There is an important Bible study principle about repetition, which simply is that if something is repeated, it is important.
For example, when Jesus says in the Gospels, “truly, truly’, He meant for His hearers to pay attention because He was wanting to stress something important.
When the Bible repeats a phrase three times, there is really something noteworthy going on, such as in Isaiah 6:3 where “Holy,Holy, Holy” is repeated. This stands out because the repeating of this same word “holy” in a phrase, occurs only one other time in the Bible (in Revelation 4:8).
In Matthew 23, when Jesus says seven times to the Scribes and Pharisees, “wo, to you …”, He was communicating a very strong message. Again, when something is repeated, it is worth paying attention.
So, we come to the seven chapters of Deut. 4-10, which I have been trying to memorize. I don’t know if you have ever played the “match game” before, but its a fun and simple game to play. I’ll typically play with about 20 cards. You have them all faced down and then one person flips a card, say a seven of hearts. They, then try to find the other 7 in the pile. If they turn over, say a four of clubs, then another person takes their turn. If the next person turns over a two of diamonds, and then turns over another two, say of hearts, then they have a match of the same number (two) and they keep on going.
Well, a few years ago, I was reading through these seven chapters in Deuteronomy and felt as though I was playing the match game. As I was reading, I thought to myself, “huh, I’ve just read something about that, and so, I went back to find that matching topic.
Before I keep on with the joy I received from this new revelation, I wanted to go back to the story of the Israelites and provide context of what was going on for them in this section of Deuteronomy.
The Israelites were at the edge of the Jordan River overlooking the Promised Land. God was giving them final instructions on His expectations for how they were to live in the new land. His instructions, if followed, would lead to their happiness and God being glorified- a win-win.
In the teachings God gave, He would be placing an emphasis on their paying attention to their obedience to His laws because there would be a lot of pressures around them as they were dong life, which would distract and tempt them from following God’s ways.
Now, we come back to this principle of repetition. It seems that when God is repeating some instruction or expectation to the Israelites, He is wanting to focus on it.
So, when we come to these seven chapters in Deuteronomy, 4-10, we come across an astounding number of “matches”. This book is a compiling of the many different matches I have found (there are probably more). Its been amazing!
For instance, the phrase “LORD” is mentioned 68 times– wow!
-“The Lord is your God”, “The Lord is my God, or our God,” or “He is our God” is mentioned 86X–wow!
– In these 7 chapters, there are 22 short phrases of/names of God:
-The Lord, the God of your fathers 4:4
-a jealous God 4:24
– a compassionate God 4:31
-God 44:32, 33, 5:24, 9:21
-the Lord, He is God, there is no other besides Him 4:35
-the Lord, He is God in Heaven above, and on the earth below, there is no other 4:39
-a jealous God 5:9, 6:15
-the living God 5:26
-the God of your fathers 6:3
-The Lord is one 6:4
-He is God 7:9
-the faithful God 7:9
-a great and awesome God 7:21
-Sovereign Lord 9:21
-God of gods 10:17
-Lord of Lords 10:17
– the great God 10:17
From this amazing list of a total of 176 phrases of God,
(all taken from the NASB), it leads me to recognize my insignificance in the light of His overwhelming presence in life. Life is not about me, but Him.
Do you think that with God acknowledging Himself 176 times in just these 7 chapters in Deuteronomy (keep in mind that there are 34 chapters in the Book of Deuteronomy) that just maybe God was trying to stress to the Israelites (and to us) their insignificance as compared to Him.
The Israelites were to keep in mind at all times that they were living in the presence of God Almighty. In a kind of summary set of instructions that Moses gives the Israelites in Deut. 10:12-13 – The first thing listed is “to fear the Lord your God”.
So, just like the Israelites who were given clear instructions on living life with an awareness of God’s presence, we too are given that same instruction.
What is amazing is that I have the free will to disregard Him. I have the choice of not listening to Him (8:20), not obeying Him, and not trusting Him (9:23).
However, just like I can deny the importance of not smoking, or overeating, or over drinking of alcohol, the realities of those dangers will eventually play out. So, too, with the reality of God. Sooner, or later, we will all have to face the consequences of the choices we have made regarding Him.
Because of His love for us, He helps us get focused on what is truly important: “…what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to Him, to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe teh Lord’s commands that I am giving you today for your own good”