Be Careful + Hold Fast | Deuteronomy Series
Multiple things are implied when someone tells you to "be careful". The person saying those words probably cares about you. They're probably letting you know or even warning you about something so that could harm you; they don't want you to get hurt. The words are probably being said in your best interest.
These words, or some variation of them, come up a ton in Deuteronomy. So much so that I decided to take note of each one of them and came up with 34 times, and I'm realizing now that that's one time for every chapter in the book. Some chapters say it more than others (6 times in chapter 12 alone). And this isn't even counting the amount of times the words "remember," "hear" or "listen" are used, but the same message is implied with those.
We likely know by now that Deuteronomy has a lot to do with obedience. Each time Moses uses some variation of this "be careful" phrase, it's tied to obedience and following God's commands (5:32; 7:11), or being careful to not forget (4:9,23; 8:11), or being aware of the state of one's heart (11:16; 15:9). It's by doing this that they will fulfill the original promise made to Abraham to be a blessing to other nations. If they are careful and hold fast to who God is, who He has called them to be, and the commands He has given them, other people will witness it and know that they're God is the One true God.
This brings me to the second phrase that I saw repeated multiple times: hold fast. The word used in each of these places is dabaq, meaning cling, stay close, cleave, follow hard, or abide. I love those synonyms! This is the same word used in the famous marriage passage in Genesis where it says that a man shall leave his family and cleave, or hold fast, to his wife.
As I thought about these things, my mind went to Psalm 139:10, where it says "...Your right hand will hold me fast." The word used here is 'achaz, literally meaning grasp, take hold, seize, or take possession. Although it's not the same word, I thought it was fitting to make the connection. Friend, He has you! Later on in this series we'll talk about how sometimes the command to obey can be daunting. It seems impossible, and it is impossible to obey perfectly. But we obey knowing that Christ has a hold on us. He keeps us in His care and He protects and provides for us, just as He did with the Israelites.
This command doesn't end in Deuteronomy because Joshua reminds them of the same thing in Joshua 23! Again, these commands were to a specific people group, but we've established that we're not much different than them. What similar commands to we as believers have? Jesus says in John 14:15 that our obedience is motivated from our love for Him. We can best do this when we understand His goodness (like we covered last week) and the truth that every command is for our provision and protection. The Gospels, the letters Paul wrote to believers, and many other places in the New Testament show us what obedience looks like for us as believers.
We also need not fear that we're in this alone. We need to have community, other followers of Jesus, to help us in our pursuit to be careful and hold fast. And God has also given us His promised Holy Spirit, which we see later on in chapter 14 of John: "These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you." (v.26) What'd I tell you? Scripture makes it easy to tie things back to remembrance.
These continuous reminders to "be careful" and "hold fast" in the book of Deuteronomy set us up for the truth that we can trust and obey Christ as we move forward in our walks with Him. There will be more on that next week! In the meantime, continue (or start) your own reading. Don't hesitate to tell us a little bit more about what you're discovering as you read! The hope is that this series will help you better depend on Jesus + the truth of His Word.
Be careful to obey, knowing that He desires to do you good, all while holding fast to Him, knowing that He has you securely in His care too.
Remember His goodness. Sing His grace.
I love using Blue Letter Bible to look up words in Scripture in order to better understand the context and see where else those same words are used.