“How many times have I told you?”
My father sternly shook his finger at me. Inside my head, I was rolling my eyes. Yes, Dad. You’ve told me so many times! Give me a break! It could have been any one of numerous issues for which he previously scolded me. So why didn’t I listen to him the first time? Was it because I did not think the issues were important enough to be followed? Perhaps it was because I didn’t truly fear the consequences? Indeed, all of the above and more.
God, our Heavenly Father, similarly instructed the ancient Israelites in the same manner like my earthly father. In fact, God is far more explicit than my own father.
Be careful to listen to all these words which I command you, so that it may be well with you and your sons after you forever, for you will be doing what is good and right in the sight of the LORD your God.
Deuteronomy 12:28 (NASB)
In the Book of Deuteronomy, God repeatedly instructs the Israelites of the importance of obeying His commands. In fact, He uses this phrase and others like it at least ten additional times! Why did He do this? The Israelites had completed their forty years of wandering in the desert and were about to cross over the Jordan river to take possession of the promised land of Canaan. However, before they did, God reminded them of what He had done for them and what He promised to do for them, IF they obeyed Him. And of course, we all know what happened. Not only did the Israelites not obey God commands, they did the exact action that God warned them not to do! They chased after foreign gods. They intermarried with foreign peoples. The consequences were not a simple scolding and rebuke. God punished the Israelites by sending them into exile, conquered by foreign kingdoms.
How many times have I told you so?
With God, it can never be enough. What is the reason we do not obey? We are hopelessly lost in our sinful nature. How desperately we need a living Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ!
Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.