“Lay up these words of mine in your heart.” Deuteronomy 11:18
The Book of Deuteronomy is a truly unique book in the Hebrew Bible: it closes out the Torah and thus brings completion to the first unit of Scripture. Along with this, Deuteronomy acts as a retelling of everything that happened to the Israelites, from the miraculous exodus out of Egypt to their wandering through the wilderness for forty years. As if this were not enough, Deuteronomy acts as Moses’ last testament to the Israelites. He knows that he will not be crossing the Jordan into the Promised Land with them, so he uses the last bit of time he has remaining to reiterate to the new generation of Israelites everything that they must do in order to live as God had called them to live and to successfully possess, inhabit, and enjoy the Promised Land.
Moses recounts everything for the new generation: from the Exodus to the giving of the Law at Sinai to the forty years of wandering. The new generation had to understand why everything had happened the way it had, and why they must be different from their forefathers. Moses implores the new generation of Israelites to store up everything he had told them in their hearts—to take this most crucial information about how to live and serve God and store it in the very core of their beings.
Similar language is used in Proverbs 7:3 where the author, possibly Solomon himself, encourages his son to keep the commandments and write them on the tablet of his heart so that he will not forget them. This concerned father is telling his son to etch this critical, life-giving information into the very essence of his being. Today we might go as far as to say to tattoo it on your heart. The idea remains the same: to make every word of God part of your very being.
Therein lies the problem. We are sinners who actively rebel against God. Our very essence is tainted and our most basic nature seeks to do that which God commands us not to do. Very seldom do we write God’s words on our hearts; more often the opposite is true. We look for every opportunity to do the antithesis of what we are called to do. We sin, whether we desire to or not. Our hearts are hard and are as stone. We are essentially incapable of ‘tattooing’ our own hearts.
It would be a tragic story if it ended here, one without hope or redemption. But God, in His infinite wisdom and mercy has a plan. Our salvation is not dependent upon our ability to write His words on our hearts, for God knows we cannot. In Ezekiel 36:26, God tells Israel that a day is coming when He will “remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh,”—a heart that is soft and receptive and malleable to His will. Similarly, God promised in Jeremiah 31:33 to make a new covenant with Israel, to put the Law within them, and that He will “write it on their hearts.” Just as the stone tablets containing the Law that Moses received had been written with the very “finger of God,” (Deuteronomy 9:10), so too will God write His Law upon the new hearts of flesh of His people. Think about that: God Himself will write His Law upon the hearts of His people. He will do for us that which we never could ourselves.
When will this happen? It has already begun. It began when Christ hung on the cross, enduring the agony of being forsaken by the Father. It began when he uttered “It is finished,” and gave up the ghost. It began when Christ willingly died to initiate the New Covenant that He made official with His own blood. This New Covenant is one that promises redemption with God and freedom from slavery to sin. This New Covenant isn’t exclusive to only Israel; it is open to any and all who are willing to submit themselves to Christ and confess Him as Savior, Messiah, and God. Those who submit to Christ, who allow Him to cover them with His blood of the New Covenant, will have their sin-riddled hearts of stone replaced with hearts of flesh—the very ones that God Himself will write His law upon. Then things will be just as Jeremiah prophesied: “ And I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
Just remember this: we are God’s people, transformed entirely by Him through Christ, with His law written upon our hearts of flesh by His very finger.
photo courtesy of thehealthsite.com