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Moses and the Pilgrims

Deuteronomy for Our Day

 

 

Have you ever considered as you’ve read Moses report of Israel’s history in Deuteronomy Eight how it seems to almost parallel our own history? It is amazing how, in chapters six and. in particular, eight, one could almost substitute the words: “The U.S.A..” If we examine verse two of chapter eight: ”Remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no, “and substitute a few words like “Pilgrims,” the same verse, would read almost like a page out of Bradford’s history of those Pilgrims:

Remember all the way which the Lord your God led you across that great Atlantic and how these forty years in the wilderness of New England I’ve tried you to humble you, and to prove you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep my commandments, or no. For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey; A land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass.(Deuteronomy 8:7-9) And Bradford himself wrote that, “(H)e felt the sweetness of the country...this year; and not only we but all the planters in the land began to do it.” (“Letter to Cushman June 9, 1625, from Letter Book,” pp.36-7.1

Once everyone in this country knew about those hardy and godly folks from Olde England! Folks knew once that they instituted civil government here through the Mayflower Compact; knew how trying that “adventure” was for those Pilgrims in the year 1620: the stormy trip on a crowded ship that almost capsized on their way here; the problems with the “strangers” on board, the year of bone-chilling weather, extreme illness, and famine while living on board the ship anchored in Cape Cod while they were trying to build homes and then plant their gardens as the weather improved. Yet, God preserved them so that “none of them went back.

William Bradford, governor to the Pilgrims, actually quoting from Deuteronomy eight said,

God, it seems, would have all men to behold and observe such mercies, that they in like cases might be encouraged to depend upon God in their trial, and also to bless His name when they see His goodness towards others. Man does not live by bread only, Deuteronomy viii.3. It is not by good and dainty fare, by peace and rest and heart’s ease...that preserves health and prolongs life; God in such examples would have the world see and behold that He can do it without them (and without many other amenities not quoted!2)....  (Words in parentheses ed’s.)

In consequence of this I’m wondering if you have ever considered studying Deuteronomy chapters six and eight, as it applies, in particular to us, the heirs of our Founding Fathers? Can we learn anything from these passages?

I was sixty years old when I learned about our Founding Fathers and I didn’t have a clue that I’d been cheated out of “what God has done for us”/our wonderful Christian history. As one to whom the Lord did, eventually, give the privilege of learning about our Founders it makes me weep when I think about all the wonderful ways God led us those 200 years from 1578 all the way to 1787, "all the way the Lord our God had led us. “Imagine! No one told me anything about it! But, as I have learned our history/His story, our Lord has given me the privilege of teaching and writing about our Founders. So, here I am talking to some who undoubtedly have had the same experience I had-cheated out of the wonderful details and truths about all those two hundred exciting years of our founding-from the Pilgrims to Washington. Maybe you are one of those who have discovered some of these amazing things right off this web site! But some of you reading this have not. You’ve been cheated! However, here at www.AmericanChristianHistory.com you may discover riches you never knew existed.

Ah, yes, you’ve heard of one of those Founders: Washington. You know who we’re talking about and even when his birthday is when we hear that name. But what about the multitudinous acts of providential care God provided during those intervening years? How can we, you and I, be thankful for any of those if we haven’t heard? (Yes, we have been cheated!) And what have we come to as a result of not being able to remember Him and his providential “miracles,” unable to give him the credit he deserves? Didn’t he say he is a jealous God who will not give his glory to another? Scary, isn’t it?-because we know what happened to Israel for forgetting...and we know what has been happening in our own country.

Of course, if we don’t know, we don’t know that we don’t know! (Read that again.) The Israelites, however, did know. When they left Egypt and began their trek to the Promised Land he gave orders to Moses to tell the people, “Remember this day,” he said and then began a recital of all He had, and would, do for them.” This formula was repeated many times in the coming years: Remember what I have done for you a.k.a. “His-story.” Over and over it is repeated: “Remember what I, your God, have done for you.”

Furthermore, (and God is always very explicit), furthermore, he enjoined3 them to remember by telling “what I have done for you/”your history” -to your children,” (Deuteronomy 6:7). This commandment is one of those given in the previous six verses. In fact, he said to teach those little ones diligently the stories of their experiences before, during, and after their wilderness journey (“after”-when they would arrive in the Promised Land-the stories of Joshua’s conquest of the land for example). How does one teach diligently all the time? How did the Israelites do that? God told them exactly how. And even added that he would bless them if they did.

And thou shalt...talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. Deuteronomy 6:7

Do we have stories to tell? Of course we do! Do we have a history of “what I have done for you” to tell our children? Of course we do!

