Deuteronomy 6-8: Grace in Action
March 17, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
The evangelistic thrust of Deuteronomy continues, laying to rest all the misconceptions that people still have of the Torah (that it is “legalistic”) and showing us clearly that the Law of God was given to a people who had been rescued, that grace forms a people who then obey the God who has so rescued them. The greatest commandment, then, as Jesus himself taught (Matt. 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27), is love: “Hear O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (6:5). This command to love God above all is built upon the call to remember that this is the God who had rescued them: “when you eat and are full, then take care lest you forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (6:11-12).
In fact, this (rescue) is the very meaning of the Law: “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?’ 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” (6:20-21).
In chapter 7, they are then not to intermarry or do deals with the people of the land that they are being called to occupy (7:1-5). Again, we need remind ourselves that this people of God in the Old Testament were also an army and a theocracy: a connection between the “sword” and the “word” which the New Testament church does not have. But the essential principle of radical holiness remains. Idolatry is to be vigorously opposed. “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession” (7:6).
In case they think there was anything special about them that made God choose them, Moses reminds them that their election was based upon God’s love (not on their goodness or vitality or numbers of people) (7:6-7). “It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you” (7:7-8).
This love does not mean that God is a wimp or plays favorites. They are to be vigorous in their holiness and realize that if they turn their backs on God and his commands, there will be serious consequences (7:10). They are to keep obeying God, taking conquest of the land, not fearing the people in front of them, remembering how God rescued them from Egypt (7:18), and therefore “You shall not be in dread of them, for the LORD your God is in your midst, a great and awesome God” (7:21). They are to remember their discipline in the wilderness (8:2). This “humbled” them (8:3) and taught them (as Jesus famously quoted in the wilderness himself, Matt. 4:4), “that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD” (8:3). They are to remember this discipline so that when things go well and they have prosperity, their heart is not lifted up (8:14) and they do not become proud, thinking they did it by their own strength (8:17-18). Their special status as elect, rescued and loved should not lead them to think they are above other people. If they turn from God and worship other gods, they, like the other nations, will also “perish” (8:19-20).
The message is clear: they are a rescued people, by God’s power; therefore, they are to be a holy people. Would you today commit, or recommit, your life to serve God with obedience because he has rescued you through his grace and power?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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