Introduction: If you were to rededicate yourself to Jesus Christ in total commitment and spiritual renewal, what would change in your life?
Background: Deuteronomy was a core book in the Hebrew curriculum, and Jesus knew the book of Deuteronomy inside and outside. So did King David. Many of his Psalms were based on his meditations on the book of Deuteronomy.
In one sense, the subject of Deuteronomy has to do with the topic of rededication.
Dr. Peter Craigie in his commentary says that the structure of the book of Deuteronomy is based on the form of Hebrew covenant documents, derived from political treaties found in the ancient Near East. In other words, people of antiquity made contracts and nations made treaties, just as we do today.
One treaty was a vassal treaty, made between a major power and a lesser (vassal) power. They began with a preamble; then they had a historical prologue explaining what had led up to the covenant; then there were general stipulations followed by specific stipulations; and then various deities were called upon to witness the treaty. And it ended with a set of blessings and curses: blessings if the parties abided by the treaty and curses if they failed to do so.
Dr. Craigie asserts this is exactly the form of the book of Deuteronomy. It is a renewing or rededicating of the covenant between God and the Israelites as they began preparations to enter the Promised Land. The book began with a preamble. Then Moses discussed the historical prologue to the book; he stated the general stipulations and the specific stipulations, and then he called on Almighty God to be the witness. He ended the book with a series of blessings and curses, depending upon whether the Israelites obeyed or disobeyed.
The original covenant was established in the book of Exodus at Mount Sinai. In Exodus 24, Moses and 70 elders came up onto Mount Sinai in order to establish the covenant God had written and the tables or the tablets of stone. It says in Exodus 24:8, “Then Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, ‘This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.’”
Verse nine says, “Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the 70 elders of Israel went up and saw the God of Israel under his feet was something like a pavement made of lapis lazuli, as bright blue as the sky. But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; They saw God and ate and drank.” That was the covenant meal.
For the next four decades, the Israelites wandered in the wilderness, as we read throughout the books of Leviticus and Numbers. By the time we come to the book of Deuteronomy, Moses has brought the younger generation of Israelites back to the plains of Moab, back to the entrance to the Promised Land and he wanted to prepare them to enter it. The older generation had passed away. The younger generation was getting ready to seize the land. And the book of Deuteronomy is the series of messages Moses gave, reminding the younger generations of the covenant that God had established with their fathers at Mount Sinai and calling them to rededicate themselves to it.
In chapter 30, he said, “Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach… No! The word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so that you may obey it. See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.”
And he challenged them to rededicate themselves to the covenant God had given them.
Later, in Joshua chapter 8 when the Israelites were in the Promised Land, they gathered together near Shiloh and again rededicated themselves to the covenant.
You can find similar events throughout the history of Israel. For example, in 2 Chronicles 34, King Josiah found the book of the law—probably the book of Deuteronomy—and he called all of Israel together to rededicate themselves to the covenant.
What Is Rededication?
Rededication is a biblical idea. God expected the people of Israel to renew their dedication to Him, which would keep them from drifting away.
On the night of the Last Supper, the apostle Simon Peter denied Christ three times. After the resurrection, Jesus met him on the shore of the sea of Galilee and asked him three times the same question: “Peter, do you love me?” He gave Peter an opportunity to rededicate his life to the Lord Jesus.
Sometimes couples have called me asking if I would help them renew their marriage vows. On most of these occasions, it’s because of a major anniversary, and they love each other and want to express that love with renewed dedication.
Sometimes I just need to say, “Lord, I rededicate my life to You.” This doesn’t mean I’ve grown cold in my faith, but simply that I want to renew my desire to love and labor for the Lord.
During my Quiet Time I may find a verse that really speaks to me, and I may say, “Lord I rededicate myself to you.” Or I may sing a song of consecration, such as “Take My Life and Let it Be Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.”
At other times, it may be a little bit more of an occasion. On my 35th birthday, I reached the midpoint of the biblical 70 years. I decided to rededicate the hypothetical last half of my life to the Lord. So that morning, I walked down to Grant Park and I found a quiet space. I knelt down and rededicated myself to the Lord.
Now I’m seventy, and I took time to renew my commitment to the Lord. I said, “Lord, I want all there is of me to belong to all there is of You, so that all there is of You might have full possession of all there is of me.
Abiding in Christ
I chose the word abiding as an acronym to describe this. The Bible tells us to abide in Christ. We find that phrasing in John 15, where Jesus tells us to live in unbroken fellowship with him as a branch is fully connected to the vine.
A = Awakening
That A stands for awakening. I want to awaken every morning of my life and say, “Good morning, Lord! This is the day You have made. This morning is the next step in the Promised Land of Your will for me. I want to get up and rejoice in this day and take possession of what You have for me.”
I found Deuteronomy 1:21 to be unusually helpful. “See, the Lord your God has given you the land. Go up and take possession of it as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, told you. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged.”
