Oh that They Had Such a Heart (Deuteronomy 5:29)

‘Oh that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me and keep all My commandments always, that it may be well with them and with their sons forever!’

Deuteronomy 5:29

This verse is challenging, encouraging, and more than a little exhorting this morning.

This verse is encouraging. In context, this is Moses repeating to Israel what God said about their states desire to be obedient. This is the heart of God on display. He’s not looking for reasons to swat people like bugs, as we so often think of Him. He hears our protests that we will do well or better or anything remotely resembling the good that He commands and He says, “I wish that were true.” He knows who and what we are. As the psalmist said, He is mindful that we are but dust. He knows that our protests will come to nothing. But He agrees with our desire to do right and wants to encourage it.

This verse is challenging. It is a blunt, in my face reminder that I will fail to do the things I resolve to do. As Paul would write in Romans 7: the thing I want to do is what I do not do, but the thing I do not want to do is precisely what I end up doing. I strive. I try. I resolve to do better and to lean more heavily on God and then, somewhere along the line, I forget my resolve and try to walk on my own and end up in failure, looking to God and resolving to do better again.

This verse is exhorting. I’m sitting in a kitchen filled with ants. My wife and I fought this battle when we moved into this apartment several years ago. I went through our apartment room by room and sprayed bug killer that clings to the surfaces through which the ants were coming. They keep finding new entries. As I sat and read, I found myself struggling to keep focus on God’s Word; struggling to not begin to mutter the strings of epithets and filth that filled my mind. So I kept reading. And reading. And reading. I’m still twitching at every sensation that feels even remotely like an ant crawling on me and trying to stay focused on this entry. That makes for an excellent illustration of sin and my best efforts. No matter how many openings I seal, sin finds a new way in. No matter how thorough I think my defense is, sin will always find the holes in it. I’m going to finish this entry and do some rage-cleaning, but I hope to carry this reminder with me that sin, like these ants, will find the holes in my defense and God already knows it. He knows where the holes are and wants to be the one to seal them. Were this apartment a place we owned, I’d be calling in professionals, but we do not own it, so the battle continues. Sounds an awful lot like the battle with sin in these bodies. And God hears my protests that I’ll call on Him to seal the holes in my spiritual home and that I’ll get out of the way and let Him work, but He knows that I won’t follow through. Not because I’m insincere or don’t want to make good, but because I am weak and He is mindful that I am bust dust.

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