Assemble the people—men, women and children, and the foreigners residing in your towns. Deuteronomy 31:12
As they sang praise songs together in the multi-generational worship service, many experienced joy and peace. But not a frazzled mother. As she jiggled her baby, who was on the verge of crying, she held the songbook for her five-year-old while trying to stop her toddler from running off. Then an older gentleman sitting behind her offered to walk the toddler around the church and a young woman motioned that she could hold the songbook for the eldest child. Within two minutes, the mother’s experience was transformed and she could exhale, close her eyes, and worship God.
God has always intended that all His people worship Him—men and women, old and young, longtime believers, and newcomers. As Moses blessed the tribes of Israel before they entered the promised land, he urged them all to meet together, “men, women and children, and the foreigners residing in your towns,” so that they could “listen and learn to fear the Lord your God” and to follow His commands (Deuteronomy 31:12). It honors God when we make it possible for His people to worship Him together, no matter our stage of life.
That morning in church, the mother, the older gentleman, and the young woman each experienced God’s love through giving and receiving. Perhaps the next time you’re at church, you too could either extend God’s love through an offer of help or you could be the one accepting the act of grace.
How have you experienced the body of Christ as encompassing many generations and people groups? How have you given and received God’s love while at church?
Loving Jesus, You long that all people would feel welcomed when they come to worship You. Help us to be those who notice others and reach out in love.
The hopeful picture that Moses paints in Deuteronomy 31:9–13 of Israel gathered to hear the law of God foreshadows sadness. Throughout the Old Testament, it’s disheartening to notice that Israel never followed this command that Moses gave the people until after the exile.
We get reports of the abject failure of the priesthood (1 Samuel 2:22–36; 8:1–3), but nowhere until the time of Ezra do we find the priests teaching the people to follow God (Nehemiah 8:1–3). This is the first recorded time Israel obeyed Moses’ directions after nearly a millennium.
Then the zeal of Ezra eventually led to the increasingly legalistic approach of the Pharisees. Israel always struggled with the law—first ignoring it and then making it more than it should be. The true task of following God’s law, as Jesus said, is summed up in loving God first and others as ourselves (Matthew 22:37–39).