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March 21, 2011 / Daniel

Deuteronomy 10

Cover of "Old Testament Ethics for the Pe...

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This morning I had the chance to preach at Bible Baptist Church in Scottsbluff, NE.  Bible Baptist is the church where I grew up and so today has been a day of reflection and pause for me.

I spoke on Deuteronomy 10:12-22, a passage that has been on my heart a lot lately.  In this text, Moses sums up the entire book of Deuteronomy (all of the laws, covenant stipulations, and duties) and boils it down to a few concise statements of covenant duty.

12 And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?

In his book Old Testament Ethics for the People of God, Chris Wright compares this passage to a chord with five notes in it, ringing loud and clear, beckoning God’s people to covenant faithfulness.   We have a faithful God, who keeps His covenant promises.  And His faithfulness demands our response.   God’s expectations for Israel are clearly stated in this text.   “Fear God, walk in His ways, love Him, serve Him, keep His commandments.”   It’s interesting that each of these commands is repeated several times elsewhere in Deuteronomy.  11 times in the book, God tells Israel to fear Him.  8 times, to walk in His ways.  6 times, to love the LORD.  4 times, to serve the LORD.  And 28 times, Israel is reminded to keep His commands.  This text is a summary of the entire book.

It hits me that all of these phrases are intertwined.  They interpret each other and give us a complete picture of what it means to be loyal to our covenant God.  To fear God, you must walk in His ways.  To walk in His ways, you must love Him.  Loving Him requires us to serve Him.  And you can’t serve God, unless you keep His commandments.

And all of this is for Israel’s good.  Notice the tail-end of v. 13.   God didn’t give Israel all of these rules in order to oppress Israel, or to harm her.  But He gave the Torah to Israel as a means of grace.  The Law is an extension of God’s grace.  God desires what’s best for His people.  His laws are designed for her good.

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