Deuteronomy 4:44-5:5 – Read It. Learn It. Live It!: Sage Advice from Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Posted: December 15, 2016 in 05-Deuteronomy, 99-Uncategorized
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Deuteronomy 4:44-5:5

Introduction to Moses Second Address

I remember back in the 80s, one of my favorite teen movies was “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”. It was one of the better coming of age movies of the era. There was a scene where Jeff Spicoli (played by Sean Penn) and his stoner friends come into the local teen hangout and burger joint where Brad Hamilton (played by Judge Reinhold), a high schooler himself, was the manager. When Brad sees Jeff and his friends in the restaurant with no shirts on, he points them to the sign that says, “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service.” He tells them to “Read it. Learn it. Live it!” Sage advice from a burger joint manager who is just trying to figure out life himself.


That was a great saying though. It is pretty darned profound actually. More of us dads ought to heed that advice when we are putting our kids toys together on Christmas Eve night. Often, our kids seem to ask for toys when they are young and still believe in Santa Claus that require “some assembly required!” Some assembly required is a euphemism for “a whole heck of a lot of assembly required” or “extensive assembly required.” Often, we as dads starting putting these toys together without the instructions. We are smarter than the average bear, right? It’s just a toy, right? How complicated could it be, right? However, usually about half or three-quarters of the way through the assembly, we figure out that something’s wrong. The toy is not looking like it does on the packaging. We have too many screws left for what we have left to do. Then, we begrudgingly have to get the instructions out and realize that we put a part in the toy backwards or missed a part or something. We then have to deconstruct the toy and start over again. Only this time, we are following the assembly instructions and, guess what, it works. However, there may be some parts where you stripped out the screw holes because of your anger at having to dis-assemble and re-assemble. I had many such experiences when I was a young dad. As time goes on, though, you learn to follow the instructions from the beginning. But, hey, by that time, your kids don’t want toys anymore and they don’t need assembly.


I was recently able to put my new found wisdom to work, though. When we moved into our new home last month, there was no recessed area above the fireplace like at our old home where we could put our flat screen TV and all its associated audio/visual equipment. That was a pretty cool thing about our previous house. No at this house, it is a house where the main part of the structure (the living room, the bedrooms, the main bathroom, and the kitchen) were built in 1925. So spectacular fireplaces with recesses above them for flat screen TVs and audio/visual components was not even a thought. We had two choices. We could mount it on the wall. I just didn’t like that idea, even though that was what the previous owner had done. I guess I just did not trust my ability to fasten the framing to the wall where it would stay and not pull out when I hung the TV. My 46” flat screen is my baby so I could just see it come crashing down in the middle of the night and shattering to pieces. So, because of that fear, I went with purchasing an entertainment center. I found a great looking one online and ordered it. I knew there would be some assembly required. It’s a given when you order an entertainment center online. They don’t come assembled. But little did I know, this was not some assembly required. It was ALL ASSEMBLY REQUIRED. It was not some assembly. It was a whole freaking lot of assembly. It took me an hour just to separate out all the pieces to this thing into some organized fashion around the living room and in the little hallway between the bedrooms and bathroom. This thing had at least one hundred pieces to it and about a thousand screws, bolts, end caps, etc. Literally! The only way I was going to make sense of it all and be able to put the thing together was to follow the assembly instructions. This was too massive of a deal and it was going to be a centerpiece of our living room. I could not wing it on this project. There was no one central piece that you could identify as the starting point. You even had to read the instructions for that. Therefore, I studied the instructions for a good while before I even began working on this massive assembly project. It took two nights (most of it done on Sunday afternoon and evening, and then the final steps on Tuesday night) to get it done. I made some errors even with the instructions but the errors are not completely obvious. But I got it done. I did it by the letter of the instructions and it worked. I got it put together. Talk about proud. I am an accountant so most of the work I do is ethereal in nature so putting stuff together like this makes me proud. I can point to this thing and say, yeah, I put that together.


Reading the instructions. Following the instructions. Executing the instructions. Read it. Learn it. Live it. That’s what I thought about when I read through today’s passage, Deuteronomy 4:44-5:5, this morning:


44 This is the law Moses set before the Israelites. 45 These are the stipulations, decrees and laws Moses gave them when they came out of Egypt 46 and were in the valley near Beth Peor east of the Jordan, in the land of Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon and was defeated by Moses and the Israelites as they came out of Egypt. 47 They took possession of his land and the land of Og king of Bashan, the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan. 48 This land extended from Aroer on the rim of the Arnon Gorge to Mount Sirion[a] (that is, Hermon), 49 and included all the Arabah east of the Jordan, as far as the Dead Sea,[b] below the slopes of Pisgah.


5 Moses summoned all Israel and said:


Hear, Israel, the decrees and laws I declare in your hearing today. Learn them and be sure to follow them. 2 The Lord our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. 3 It was not with our ancestors[c] that the Lord made this covenant, but with us, with all of us who are alive here today. 4 The Lord spoke to you face to face out of the fire on the mountain. 5 (At that time I stood between the Lord and you to declare to you the word of the Lord, because you were afraid of the fire and did not go up the mountain.)


In verse 5:1, we see what I have been talking about. Hear. Learn. Follow. Later when Moses put pen to paper, it became Read it, learn it, live it for generations to follow including us today. The people of Israel had entered into a covenant with God and Moses commanded them to hear, learn and obey God’s regulations. Christians also have entered into a covenant with God through Jesus Christ and should be responsive to what God expects. Moses three-fold command to the Israelites provides excellent advice for all of God’s people, including us. Listening/Reading is absorbing and accepting information about God. Learning is understanding its meaning and implications. Obeying/Living It is putting into action all we have learned and understood. All three parts are essential to a growing relationship with God.


Read it. Learn it. Live it. How often do you and I just try to “live it” without “reading it” and “learning it”. We so often think we know ourselves. We take that arrogant attitude of a dad trying to assemble a toy without following the assembly instructions. We live our lives thinking that we know it all and that we do not need God’s instructions. We call His Word out of date and out of time and plunge headlong into our preferred sins because when we ignore God’s Word, our sins are OK to us. We are not being called out on them when we do not read God’s Word. We call it old-fashioned and discard it. However, God’s Word is eternal and we are just ignorant thinking we are smart compared to him. His Word is eternal truth. His Word is the assembly instructions to life.


Usually, it when we figure out that we have screwed our life up completely that we finally turn to the assembly instructions for life, The Bible. Wouldn’t be better for us to start with the assembly instructions from the beginning. You will still make mistakes but the trajectory of our lives will lead to Jesus Christ and the peace that He brings to our lives. We do not have to disassemble and reassemble our lives if we just follow God’s Word. Let us quit being arrogant people thinking that we know better than an almighty God. The Bible. Read it. Learn it. Live it!


Amen and Amen.

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