Moses Counsels a New Generation

KEY VERSE: “Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God is one LORD, and thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” —Deuteronomy 6:4,5

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Deuteronomy 6:10-19

OUR text sums up the meaning of God’s Law as given to Israel. This summary was quoted by Jesus when he was asked to state the greatest of the Commandments given through Moses to Israel.

What Jesus designates the “first and great commandment,” epitomizes the intent of the first four of the Ten Commandments, for these outline man’s duty toward God—what he expects in the way of homage and reverence.

If we love God with all our hearts and souls and minds we will have no disposition to worship other gods; nor will we knowingly take the name of our God in vain. Any Israelite who was wholehearted in his love for God would take delight in observing the Sabbath of rest, and keep that day holy unto the Lord, for he would see in this commandment that which would help him to know his God better, and to put his trust in him more fully.

Keeping the Sabbath by the Israelites was primarily a resting from their own labors by which they provided for themselves the necessities of life. To rest from these one day in seven called for an exercise of faith in God’s ability to care for them. Hence, it was a reminder of his faithfulness in providing for their needs. With the Christian this rest is on a higher plane, for with us the hope of everlasting life is involved. This divine provision for life is available only through Christ, so we rest by faith in his finished work. Thus we rest from our own works, as God did from his.

The first and great commandment, which calls for supreme love for God, applies to his people in every age, for no other attitude of heart and mind could be pleasing to him. As the Creator and great provider of the needs of all his creatures, he could not expect less. To the Israelites this full heart obedience was expressed in their loyalty to the Law Covenant.

To the followers of the Master in this age, it means the laying down of our lives sacrificially, following in his footsteps. We cannot love God supremely without loving his will and endeavoring to be obedient thereto. His will for us is that we should present our bodies a living sacrifice, with the realization that this is our reasonable service.—Rom. 12:1

In the context of our key verse, Moses explained to the Israelites how they were to answer any who might ask them the meaning of the laws and statutes which the Lord had enjoined upon them. They were to say that it was for their “good always, that he [God] might preserve us alive, as his at this day. And it shall be our righteousness.”

From this we see that fundamentally the purpose of the Law given to Israel was the same as in the case of Adam—in fact, it is always the same. The keeping of God’s laws is always for the good of those who keep them, and in order that they might live. God benefits only in the sense that it brings joy to him when his creatures, through obedience, place themselves in a position to receive his blessings.

When all the willing and obedient of the fallen race are restored to perfection, then there will be a full liberty of the sons of God. All will then know the divine requirements, and be so enthusiastically in harmony with them that obedience will be their constant delight. But until that time comes, definitely specified laws are necessary to regulate the lives of those with whom God is dealing. This is true even of the church, God’s new creation of this age. There are laws governing the footstep followers of the Master which cannot be ignored or flouted without serious spiritual loss and perhaps catastrophe.

In Galatians 5:13, the apostle says, “Brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty as an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” From this we learn that even our liberty in Christ is relative; it is not a license to do as our fallen flesh might like to do.

Obedience to law is necessary among any people in order to enjoy peace and happiness. Complete freedom to do as one pleases is a workable formula only with those who are so whole-heartedly in harmony with God’s will that they desire to do only those things which please him. With such the will of God becomes the law by which they are governed, and in which they delight. (Ps. 19:7-14) This is the high thought of our text.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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