Lesson 17: “Beware Lest Thou Forget”

Old Testament: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, (2001), 77–81


Purpose

To encourage class members to (1) remember the Lord and the covenants they have made with him and (2) create an environment that will help them do so.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Prayerfully study the following scriptures:

    1. a.

      Deuteronomy 6:1–9; 11:18–21. Moses gives instructions to the Israelites to help them remember their covenants. He instructs parents to teach their children his words.

    2. b.

      Deuteronomy 6:10–12; 8:1–20. Moses reminds the Israelites of God’s blessings to them. He warns them that they will perish if they do not obey God’s commandments and remember Him.

    3. c.

      Deuteronomy 32:1–4, 15–18, 30–40, 45–47. Moses counsels the Israelites to be mindful of the Rock of their salvation (Jesus Christ).

  2. 2.

    Additional reading: Deuteronomy 4; 7:1–4; 13:1–8; 34.

  3. 3.

    If you use the first attention activity, bring objects from your home as described under “Attention Activity.”

Suggested Lesson Development

Attention Activity

You may want to use one of the following activities (or one of your own) to begin the lesson. Select the activity that would be most appropriate for the class.

  1. 1.

    Display objects from your home that remind you of the Lord and the covenants you have made with him. (Such objects could include scriptures, pictures, books, and musical recordings.) Tell class members why these objects are important to you. Explain that part of this lesson is about physical objects that the ancient Israelites used to remind themselves of the Lord and their covenants with him. Point out that physical objects can be powerful reminders for us also.

  2. 2.

    Write the following words on the chalkboard:

    Deceive, beguile, snare, cheat, devour, entice, tempt, lull, rage, blind, lie, flatter, destroy

  • What do these words have in common? (One common characteristic is that they all describe Satan’s tactics in his efforts to draw us away from the Lord.)

  • Have a class member read D&C 76:28–29. Explain that these verses are from a vision given to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon. What can we do to be protected from Satan’s influence? (You may want to use the following diagram to illustrate some of the things we can do to shield ourselves from Satan’s temptations.)

    shields from Satan

    Explain that in the book of Deuteronomy, Moses taught the Israelites how to create an environment that would help them resist Satan’s temptations. This lesson reviews Moses’ counsel and discusses how we can apply it today.

Scripture Discussion and Application

As you teach the following scripture passages, discuss how they apply to daily life. Encourage class members to share experiences that relate to the scriptural principles.

After testing, chastening, and teaching the Israelites in the wilderness for 40 years, the Lord said they were ready to enter the promised land. But first he had some important instructions for them. Moses delivered these instructions in three sermons that are recorded in Deuteronomy.

In these sermons Moses reviewed Israel’s 40-year sojourn in the wilderness, recognizing God’s hand in their deliverance. Moses also discussed Israel’s responsibilities as God’s chosen people. He emphasized that they must obey God’s commandments, particularly the commands to remember Him and refrain from idol worship. Moses warned that although the children of Israel were ready to enter the promised land, if they returned to wickedness they would lose their inheritance and be scattered.

1. Moses gives instructions to the Israelites to help them remember their covenants.

Teach and discuss Deuteronomy 6:1–9 and 11:18–21.

  • Deuteronomy contains Moses’ last words to the Israelites. If you were to give one last message to your family and friends, what would it be?

  • What did the Lord command the Israelites to do in Deuteronomy 6:5–7? How can we get the words of the scriptures into our hearts? How can parents effectively teach the gospel to their children and help them learn to love the scriptures?

  • What did Moses counsel the Israelites to do in Deuteronomy 6:8–9 and Deuteronomy 11:18–20? (Note that frontlets were “strips of parchment on which were written four passages of scripture … and which were rolled up and attached to bands of leather worn … around the forehead or around the arm” [Bible Dictionary, “Frontlets,” 676]).

  • Why do you think Moses told the people to place passages of scripture between their eyes, on their hands, on the posts of their houses, and on their gates? How would such constant reminders affect our actions? What can we do in our homes to remind us of the Lord, his words, and our covenants with him? Do the pictures on our walls, the books we read, and the movies and television shows we watch remind us of the Lord, or do they suggest a longing for the world?

    President Ezra Taft Benson said that people who are “captained by Christ will be consumed in Christ. … Enter their homes, and the pictures on their walls, the books on their shelves, the music in the air, their words and acts reveal them as Christians” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1985, 6; or Ensign, Nov. 1985, 6–7).

2. Moses counsels the Israelites to obey God’s commandments and remember Him.

Teach and discuss Deuteronomy 6:10–12 and 8:1–20.

  • What are Moses’ main messages in Deuteronomy 6:10–12 and 8:1–20? What does it mean to forget the Lord? (See Deuteronomy 8:11.) What are the consequences of forgetting him? (See Deuteronomy 8:19.) How can we be sure that we do not forget God?

