When was the last time you started a Bible reading plan with the book of Deuteronomy?
Maybe you should. There’s a life-changing sentence in the first chapter of this historical book that we need more than ever today.
To briefly set the scene, God commanded his people to leave Horeb and enter the Promised Land. The Israelites were understandably afraid of the battle that lay ahead, but instead of bringing their fear before the Lord, they chose to murmur in their tents.
The result of their self-counsel? Their conclusion is shocking: “Because the Lord hated us, he has brought us out of the land of Egypt, to give us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.” (Deuteronomy 1:27, ESV)
This Old Testament narrative couldn’t make it any clearer: we are always preaching to ourselves.
There’s something else to be said: theology is not just something we study in the academic classrooms of seminary; theology is the lens through which we examine and respond to everyday life. Our understanding of God will inescapably shape our perspective on our circumstances.
But maybe their conclusion shouldn’t be so shocking. I’m deeply persuaded that we, just like the children of Israel in Deuteronomy 1, are always asking five deeply theological questions. The way we answer them will push us toward hope or panic.
1. Is God Good?
You can rest assured that the goodness of God will confuse you. What looks good from God’s perfect eternity-to-destiny perspective doesn’t always seem good to us at street level.
2. Will God Do What He Promised?
Few questions in life are more important than this one. Since we are small and weak, since we never really know what is going to happen next, and since God calls us to do difficult, sacrificial things, we need to know that his promises are reliable.
3. Is God In Control?
In some ways, all the other questions rest on this one. God’s promises are only as trustworthy as to the extent of his control. What good is his goodness if he lacks the authority to exercise it?
4. Does God Have The Needed Power?
You will be motivated to do what you don’t have the natural ability to do when you know that God’s awesome power is with you. Confidence in God’s power produces courage in the face of weakness and enables you to admit your limits while living with courage and hope.
5. Does God Care About Me?
Perhaps this is the question we’re most conscious of, but the Bible never debates God’s care; it assumes and declares it. God’s care is foundational. It lets me know that all that he is, he is for me.
What are you preaching to yourself? What are you saying to you about the goodness, promises, control, power, and care of God?
As you ask these questions, remember that he is so rich in grace that he will never turn a deaf ear to your cries.
1. Read the first full chapter of Deuteronomy. What additional application can you find in the text? How does it relate to your life right here, right now?
2. Which of the five questions have you asked most recently? What prompted you to ask this question?
3. How did you answer that question? Where did your answer find its inspiration or evidence?
4. Are you murmuring in your tent? What unbiblical thoughts or beliefs are you preaching to yourself? How can you combat these with gospel truths?
5. Who do you know who is discouraged or afraid? How can you help them avoid a Deuteronomy 1:27 response? Be specific.