“Beware Lest Thou Forget”
Moses gives instructions to the Israelites to help them remember their
Moses counsels the Israelites to obey God's commandments and remember Him.
Moses counsels the Israelites to be mindful of the Rock of their salvation
A study of this lesson will encourage us to (1) remember the Lord and the
covenants we have made with him and (2) create an environment that will help us
Scripture references for study: Deuteronomy 6;
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
notes: Click on links for expanded information.
Lesson 17 Handout (PDF
The Book Of Deuteronomy
Contents: Three sermons or discourses given by Moses prior
to his departure from Israel in which he summarized the Mosaic code. At this time Israel was camped in Moab, across the Jordan from the promised
land. Joshua would soon lead them in their battle against the Canaanites
to possess the promised land.
Imagine the setting for this event:
First Sermon (chapter 1:6 - chapter 4:40):
Recounted the most important events of their years of wandering.
Reminder that they should not forget the laws given at Sinai.
Second Sermon (chapters 5-26):
Review of the law, including the Ten Commandments.
Third Sermon (chapters 27-30):
A call for Israel to renew their covenant.
A warning of the consequences for failure to renew the covenant.
A Supplement: (chapters 31-34):
May not have been written by Moses. Recounts the selection and ordination
of Joshua as Moses' successor and the death of Moses. We know from
other sources that Moses did not die, but was translated.
It is significant that the essence of Moses' message was not only applicable
to the ancient Hebrew tribes, but to the people of God in all ages.
The book of Deuteronomy contains Moses' last words to the Israelites.
A great congregation (or conference) of tens of thousands, possibly millions.
A nomadic people that had lived in the desert for decades.
An aged prophet (120 years) about to deliver his final admonition to a people
he has loved as a father.
"Moses speaks like a dying father to his children.
The words are earnest, inspired, impressive. He looks back over the whole
of the forty years of their wandering in the desert, reminds the people
of all the blessings they have received, of the ingratitude with which
they have so often repaid them, and of the judgments of God, and the love
that continually broke forth behind them; he explains the laws again and
again, and adds what is necessary to complete them, and is never weary
of urging obedience to them in the warmest and most emphatic words, because
the very life of the nation was bound up with this; he surveys all the
storms and conflicts which they have passed through, and, beholding the
future in the past, takes a survey also of the future history of the nation,
and sees, with mingled sorrow and joy, how the three great features of
the past--viz. apostasy, punishment, and pardon--continue to repeat themselves
in the future also." (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary quoted
in Old Testament Student Manual, p216)
IF YOU WERE TO GIVE ONE LAST MESSAGE TO YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS, WHAT WOULD
Instructions To The Israelites To Help Them Remember
DEUTERONOMY 6:1-5. Moses instructs the
people to keep the commandments.
DEUTERONOMY 6:6-7. Teach and talk of the
THESE VERSES CONTAIN THE CORE MESSAGE OF THE BOOK OF DEUTERONOMY.
WHAT IS THAT MESSAGE?
To love the Lord with "all thine heart, and with
all thy soul, and with all thy might." (v5)
To keep the commandments "all the days of thy
Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD
thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD
thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul." (Deuteronomy
WHAT REASONS DID MOSES GIVE FOR FOLLOWING THESE INSTRUCTIONS?
"that thy days may be prolonged." (v2)
"that it may be well with thee." (v3)
"that ye may increase mightily, as the LORD God
of thy fathers hath promised thee." (v3)
IS THE MESSAGE ANY DIFFERENT FOR US IN OUR DAY?
Some of the specific laws and ordinances may be different, but the message
remains the same. Our goal is, as was that of ancient Israel, to
put God at the center of our life. As we do so, we will strive to
live his teachings and keep his commandments.
Our study of the Old Testament reveals that ancient Israel struggled to
follow these instructions.
WHAT CHALLENGES DO WE FACE IN ATTEMPTING TO LIVE A GOD CENTERED LIFE?
One of the great challenges in keeping a proper focus is dealing with the
environment that surrounds us. At work, school, and in our communities
we associate with people who have different standards. We often hear
coarse language. We are inundated with media offerings (books, magazines,
television, radio, music, movies, the Internet) that often stand in contrast
to the teachings of God.
