Easier the First Time

Deuteronomy 10:1-3 “At that time the Lord said to me, ‘Cut out for yourself two tablets of stone like the former ones, and come up to Me on the mountain, and make an ark of wood for yourself. I will write on the tablets the words that were on the former tablets which you shattered, and you shall put them in the ark.’  So I made an ark of acacia wood and cut out two tablets of stone like the former ones, and went up on the mountain with the two tablets in my hand.”

Observation: When Moses had first come down the mountain with the original tablets of the Ten Commandments, he had found the people in rebellion and had destroyed the original tablets. So now, God was instructing him to cut two new tablets, build an ark to keep them in, and carry them up the mountain so God could again write His commandments. 

Application: These instructions must have felt like real punishment to Moses. The stunning thing about these verses is how much easier Moses’s life would have been if everyone had been obedient the first time. After all, the first time, God had cut the stone tablets out of the rock himself, using His finger. The second time around, Moses had to do it. 

How did that work? Did he use a band saw with carbon-tipped blade or perhaps a laser beam? Then, he was told to build an ark of acacia wood. Did the local Home Depot carry that kind of lumber? No, he would probably have to find an acacia tree and saw his own. 

Finally, this really, really old guy was to carry the blank stone tablets back up the mountain. Wow! Think how tempted he must have been to mutter epithets under his breath against the rebellious Israelites, but he knew better. After all, he was already paying the price for their rebellion in all this hard work he had to do. With each cut of the chisel in the stone, with each stroke of the saw, with each labored step up the mountain carrying his heavy burden, he must have been thinking how much easier it would have been to obey God the first time.

How many difficult things in my life might have been easier had I been quicker, or more thorough, in my obedience the first time around?

Prayer: Lord, remind me not to break these new tablets! Help me to learn of You the first time, to follow with a glad heart wherever You may lead so I don’t have to keep repeating lessons already taught. And show me Lord what situations I may be in now where I’m in danger of having to repeat a lesson because I’m not paying sufficient attention the first time.

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