Wisdom Wednesday: Wandering from the Safe Way

Wisdom Wednesday: Wandering from the Safe Way

Submitted by Debbie’s Dad

Thus says the LORD to this people, “Even so they have loved to wander; they have not kept their feet in check. Therefore the LORD does not accept them; now He will remember their iniquity and call their sins to account.”

(Jeremiah 14:10 NASB 1995)


My son is a good pilot and loves to fly his family around the country on vacations and to distant events for my granddaughter’s swim and robotics events. He is a good, Navy-trained pilot and I have learned a lot from him about flying. I remember when he was first beginning to fly jet aircraft, how he described how fast things moved, and how different it was than turboprop aircraft. He had to think faster and farther ahead because the plane was moving so much faster. He also described how he had to be very aware of the “envelope” of the aircraft performance limits. Pilots are taught to fly within the restrictions or limits of the aircraft they’re flying. The most fundamental graph of these limits is a plot of the altitude and speed limits that forms a shape that is called the “envelope”, a trapezoid-shaped area within a speed-altitude plot. Remain within the envelope and you are safe; go outside and the envelope and you are in grave danger. If a pilot flies too high and too slow, the aircraft will lose lift and stall–falling to the ground. Flying too fast and too low also exceeds the envelope limits and is also a high risk. Flying too high and too fast can place the aircraft in a deadly spin–another great risk. Pilots learn to respect the boundaries that make up the unique envelope for each particular aircraft type.

In a similar way, God placed boundaries on the behavior of the Hebrew people. He gave them laws and covenants to guide their behavior so they could maintain a special relationship with Him and avoid the sinful behavior of the pagan nations around them.

The Hebrew people, called the children of Israel, approached the promised land after wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. It was a younger generation of people and Moses assembled them and spoke to them a message which is recorded in the book of Deuteronomy. In the first five chapters, Moses recounted God’s faithfulness:

  • In chapters 1 and 2, He reviewed what God had done in the past four decades as He led them out of Egypt and now, at the southeast of the land, they stood before the edge of the promised land. He highlighted that God had been with them and they “lacked nothing”.
  • Chapter 3 recounted the recent conquests as they rounded the southern side of the promised land, and God’s instruction that Moses himself would see at a distance from a mountain, but not enter the land.
  • Chapter 4 begins with “Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I am teaching …” (4:1) as Moses recounted God’s provision, bringing them out of Egypt and giving them the Law. Uniquely placing emphasis on the wisdom of the Jewish people, Moses emphasized, “So keep and do them, for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ (4:6) [underlined emphasis on wisdom added.] These boundaries of behavior, the delineation of sinfulness, were the unique evidence of Israel’s wisdom and understanding of human behavior.
  • In the fifth chapter, Moses reminds them of the ten commandments, repeating each command, and how God provided them to the people.

Closing the fifth chapter, Moses provided this direct instruction:

“So you shall observe to do just as the Lord your God has commanded you; you shall not turn aside to the right or to the left. You shall walk in all the way which the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you will possess.” (Deuteronomy 5:32-33)

But by the time of the divided kingdom, the people had departed from the envelope. They turned to the right and the left and wandered far from God’s instruction. The had stalled; they were in a tailspin and about to be conquered. And this was the epitaph of the Jewish nation at the time of Jeremiah: “You have loved to wander”.

We are wise to stay on the straight path through life, and not to wander to the right or left. If we remain in the safe boundary of the envelope God has given, we will move through life with his protection. We will not stall, nor will we spin.

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