As a youngster, growing up in Utah Valley, we often sought relief from
hot summer days. Usually, we hiked over to the community swimming pool and spent
part of the afternoon swimming and splashing. On other days, we filled an old
inner tube with air and headed up to the irrigation canal (this was before most
of them were fenced off). The water flowed slowly and gently. We put our inner
tubes in the water, sat in the middle, and spent the afternoon lazily floating
down the canal. As gentle as the current seemed, in reality it was very
strong. If we worked hard paddling against the current, we could only slow our
rate of passage. There was no way, floating along in our inner
tubes, that we could paddle upstream. The only way to stop progress down stream
was paddle over to the side and get out. When it was time to quit and go home,
we usually found ourselves several miles from where we started.
Living in the world is much like trying to resist
the current in the canal. Though the flow in the canal seemed gentle,
it had great power. If we are not careful, the flow of current thought
and culture can sweep us far from our destination before we realize what is happening.
The Lord recognizes that we are fighting an upstream battle with the world,
but unlike inner tubes in the canal, there is a way to succeed without
being pulled downstream. Moses suggests that we teach our children
and consider the things of the Lord when we:
Sit in our house.
Walk by the way.
When we lie down.
When we get up.
As the Moses spoke for the Lord, he said "these
words...shall be in thine heart" (v6). We can only survive in the
world if we strive, on a daily basis, to
keep the words of the Lord fresh in our heart. HOW CAN WE DO THIS?
Personal and family prayer.
Family home evening.
Daily scripture study.
Regular attendance at church and all our classes.
Seminary and institute for the youth.
Fully observe the Sabbath.
Sometimes the things of God do not seem as exciting as what is going on
around us in the world. This is an illusion. When we immerse
ourselves in the things of God, we gain true perspective and life takes
on meaning. As a young missionary, I struggled with my change of
circumstances from the world, to a life full of missionary work. As time progressed, I became immersed in the work and found it to be intensely
satisfying. We do not all have the luxury of spending our lives as
missionaries, but we can strive to constantly keep "these words"
in our hearts. But we must give it constant effort or we will get
swept along with the flow.
Some interesting information: "Verse 4 (Deuteronomy
6) begins what is known among Jewish people as the Shema. 'The Shema is
in Jewish thought the supreme affirmation of the unity of God and is frequently
called "the acceptance of the yoke of heaven"'.... The entire Shema, which
consists of Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Deuteronomy 11:13-21, and Numbers 15:37-41
(in that order), is recited twice daily by all devout Jews as an evening
and a morning prayer.... And if these words were constantly in their hearts
and they sought to teach them to their children in every way possible,
in every aspect of their lives, through precept and example, at night and
in the day, at home or elsewhere, all of society would be dramatically
altered. The Shema, if it truly is an affirmation of faith and not just
words, should be the supreme thought in one's heart, and it is even worthy
of death, if living means a denial of that affirmation." (Old
Testament Student Manual, p218).
"Taking the command literally (verses 8-9), the
Jews inscribed certain scriptural passages, including Deuteronomy 6:4-9,
on tiny pieces of parchment, folded them up, and put them into tiny leather
boxes about 1 1/2 inches square. These boxes were then tied to the head
to be over the forehead, or on the left biceps, suggesting that the wearer
would 'fulfill the law with the head and heart'....
"The mezuzah (Hebrew for
'doorpost') was similar to the tefillin in that it was a parchment with
a scriptural passage on it inserted into a tiny, cylindrical box. The mezuzah
was attached to the door frame, and it became customary for Jews to touch
or kiss the mezuzah each time they left or entered the home."
(Old Testament Student Manual, p218)
WHAT WAS THE INTENT OF THIS COMMANDMENT AS DELIVERED BY MOSES?
It would be a constant reminder of the Lord and what it is we ought to be doing.
WHAT CAN WE DO IN OUR HOMES TO REMIND US OF THE LORD, HIS WORDS, AND OUR
COVENANTS WITH HIM?
Denis Waitley, in his book Seeds of Greatness, makes this observation:
"Recent studies conducted by a Stanford University
research team have revealed that 'what we watch' does have an effect on
our imaginations, our learning patterns, and our behaviors. First, we are
exposed to new behaviors and characters. Next, we learn or acquire these
new behaviors. The last and most crucial step is that we adopt these behaviors
as our own. One of the most critical aspects of human development that
we need to understand is the influence of 'repeated viewing' and 'repeated
verbalizing' in shaping our future. The information goes in, 'harmlessly,
almost unnoticed,' on a daily basis, but we don't react to it until later,
when we aren't able to realize the basis for our reactions. In other words,
our value system is being formed without any conscious awareness on our
part of what is happening!" (Seeds of Greatness, p55)
Returning to my analogy of the canal, I think Mr. Waitley described
the power of the "current." Though not appearing to have much influence,
all that we see and hear around us has a dramatic effect on the way we
live our lives.
