Each day at a post office in Jerusalem, workers sort through piles of undeliverable letters in an attempt to guide each to its recipient. Many end up in a specially marked box labeled “Letters to God.”
About a thousand such letters reach Jerusalem each year, addressed simply to God or Jesus. Puzzled by what to do with them, one worker began taking the letters to Jerusalem’s Western Wall to have them placed between its stone blocks with other written prayers. Most of the letters ask for a job, a spouse, or good health. Some request forgiveness, others just offer thanks. One man asked God if his deceased wife could appear in his dreams because he longed to see her again. Each sender believed God would listen, if only He could be reached.
The Israelites learned much as they journeyed through the wilderness. One lesson was that their God wasn’t like the other gods known at the time—distant, deaf, geographically bound, reached only by lengthy pilgrimage or international mail. No, “the
God doesn’t live in Jerusalem. He’s close by us, wherever we are. Some still need to discover this radical truth. If only each of those letters could be sent the reply: God is right beside you. Just talk to Him.
Deuteronomy 4:5–8 comes just after Moses has recounted the greatest disappointment of his long life. God prevented Moses from entering the Promised Land because of how he mishandled his anger with the people (3:23–27; also Numbers 20:1–13). Despite his grief, Moses continued to serve God by advising His people even as he transitioned power to Joshua. Here Moses emphasizes the distinctiveness of Israel. “What other nation is so great?” he asks rhetorically (Deuteronomy 4:7–8). After all, God had chosen this nation to be His treasured possession (see Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 14:2; 26:18).
Those who follow Jesus are also treasured by God and set apart for Him. Peter reminds us, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession” (1 Peter 2:9).