Deuteronomy 8:11 “Take care lest you forget the Lord your God”
Do you ever wonder why you were born? What, ultimately, was the purpose in it? Are we here as a result of biology alone? Are we simply the result of a relationship between our parents but nothing more? Are we just a result of blind chance, a product of various biological and chemical reactions, with no ultimate purpose other than some vague idea we might dream up, and no ultimate destiny?
The book of Ecclesiastes deals with this issue. The author Solomon opens the book with a view of life from a purely human-centered perspective and makes this statement: “Vanity of vanity! All is vanity (Ecclesiastes 1:2)!” If life is all about us, if it’s just about being born, growing up, getting married, having children, making a living, and then dying to pass from the scene as if we were never here, it makes no sense. It’s all futility at the grandest scale. But for God.
Solomon, after he looked at everything and after he gave himself to every experience that anyone could ever desire, recognized that without God and a relationship with Him, there is no ultimate purpose to life. Yet because of the God Who created us, there is an ultimate purpose and meaning to it all. So, then at the very end of the book, Solomon comes to this conclusion: “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).
Solomon saw that it is only in a relationship with God that life has any ultimate meaning. But oh, the meaning and purpose that it has because of this. You see, God has placed each and every one of us on this planet to have a relationship with Him. In the verse above from Deuteronomy, Moses gives Israel this same message. He tells them to be careful lest they forget the Lord. In Deuteronomy 8 he makes this statement in the midst of a lengthy message that each Israelite, as they prepared to enter the Promised Land, should remember the Lord who loved them and wanted a relationship with them. He urges them to look back and remember that it was God who brought them out of slavery in Egypt and led them for 40 years in the wilderness. He reminds them that in all their hardship in the wilderness God was right there with them. He fed them when they didn’t see any possible way to get food, and He gave them water when it seemed there was no water to be had. He tells them that their hardships were God’s way to humble them, to see that they were very inadequate in and of themselves, but God was the all-sufficient One on Whom they could always depend. He reminds them of the fact that during those 40 years their clothes didn’t wear out and their feet didn’t swell, and that they should live a life of gratitude towards God for the graces He had shown them. Moses urges them to be obedient to God’s commands, for these commands were for their blessing, and to obey them would be a means by which they could show God their love for Him. And then, as Moses looks forward, he urges them to not forget God when He blesses them with plenty in the Promised Land, for just as it is such a common tendency to doubt God in the difficult times, we so often forget Him in the good times.
So, is that how you see your life? Do you recognize that all through your life God has been actively reaching out to you to have a relationship with you? Do you recognize that in the hardships you’ve endured, God was working to humble you and teach you to trust Him, even though you couldn’t see Him with your physical eyes? Do you realize that God is constantly working in our lives to reveal to us whether we are truly living in a relationship of trust in Him or living as if He didn’t exist? Are we living our life as if it is solely about us, for to do so we are sure to find it all meaninglessness in the end? If we are enjoying times of prosperity now, with a nice home, a wonderful family, and a healthy bank account, are we spending time with the Lord our God and striving to know Him in Bible study and prayer, or don’t we have time for Him, because everything else in our lives consumes all our time?
May God help us to live our lives in the wisdom that recognizes that to fear God and keep His commandments is the whole duty of man, for it’s in relationship with Him that our ultimate purpose lies. Otherwise, it’s all vanity, a dead end, meaningless – but praise be to God that life is none of these things when we know God.