“Beware Lest Thou Forget”
Lesson 17 - Deuteronomy 6, 8, 11, 32
Think about objects scattered around your home. There should be some common objects (scriptures, pictures, books, and musical recordings) that remind you of the Lord and the covenants you have made with him. Today, we’ll talk about some physical objects that the ancient Israelites used to remind themselves of the Lord and their covenants with him. In Deuteronomy, Moses taught the children of Israel to fashion an environment that would help them to resist Satan’s temptations. This lesson reviews his counsel. Today’s lesson will help us remember the Lord, our sacred covenants, and encourage us to create an environment, including physical objects, that will assist us in honoring our covenants.
Background: After trying, chastening, and instructing the Israelites as they wandered in the wilderness for some four decades, the Lord announced that they were finally approved to enter the land of their inheritance. But first, Moses had to deliver some important instructions from the Lord in three sermons that are recorded in Deuteronomy. In these sermons Moses reviewed Israel’s 40-year sojourn in the wilderness, recognizing God’s hand in their deliverance. Moses also discussed Israel’s responsibilities as God’s chosen people. He emphasized that they must obey God’s commandments, particularly the commands to remember Him and refrain from idol worship. Moses warned that although the children of Israel were ready to enter the promised land, if they returned to wickedness they would lose their inheritance and be scattered. Remember that Deuteronomy contains Moses’ last words to the Israelites.
“He will not forsake thee” (Deuteronomy 4:31)
After prophesying that the Israelites would turn to the worship of other gods and be scattered (Deuteronomy 4:25-28), Moses offered words of hope…
Deuteronomy 4:29-31 – Moses promised those who seek the Lord with all their hearts that “thou shalt find him”, and further, that they would not be forsaken, destroyed, or forgotten. (Also see Isaiah 49:14-16.)
Moses gave instructions to the Israelites to help them remember their covenants.
Deuteronomy 6:5-9; 11:18-20 - The Lord commanded the Israelites to put the words of the scriptures into their hearts. Moses counseled the Israelites to wear frontlets—strips of parchment on which were written four passages of scripture. Those scriptures “were rolled up and attached to bands of leather worn … around the forehead or around the arm” [Bible Dictionary, “Frontlets,” 676]).
Moses told the people to place passages of scripture between their eyes, on their hands, on the posts of their houses, and on their gates. He understood the importance of such constant physical reminders.
Application: Parents must effectively teach the gospel to their children and help them learn to love the scriptures. In our homes, the pictures on our walls, the books we buy and read, and the movies and television shows we watch can remind us of the Lord, his words, and our covenants with him, or they can reflect worldly concerns.
o “Write them upon the posts of thy house” (Deuteronomy 6:9)
If you listed the paintings, posters, musical and/or video recordings, and other objects (magazines, books, collectibles) in your home and labeled each item with either a “+” (indicating that the object is likely to lead you to remember the Lord) or a “-” (indicating that it is more likely to lead your heart away from the Lord), how would your home score? You may want to do this with your family during a family home evening.
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, 6-7).
Moses counseled the Israelites to obey God’s commandments and remember Him.
Deuteronomy 6:10-12; 8:1-20 - Moses’ wanted to be sure they remembered the Lord, obeyed the commandments, remembered the blessings from the Lord, and worshipped him rather than idols.
Deuteronomy 8:11 - We “forget” the Lord when we do not oobey his commandments.
Deuteronomy 8:19 - Moses spelled out the consequences of forgetting God – they would perish!
Application: How can we be sure that we do not forget God?
*Deuteronomy 6:10-12; 8:10-20 (Cited above) – Moses warned that success, prosperity, pride, and subsequent disobedience might cause people to forget God.
Deuteronomy 8:17 – Moses specifically warned against pride and conceit that comes with riches.
President Brigham Young said: “The worst fear that I have about [members of this Church] 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 , 128).
Deuteronomy 8:18 – The people were reminded that the Lord is the source of any prosperity.
Deuteronomy 8:18; Jacob 2:18-19 – The people’s blessings came as a fulfillment of the Lord’s covenant with their fathers. Those riches were intended to be used in the Lord’s work.
Deuteronomy 13:6-8 – One major danger Moses warn against was being drawn into worshipping idols. Application: We need to carefully evaluate influences from others who might try to pull us away from the Lord. If someone tries to tempt us, we should be prepared to counteract that influence immediately.
“They shall not appear before the Lord empty”
Deuteronomy 16:2,11,16 - The place mentioned is the tabernacle, which was the portable temple for the Israelites. In preparation for a feast at the tabernacle, Moses instructed the people not to “appear before the Lord empty” (Deuteronomy 16:16).
Application: Today, this counsel might apply to our temple attendance. With proper preparation for temple attendance, we can assure that we do not enter the temple “empty”. Our preparation should help us to “rejoice before the Lord” in the temple (Deuteronomy 16:11).
President Howard W. Hunter counseled: “Let us be a temple-attending people. Attend the temple as frequently as personal circumstances allow. Keep a picture of a temple in your home that your children may see it” (Ensign, Nov. 1994, 8). It is important for us to go to the temple as frequently as possible to remember our covenants and cultivate a proper spirit within us. To remind us of this responsibility and privilege, it is important to keep a picture of a temple in our homes as a constant reminder.
Deuteronomy 32:3-4, 15, 18, 30-31 - The Rock spoken of is the Lord
Helaman 5:12 - The rock symbolizes the solid foundation provided by Jesus Christ.
Deuteronomy 32:31 - Moses declared that “their rock” (the false gods of the wicked) “is not as our Rock”
Deuteronomy 32:37-40 – “Their rock” is different from “our Rock” (Christ) because their rock is not God and cannot provide the blessings of the true god.
Deuteronomy 18:18-19 - This scripture, in prophesying of the coming of Christ, tells of the need to hearken to his words.
The things we place around us—such as pictures, books, and music—can be powerful reminders of the Lord and the covenants we have made with him. Our purpose in surrounding ourselves with these things is the same as the ancient Israelites’ purpose in wearing frontlets: to help us build upon “the Rock”—to help us remember and follow the Lord.
“No man knoweth of his sepulchre” (Deuteronomy 34:6)
The writer who finished the book of Deuteronomy knew only that Moses was gone and so assumed that he had died, that the Lord had buried him, and that no one knew where his grave was. However, we know that Moses was translated. (For an explanation of the state of translated beings, see 3 Nephi 28:7-9, 37-40.) The Bible Dictionary gives the following explanation of Moses’ translation: “As was the case with many of the ancient prophets, Moses’ ministry extended beyond the limits of his own mortal lifetime. In company with Elijah, he came to the Mount of Transfiguration and bestowed keys of the priesthood upon Peter, James, and John (Matthew 17:3-4; Mark 9:4-9; Luke 9:30; D&C 63:21; History of the Church, 3:387). From this event, which occurred before the resurrection of Jesus, we understand that Moses was a translated being and had not died as reported in Deuteronomy 34 (Alma 45:19). It was necessary that he be translated, in order to have a body of flesh and bones at the time of the transfiguration, since the resurrection had not yet taken place. Had he been a spirit only, he could not have performed the work on the mount of giving the keys to the mortal Peter, James, and John (cf. D&C 129)” (Bible Dictionary, “Moses,” 735).
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