Not Just Idle Words

The summer after my sophomore year in high school I took Driver’s Education. In class, after watching graphic videos of the aftermath of terrible auto accidents, I was almost obsessively convinced to learn the rules of the road. Those real-life awful images of dead and torn up people stuck with me. Today, they still haunt me.

The instructors’ purpose in showing the movies was to powerfully convey the truth that an accident—even a deadly one—can happen to anyone, even a seemingly invulnerable teenager.

Don’t drink and drive, obey the traffic laws, don’t speed, pay attention, drive defensively, learn how to drive in rain, snow, dust storms, etc.

I heeded the warnings because I didn’t want to become one of those grisly statistics.

Today I was reading in the book of Deuteronomy. Moses is about to die, so he is giving his last instructions to his people and to Joshua, his successor.

He says: “Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, so that you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of this law. They are not just idle words for you—they are your life.” (Deut. 32: 45, 47 NIV Bible)

In the perspective of approximately 3500 years, Moses’s words have achieved prophetic significance. Israel vacillated between devotion to God’s law, and luke-warm lip service, if not indifference, to God. And each time the people of Israel ignored God, their society took a downward spiral, followed by God’s judgment.

I am saddened by the turn of events in our own country. Scandals, corruption, massive government debt, crime. And this sadness isn’t just directed toward the secular part of our society. This sadness includes the churches that should be reflecting God’s holiness.

I see our society turning its back on God, on morality, on respect for authority. I see a people who are caught up in the dizzying whirlwind of materialism, worship of celebrities, and narcissism. I see a people who are on a fast-track to destruction.

When God says: “Do not murder,” why, then, is it okay to kill the unborn? For any reason?

When God says: “Do not commit adultery,” why, then, is it okay to cheat on one’s spouse, divorce for any reason, shack up with someone to whom you have not committed yourself to legally in marriage?

When Jesus said, in prayer to His heavenly Father: “Thy word is truth,” why, then, do we decide that the Bible is old-fashioned and no longer fitted for our progressive ways of thinking? Or, just as bad, that only the parts of the Bible that are convenient for our lifestyle are acceptable?

Why do we think that laws can be obeyed or disobeyed based on our personal convenience? (Christians, do you speed in and out of church, cut off other people, treat other drivers rudely?)

Why do we ignore God’s directive for parents: “bring them (children) up in the training and instruction of the Lord” ? (Eph. 5: 4) Do we think God will applaud and reward us for letting our children:

  • choose their own path as they listen to and soak up the message of educators with godless agendas?
  • watch “funny” tv programs that show couples living without benefit of marriage?
  • listen to music that spouts violence toward women?
  •  wear immodest and disrespectful clothing because it’s not worth the battle to set limits?

Since God’s words are not idle words, let’s figure out how they fit in with our own lives in our daily actions and conversations.

The wonderful Words in the Bible are God’s Words. They are not just “idle words.” We ignore them, just like ancient Israel,—or modern-day parents— at our own peril.

“Turn my heart toward your statutes, and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things, preserve my life according to your word.”  (Psalm 119:  36, 37 NIV Bible)

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