Being Careful Listeners and Doers of God’s Word

Written on: March 1, 2024

Article by: Brian Thompson

Deuteronomy 6

There’s a Sunday school song that our congregation sings from time to time with the children prior to their class. It is entitled, “Oh, Be Careful” and it speaks of the need to be careful in four different ways. Be careful little eyes with what you see. Be careful little ears what you hear. Be careful little hands what you do and be careful little mouth what you say. Why the warning to be careful? Because there’s a Father up above who is looking down in love. He is watching to see if the children are making good decisions and acting properly in a way that would please Him and benefit them. I think we would all agree that this song is not necessarily just for the children but for all adults as well.

God sincerely cares about what we watch, what we listen to, what we do and what we say. He knows that if we don’t take care and make every precaution in these areas it can result in much harm in our life and in eternal separation from Him.

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In the book of Deuteronomy Moses commanded the children of Israel to do all that God had commanded him to teach them in the land that they were about to possess (Deuteronomy 6:1). This listening and doing would instill in their lives and the lives of their children and grandchildren a reverent fear and respect for God’s word. It was God’s intention for this “listening and doing” to continue from generation to generation throughout Israel’s existence as God’s people. They were expected to do this every day of their lives (Vs 2). There were three reasons why they should listen and be careful to do what God would command them through Moses. They were that their days would be prolonged (Vs 2), that it may go well with them (Vs 3) and that they would multiply greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of their fathers, had promised them (Vs 3).

So, to get Israel started on the right track, Moses cried out to them stating that the Lord was their God and that He is the only true and living God. And because of this truth they should love Him with all their heart, soul and might (strength) (Vs 4-6). Their dedication must be reserved for Him and Him alone, for there was no other God even though other nations worshiped many false gods. Jesus speaks of this love for God in Mark 12:29-33. Whether you were a Jew under the Old Testament or a Christian under the New Covenant, having a sincere love for God was and always is the key to having a listening ear and an obedient heart.

We can listen to God and obey Him because it is expected of us or we can do so because we want to. A child that continually listens to their parents and obeys them is one that genuinely loves them. Such is true with God’s children today. The extent of Israel’s love for God would be seen in their willingness to not only hear His word but to cheerfully obey it. Many years later, Jesus discussed the matter of loving God with the Pharisees (Matthew 22:34-40; Mark 12:33; Luke 10:27). Today, Christians are reminded of the words of our Lord that if one loves Him (truly loves Him) then they will keep His commandments (John 14:15).

The proper dwelling place for God’s commands, His statutes and judgments was in the hearts of the Israelites (Vs 1, 6). God’s word can go in one ear and out the other, but when it is taken to heart it is both treasured and productive.

The Psalmist says, ‘I have treasured Thy word in my heart that I may not sin against Thee” (Psalms 119:11). Since God’s word prevents one from sinning it’s no wonder then that the Psalmist treasured it. The way to get Israel to have the same attitude as the Psalmist was for parents to teach God’s word diligently to their sons and to talk of them whenever they would sit down in their house, or when they would walk by the way or when they lay down and whenever they rose up (Vs 7). Visible reminders or portions of God’s word were to worn by individuals and on display in parts of their home (Vs 8-9). These would remind them daily of how richly God had richly blessed them and just how He wanted them to live.

Once in the land and blessed by God, Israel faced the danger of forgetting that God was the source of their prosperity. This was a serious concern that Moses had of Israel as he expressed in Deuteronomy 6:10-12. He wanted Israel to keep watch against forsaking the words of the One who delivered them from their Egyptian bondage. How easy it is to call upon the Lord when in dire need, but it is also easy to forget Him when bathing in abundance.

When God’s word is neglected and forgotten it is easy for one’s heart to become interested in other things. That was what Moses was worried about, so he told Israel to fear only the Lord their God and worship Him and swear by His name only (Vs 13). Jesus refers to this principle in Matthew 4:10 and Luke 4:8.

When a heart is empty of God it does not take long to fill it with something else such as idolatry and the practices of those who are not God’s people (Vs 14). In order to keep Israel from abandoning God, Moses warns them that God is a jealous God and will unleash His anger upon any who forsake Him and eventually wipe them off the face of the earth (V15).

Moses then reminds Israel to not test God as they had done at Massah by questioning whether God was among them or not because of the lack of water (Exodus 17:1-7, Vs 16). Jesus relied on this instruction when he resisted the temptations of Satan. (Matt. 4:7; Luke 4:12). To make sure that their actions would never come to this Moses reminds them to diligently make every possible effort to keep (guard, protect) the commandments of the Lord as well as His testimonies and statutes (Vs 17). In so doing it would go well for them and they would be able to go in and possess the good land which the Lord swore to give to their fathers as He had removed all their enemies from that land (Vs 18-19).

In time, their children would ask their father what all the testimonies, statutes and judgments of God meant, and he shall teach them how God, with a mighty hand, delivered them from their bondage in Egypt with many great signs and wonders in order to bring them into the land that He had promised to their fathers (Vs 20-23). Fathers will remind their children that this is why the Israelites take the time to observe all that God had spoken to them and done for them so that they will always fear and respect Him. Being diligent in this regard will be for their own good and their own survival.

Although we’re not under the Old Covenant these principles apply equally to our covenant with Christ. Hearing and doing God’s word is just as vital now as it ever was. We have a promised land that we want to get to, along with our children and their children. Parents need to know why they believe what they believe and then follow the teachings of the Lord as delivered to the church, so that when their children ask why they believe and practice such things, they will have a Biblical answer. Parents need to answer clearly, confidently and lovingly. They need to praise the church they are a member of and not cut it down in any way in front of their children. They should pray for the church in the presence of their children and be joyful that they are a part of it because God delivered them from the bondage of sin.

Yes, we need to be careful listeners and doers of God’s word for there is a Father above who is looking down in love. And the best way that we can accomplish this is to look above in love and deep appreciation for all that God has done, is doing and will do for us. Let us be careful, very careful to please our heavenly Father. The next generation church depends on our doing so.

Owen Sound, ON