LORD your God that I have come into the land that the LORD swore to our fathers to give us.… And the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great deeds of terror, with signs and wonders. And he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. And behold, now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground, which you, O LORD, have given me.’ And you shall set it down before the LORD your God and worship before the LORD your God.” – Deuteronomy 26:1–3, 8–10
Our human brain is wired to focus on the negative. Scientists have proven it: We focus on what has gone wrong and ignore what has gone well. Biologically, it’s a defense mechanism—a survival instinct to keep us from harm. But spiritually, negative thinking attacks our faith. We forget to celebrate the good things God has done. We fail to acknowledge the kindness and faithfulness of God.
In our passage today, Moses tells the Israelites what they’re supposed to do when everything God has promised comes to pass. The Israelites have been living in the wilderness for decades, and before that, they lived in slavery in Egypt for hundreds of years. They were living in a season of expectation, waiting for God’s promises to be fulfilled.
Moses instructs them not to forget to celebrate and praise God. “When you come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you,” Moses says, remember all that God has done. Remember all the ways that God worked out your circumstances for good. Remember that you were once foreigners and “aliens” with no place to live. Remember that God heard your cries and saved you from oppression.
“When you come into the land,” Moses exhorts the Israelites, remember to thank God for what he’s done. Go to the priest and bring an offering of thanksgiving for all God has provided and accomplished in your lives. Celebrate what God has done!
The Lord spoke to Moses “face to face” (Deuteronomy 5:4). Moses knows that our relationship with God is not a result of our own actions, and he doesn’t want the Israelites to fall into the sinful belief that they are better than others. So he calls them to acknowledge that every blessing is provided by the Lord. Remembrance creates much-needed humility. They were once oppressed. They were once strangers and aliens with no home to call their own. But by God’s grace, they have received “an inheritance to possess.”
Through faith in Jesus, we have “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven” (1 Peter 1:4). With the pattern set by Moses, let us respond in grateful humility and “worship before the Lord.”
What is your default perspective? Do you focus on what’s gone wrong or on how far you’ve come? Do you remember how God has provided for you? What’s one simple habit of gratitude that you can pursue to remember God’s faithfulness? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Let's face it, the Christian life is hard. Relationships take work. Christians forget. Sometimes it is tempting to go back to the days when God was not the center of our lives - to backslide. We are all faced with tremendous pressures to drift away from intimacy with Jesus and the community of the Church. However, the Lord invites us to pay attention, to move forward, to draw near, and to live lives of worship. Draw Near: Hebrews on Christian Worship is a small group Bible study on the Book of Hebrews intended to lead participants into a deeper intimacy with the living God in the context of New Testament worship. Draw nearer to God in authentic worship today!
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