Mr. Waitley continues, "What if you and I could
switch TV channels to one inside of our own head, in which our minds were
cameras instead of receivers? What if we scripted, produced, casted, rehearsed,
and broadcast our own programs?" (Seeds of Greatness, p55)
RETURNING TO THE ABOVE QUESTION: WHAT CAN WE DO IN OUR HOMES TO REMIND
US OF THE LORD, HIS WORDS, AND OUR COVENANTS WITH HIM? WHAT CAN WE
DO THAT WILL POSITIVELY AFFECT THE WAY WE LIVE OUR LIVES? HOW CAN WE
SCRIPT, PRODUCE, AND BROADCAST OUR OWN PROGRAMS?
We must find ways to counteract the negative influences we encounter.
The ancient Jews used physical reminders. We can do things within
our homes to remind us of that which is most important.
Pictures on the walls: the Savior, temples, family
We can place scriptural quotations on the mirror, the wall, or the refrigerator.
Music or other recordings we play.
The movies we watch.
The magazines or books sitting around the house.
I have made reference in the past to my preparations for my first marathon
several years ago. To keep focused on that goal, I focused on things
that motivated me to keep working towards success in completing a 26.2
mile run. I read books and magazines that focused running. I associated with
other runners. I thought frequently about running, including
a morning review. I even watched movies that influenced
my thinking such as Chariots of Fire and Breaking Away. Is not our
eternal success significantly more important than success in temporal pursuits?
President Ezra Taft Benson said that people who are "captained
by Christ will be consumed in Christ.... Enter their homes, and the pictures
on their walls, the books on their shelves, the music in the air, their
words and acts reveal them as Christians." (Ensign, Nov 1985,
Israelites Counseled to Obey God's Commandments &
DEUTERONOMY 8:2-10. Israel humbled in the desert.
DEUTERONOMY 8:11, 18-20. Israel commanded to
remember the Lord.
WHAT LESSONS DID ISRAEL LEARN IN THE WILDERNESS?
To be humble (v2-3).
To be obedient (v2).
Man lives not by bread alone, but by the word of God (v3).
HOW MIGHT ISRAEL HAVE ACTED IF THEY HAD MARCHED STRAIGHT FROM SINAI INTO
THE PROMISED LAND INSTEAD OF WANDERING FOR FORTY YEARS? WOULD THEY HAVE
LEARNED THESE IMPORTANT LESSONS?
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO FORGET THE LORD?
Verses 12 through 16 refer to the great blessings that the Lord had bestowed
upon Israel and then verse 17 says, "And thou
say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me
ARE WE EVER GUILTY OF THIS ATTITUDE?
Might we say that we were the one who struggled through college alone to
achieve a degree.
Might we say that we worked hard for many years to achieve success.
WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF FORGETTING THE LORD?
"...if thou do at all forget the LORD thy God,
and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify
against you this day that ye shall surely perish" (v19).
HOW WILL WE PERISH?
WHAT CONDITIONS OR CHALLENGES DID MOSES NAME THAT MIGHT CAUSE PEOPLE TO
Prosperity and freedom.
It seems strange that blessings from the Lord create the conditions in
which people forget the Lord. Do we need adversity to be grateful
for our blessings?
Brigham Young: "The worst fear that I have
about this people is that they will get rich in this country, forget God
and His people, wax fat, and kick themselves out of the Church and go to
hell. This people will stand mobbing, robbing, poverty, and all manner
of persecution, and be true. But my greater fear for them is that they
cannot stand wealth; and yet they have to be tried with riches, for they
will become the richest people on this earth." (Brigham Young:
The Man And His Work, p128)
Arthur Henry King, a British scholar and member of the Church wrote:
"American Mormons, and Americans generally, are
threatened at a more fundamental level by the material prosperity of this
country. It is a curse in disguise. Prosperity per se is not an enemy to
religion, but prosperity may often lead to idolatry. The danger of all
progress is idolatry, because the temptation all of the time is to set
up something in the place of God. And the more tempting the progress is--and
material prosperity is tempting--the more dangerous it is. Think of the
idols of prosperity: the car, the camper, the boat (bane of bishops), the
color TV, the football game, two weeks of hunting. These become idols when
more enthusiasm and time are given to them than to the worship of God."
