Deuteronomy: God Challenges

Deut. 10:12 ¶ “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul

Deut. 10:13 and to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD, which I am commanding you today for your good?

The summer of my junior year in High School will always be remembered as a spiritual turning point in my life because it was then that I learned what was truly important to God.  I had been led to the Lord by my mother at an early age (four years old on the way to the grocery store) and  already experienced the call of God to missions earlier that year, but I still struggled with how to live for the Lord.

One Wednesday evening one of my friends gave a devotional from Romans chapter two that explained in the eyes of God true obedience and a relationship with Him were more important than just works[1].  The Holy Spirit used that passage to show that while I was committed to the Lord, it was a half-hearted and very weak one.  Since that night so many years ago the Lord has helped me focus on being totally committed to Him instead of just going through the motions spiritually.

The book of Deuteronomy contains the last words of Moses for the children of Israel.  He uses this opportunity to clarify for them what was truly important, obeying God with all their heart.  This was more than just a half-hearted commitment but involved complete and total abandonment to Him.

Moses began by describing the long journey they had taken to the promised land (Deut. 1:6-3:29) and how God had cared for them every step of the way (2:7).  This brief history lesson centers on their responsibility to obey God (4:1-49) and seek his face in time of need (4:29-30).   The Lords faithfulness would motivate them to strong commitment because He could be trusted, and they didn’t deserve God’s goodness.

After reviewing their past journey Moses reminds them of  how to live in the land of Canaan (Deut. 5:1-26:19).  This is mostly the law given in Leviticus repeated to emphasize their responsibility to obey the Lord after entering the promised land (Deut. 12:1).   The Israelite’s were challenged to separate themselves from sin (Deut. 14), show love to those in need (Deut. 15), worship the Lord (Deut. 16), and live a disciplined life (Deut. 17).  Chapters eighteen through twenty-five give laws that help purify the unclean or deal with sin.  These commands along with many others demand complete commitment to God which would result in their living much differently than the Canaanites.

Moses finally looks towards the future after Israel had conquered the promised land following his death (Deut. 27:1-33:29).  He describes in detail the blessings that come upon those who obey God, and curses that are experienced by those who sin.    Deuteronomy twenty-eight shares the blessings of obedience (28:1-14) which would one day come upon Israel in the end times[2] as well as the curse for disobedience (28:47-49) which was fulfilled by the Roman invasion of Jerusalem in AD 70.  The scattering of Jewish people across the world is also prophesied in this passage (28:63-67).  These blessings and curses show again that God desired complete obedience from His people.

Moses ends his life with one final challenge to obey God with all their heart (Deut. 31), a song of worship to the Lord (Deut. 32), and a prayer to Jehovah would bless His people (Deut. 33).  Though the life of Moses definitely wasn’t perfect (Num. 20:6-12) his testimony was submission to the Lord surely convicted their hearts.

The entire book of Deuteronomy is a challenge for the Jews who held a weak and timid submission to instead embrace a radical commitment to God.  This challenge was repeated by Christ during his earthly ministry (Mark 12:28-31) who made clear that the Lord wouldn’t be satisfied with anything less than complete submission (Lk. 9:22-26).  Today God continues to challenge us through the Bible and prayer to leave our weak comfortable commitments, and follow Him with everything we have instead.

Because of Who He is,

John Wilburn

[1] Romans 2:28-29

[2]  Zechariah 14:8-21, Jeremiah 31:1-9, Romans 11:25-31

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John Wilburn

Church planter, teacher, and disciple-maker in Barrouallie St. Vincent

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