“…know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.”Deuteronomy 4:39
My daughter moved from a fully furnished apartment to an unfurnished rental house with her two roommates. Being the poor college students that they are, they needed furniture. I drove over a couple weeks ago to help her put together a cheap storage unit from Target. Before leaving, she texted that I should bring a hammer. No furniture and no tools. Ok. When I got there I realized she had not read the instructions thoroughly and had been using a board to pound the wrong peg into the wrong hole. She ended up causing unnecessary damage to her furniture because she hadn’t been paying close enough attention. She thought she knew what to do, but she didn’t.
We also assume we know what to do in living the Christian life. We don’t think we need reminders. We think if we can make it through the whole Bible once in our lifetime it’ll be enough. Why go back and read it again? We might not understand everything, but we get the main point. But if there’s anything the book of Deuteronomy teaches us it’s that we need reminders! We need to remember who God is, who we are and how he’s told us to live. From putting tassels on their clothing to arranging their calendar around feasts and festivals, God was making a point – we are forgetful people!
But it’s more than just bringing facts about God back to our remembrance. Here in Deuteronomy 4:39, Moses says to know, but in addition he says this – lay it to your heart. Lay it to your heart. That’s a step further than looking at the tassel on your clothing and remembering the commandments. It’s more than making sure you attend the next feast or festival. And for us moderns, I’m assuming it’s more than just writing your favorite verse on a sticky note so you can look at it as you brush your teeth. No. It’s about the heart. Tim Challies says this about the heart – “The heart, then, is the place where God’s influence comes into contact with man’s will to be accepted or rejected, to be obeyed or disobeyed. This makes the heart the very moral center of a human being.“
Laying something to your heart then means that you will take the truth you know in your head and present it to your will over and over, allowing that truth to transform your loves and guide your life.
Verse 39 in Deuteronomy 4 tells us to acknowledge that the Lord is God, there is no other, but if we go back in the text we’ll see God expounding on what this means. Take your time in reading the following passage. Focus on the uniqueness of the one true God, the greatness of his works, and his free electing love for his chosen ones.
Ask now about the former days, long before your time, from the day God created human beings on the earth; ask from one end of the heavens to the other. Has anything so great as this ever happened, or has anything like it ever been heard of? Has any other people heard the voice of God speaking out of fire, as you have, and lived? Has any god ever tried to take for himself one nation out of another nation, by testings, by signs and wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, or by great and awesome deeds, like all the things the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?
You were shown these things so that you might know that the Lord is God; besides him there is no other. From heaven he made you hear his voice to discipline you. On earth he showed you his great fire, and you heard his words from out of the fire. Because he loved your ancestors and chose their descendants after them, he brought you out of Egypt by his Presence and his great strength, to drive out before you nations greater and stronger than you and to bring you into their land to give it to you for your inheritance, as it is today.Deuteronomy 4:32-38
We are constantly forgetting who God is and who we are. Like my daughter, we don’t read the instructions (his Word) thoroughly enough and then we wonder why things go wrong. We can’t just go through this life assuming we’ll remember who we are and what God has said. We can say we know, but over and over again in Deuteronomy, and other places in the Old Testament, we see that God knows us a lot better than we know ourselves. He knows we will forget. And he knows that what we know in our heads doesn’t always transfer to the heart, to the very center of our will. That’s why he tells us to lay it to our hearts. It isn’t enough to say you know who God is. According to James, even the demons know who God is. No, the truth of who God is must travel down to your heart so it might transform the very core of who you are.