Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What Does God Require?

Deuteronomy 10:12-11:9

“And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?” (Deuteronomy 10:12-13)

In preparation for turning leadership over to Joshua, Moses has been instructed to remind Israel of their covenant or contract with God.  He has briefly reviewed what God had done for them, and their repeated failures to keep their part.  Now he summarizes what God demands in return for his blessings and protection.

They are to fear God.   Because having livestock was a traditional sign of wealth, being too poor to even own a dog was an indication of extreme poverty.  As a result, most people in our area have one or more dogs.  Many people will not walk because they are afraid of the dogs. If they must get out, they try to intimidate the dogs by yelling or throwing things to hide their fear, sometimes even taunting and abusing them if the dog is tied or caged so they think they can safely do so.  

Respecting the dog’s right and ability to protect his property, others avoid aggressive behavior, moving slowly and in a non-threatening manner to avoid antagonizing him.  Unless the dog has been abused or trained to attack, such an approach is usually safe.  This kind of respectful fear that tries not antagonize God is what God expects.  Such fear will result in doing our best to try to please him in every way, obeying his commands and rules.  Just as respecting he dog prevents being bitten, respecting God’s demands prevents his judgment.

“Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the LORD'S thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is.  Only the LORD had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day.” (Deuteronomy 10:14-15)

It is easy to respect God when we realize he is the owner of the entire universe and we are only here by his permission.  God loved their forefathers, and chose their children to be his people as a way of showing that love.  Their initial selection had nothing to do with their own actions.

“Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.  For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward: He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment.  Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 10:16-19)

Circumcision of the flesh was a symbolic act of giving the person to God.  Moses directs the people of Israel to circumcise their heart, effectively to give themselves to God.  Without the inward change of heart, the outward circumcision means nothing according to Romans 2:2:28-29.  “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.”

They needed to yield to God rather than acting like a horse who has the bit between this teeth and refuses to pay any attention to the reins because God is the God of those others speak of as gods and ruler of those others bow down to.  He had the power to create the universe and to destroy Egypt’s army and force Pharaoh to do what he wanted.  He will not be influenced by man’s reputation or position, and cannot be bribed or bought off.

He will act to protect those who cannot protect themselves just as he had done in delivering Israel from Egypt.  Having been abused as outsiders, they should be especially sensitive to the feelings of other outsiders.  Paul declares that Christians were strangers and foreigners before Christ saved us, but in Ephesians 2:19 concludes, “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God.”  As a result, in Hebrews 13:2 Christians are instructed, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

“Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name.  He is thy praise, and he is thy God, that hath done for thee these great and terrible things, which thine eyes have seen.

Thy fathers went down into Egypt with threescore and ten persons; and now the LORD thy God hath made thee as the stars of heaven for multitude.  Therefore thou shalt love the LORD thy God, and keep his charge, and his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments, alway.” (Deuteronomy 10:20-11:1)

Four hundred seventy years before, seventy Israelites had gone into Egypt and now they had an army of over six hundred thousand, besides those who were too old, the Levites, and all the women and children.  All the credit for their growth, and their deliverance went solely to God.  Appreciation should cause them to devote themselves to him, to do everything he asked.

“And know ye this day: for I speak not with your children which have not known, and which have not seen the chastisement of the LORD your God, his greatness, his mighty hand, and his stretched out arm, And his miracles, and his acts, which he did in the midst of Egypt unto Pharaoh the king of Egypt, and unto all his land; And what he did unto the army of Egypt, unto their horses, and to their chariots; how he made the water of the Red sea to overflow them as they pursued after you, and how the LORD hath destroyed them unto this day; And what he did unto you in the wilderness, until ye came into this place; And what he did unto Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, the son of Reuben: how the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their households, and their tents, and all the substance that was in their possession, in the midst of all Israel: But your eyes have seen all the great acts of the LORD which he did.” (Deuteronomy 11:2-7)

Moses was speaking to the people who had experienced God’s deliverance, reminding them of what they had experienced, from their slavery in Egypt to the current day.  They had experienced both his blessings, and his judgment.

“Therefore shall ye keep all the commandments which I command you this day, that ye may be strong, and go in and possess the land, whither ye go to possess it; And that ye may prolong your days in the land, which the LORD sware unto your fathers to give unto them and to their seed, a land that floweth with milk and honey.” (Deuteronomy 11:8-9)

Based on their experience of both the blessings and judgment of God, Israel could go confidently into the land to possess it, believing it was the kind of land God had promised.  They could also depend on God to prolong their lives there as he had promised, provided they did what God required.  

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