Tuesday, 1 January 2019
Mr Detlef Stegen
“A heart to understand”
These are the words of the covenant that the Lord commanded Moses to make with the people of Israel in the land of Moab besides the covenant that he had made with them at Horeb. And Moses summoned all Israel and said to them: “You have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs, and those great wonders. But to this day the Lord has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear.” Deuteronomy 29:1-4 ESV
It is the grace of God that He anointed a man like Moses to save the Israelites out of a land of slavery. How thankful the Israelites should be for Moses? Where would they be today without Moses? Many people choose to be loners, thinking they can serve God and be a blessing by being alone, by walking their way, according to their understanding and revelation. If God has led you and if He has anointed someone to be of help to you, do not shun the leadership given to you maybe by trying to use your own reasoning in situations in a human and fleshly manner.
Isn’t it wonderful to have parents? To have a God-fearing father and to be part of a family with a God-fearing mother? These parents wish the best for their children. We have just celebrated the birth of the Christ child when God came down to save us out of a wretched and lost age. Parents who truly care for their children will discipline them. Human rights activists say children should have the right to grow up as they want to. There are good human rights but there are also evil human rights. Evil children shun correction and discipline. It is not pleasant to be corrected and chastised. If you require discipline, willingly submit to correction then you will learn to cherish the love of your parents. Read your Bible and find out what true love is.
Rebellious children wait until the secular world gives them the right to leave home and then they are on their own. Christian, do not behave like a rebellious child. Love corrects and reprimands but some Christians are very touchy. Do not say that you never expected this kind of treatment from your fellow Christians and that your co-workers should be soft on you. Jesus selected His disciples but at times He had to be very harsh with them. At one time He had 70 disciples and they deserted Him because they said, “This is a hard saying who can endure it?” He asked the 12 disciples if they also wanted to leave. These are great trials that your eyes have possibly seen or not seen before. On one occasion Jesus called His chief disciple a Satan because he saw things as man sees and not as God i.e. he did not have the feeling that God wanted him to have, he reacted like a heathen who did not know God.
A rebellious son may say that his parents do not understand him. Do not point at people or your fellow Christians, ask yourself, does God understand me? We should be pleasers of God and not pleasers of men. Moses endured Egypt. He endured 40 years in the wilderness leading a rebellious people. He entreated God on behalf of the people, asking God not to destroy them. God listened to the plea of Moses. He was able to speak to God as a man speaks to a man. He could move God’s heart.
The Israelites were on their way to Canaan. Moses sent spies to spy out the land that God had promised. The 12 spies who were the heads of every tribe, returned with a report. Of the 12, only 2 brought back a good report – Joshua and Caleb. This was a decisive moment for Israel. Maybe they did not know how decisive this opportunity or trial was for them. 10 spies focused on the giants they would have to face. I do not know whether they had meeting to decide what answer to give to Moses. Possibly they said they would have to fight giants in this so-called Promised Land and so questioned Moses’ leadership.
The Lord commanded Moses to speak to Israel. But to this day the Lord has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear. This was such a decisive occurrence. Little did they know that this was the time they signed their own destiny. God said that they could not enter Canaan. God sent them into the wilderness where one by one these fathers died in the 40 years there. They aroused God’s anger. God swore that not one of those men would enter Canaan, only Joshua and Caleb. Friends, this was under the old covenant and we are living in the new covenant. You may say God was too harsh. God is still the same. His heart can still bleed and be disappointed. In the new covenant God’s anger can still consume. All these men had to die in the wilderness because of their unbelief, because they distrusted and did not honour God’s instruction. The younger men were then called by Moses and the covenant was renewed by them.
These are shocking words that we read here: …the Lord has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear. Sometimes we need to live by faith not by sight. Sometimes you need to shut your ears to what people say, what your flesh says and what your natural instincts tell you. You need to be careful about what people say, what they see and what their understanding is lest you go against God and endanger your own life. It is far better to cry out and ask for an understanding mind and heart. Ask God to show you what He wants you to hear and see.
When Christ was born He came in a way in which the believers of that time, the scribes and those who professed to be religious, but they did not recognise Him even though they knew the scriptures – their eyes were not opened. Mary, the virgin, could hear the voice from heaven. God could speak to Joseph in his sleep and tell him to take Mary as his wife as this was of the Holy Spirit. Joseph cared for the child until we do not hear of him anymore. What about the priest and prophetess in the temple? It was revealed to them. Have you seen and heard Him? Or must Moses say about you ‘But to this day the Lord has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear.’
It is good to remind ourselves of those things which will pull you heavenward to the heavenly Canaan. We often remember the things that pull us to hell and tear us apart. We remember things that should be washed away by the blood of Christ to be remembered no more. Forget those things which you should not remember and remember the things you should.
Is it your heart’s cry that as you enter this new year that you see things as God sees them? May you hear things that are from God and not from human knowledge, human resentment and human grudges. Why do we cling onto that which is not wholesome? Rather cling onto that which is good, pure and up building. Moses told these people “You have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs, and those great wonders.” Did your heart remain untouched? Did you follow the masses? Did you follow others? You need to follow Christ. He will reward you. Is there a reward waiting for you? If you are unsure, start working. The Bible warns us that someone else could rob you of your crown. Someone else will take your place. That which is of self and needs to die, let it die in the wilderness. Get rid of it.
We live in the new covenant. We can be cleansed through the blood of Christ of every wrong thing that your human eye has seen. You can be cleansed from all those things your ears are inclined to listen to. You can be cleansed of the feelings and the reasoning of your heart. You can be washed of it all. You can be whiter than snow. Isn’t that good news? Isn’t that a wonderful way of proceeding into the new year? With new eyes and ears and a heart that is cleansed. You can be a new creature. Throw away your old life and your misery. What good tidings! No one should be as happy as we are!
Appendix Mr Dietmar Joosten
Parents and children – when the spies entered Canaan they were at a crossroad. Your children will bring you to a crossroad where you have to make a choice which can have eternal consequences. I do not think that children understand what they do to their parents when they bring them to these crossroads. Children can even divide their parents through what they are doing. God will not stop disciplining you because He gets tired, like a parent possibly. May we hear, see and understand. It is not because the parent does not love the child but because the parent wants to be obedient to what God has instructed them. The parents want God’s blessing to be on this gift God has given them as parents.
This word has challenged me for years. God says that He has not opened your ears. Can you imagine such a thing possible? The Bible says God hardened the heart of Pharaoh. In Luke 24:45 He opened the understanding of His disciples. See how dependent we are on our Lord. It should not be how we think it should go or what others tell us. The Lord opened their understanding. Plead with Him that your eyes and ears will be opened. You may think you understand, you hear, you see but that could be your own imagination, your own feelings, your own thoughts.
May our ears and eyes be opened this year to what God is doing.