Since the beginning of creation God has always desired to be the center of our devotion - our worship. His desire becomes very evident as we examine the scriptures and study His “living habits” among man. The book of Genesis tells us that Adam and Eve lived in and cared for God’s garden. There they enjoyed His constant companionship. The relationship was so intimate they knew the sound of His walk (Gen3:8). When the couple transgressed, their disobedience separated them from the intimacy they were so comfortable with. God was no longer the center of their affection. Their attention now included a distraction - evil.
When God delivered the children of Israel from the hand of Pharaoh, they were given a covenant that would once again place Him in the center of their lives. Separated from the ways of Egypt, God revealed Himself as whatever they needed Him to be – I AM THAT I AM. God’s house was situated in the center of town (The Temple of Meeting or the Tabernacle as it was called) and their worship of Him was a way of life, not a religion. They were free to be all that God intended for them to be. Once again they were in a position to get to know God intimately. The law, which was designed to place God first, was given to govern their lives. The sacrifices, instructions and commandments were given as a reminder of the covenant with Him. If these commandments were not adhered to they would face consequences -- if they were followed they would reap benefits. Moses sums it up in Duet 6:1-9 (NLT)
“These are all the commands, laws, and regulations that the LORD your God told me to teach you so you may obey them in the land you are about to enter and occupy, and so you and your children and grandchildren might fear the LORD your God as long as you live. If you obey all his laws and commands, you will enjoy a long life. Listen closely, Israel, to everything I say. Be careful to obey. Then all will go well with you, and you will have many children in the land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, promised you. “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are away on a journey, when you are lying down and when you are getting up again. Tie them to your hands as a reminder, and wear them on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
If taken to heart, the above passage speaks of a way of life that would make Him the center of their personal and corporate lives. He was to become their passion. They were to become so engrossed with Him, as if they were sponges literally dripping with the essence of Him. If they would follow Him with all their hearts, all of the issues of life would be laced with His wisdom. Raising children would not be a problem, marriages would stand under pressure, and churches would be full of those who celebrate His worthiness. The possibilities are endless as to what a simple task of putting God first in our day-to-day lives would entail.
As easy as it sounds, the simple task of placing God first could not be accomplished in man’s own strength. From the book of Deuteronomy through Malachi there are accounts of Israel’s capture, exile and deliverance from their enemies. Time after time they forgot about God. They had to be reminded by a prophet of God to turn back to Him. In the book of Judges, when they would turn back to Him, God would send a judge to help them in battle. 2 Samuel recalls how He set David as King and Judge to show them what a God “center full” life would look like. Every King after David was compared to the way in which He worshiped God and his love for the things of God. In the course of time God sent His only begotten Son to redeem man back to Himself.
Hebrew 8: 8-12 - Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the LORD. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”
In this brief overview we see very clearly it is God’s perfect will we worship Him solely. He desires to be the center of our decisions, thoughts and all of our affairs. We have His laws written on our hearts and in our minds. If we were to forget them, the Holy Spirit would bring us back to remember Him. This was made possible through the once and for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Today He dwells in our hearts.
Bringing this passage in the contemporary makes it very plain that He still desires to be the center of our attention. This is not always an easy choice – we must make an effort to put Him first in everything we do. We must make a decision to keep Him in the center of the neighborhood of our hearts, worshiping Him not as religious duty but as a way of life. When we place Him in the highest place in our hearts, our lives gain perspective and the reality of life takes on a whole new meaning. He is the center of life.