God encourages us to seek to know him more – but he also reminds us that he has his secrets!
Deuteronomy, chapters 28-29; Galatians, chapter 6
Deuteronomy 29:24-29 (NLT):
And all the surrounding nations will ask, “Why has the Lord done this to this land? Why was he so angry?” And the answer will be: “This happened because the people of the land abandoned the covenant that the Lord, the God of their ancestors, made with them when he brought them out of the land of Egypt. Instead, they turned away to serve and worship gods they had not known before, gods that were not from the Lord. That is why the Lord’s anger has burned against this land, bringing down on it every curse recorded in this book. In great anger and fury the Lord uprooted his people from their land and banished them to another land, where they still live today!”
The Lord our God has secrets known to no one. We are not accountable for them, but we and our children are accountable forever for all that he has revealed to us, so that we may obey all the terms of these instructions.
Deuteronomy 28 sets forth “blessings for obedience” and “curses for disobedience.” The section of curses is nearly four times as long as the list of blessings. I attribute that to the fact that God understands us. He knew that we need much more warning against sin than promises of blessing. After all, Adam and Eve had every conceivable blessing, and only one command to obey. In spite of that, Satan was able to deceive them. “You won’t surely die…”
Chapter 29 is entitled, “Moses Reviews the Covenant.” He begins by reminding the Israelites that God led them out of Egypt, through the wilderness, and gave them victory over their enemies along the way. Verse 9 says, “Therefore, obey the terms of this covenant so that you will prosper in everything you do.” When they obeyed God, he blessed them; when they disobeyed, he left them to their own devices. Make no mistake about it: “our own devices” don’t offer much protection against everything this world can throw at us!
Moses understood that the people would rebel and refuse to honor the covenant, just as their fathers had. It didn’t happen immediately, of course; but once they were in the land and settled, they wandered away from God. One of the most sobering phrases in Scripture is found several times in the book of Judges: “Everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” And the consequences were just as bad as you would expect.
Moses, inspired by God, looks down the road toward the Exile. “The Lord will bring a distant nation against you from the end of the earth” (see 28:49). The destruction would be devastating – exactly what happened when the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem. And when people see that, Moses says, they will ask: Why has the Lord done this to this land? Why was he so angry?
The answer is simple: Because the people of the land abandoned the covenant that the Lord, the God of their ancestors, made with them when he brought them out of the land of Egypt. In spite of all that God had done for them, they ignored the warnings and rejected God’s commands. They turned away to serve and worship gods they had not known before, gods that were not from the Lord.
That brings us to the last verse of chapter 29, and a very interesting concept. The Lord our God has secrets known to no one. I fear that even those of us who have walked with God for many years fall prey to this delusion. Moses met with God, talked directly to him, and experienced his glory and power in many ways. If anybody could have said, “I know all there is to know about God,” Moses could. I can almost imagine him saying, “Look, I’ve spent more time with God than anybody. Don’t ever think that you know all there is to know about God, because after all this time, I realize that God has secrets known to no one.”
But here’s the good news: We are not accountable for them. God doesn’t expect us to know what he has not revealed to us. Now, that doesn’t mean we can hide our heads in the sand and go through life dumb and happy! It means that we need to recognize what God has revealed to us, and walk in that light. We are not accountable for them, but we and our children are accountable forever for all that he has revealed to us, so that we may obey all the terms of these instructions.
One of the most dangerous things that a believer can do is to think that they “know it all.” God reveals to us what we need to know about him, and he calls us to walk in obedience. There are many Scriptures that encourage us to seek knowledge, but the need for us to seek it means that we don’t ever learn it all. And if we’re not careful, seeking and acquiring knowledge can make us arrogant. “But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church” (1 Corinthians 8:1, NLT).
We need to be careful to focus on obeying what God has revealed to us, rather than obsessing about God’s “secrets.” “Don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves” (James 1:22, NLT).
Father, thank you for reminding us that blessings follow obedience. The blessings may not always take the form we expect, or would like, but we know that you do all things well. Help us to walk in your way today.
Thank you also for reminding us that we do not know everything about you; you have secrets known to no one. How could finite, fallible humans ever know everything about the infinite, all-powerful God? But you reveal enough of yourself to enable us to walk in your ways. Help us to know you more, and to do your will, so others may see your work in us and be drawn to you. Amen.
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