(quoted in Pure in Heart, pp82-83)
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THESE STATEMENTS?
HOW CAN WE USE OUR PROSPERITY TO FURTHER THE LORD'S WORK?
President Spencer W. Kimball: "The Lord
has blessed us as a people with a prosperity unequaled in times past. The
resources that have been placed in our power are good, and necessary to
our work here on the earth. But I am afraid that many of us have been surfeited
with flocks and herds and acres and barns and wealth and have begun to
worship them as false gods, and they have power over us. Do we have more
of these good things than our faith can stand? Many people spend most of
their time working in the service of a self-image that includes sufficient
money, stocks, bonds, investment portfolios, property, credit cards, furnishings,
automobiles, and the like to guarantee carnal security throughout, it is
hoped, a long and happy life. Forgotten is the fact that our assignment
is to use these many resources in our families and quorums to build up
the kingdom of God—to further the missionary effort and the genealogical
and temple work; to raise our children up as fruitful servants unto the
Lord; to bless others in every way, that they may also be fruitful."
(Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p357)
We have discussed the sweeping "current" of the world and how easy it is
to get caught in that current. The people of the world have, by and
large, forgotten the Lord. How easy it is to get swept along in temporal
pursuits? We can strengthen ourselves against the current by committing
our resources to the building of the kingdom. Most of us know the
blessings of giving a tithe to the Lord. Our lives and our families
are strengthened. How much more we will be strengthened against the
flow of the current if we give more than we are required. As President
Benson stated, people who are "captained by Christ will be consumed
Israelites Counseled To Be Mindful Of The Rock Of Their
Moses said, that "their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves
being judges" (v31).
WHY IS JESUS CHRIST IS SOMETIMES CALLED THE ROCK?
"And now, my sons, remember,
remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son
of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send
forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all
his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power
over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because
of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation
whereon if men build they cannot fall." (Helaman 5:12)
Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "Christ is the Rock (Deut.
32:3-4, 18, 30-31; 1 Cor. 10:1-4), or the Rock of Heaven. (Moses 7:53.)
Such name-titles carry a connotation of strength and stability (1 Sam.
2:2), as for instance when David exulted: 'The Lord is my rock, and my
fortress, and my deliverer; The God of my rock, in him will I trust: he
is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge,
my saviour.' (2 Sam. 22:1-4; 23:3; Psa. 18:1-3, 31.)" (Mormon
HOW DO WE BUILD OUR LIVES UPON THIS ROCK, THE TRUE FOUNDATION?
WHAT IS MOSES TALKING ABOUT?
The rock of their enemies, their false gods.
HOW IS THEIR "ROCK" DIFFERENT FROM OUR "ROCK"?
See Deuteronomy 32:37-40.
Our "Rock" is the Living God. Their god is false. One cannot
have faith in a false god. In the movies, they often use, for special
effects, rocks made of styrofoam. To the viewer of the screen
the rocks appear real. But in reality, the rock is light and is deceptive. So are false gods. You would not use such a rock to build a foundation. You would desire the real thing, as the early Saints utilized in the building
of the Salt Lake Temple, which Brigham Young declared should stand through
the Millennium. A temple built on false rocks would not and could
not stand. A life built upon "their rock" will fail.
Resource Note 2.
We exercise our faith in Christ by honoring our covenants and striving
to keep all the commandments.
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
- We face great challenges in this life. We are fighting the flow of
current thought and action. As President Benson stated, we should
have homes that reflect Christ by the pictures on the walls, by the music
in the air, and by our words and deeds. Such a sanctuary reminds
us of the importance of our covenants, the gospel plan, and the Rock of
our salvation. It is only by building the foundation of our lives
upon the Rock, Jesus Christ, that we can endure to the end and achieve
our eternal reward. There is no other way.
- Record your thoughts on Moses' sermon to the ancient Israelites. What are
you doing to better remember the Rock of your salvation? What things can you
do to strengthen your commitment to Christ and better remember him and his
Resources Used In This Lesson
Brigham Young: The Man And His Work by Preston Nibley.
Mormon Doctrine by Bruce R. McConkie.
Old Testament Student Manual - Religion 301.
Pure in Heart by Dallin H. Oaks.
Seeds of Greatness by Denis Waitley.
Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball.
Website: Judaism 101
Gospel Doctrine Class
Page created by: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Changes last made on:
19 April 2014