In a follow-up article about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the AP reported* that one small nearby hamlet was spared. Why? A centuries-old stone tablet cautioned: “High dwellings are the peace and harmony of our descendants. Remember the calamity of the great tsunamis. Do not build any homes below this point.” So they didn’t.
To clarify, the residents were not spared because of the marker.
They were saved because they heeded its warning!
The article stated that hundreds of such markers dot the coastline, some more than 600 years old. “If an earthquake comes,” one reads, “beware of tsunamis.”
God has given us markers too, one written on stone with his finger. Some are stories of healings, some are miraculous provision, some are signs and wonders.
“People had this crucial knowledge, but they were busy with their lives and jobs, and many forgot,” said Yotaru Hatmura, a scholar who has studied the tablets. “Always be prepared for unexpected tsunamis. Choose life over your possessions and valuables,” another warned.
He went on to say, “It takes about three generations for people to forget. Those that experience the disaster themselves pass it to their children and their grandchildren, but then the memory fades.”
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
And these words which I command you this today shall be in your heart.
You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them
when you sit in your house,
when you walk by the way,
when you lie down,
and when you rise up.
You shall bind them as a sign on your hand,
and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.
You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
The ten commandments is one of our markers. Moses repeatedly told God’s people to observe them and to keep them, “you, you and your son and grandson, all the days of your life.” And Moses instructed them how to observe and keep them, so that the words were in their hearts.
You shall teach them. (Don’t leave it up to someone else.)
You shall teach them diligently (with a steady, earnest and energetic effort).
You shall teach them diligently to your children (including toddlers, see Proverbs 4:3, “tender”).
You shall teach them and talk of them (informally, naturally, spontaneously).
You shall teach them and talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way (in the comfort, security, and safety of your home and neighborhood).
You shall teach them and talk of them at home when you lie down, and when you rise up (consistently, regularly, systematically–at every opportunity). (Geneva Study Bible: “You shall whet them upon your children,” in order to imprint them more deeply in their memory. Wesley: “whet, or sharpen them, so as they may pierce deep into their hearts… instructing them…diligently, earnestly, frequently, discreetly.”)
You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. (Do whatever it takes to make them a priority. Don’t forget them.)
You shall teach them and talk of them and write them down. (Commit them to paper and to memory.)
You shall teach them and talk of them and write them down on your house and on your gates (through signs and symbols and artwork and decorations).
You shall teach them because you love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul and strength.
You shall teach them because these words, these commandments, are in your heart. They define you. They describe you. They’re woven into your identity.
You shall teach them in obedience to the LORD.
You shall teach them, for in doing so there is long life and provision and multiplied blessings.
Heed the markers so that the generations to come will “set their hope in God not forget the works of God.”
For He established a testimony in Jacob,
and appointed a law in Israel,
which He commanded our fathers,
that they should make them known to their children;
that the generation to come might know them,
the children who would be born,
that they may arise and declare them to their children,
that they may set their hope in God
and not forget the works of God
but keep His commandments;
Have you heeded this ancient marker? Are you doing what the Lord commands you to do in these verses? They are not ambiguous. They are not confusing. They are clear. They are straight-forward.
The consequence for thousands in Japan who did not know about or did not heed the ancient markers was fatal.
Jesus tells the story of a rich man who died and went to hell, and a sore-covered beggar named Lazarus who died and went to heaven. The rich man, in torment, saw the beggar with Abraham, and asked for Lazarus to dip his finger in water to cool the man’s tongue.
It’s not possible, Abraham said.
So the rich man begged Abraham to send Lazarus to his brothers to warn them about hell. Abraham said to him, “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.”
The rich man protested! “No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.”
But Abraham said to him, “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets (the ancient markers), neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.”
You’ve read the ancient markers. You’ve seen the miracles of Jesus. You know of His resurrection from the dead. Choose life, not possessions or valuables, for yourself and your family. Don’t be so busy with your lives and jobs that you forget, or let your children forget, the good things of God. Don’t let the memories fade. Heed the ancient markers, so that your children will set their hope in God.
*Ancient markers warn of tsunamis, Jay Alabaster, The Denver Post, Thursday, 4/7/2011, 11A