“Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law. For it is no empty word for you, but your very life.“
Luke 1:13; 20
But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. […] And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.”
Idolatry. It is the most grievous of sins – and it would be Israel’s downfall. Moses tries to safeguard the people from falling into idolatry by commanding the people to read the law regularly…
At the end of every seven years, at the set time in the year of release, at the Feast of Booths, when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God at the place that he will choose, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing (Deuteronomy 31:10-11).
For the most part, this generation would stay faithful, but that could not be said of the subsequent generations. They failed to remember God’s law – they forgot God’s word.
Deuteronomy is a mixture of warning and exhortation. Moses warns the people against idolatry. But he doesn’t leave them helpless. He equips them with God’s law and exhorts them to remember God’s word.
Reading God’s word every day brings life to our hearts. It brings life to the weary heart, the apathetic heart… even to the defiant heart! The Spirit uses this word as a catalyst in our hearts for change. It is slow and deep – and sometimes takes months or years to manifest visibly in our lives… yet it’s real. As we take God’s word into our hearts, we are better able to guard our hearts against idolatry.
This slow change is evident in Zechariah’s life. In today’s reading from Luke, he hears the word of the Lord from the angel Gabriel (that his barren wife would conceive), but he is slow to believe… Zechariah suffers immediate consequences for disbelieving God’s word and is made mute until his baby is born. When Zechariah speaks again, it is obvious from his words that he has changed. God’s word made his way into his heart and rooted and grew until the fruit of belief and faith were born. The change was slow, but it was real.
We have much to learn. The time we are investing in studying His word is not wasted. Rather, it leads to real change and ultimately gives life.