Deuteronomy is one of those key Old Testament books that talks about the responsibility that one generation of God's people has to the next generation that comes after it.
If you want to read something good on Deuteronomy and the spirituality of the word, there's a great chapter in Peter Adam's book Hearing God's Words that says it all much better than I could!
"Lay up these words of mine in your heart"
So the basic situation in Deuteronomy looks like this. The Israelites are on the brink of the promised land, about to enter it, and Moses talks to them about the role that God's Word – the words of the law of Moses and the reminder of what God has done for them to save them – will need to have in their lives and in the lives of generations to come when they cross the Jordan and go into the land. Here's part of what is said:
“You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.
The first thing I want to highlight from this passage is that before we need to hear about what we should be teaching to our kids, we need to be reminded about how we are to fix God's word in our own hearts.
Listening to God's Word
The whole book of Deuteronomy is full of reminders that God is a speaking God – he’s not an idol like the gods of the nations. So the kind of spirituality that his people ought to have is a listening spirituality – it’s a spirituality that is fed by and obedient to and responsive to his word.
Now, obviously the content of the word that we need to fix our hearts on this side of Jesus is a bigger word and a more glorious word than the Exodus story and the law of Moses that the Israelites were to focus on. For us, the story of salvation has reached its great climax in Jesus, and the pattern of how we are to live as God's people is set by the whole of the Bible, and we interpret it and apply it in the light of how it is fulfilled in Christ.
But those differences don't take away from the parallel between the role that the Word of God was meant to play for God's people back then and the role that the word plays for us today.
If we want to teach God's word to our children, we need to love God's word ourselves – we need to be reading it and meditating on it ourselves, day by day.
Making God's Word a priority
We need to be reading the Bible day by day so that we are growing spiritually and so we will have stuff to say to our kids as we are carrying out the ordinary activities of life together. It's not always about learning new things – in fact it's mostly not about learning new things. As it says again and again in Deuteronomy, it's about remembering what we already know and remembering who we belong to. The very act of opening the Bible and praying reminds us day by day of who we are and who God is and what our family lives for.
I don't think the Bible lays down laws about this – how many minutes, what format, what time of the day, and so on. And I don't think the Bible restricts us to just a 'daily quiet time' as the one way we feed on God's word and come to him in prayer. But I do think that places like Psalm 1 and Psalm 119 imply that Bible and prayer ought to be built in somehow into the rhythm of our days. It's one of the key means of grace that God has given us to sustain joy and faith and love and hope in our hearts. We need it for ourselves.
Nicole blogs at 168hrs.blogspot.com.au