Deuteronomy 31:14-29 – When We Have Much, We Seem to Lose Sight of How We Got Here

Posted: May 3, 2017 in 05-Deuteronomy

Deuteronomy 31:14-29

Israel’s Disobedience Predicted

You often see it among families that have wealth and privilege. The father or grandfather has worked very hard to be successful and to amass the family fortune. They have busted their tail through hard work, business smarts, and good moral choices. They have paid their dues. They did whatever it took to take care of their families. Through hard work and dedication and a little luck, they struck on an idea whose time had come and amassed a family fortune.


Take Do Wan Chang for example. Do Won Chang and his wife, Jin Sook, moved to America from Korea in 1981. When they first arrived, Do Won was forced to work three jobs at the same time to support them, as a janitor, a gas station attendant, and in a coffee shop. Eventually, they were able to open their first clothing store in 1984. That one store grew into Forever 21, which pioneered fast fashion and is now a multi-national, 480 store empire that generates around $3 billion in sales a year. It’s a family business, with the couple’s daughters Linda and Esther helping to run the company. According to Business Insider magazine, Chang said, “Forever 21 gives hope to people who come here with almost nothing and that is a reward that humbles me: The fact that immigrants coming to America, much like I did, can come into a Forever 21 and know that all of this was started by a simple Korean immigrant with a dream.”


Another example of hard work paying off is Sam Walton. Walton’s family lived on a farm in Oklahoma during the Great Depression. In order to make ends meet, he helped his family out by milking the cow and driving the milk out to customers. He also delivered newspapers and sold magazine subscriptions. By 26, he was managing a variety store after graduating from the University of Missouri with a B.A. in economics. He used $5,000 from the army and a $20,000 loan from his father-in-law to buy a Ben Franklin variety store in Arkansas. He expanded the chain, and then went on to found Walmart and Sam’s Club. He died in 1992, leaving the company to his wife and children. Wal-Mart is now the largest corporation in the world with revenues greater than the gross national product of some small, underdeveloped countries.


These are great success stories that result from the hard work of the founders of these companies. Their children are usually driven to succeed just like their parents. They often build on the work of their founding parent. However, it always seems that after that second generation, the following generations fail to grasp the concept of the hard work of their forefathers. They grow up with privilege. They grow up with everything they could want or need. They never have had to struggle. And, because of that, they typically stay right on the edge of trouble with the law, if not outright in trouble. They live the party lifestyle. You’ve seen it. Paris Hilton, the Kardashians, and children of others who have generational wealth. They have no clue of what it takes to make it in the world. They do not know the meaning of hard work. They are victims, if you will, of the success of the generations of their family before them. They worship the party lifestyle. They worship money. They worship spending it. They are vapid, empty people who have no drive and no understanding of the world and certainly no understanding of who God is.


Just look at our nation in general compared to the generations before us. Our grandparents or great grandparents were born into the Depression era and lived through World War II. They knew what it was to do without. They knew how to save for the future. They certainly knew how to sacrifice. Just look at the massive power of manufacturing that produced the war machines that changed the fate of Europe and Asia. They had to sacrifice to make that happen and were willing to do that without a thought because they wanted to free the world from tyranny once and for all. Their generation was called the “greatest generation.” They created a nation that emerged from World War II as a superpower both economically and militarily. Now, we are nation of self-centered generations who have never known national sacrifice. We have never known where there was not new and improved. We have never known what it is truly do without. We are absorbed with ourselves. We are a nation of do whatever makes you feel good. We are Rome right before the fall. Every society that has unprecedented success and wealth always implodes upon itself because generations grow up thinking that they have a right to their privilege without the hard work of the generations past. We are growing progressively lax morally and ethically because we do not know what is like to really have to work hard and sacrifice. Does America still have a “greatest generation” left in it?


These are things that I thought of this morning when I read through Deuteronomy 31:14-29. Let’s read it together now:


14 The Lord said to Moses, “Now the day of your death is near. Call Joshua and present yourselves at the tent of meeting, where I will commission him.” So Moses and Joshua came and presented themselves at the tent of meeting.


