Posted August 05, 2017
And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good?
Picture Israel at the edge of the Promised Land, ready to enter after years and years of wandering and camping in the wilderness due to disobedience and a lack of faith. The book of Deuteronomy captures Moses’ last words and directives to this people before he dies and they enter Canaan. He was trying to remind them of their propensity to wander as well as how they were to flourish under God’s kind rule and reign in a new land that He was going to give them. In this particular passage, Moses answers the question: how are we to live in response to a God who graciously loved and saved us, an undeserving stubborn stiff-necked people? Moses gives five verbs which all ultimately point to the same general idea: wholehearted allegiance and devotion to God.
First, God’s people are called to fear Him. This fear is less a scary, “I’m afraid” fear, and more of a sober, awe-filled reverence. This God they served was not only the Creator and Owner of all things, but also their Redeemer who was powerful enough to rescue them out of Egypt!
Second, God’s people are called to walk in all His ways. Not a couple of them, but all of them; not just the ones we like, or agree with. This command reminds us He’s the boss, not us. This runs counterintuitively to our culture today, but we must learn that we are not our own but rather belong to Him. We walk in His ways, not Him in ours.
Third, God’s people are called to love Him. This command sits at the center of these five commands! This obedience Moses describes is not one void of love, but rather love must compel and propel it forward. God isn’t after heartless legalists, but zealous lovers.
Fourth, God’s people are called to serve Him. Lest we forget the prior command to love Him, Moses adds that we are to serve God with all our heart and with all our soul! Again, this service is not merely about the action itself but also includes the intention. It includes the things that are underneath the obedience. Motives matter.
Fifth, God’s people are called to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord. If we love someone, we will pay attention to the things that matter to them. In this case, it’s not a mere human, but God who is described as Lord four times in these two verses. As our Lord, He calls the shots.
Why did God give His people these commands? Note the end of verse 13. It tells us that God commanded these things for our good. Just as a loving father or mother will ask their children to do things that may or may not make sense at the time, so our heavenly Father and Lord calls us to obedience which is not aimed at our misery but rather our good. God knows how we truly flourish as humans because He created us. We can often be a “commandment averse” people, which simply means we don’t like rules, or even don’t like rules that we didn’t make or don’t understand. Oh, that we would truly believe that following in all of God’s ways and loving Him with all we have is the best way to live and not question whether He has our good in mind like Adam and Eve in Garden. He loves us, and commands what He commands because He knows how we were created to live and love and be fully alive!
If we’re honest with ourselves, we fail miserably at obeying these five commands. We don’t fear God, we stray from His ways, we love other things more than Him, we serve ourselves, and don’t keep His commandments. Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of sin is death. While that’s the bad news, the good news is God knew we wouldn’t be able to follow these commands as well and intervened. He graciously sent His own Son to perfectly obey these commands for us. Jesus lived this Godward life that Deuteronomy 10 describes perfectly: He feared God, He walked in all His ways, loved Him, and served Him with all His heart and with all His soul and kept the commandments and the statutes of the Lord. Where Adam and Eve failed, and where the Israelites continued to fail, Jesus succeeded.
Not only did He live the life we should have, He also died the death we all deserved. He was the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Though the wages of sin was death, Jesus took our wages in our place. He laid down His life for a people completely incapable of following the law so that in Him, the requirements of the law were fulfilled (Romans 8:4). Not only were they fulfilled, but in this astonishing work of salvation, we are given new hearts and filled with His Spirit so that we might live wholeheartedly for God.
For this we praise Him!
Song by Mike Mumford.
Artwork by Ryan Hughes.
Devotional by Joel Limpic.