The summit of Mount Everest towers at 29,035 feet above sea level. On May 29, 1953, two men were the first to reach this summit; Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary became famous for this accomplishment. Since then, an additional 800 climbers have made it to the summit of Mount Everest. What those first men learned on their journey was passed down from one generation of climbers to another, paving the way for many others to scale the mountain and succeed in their own achievements.
We see in chapter 6 of Deuteronomy, Moses, the first generation leader, is teaching the next generation what it takes to establish a spiritual foundation that will last. As parents and grandparents, we can strive to give the next generation things like a good education or skills for jobs that will allow for comfortable living. But in truth, none of those things will give them the essential basis, the foundation, to live well. Only the right spiritual foundation can do that. Moses lays out two important things required for a spiritual foundation that lasts.
A Spiritual Foundation Built on Truth (vv. 1-3):
Moses starts with the truth revealed in God’s written Word as the bedrock that our spiritual foundation needs to be built upon. He states that he was directed by God to teach these truths. His charge to “teach” means more than disseminating information. The root word means ‘to challenge’. Moses challenged this next generation, who was preparing to face new battles in the Promised Land, to make the personal effort to understand the truth found in scripture. Moses would not be with them in this land; if they wanted the capacity to face whatever comes in life, this new generation would have to choose day-to-day to build a foundation on the truth.
Second, Moses taught them “to observe” the truth revealed in God’s Word. This meant more than to look at or consider. In the Old Testament this refers to responding to and applying the truth. Once again, making the effort to understand and apply the truth is something each person in the next generation would have to commit to.
Why is building the right spiritual foundation important? It is from our spiritual foundation that our perspectives and attitudes about life are formed; it is from this foundation that over time our values in life are created; and it is from this foundation our choices in life are made. A spiritual foundation, when built on the truth, will give you the capacity to grow and the strength to handle whatever life throws at you. A faulty foundation crumbles and leads to life less than what God intended for you. As a follower of Jesus, do you think you are truly committed to understanding and applying the truth from God’s Word on a personal level?
A Spiritual Foundation Expressed through Relationships (vv. 4-9):
A second critical component to building a spiritual foundation that will last is relationships. The point of building such a foundation for life is not just about you and your Bible. It is about a healthy, vibrant relationship with God (vv. 4-5) and healthy, vibrant relationships with one another (vv. 6-9). This process is relational in nature, not simply intellectual.
Some claim, “I can have a relationship with God apart from a community of faith or a church family.” This may seem true. But what we see in Deuteronomy 6 (and other scripture) is you cannot build a spiritual foundation that will last, much less pass it on to the next generation, without those relationships. In reality, your relationship with God will suffer and be less than what it can be apart from genuine relationships with other growing believers.
Jesus said this to His disciples: “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).
The truth Jesus reveals to them becomes their means for peace and power to overcome. But notice… they could only gain access to such peace and power through Christ (“in Me”). It is important to recognize that the disciples did not depart on individual, isolated journeys after Jesus made the truth accessible to them. They continued with one another. They continued to encourage one another. Healthy relationships with Christ and one another set the environment to establish a spiritual foundation for life. What are you building your foundation for life on?
“These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all His decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. Hear, O Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, promised you. Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”