In class today we examined Deuteronomy 4. One thing that is notable about this chapter is how many times Moses speaks about what is necessary in order for the people to enter and to occupy the Promised Land. The class discussed the difference between entering and occupying. Entering involves being present; occupying involves going beyond just being present but also becoming engaged. To occupy you have to invest yourself, give yourself over to something.
In the discussion about how the Children of Israel would be able to not only enter the Promised Land, but also occupy the Promised Land, we reflected on the help that they were given: They were given the Law and teachings that would unite the people in an agreed upon way to live together; they were put on guard to be alert to the lure of worshiping pagan idols and how split devotion would cripple their ability to fully “occupy” God’s promises; and – most importantly – they were assured of God’s continued faithfulness. In Deut. 4:28-31, Moses predicts that they will stumble and make bad decisions, but beyond their failings Moses assures them of a great promise, “…the Lord your God is a merciful God, he will neither abandon you nor destroy you; he will not forget the covenant with your ancestors that he swore to them.”
As the discussion continued and considered how these words speak to us today, we reflected on how we are called to enter and occupy the sanctuary when we come to worship. Do we only enter? What is our worship like when we “occupy’? In our discussion about the threats of idolatry, we looked at idolatry as that which diverts us from a primary focus on the God. What are the things to which we are most susceptible to such diversions?