Do not turn aside from the Lord to the right or to the left

Solomon instructed his son not to turn aside from the Lord to the right or to the left

He was the wisest man who ever lived, so he knew about life. He had explored it from the center and both sides (Ecclesiastes 1:2-2:26). He recognized that the right and the left were futility and vexation of spirit. At the end, he pled with anyone who would listen not to turn aside from the Lord to the right or to the left.

My child, if sinners entice you,
     turn your back on them!
They may say, “Come and join us.
     Let’s hide and kill someone!
     Just for fun, let’s ambush the innocent!
Let’s swallow them alive, like the grave;
     let’s swallow them whole, like those who go down to the pit of death.
Think of the great things we’ll get!
     We’ll fill our houses with all the stuff we take.
Come, throw in your lot with us;
     we’ll all share the loot.”
My child, don’t go along with them!
     Stay far away from their paths.
They rush to commit evil deeds.
     They hurry to commit murder.
If a bird sees a trap being set,
     it knows to stay away.
But these people set an ambush for themselves;
     they are trying to get themselves killed.
Such is the fate of all who are greedy for money;
     it robs them of life. (NLT Study Bible Text,) Proverbs 1:10-19

Wisdom will save you from evil people,
     from those whose words are twisted.
These men turn from the right way
     to walk down dark paths.
They take pleasure in doing wrong,
     and they enjoy the twisted ways of evil.
Their actions are crooked,
     and their ways are wrong. (NLT Study Bible Text,) Proverbs 2:12-15

Look straight ahead,
     and fix your eyes on what lies before you.
Mark out a straight path for your feet;
     stay on the safe path.
Don’t get sidetracked;
     keep your feet from following evil. (NLT Study Bible Text,) Proverbs 4:25-27

That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad. (NLT Study Bible Text,) Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

Moses warns the children of Israel not to turn aside from the Lord to the right or to the left

After leading the children of Israel from Egypt, through the wilderness for 40 years, and finally to the very edge of the promised land, Moses gave 5 sermons to prepare the people for going into the promised land. He started by reminding the people to follow God’s instructions in every detail. And, he concluded by promising them blessings on the straight path. How about you? Do you hear the word of the Lord and do it straight away? Or, do you turn aside from following the Lord and get stuck in the evil on the right and on the left?

So Moses told the people, “You must be careful to obey all the commands of the Lord your God, following his instructions in every detail. Stay on the path that the Lord your God has commanded you to follow. Then you will live long and prosperous lives in the land you are about to enter and occupy. (NLT Study Bible Text,) Deuteronomy 5:32-33

If you listen to these commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today, and if you carefully obey them, the Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you will always be on top and never at the bottom. You must not turn away from any of the commands I am giving you today, nor follow after other gods and worship them. (NLT Study Bible Text,) Deuteronomy 28:13-14

Joshua warned not to turn from the Lord to the right or to the left

At the beginning of Joshua’s leadership over Israel, God spoke directly to him about not deviating from the Lord. Joshua heard the Lord and followed him all the days of his life. Then at the end of Joshua’s life, he repeated the instruction to Israel. They stayed on the straight and narrow path for a while and were blessed. But, after a few generations, Israel forgot these instructions, and did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things he had done. They turned from the Lord to the right and to the left. Therefore, the Lord judged their disobedience. Sometimes they turned back to the Lord and sometimes they turned away from him. How about you? Are you strong and courageous or have you forgotten the Lord?

“Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (NLT Study Bible Text,) Joshua 1:6-9

“So be very careful to follow everything Moses wrote in the Book of Instruction. Do not deviate from it, turning either to the right or to the left. Make sure you do not associate with the other people still remaining in the land. Do not even mention the names of their gods, much less swear by them or serve them or worship them. Rather, cling tightly to the Lord your God as you have done until now. (NLT Study Bible Text,) Joshua 23:6-8

After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel.
     The Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight and served the images of Baal. They abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They went after other gods, worshiping the gods of the people around them. And they angered the Lord. They abandoned the Lord to serve Baal and the images of Ashtoreth. This made the Lord burn with anger against Israel, so he handed them over to raiders who stole their possessions. He turned them over to their enemies all around, and they were no longer able to resist them. Every time Israel went out to battle, the Lord fought against them, causing them to be defeated, just as he had warned. And the people were in great distress. (NLT Study Bible Text,) Judges 2:10-15

The good kings of Israel remembered the instruction of Moses not to turn from the Lord to the right or to the left

Are you as smart as an 8-year old? When Josiah was shown the Book of the Law, he read it and turned back to the Lord. In the very first year of Hezekiah’s reign, he realized Israel had become unfaithful and done what was evil in the sight of the Lord our God, so he returned to the Lord. How about you? Do you turn back to the Lord when you find you have deviated, or do you turn harder to the right or the left?

​Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. His mother was Jedidah, the daughter of Adaiah from Bozkath. He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight and followed the example of his ancestor David. He did not turn away from doing what was right. (NLT Study Bible Text,) 2 Kings 22:1-2

Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the court secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the Lord’s Temple!” Then Hilkiah gave the scroll to Shaphan, and he read it.
     Shaphan went to the king and reported, “Your officials have turned over the money collected at the Temple of the Lord to the workers and supervisors at the Temple.” Shaphan also told the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a scroll.” So Shaphan read it to the king.
     When the king heard what was written in the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes in despair. Then he gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Acbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the court secretary, and Asaiah the king’s personal adviser: “Go to the Temple and speak to the Lord for me and for the people and for all Judah. Inquire about the words written in this scroll that has been found. For the Lord’s great anger is burning against us because our ancestors have not obeyed the words in this scroll. We have not been doing everything it says we must do.” (NLT Study Bible Text,) 2 Kings 22:8-13

In the very first month of the first year of his reign, Hezekiah reopened the doors of the Temple of the Lord and repaired them. He summoned the priests and Levites to meet him at the courtyard east of the Temple. He said to them, “Listen to me, you Levites! Purify yourselves, and purify the Temple of the Lord, the God of your ancestors. Remove all the defiled things from the sanctuary. Our ancestors were unfaithful and did what was evil in the sight of the Lord our God. They abandoned the Lord and his dwelling place; they turned their backs on him. They also shut the doors to the Temple’s entry room, and they snuffed out the lamps. They stopped burning incense and presenting burnt offerings at the sanctuary of the God of Israel.
     “That is why the Lord’s anger has fallen upon Judah and Jerusalem. He has made them an object of dread, horror, and ridicule, as you can see with your own eyes. Because of this, our fathers have been killed in battle, and our sons and daughters and wives have been captured. But now I will make a covenant with the Lord, the God of Israel, so that his fierce anger will turn away from us. My sons, do not neglect your duties any longer! The Lord has chosen you to stand in his presence, to minister to him, and to lead the people in worship and present offerings to him.” (NLT Study Bible Text,) 2 Chronicles 29:3-11

God’s promise of entering his rest still stands for those who return to the Lord

What about you? Do you have your eyes fixed on the Lord? For daily living here and now? For tomorrow and the next day? For eternity? Or, have you turned to the right or the left by following your own inventions? If so, it is never too late to turn from your evil ways and return to the Lord.

Now if Joshua had succeeded in giving them this rest, God would not have spoken about another day of rest still to come. So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall. (NLT Study Bible Text,) Hebrews 4:8-11

Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example. For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth. But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control. (NLT Study Bible Text,) Philippians 3:17-21

​Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. (NLT Study Bible Text,) Colossians 3:1-4

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