"Keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you." - Deuteronomy 4:2b
The theme for our lessons in September was "God is Faithful." In October, we will be exploring "Responses to God's Faithfulness." There will be two lessons from the Old Testament and two from the New Testament.
Deuteronomy begins at a terrible point in Israel's history. The people did not follow God's instructions to enter the Promised Land. He had been faithful to deliver them from Egypt, but they failed. Because of their failure, they wandered in the desert for 40 years. Israel struggled to be faithful to God. Moses appealed to them to obey God's covenant because they were His covenant people.
1. Obedient History (4:1-4)
In verse one, "now" connects this first exhortation of Moses to the first three chapters. Moses had recounted their history in those chapters. Due to God's faithfulness in the past, the people's behavior should honor Him. Israel's wilderness wandering was a direct result of the people's sin; however, God kept the promise He made to Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3, Deuteronomy 1:32-36, 2:14-15, 3:21-29). The Promised Land would belong to His people.
The wording in v. 2 is a "non-tamper" clause. This reminded the people that God set the terms of the covenant. God had designated Moses as the sole interpreter of the law.
Moses ended his first exhortation by restating the principle of sin and its consequences. In v. 3, the people remembered what God did to disobedient people. Likewise, in v. 4, they were reminded of the benefits of faithfulness. Obedience will yield life; disobedience leads to death.
2. Obedient Future (4:5-8)
Moses began his second exhortation to obey God by reiterating 4:1. God had commanded Moses to teach the people His decrees and laws. This was not out of harshness but from love. God knew their sinful tendencies. He wanted the best for them. Obedience made them able to enjoy covenant blessings. They would enter and possess the Promised Land.
Israel had also had a responsibility to be a witness to other nations. Their obedience would cause other nations to take notice of them and God (v. 6). Other people would inquire of God. As part of God's covenant with Abraham, the people were to demonstrate there was one true God.
Moses focused on an aspect of God that no other god could offer (v. 7). God was near His people. This was a close relationship. This was unheard of in the worship of any other god. Yes, God was to be feared, but He was also near to His people.
Israel was God's covenant people (v. 8). There were no other people who had a set of righteous laws and decrees established with their god(s). God was faithful. Israel should be faithful.
3. Reasons to Obey (4:12-14)
In Moses final appeal, he reminded the people that God initiated and authored the covenant. He rescued the Israelites from Egypt (Exodus 2:23-25, 3:7-10). On Mount Sinai, He ignited the fire and proclaimed the terms of the treaty. There could be no confusion regarding the origin of the law.
The Ten Commandments, which were engraved on stone tablets, were to be the basis of all the other laws in Israel. The tablets were a permanent reminder of the covenant and the initiator, God. The covenant was of divine origin. Israel's proper response was obedience.
What do you think?
Without quoting Scripture, how would you respond to someone who views God's rules as oppressive, unfair, and/or irrelevant to modern life?
God, thank you for your perfect commandments. May we submit ourselves to them as your Son, Jesus, would have us to. We pray this in His name. Amen.
Thought to Remember:
The nature of God's law compels obedience.
Grace and Peace,
Kirk Greenfield is the pastor of Wallonia Baptist Church. He also works for the KY Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. He, his wife, and three daughters reside in Princeton. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.