  • What conditions or challenges did Moses name that might cause people to forget God? (See Deuteronomy 6:10–12; 8:10–20.) Why do some people forget the Lord after he blesses them abundantly? (See Deuteronomy 8:17.)

    President Brigham Young said: “The worst fear that I have about [members of this Church] is that they will get rich in this country, forget God and his people, wax fat, and kick themselves out of the Church and go to hell. This people will stand mobbing, robbing, poverty, and all manner of persecution, and be true. But my greater fear for them is that they cannot stand wealth; and yet they have to be tried with riches, for they will become the richest people on this earth” (in Preston Nibley, Brigham Young: The Man and His Work [1936], 128).

  • Who is the source of any prosperity that we may have? (See Deuteronomy 8:18.) How can we use our prosperity to further the Lord’s work? (See Deuteronomy 8:18; Jacob 2:18–19.)

3. Moses counsels the Israelites to be mindful of the Rock of their salvation (Jesus Christ).

Teach and discuss Deuteronomy 32:1–4, 15–18, 30–40, 45–47.

Conclusion

Bear your testimony of the Savior and express your gratitude for the covenants you have made with him. Emphasize the importance of remembering God and keeping the covenants we make with him. Testify that the things we place around us—such as pictures, books, and music—can be powerful reminders of the Lord and the covenants we have made with him. Point out that our purpose in surrounding ourselves with these things is the same as the ancient Israelites’ purpose in wearing frontlets: to help us build upon the Rock—to help us remember and follow the Lord.

Additional Teaching Ideas

The following material supplements the suggested lesson outline. You may want to use one or more of these ideas as part of the lesson.

1. “Write them upon the posts of thy house” (Deuteronomy 6:9)

Invite class members to list the paintings, posters, musical recordings, and other objects in their homes. Have them label each item with either a “+” (indicating that the object is likely to lead them to remember the Lord) or a “–” (indicating that it is more likely to lead their hearts away from the Lord). You may want to suggest that class members do this with their families during family home evening.

2. “He will not forsake thee” (Deuteronomy 4:31)

  • After prophesying that the Israelites will turn to the worship of other gods and be scattered (Deuteronomy 4:25–28), Moses offered words of hope. What did he promise those who seek the Lord with all their hearts? (See Deuteronomy 4:29–31; Isaiah 49:14–16.) How has this promise been fulfilled in your life? What must we do to seek the Lord with all our heart and soul?

3. Withstanding the negative influences of others

  • What danger did Moses warn against in Deuteronomy 13:6–8? How can we recognize when someone is trying to pull us away from the Lord? How should we respond to such a person?

4. “They shall not appear before the Lord empty” (Deuteronomy 16:16)

  • The place mentioned in Deuteronomy 16:2, 11, 16 is the tabernacle, which was a portable temple for the Israelites. In preparation for a feast at the tabernacle, Moses instructed the people not to “appear before the Lord empty” (Deuteronomy 16:16). How might this apply to our temple attendance? How can we prepare ourselves for temple attendance so we do not enter the temple “empty”? How would this preparation help us to “rejoice before the Lord” in the temple? (Deuteronomy 16:11).

  • President Howard W. Hunter counseled: “Let us be a temple-attending people. Attend the temple as frequently as personal circumstances allow. Keep a picture of a temple in your home that your children may see it” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 8; or Ensign, Nov. 1994, 8). Why is it important for us to go to the temple as frequently as possible? Why is it important to keep a picture of a temple in our home?

5. “No man knoweth of his sepulchre” (Deuteronomy 34:6)

The writer who finished the book of Deuteronomy knew only that Moses was gone and so assumed that he had died, that the Lord had buried him, and that no one knew where his grave was. However, we know that Moses was translated. (For an explanation of the state of translated beings, see 3 Nephi 28:7–9, 37–40.) The Bible Dictionary gives the following explanation of Moses’ translation:

“As was the case with many of the ancient prophets, Moses’ ministry extended beyond the limits of his own mortal lifetime. In company with Elijah, he came to the Mount of Transfiguration and bestowed keys of the priesthood upon Peter, James, and John (Matthew 17:3–4; Mark 9:4–9; Luke 9:30; D&C 63:21; History of the Church, 3:387). From this event, which occurred before the resurrection of Jesus, we understand that Moses was a translated being and had not died as reported in Deuteronomy 34 (Alma 45:19). It was necessary that he be translated, in order to have a body of flesh and bones at the time of the transfiguration, since the resurrection had not yet taken place. Had he been a spirit only, he could not have performed the work on the mount of giving the keys to the mortal Peter, James, and John (cf. D&C 129)” (Bible Dictionary, “Moses,” 735).