15 Then the Lord appeared at the tent in a pillar of cloud, and the cloud stood over the entrance to the tent. 16 And the Lord said to Moses: “You are going to rest with your ancestors, and these people will soon prostitute themselves to the foreign gods of the land they are entering. They will forsake me and break the covenant I made with them. 17 And in that day I will become angry with them and forsake them; I will hide my face from them, and they will be destroyed. Many disasters and calamities will come on them, and in that day they will ask, ‘Have not these disasters come on us because our God is not with us?’ 18 And I will certainly hide my face in that day because of all their wickedness in turning to other gods.


19 “Now write down this song and teach it to the Israelites and have them sing it, so that it may be a witness for me against them. 20 When I have brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey, the land I promised on oath to their ancestors, and when they eat their fill and thrive, they will turn to other gods and worship them, rejecting me and breaking my covenant. 21 And when many disasters and calamities come on them, this song will testify against them, because it will not be forgotten by their descendants. I know what they are disposed to do, even before I bring them into the land I promised them on oath.” 22 So Moses wrote down this song that day and taught it to the Israelites.


23 The Lord gave this command to Joshua son of Nun: “Be strong and courageous, for you will bring the Israelites into the land I promised them on oath, and I myself will be with you.”


24 After Moses finished writing in a book the words of this law from beginning to end, 25 he gave this command to the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord: 26 “Take this Book of the Law and place it beside the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God. There it will remain as a witness against you. 27 For I know how rebellious and stiff-necked you are. If you have been rebellious against the Lord while I am still alive and with you, how much more will you rebel after I die! 28 Assemble before me all the elders of your tribes and all your officials, so that I can speak these words in their hearing and call the heavens and the earth to testify against them. 29 For I know that after my death you are sure to become utterly corrupt and to turn from the way I have commanded you. In days to come, disaster will fall on you because you will do evil in the sight of the Lord and arouse his anger by what your hands have made.”


Moses knew that the Israelites, in spite of all they had seen of God’s work, were rebellious at heart. They deserved God’s punishment, and would receive it from time to time. We, too, are a stubborn and rebellious people by nature. Throughout our lives we struggle with sin. Throughout our lives, we turn away from God even though we know of His great power. We must constantly be vigilant to not listen to the lies that we deserve to do this or do that because it feels good. We must constantly be aware of sin’s siren call on our lives. We must constantly be aware that sin has its consequences. We must learn that God’s desires for us is to keep us from harm. He does not lay down His commands to be controlling of us. He simply knows that straying from Him will lead us to destruction. It is a fact that proves itself out every day and in every generation. He simply loves us and wants us to turn away from that which is opposite of His desires for us.


However, He is a just God. He allows us to reap the results of our sins. God hates sin and we revel in thumbing our nose at Him. At some point, we must account for our sins. The wages of sin is death and we will be judged for how we have lived this life. We are sinners who will receive our judgment. We have committed so many sin crimes against God, we do not deserve His mercy. Just as Israel did not deserve the continuing mercies of God, neither do we. Just as spoiled rich kids that thumb their noses at their wealthy parents do not deserve the wealth they were born into, neither do we deserve the mercies of God. It is found only in turning away from sin and begging mercy of God through Jesus Christ that we have hope and a future. It is true for nations collectively and it is true for us individually.


May we be persons individually who understand that sin has its consequences, that sin is sin no matter how we lawyer it up and explain it away, that we do not deserve anything and owe everything to God through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. May we realize that we are sinners to the day we die and that we do not deserve the cross but it is only through the mercies of God that we survive. May we realize the desperate need we have for the mercy of God and live lives that are to please Him rather than our own egos.


May we be a nation that realizes exactly how blessed we are and that we do not deserve the wealth and privilege that we are born into. We do not deserve to be born here. It is simply a privilege. Help us to be a nation that, as a result of the unmerited gifts that we have been given, the privileges that we know, and be a nation that is thankful and obedient to God. May we be a nation that understands our privilege and obeys God as a result rather than thinking that we have this natural right to the trappings of our life. May we be a beacon to the rest of the world of a thankful and blessed people rather than a beacon of greed, self-centeredness, and unchecked desires.


May we always remember God and how it all comes from Him and obey His commands out of love and honor for Him rather than rebelling against Him.


Amen and Amen.

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