"If at that time [after Israel loses everything due to disobedience to God]
you and your children return to the Lord your God,
and if you obey with all your heart and all your soul
all the commands I have given you today...
Deuteronomy 30:2 (NLT)
God, your God, will cut away the thick calluses on your heart
and your children's hearts, freeing you to love God, your God,
with your whole heart and soul and live, really live."
Deuteronomy 30:6 (The Message)
You know what I love most about this whole section of Deuteronomy (Chapters 28-30)? At first, it sounds just awful - horrifying really - what God says will happen if the Israelites break God's commands and begin to worship other gods. Cannibalism?! Even cannibalism of our own children?! I mean, can you even imagine making the decision to eat a person, let alone your very own child?! It's horrific! If I knew that this was a possibility if I broke God's command, I'd like to think that would be enough to stop me from sinning.
Unfortunately, I'm a sinner. I was born a sinner. I was destined to be a sinner even while in my mother's womb. I don't stand a chance. Of course, now that Christ has come, I DO stand a chance, thanks to his sacrifice. But, back in Old Testament days, there was no Christ. It was: You sin. You suffer. But, despite all that - God still showed his love for his people. His mercy.
So many people think that the Old Testament is just a bunch of rules and laws and it's all about God's wrath. *wary grin* I used to think that about the Old Testament. But, the Old Testament is really chock-full of God's amazing mercy!
You see, almost every time God tells the Israelites what bad will happen to them, he then goes into: but if you turn from your sin and come back to God, ________ blessings will come upon you. And here in Deuteronomy 30 there is no exception. God could just give up on us humans. I mean, we sin time and time again - usually the same sin we just repented for the day before - or even the hour before! I'm sure he gets pretty fed up with our antics at times! Yet, even here in Deuteronomy he says that if we come back to God and love him with all our hearts, he will cut away the calluses on our heart which will free us to love God with all our hearts and souls and we will really live. And then, he lists everything the Israelites will get in blessings for having done so.
What an amazing Father he is! I mean, seriously, how many of us parents give our kids a consequence for their misbehavior - and in the same breath say, "Oh, but if you turn from your sin I'm going to give you ________ blessing and _________ blessing and _________ blessing!"? [said in the perfect game-show-host tone of voice] We don't usually do this because we want to know that our child is serious about their behavior becoming right. But, God does this with us. He is so gracious to us! He loves us so incredibly much that my brain can't even comprehend how to measure it!
I mean - who wouldn't want a Father like that?! Who punishes justly when we sin, yet offers us hope in the same breath? So amazing! And what a wonderful example for us as parents to strive for. When disciplining our children, are we making them feel like failures who will never be able to measure up, let alone escape from God's wrath? Or are we building them up, teaching them that despite their sin, they can measure up thanks to Jesus; that they do have hope for their future!?