Purging has almost become a national obsession in the United States with media outlets devoting time and space to the concept. People are instructed to sort through their “stuff” and throw out or give away according to this rule from de-cluttering guru Marie Kondo: “If it doesn’t spark joy,” get rid of it.
The word “purge” appears eleven times in the Book of Deuteronomy. It almost becomes a “same song, second verse” thing. Each of the eleven times the word “purge” appears, it says this or something very similar:
You must purge the evil from among you (Deuteronomy 17:7).
Does sin bring joy? Of course not. Nor does it please God. Jesus paid the price for humanity’s sin on the cross. How it must grieve Him when He sees people continuing in our sin. With the psalmist Christians need to cry out: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).
Prayer Suggestion: Lord, I give You full access to my life so You can point out the things that do not bring You joy in my life and show me how to rid myself of them.
Quicklook: Deuteronomy 17:2–7
People enjoy eating at buffet restaurants because they can choose only the food they want, including how big each serving is—two scoops of mashed potatoes. And they can pass up the things they don’t like—hold the broccoli.
Sadly, many take the same approach to God’s Word: “I’ll have a big helping of grace and forgiveness, but hold the judgment for disobeying God’s commands.”
Clearly, God expects complete obedience to all His commands—not just the ones with which one agrees.
See that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it (Deuteronomy 12:32).
Throughout today’s three chapters, Moses emphasizes complete obedience to God’s complete set of commandments—no picking and choosing. Deuteronomy 12:8 reminds them to stop doing only what was right in their own eyes—an attitude they displayed in the Book of Judges that brought them to their knees more than once.
Challenge for Today: “It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him” (Deuteronomy 13:4).
Quicklook: Deuteronomy 12:32–13:4
The company president got credit for increasing sales based on another manager’s suggestion. Who should get the credit? Quite often, people bask in the praise without acknowledging the one whose idea brought success.
Any time the people of Israel won a battle, they would think highly of themselves. Moses always managed to bring them back to reality.
After the LORD your God has driven them out before you, do not say to yourself, “The LORD has brought me here to take possession of this land because of my righteousness.” No, it is on account of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is going to drive them out (Deuteronomy 9:4).
God’s reasons for giving the Israelites victory had nothing to do with their prowess or military planning. He often used them to punish other nations for wickedness. And He did the same to the Israelites when they needed to experience the consequences of their disobedience and rebellion.
Challenge for Today: “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself . . . in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you” (Romans 12:3).
Quicklook: Deuteronomy 9:3–6
The new pastor preached a great sermon his first Sunday in town. He preached the same sermon the next week and did so for a couple more weeks. Eventually someone asked him why he was doing that.
“Well, sir, once I see the people living according to what I preach from God’s Word in that sermon, I’ll move on to another one.”
Moses seemed to preach the same sermon over and over, coming at the topic of sin from different angles, but always for the same reason: there is one God; honor Him by obeying His commandments.
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts (Deuteronomy 6:4–6).
And why were they to do that? Because He “is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments” (7:9).
Prayer Suggestion: God, show me how to make Your commandments part of who I am.
Following the rules is the best route to success. Obey the speed limit, and arrive without a speeding ticket. Measure recipe ingredients carefully, and enjoy delicious results. In the wood shop or at the sewing machine, follow the pattern, and the project will turn out well.
God’s formula for success is stated many ways throughout Scripture.
Deuteronomy 4:10 instructs the people to hear God’s words, learn to revere Him, and to teach their children God’s Word. Each step builds on the one before.
Further instructions were these:
Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below. . . . Keep his decrees and commands . . . so that . . . you may live long in the land the LORD your God gives you (Deuteronomy 4:39–40).
God still wants His people to acknowledge who He is and to be obedient, and He still blesses them for it.
Challenge for Today: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to [acknowledge] him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5–6).
Quicklook: Deuteronomy 4:35–40
Deuteronomy reviews Jewish history beginning with their deliverance from Egypt and their forty years of wandering in the wilderness. The author includes several examples of disobedience, including the consequences that followed.
“Go in and take the land,” God had said.
“But the current residents are too many and too big,” the people protested, taking their eyes off God and focusing on their human capabilities.
God responded with these words:
“Do not be terrified . . . The LORD your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt” (Deuteronomy 1:29–30).
The Israelites continued this cycle of obedience and rebellion as they trudged through the wilderness—led, by the way, by the Almighty God. Even millennia later, mankind is doing the same. God wants people to go one way and they head the opposite direction. God says to love neighbors, but people often fail to even give their neighbors a friendly greeting let alone show them God’s love.
Though for Today: How often do I know what God wants me to do and I answer, “But, God, that seems impossible”?
Quicklook: Deuteronomy 1:29–36