That’s a daily command and a daily commitment.
Every day is a fresh day in the Promised Land of God’s will for us in this life. We should awaken with enthusiasm. I want to get out of bed with a sense of purpose and have the attitude that God has planned out this day for me, seizing upon it without being afraid or discouraged. Let’s go in and take possession of each day.
My favorite morning hymn says: “When morning gilds the skies my heart awakening cries may Jesus Christ be praised.”
Our day tends to go the way our morning begins. Our first moments will set the tone for the hours to come. I want to be enthused and excited about the Lord from the very first moment.
B = Bible Captivation
The B in abiding stands for Bible captivation, immersion, study and memorization. There’s always more to learn and more to teach. The Bible is as inexhaustible as the universe and as fathomless as eternity. I want to keep studying it, especially every morning as I begin the day.
Someone told me this week he has much better Quiet Times in the evenings than in the mornings. I can certainly appreciate that. In the Hebrew mind, the day began the night before—from sundown to sundown—because the Jewish people knew that how we end one day has a lot to do with the way we begin the next one.
Choose what time works for you best, and commit that time to the Lord daily.
Next, Bible memorization is key.
I kept getting lost in the middle of Psalm 150. It’s a passage I labored to memorize several years ago. In that state where I’m half awake and half asleep, I want to be able to quote Bible verses as naturally as my own name. But I kept getting lost in Psalm 150. So I’m going back and renewing my memorization of that chapter.
During our Quiet Time, we not only listen to the Lord in His Word, but we talk to Him in prayer. Our daily time with Him is not simply a habit that we follow but a relationship we cultivate.
I = Ideal Day
The first I in abiding stands for the ideal day. Recently I read an article by C.S. Lewis in which he talked about his ideal day. He said he would get up at a certain time, have breakfast, read until a certain hour and then have a cup of coffee. He would study until lunch at one o’clock. After lunch, he would take a long walk in the country and reflect on his reading while enjoying nature and exercising. Then he would come back and write until teatime. After supper, it was light reading before bed.
He admitted that his days seldom went exactly like that, but by having his ideal day in his mind, it helped as he planned out each day.
This is all about having a routine, a daily routine. We all need to establish an ideal day and seek as much as possible to conform each day to that ideal.
We’ll always have interruptions and obligations. But an ideal schedule helps us use our time wisely in our disciplined life. Psalm 90:12 tells us to number our days and Ephesians 5:16 tells us to use the time wisely.
D = Discipline and Diet
The letter D in abiding stands for discipline and diet. For me, discipline means getting some exercise every day. When I had young children and a demanding amount of work at my church, I somehow found time to go running several times a week. My knees will no longer allow that, but I do have an elliptical machine inside the house and sidewalks outside the house. Why is it now so hard?
The Bible says our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit. So part of the discipline of discipleship is the care and feeding of the human body. Getting reasonable exercise is suggested in 1 Timothy 4:8. At my age, the dedication I want to have towards Christ involves staying as healthy as possible for His work and for His Kingdom.
I = Isaiah 43:18-19
The next letter in abiding is another I, which stands for Isaiah 43:18-19. These verses have helped me very much recently during a time of transition.
“Forget the former things; Do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; Do not perceive it? I will make for you a way in the wilderness and streams in the desert.”
We’re to anticipate more than we reflect. We’re to look through the windshield more than at the rearview mirror.
Because of this verse, I’ve found it is much easier to let go of grievances, to release bitterness, and to unlatch ourselves from unhappy memories. In so doing, we adopt the attitude of Philippians 3, forgetting what is behind, we strain forward toward what lies ahead.
N = Next Generation
The letter N stands for next generation. Psalm 71 says, “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare Your power to the next generation, Your mighty acts to all who are to come.”
To me this means a couple of things. I want to speak to as many young audiences as I can and frame my ministry so that it reaches as many young people as possible. It also means I want to spend quality time with my grandchildren, so that I exhibit Christ to them. I’d like to play whatever role God wants me to have in their spiritual formation.
G = Gifting
Finally, the letter G in the word abiding means gift. We want to rededicate ourselves to use whatever gift God has given us for His purpose and glory. I’ve taken 1 Timothy 4, verses 14 and 15 as personal from the Lord to me. Paul wrote these words to Timothy, but I believe the Lord also has them for me. He says there: “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of scripture, to preaching and teaching. Do not neglect your gift.”
The Lord may have more for us when we’re younger than when we’re older, but He wants to use us in greater ways when we’re older than when we were younger.
Conclusion: So we need to keep rededicating ourselves to Christ, whatever age we are. As the Israelites renewed the covenant repeatedly, so we need to rededicate ourselves to Jesus and to say in the words of the great hymn: “Have Thine own way, Lord, have Thine own way. Thou art the Potter; I am the clay.”
Why don’t you say today: “Lord I want all there is of me to belong to all there is of You, so that all there is of You might fully possess and empower all there is of me.