How about getting a copy of Bradford’s Of Plymouth Plantation (or The Governor’s Story from this web site) and telling stories of what the Pilgrims went through. And about those leaders trying to obey God when England was harassing them. And what those farmers, book sellers, and teachers, candlestick makers, and store keepers went through when Great Britain filled Boston with soldiers. And Lexington! And the fight for their lives during the war that followed.4

How children love to hear grandpa and grandma tell stories. Mothers and daddies are good bed-time story tellers, too. Do you think we could tell “all the way that the Lord our God led us from England to the shores of Plymouth Plantation”? stories of our struggle with England and how they handled the problems she was giving us? the many trips those men, of Revolutionary War fame, made, on horse back, by buggy, on foot, to Philadelphia; about the trying winter at Valley Forge. What soul-stirring tales we have to tell!

One of my students reminded me recently that, not only did God tell the Israelites to tell His-story, he also gave them times for dramatizing them: Passover was one of the most memorable one; feasts and the building of stone monuments being others. Do we have such? How about telling the story of the first “Fourth of July”? Or stories of Washington using the background of the Washington monument? Imagine the drama of telling the providence of God as he crossed the Delaware among the ice-flows, or how He was sent unexpected aid to “whip the militia into shape” during the trying days of Valley Forge. How about his “miraculous escape from Long Island” when God sent wind, rain, and an unexpected, heavy fog to assist them. Do we have stories to tell!!! And, of course, the Biblical principles of our government can be woven throughout these exciting events. What kind of stories do parents tell today? How much more exciting and instructive the above are compared to some of the pallid, shallow tales of today.

Were there consequences for forgetting what God had done for the Israelites?  Did God warn Moses about what would happen to the Israelites if they forgot?  Deuteronomy 8:18-19 gives us the answer:

(T)hou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth,... And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the Lord thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish.

“Ye shall surely perish!”  What dreadful words!  Did they forget?  Did they perish?  Does that scare you?  It scares me because of what I have learned from that....because we have forgotten how God founded this nation.  He led us step by step to create the first nation on earth based on the Bible; based on solid Biblical principles of good civil government.  Yes, he did!  (Not only that but do we even know there are Biblical principles woven into our Constitution?)  Have you ever heard the boast that:

“My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth”?

Are men, today, walking after other gods, serving them, worshiping them and living like Paul described in Romans, chapter 1:21-32?

The question now is: have we been taught our history?  Have the things the Lord our God done for us been told us?  No. And, because of that, we have “forgotten” His-story of our country.  It would seem we need to recall how He warned Israel as recorded in Deuteronomy 8:17-20.  Moses told them if you say: 

“My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth” there are consequences. “Remember,” Moses warned, “the Lord our God said: ‘It is I that giveth thee power to get wealth, ...if thou do at all forget the Lord thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish. As the nations which the Lord destroyed before your face, so shall ye perish; because ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the Lord your God.’” (Deuteronomy 8: 18-20)

What solemn words ring in our hearts as we meditate on these words and think about our responsibilities: “thou shalt remember!”  In our day God has raised up some very wonderful Christian people to tell those stories so that you and I, Dorothy Robbins, are able hear (just as the Israelites had Moses to tell them) the wonderful stories of the providential works of God on the behalf of our ancestors who founded this country.  My challenge to you from Deuteronomy is that, as Moses gave a recital of the amazing things God had done for the Israelites, you, too, will want to learn the things kept from us in regard to our history "His-story" of our country and will “tell thy son, teach diligently thy children Godstory.”5

For an introduction to America’s Christian History, writings written especially for you, based on the same resource our Founders used, the Bible, and using original writings of those Founders:

You can find these here The Governor’s Story; You, Your Child and the Constitution; You and the Bill of Rights. There you can learn what the world is trying to keep from us - Our Christian History


Footnotes:

1. Wm. Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation, A New Edition by Samuel Eliot Morison, Alfred A. Knopf, publisher, New York, 1952, p.178

2. Wm. Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation, A New Edition by Samuel Eliot Morison, Alfred A. Knopf, publisher, New York, 1952, p.329.p. 90.

3. “Enjoined, Ordered; directed; admonished with authority; commanded.” Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English language.

4. Read the story of The Sly Spy (and The Slippery Soldier) on this web site.

5. A good place to start is with The Governor’s Story on this web site.  Imagine discovering 400 years of your history in a fascinating, fast moving story of only 200 pages.  Dr. George Grant stated: “The Governor’s Story should be on everyone’s book shelf!”  Is it on yours?  It reads like a mystery story!  Follow the clues!  Those who have read it love it and read it over and over again.  Imagine a book folks read more than once!  That’s The Governor’s Story.  Don’t waste any time getting it. Do it now!!


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