Dear church family, it is my joy to bring you two devotionals this month. I was originally scheduled to write you at the end of last month but multiple events led to my delay in writing you. I hope you can a. forgive me in my tardiness and b. be encouraged by a two part devotional from me this month.
With that being said, I also want to express my hope that God used my preaching of Deuteronomy this past month to cause you to grow in your devotion and love for Him. Originally, it was my goal to preach through chapter 6 and into chapter 7, but I decided there was too much good truth to dive into in the passages I preached on, so permit me now to conclude my series in devotion form.
Let’s start by looking back at chapter 6. In verses 4 and 5, we saw Moses give the people the heart of the law – the greatest commandment, 4 “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! 5 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deut 6:4-5) God’s people are to love God exclusively and entirely for He alone deserves such love, for He alone is God, He alone is our God. Commentator Abner Chou writes, “Loving God is choosing Him and Him alone. He demands all of our love and deserves all of our love for He is God.” Then in verses 6-9 we learned we saw the first way for how God’s people are to love Him – by impressing His Word in their hearts (vs 6), teaching His word on every occasion and at every moment (vs 7), binding it to their personhood (vs 8), and inscribing it on their possessions (vs 9).
But Moses didn’t stop there with his practical application. In fact, Moses gives 3 specific examples of how Israel was to love YHWH. If you look at the rest of this section from 6:10-7:11, you will see three repetitions of the conjunction “when” or “then” (Heb: ki) which mark the start of the 3 sections of the text. In 6:10-19, Moses will show us that we love God by not forgetting Him. In 6:20-25, Moses reveals that we love God by teaching our children to love God. Lastly in 7:1-11, Moses teaches us that we are to love God by hating what He hates.
Do Not Forget – 6:10-19
Our first “when” is found in verse 10, 10“And when the Lord your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you—with great and good cities that you did not build, 11and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant—and when you eat and are satisfied,…” God is going to bring them into the Promised Land and give them all these blessings that they will inherit when they get there. But when they get there and eat of the land and are satisfied, they must be careful to not do one thing: 12“take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” You see, once Israel entered the land they would be tempted to become apathetic toward God. They would be tempted to forget YHWH was the One who brought them from slavery to this Promised Land. If they forgot this truth, then they would move God out of His position of Lord and instead of fearing Him and serving Him alone they would go after other gods.
Moses gives an example of this very thing from the lives of their parents in verse 16, “16“You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah.” Their parents forgot God and how He powerfully saved them. They forgot God’s promise to bring them to the Land and they instead tested God at Massah and Meribah. There, in Exodus 17, they thirsted in the wilderness and doubted the very existence of God saying, “Is the Lord among us, or not?” (Ex 17:7b). They totally forgot who God was and that He was their Master. They put God to the test that day, which is why that place is called Massah (Heb. for “testing”). Instead, Israel was to remember God, and resist testing Him, with persistent and careful obedience to His commands. Verse 17 says, “You shall diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God, and his testimonies and his statutes, which he has commanded you.”
Teach – 6:20-25
The second example for how to love God is given in vs 20-25, 20“When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the Lord our God has commanded you?’” Here, Moses gives a case study of a future time when future generations will ask about the laws of their God. This connects back with what we saw in the Shema in verse 7. These verses act as a further elaboration of what Israelite parents were to teach their children. Let’s start in verse 21, 21“then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. 22And the Lord showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes. 23And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give to our fathers.” Notice that the answer to the question about the law is not that it is a list of do’s and don’ts. Parents aren’t to respond by saying, “just do these things because you have to and God said so.” Instead their answer is framed within God’s loving act of deliverance from Egypt. He preserved them in the wilderness and He would bring them in to the Promised Land. They were to start by emphasizing that the God of this law is their Savior, their Deliverer, their Mighty Warrior, their Provider, and their covenant-keeping God.
After instructing their children in this core truth, parents were to teach their children on the role of the Law, 24 “And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day.” Obeying YHWH would cause Israel’s children to grow in their fear of Him and lead to covenant blessing in the land. In verse 25, Moses gives another result of obedience to the law, 25 “And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us.” Read carefully: this does not refer to judicial righteousness before God. This is not Moses’s intent. He has elsewhere taught that judicial righteousness comes by faith, specifically Abraham’s faith in God’s promise, which was counted to him as righteousness (Gen 15:6). As commentator Peter Cragie writes, “Righteousness in this context describes a true and personal relationship with the covenant God.” It is a relational righteousness – or a right relationship with God – that is a result of obedience to God’s Word. Again, Chou is helpful here saying, “This verse does not teach works righteousness relative to salvation or entering into a covenant with God. Rather, it deals with how one can please God and do what is right within a relationship with Him.”
So then, dear brothers and sisters how shall we apply these truths? Remember that we now have the ability to truly love God like He desires because we have all entered into the New Covenant relationship with Him. We have been filled by the Holy Spirit who is our helper in these things. We have been set free from the curse of disobedience to this law by Christ, who bore our curse on the cross.
Let us love God by not forgetting Him, which leads to testing Him and outright disregarding Him. Instead, we must continue to remind ourselves of who He is – the One God – and all that He has done for us. Such reminding comes from regular communion with Him through prayer and meditation on His Word, 15 “I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. 16 I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.” (Psalm 119:15-16). It also comes from regular fellowship and gathering as a church where we regularly remember our Lord through song, preaching, and practicing of the ordinances of baptism and communion (which we do in remembrance of Him).
And let us love Him in how we teach others about Him. Remember that, in the New Testament, we are all called to teach and that our classroom extends beyond our children to all the nations (Matthew 28:19). Let us endeavor to teach obedience to the commands of Christ and begin by teaching them that He is their Savior, their Deliverer, their Master, their King and their covenant-keeping God and that to obey Him is to love Him and be in a right relationship with Him.
It is my prayer that these truths from God’s word have been helpful for you and have stirred you into greater devotion and love for our great God. Look for my next devotion where we will conclude our time in Deuteronomy by looking at Chapter 7:1-11.
In Him, Pastor Ben