Where is the “there” we are to return from?

Deut 4:29 NLT

Where is the “there” we are coming from? Because from “there” if we search again, we will find the LORD our God.  This is part of a section in Deuteronomy called A Warning Against Idolatry where Moses is instructing the Israelites.  The verse before this one says:

“There, in a foreign land, you will worship idols made from wood and stone—gods that neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell.” Deuteronomy‬ ‭4:28‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Worshiping idols made from wood and stone, in today’s terms, could mean idols made of material, or man-made things, as well as elements of the created world. “There” is in a foreign land, a land far away from the LORD our God.

Idolatry is defined in Websters as:  the worship of a picture or object as a god. A thing. An object. Maybe a person. Maybe a feeling. Maybe even a drug, or experience. Some have said it could even be ourselves. Putting ourselves first could be a form of idolatry.

It begs the question, who is an idolator? Who worships idols made of wood and stone? There are a LOT of verses about idols in the Bible, but in Romans, Paul says this:

“They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen.”  Romans‬ ‭1:25‬ ‭NLT‬‬

They traded the truth about God for a lie. “There” could be the lies we believe. They worshipped and served the things God created. “There” could be the love and attention we pay to things around us, the things we desire, or the creation, and not the Creator.

My thought is that “there” is any place but God’s Presence. It could also be that “there” is anything we do that doesn’t bring glory to God.

It could be that “there” applies to prodigals, or even those not living a life according to God’s commandments. It easier to think of “there” as not where I am.  I am here, in God’s Presence, because I went to church and worshipped Him yesterday.

But what if “there” is where I go several times a day. When I lose patience. When I don’t cherish every life. When I stray from the commandments. When I lose hope. When I doubt. When I say unkind or untrue things.

That is when the second, marvelous, part of the verse comes in. Hope renewed, doubt cast out, grace abounding, the fruits of the Spirit overflow. Because, ” if you search for him with all your heart and soul, you will find him.”  Deuteronomy‬ ‭4:29‬b ‭NLT‬‬

No matter where “there” is, no matter where you have strayed, no matter how far you have strayed or how long, no matter if you’ve never found the LORD our God before, if you search for him with ALL your heart and soul, you WILL find him.

He promises this. And He is a God who is faithful, and patient, and righteous, about all of his children. And you, me, our neighbor, our leaders, even those who hate us, are his children.

Pray that those who are “there” will begin to seek God with all their hearts and souls. Pray they will find God, and choose to worship Him. Forever.


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