Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, —Deuteronomy 7:9
For many of us, certain verses or passages in the Bible are linked to significant moments in our lives. Deuteronomy 7:9 is one of those verses that takes me back to 1997 when the Fighter Verse program was launched for the first time at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. This verse is special because it was the first verse in a five-year cycle of verses that we memorized as a congregation. It is also special because the truth that it reveals about the Author of all the Fighter Verses that we will memorize between now and the end of 2021.
The book of Deuteronomy records the last three messages that Moses delivered to Israel. Moses, undoubtedly aware of Israel’s past mistakes, is recounting the past and urging the people not to repeat the same mistakes. Part-way into the second of these messages we come to 7:9 where Moses exhorts the people to know their God and not forget two important truths about Him. First, He is God. He is the one and only true God. All other gods are “worthless idols” (1 Chronicles 16:26).
Second, He is faithful and demonstrates His faithfulness by keeping His covenant with His people and by His steadfastness love for His people. Three verses earlier Moses reminds the people that they were chosen by God “out of all the people on the face of the earth” to be his “treasured possession” (vs 6). He chose them not because of their greatness (vs 7) but because He is faithful—“keeping the oath” that He swore to their fathers (vs 8).
What is remarkable is that Moses reiterates in verse 9 that God’s faithfulness was conditional. It would apply only to those who “love him and keep his commandments.” The years ahead proved that these chosen people on whom God had “set his love” (vs 7) failed to meet the condition. They broke God’s covenant and failed to “love him and keep his commandments.”
After about 1200 years of Israel’s recurring failures and God’s enduring faithfulness and steadfast love, God promised through the prophet Jeremiah that the day was coming when
“I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jeremiah 31:33-34)
After another 600 years, the writer of the book of Hebrews recalls these words from Jeremiah and announces that through the blood of Jesus, a “new and living way” had been opened for all who “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” Then the writer exhorts all who are in Christ to “hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:20-23, emphasis added).
Nearly 20 years have passed since we memorized Deuteronomy 7:9 for the first time. We return to it each time we begin another five-year Fighter Verse cycle. And now, at the dawn of 2016 we open “Set 1” again and begin the cycle for the fifth time. If you stay with it, you will have 260 verses/passages memorized by 2021, each of which are upheld by the one and only God who is faithful and who keeps covenant and steadfast love to a thousand generations.
Whether you are among those who have been memorizing Fighter Verses for 20 years or those just getting started, “know therefore that the LORD your God is God.” And may this God grant you the grace to abide in His word (John 8:31, set 5, no. 35) so that you might “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might” (Ephesians 6:10, set 1, no. 26).
Have you thought about how long a thousand generations is? Turn to Matthew 1:17, which tells us the number of generations from Abraham to Christ. It is suggested that the time from Abraham to Christ spans 2,160 years. Based on these numbers, how many generations have there been since Christ? How many more years until there will have been a thousand generations?
How does it help us to know that God keeps covenant and steadfast love to a thousand generations?
In what ways have God’s faithfulness and steadfast love been demonstrated in your own life? In what ways are you needing to trust in His faithfulness and steadfast love?
Consider how you might reach out to someone who could benefit from the reminder of God’s faithfulness and steadfast love in Deuteronomy 7:9.