You all do not know what it is like to grow up without a cell phone in your pocket. This affords you the ability to contact anyone at anytime regardless of whether they are near or far. If you get a flat tire on 95, you can call for help. When you go to meet someone at the mall, you can text them once you arrive. Instant contact with a person is a given no matter the distance. In my day, we had to schedule everything ahead of time. If I got a flat tire, I either had to change it myself or walk to the nearest gas station or phone. If I was meeting friends at the mall, we had to decide the place and time long before we left the house for it to all work out. If the person was not near enough to physically see or call, we had a slim chance of ever getting together.
Being “near” or “far” away to contact someone is Moses subject for the Israelites today. He wants to make sure they remember at this point as they start life in the Promised Land, how God is near when they call upon him, and he is not talking cell phone calls! God has proven to be near to them throughout their 40 years of wandering. They have never and would never see any other nation whose “god” would be near when called upon. This fact alone made the God of Israel stand out beyond any other gods worshiped around them. In fact, this made Israel a greater nation because of the proximity of their God to them. They were the ones chosen by the creator. They were the nation God’s eye was upon and whom God was choosing to bless. They were a great nation with a God that was near whenever they called upon Him.
We know that if we fast forward to Jesus day, God opens up his offer to all, not just the nation of Israel, in a new way. He offers salvation and forgiveness to Jew and Gentile alike, and says we can be grafted in to with His people. Therefore, if we call ourselves servants of God, we too, have a God who is near to us whenever we call upon Him. Someone who is near, hears us. If we call for help, someone nearby could come and help. If we want to talk, a person who is near, can hear, converse and listen. A being who is “near” sees all that is going on in our life. The “near” God of Israel is our near God as well.
This should be an encouragement to us, and I believe it is sometimes. But I also know that sometimes because we don’t ‘feel” like God is near or that He hears us, we might mistake it for Him not being there. In the Psalms in the Old Testament we see the people cry out about this to God. For example, Ps. 22 records the words, “Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?”. The Psalmist clearly didn’t “feel” God near to him at this moment. Prayers answered with “no” or “wait” can “feel” like God isn’t listening or near. Deuteronomy reminds us today, that despite our feelings, He is near. He is the ONLY God who will ever be near. This is a promise to grab onto and trust in even when we can’t see or feel God’s presence or action in our life. Let’s just remind ourselves we serve a God who is near us. He is not just a “phone call” away, but physically near, always listening, always watching, always loving-even when it may not feel like He is.