This week in Bible Study we discussed Deuteronomy 5-6. This is the beginning of Moses’ second speech in this vassal treaty (the speech goes through chapter 26). This passage begins with the announcement that the covenant is for us who are alive (5:3). This covenant is designed that you may live, that it may be well with you (5:33). It is never outdated! It was not merely for the previous generation, but forever present with every generation. The covenant is an ever present reality. Matthew 19:16-20 shows us that Jesus felt the laws of the covenant, designed to show us how the God of love has designed life to work, still remain. This covenant was according to Vs 4, face to face, the Hebrew idiom denotes person to person, no mediator. God made this covenant with His people.
The Commandments discussed in chapter five (see Exodus 20 also) set Israel apart from her neighbors, it was different than the laws found elsewhere in its foundation–though many similarities–e.g. most law codes at that time had provisions to punish murderers. Commandment one establishes not only monotheism–but also that this is a direct relationship being established. No other comes before Him. He is to be recognized as God, who shows hesed to those who hear and obey Him. (Click that link to learn more about hesed)
The 2nd commands that we do not impose anything on God that limits His love; limiting Him to a visual representation or creaturely status. The 3rd, that we do not attempt to use God, and the power of His Name, for personal purposes. His revealed name gave Israel intimacy that was otherwise unavailable. To have His name revealed to us is a great privilege–we cannot throw it around as though we possess it and He will magically do our will. This command is concerned with much more than just blaspheme. This is why Balak thought he could hire Balaam to curse Israel using God’s name.
The 4th command clearly distinguishes Israel from her neighbors–most other cultures did not rest! Just as Americans have a hard time resting, and doing so would be a way for us to be light and salt in our communities–as we rely on God and trust Him enough to rest. Spend some time pondering what is the Sabbath rest supposed to be like, what did Jesus clarify for us? See here for more.
Notice the difference between here, and Exodus 20? There is great emphasis in Deuteronomy on remembering the slavery from which God has redeemed them. What a delight to be rescued, and to remember their King cares for them.
The 5th command, to honor parents, repeated often in the New Testament. Why? How? What would community look like, if all people learned how to honor, and be honorable? What if they transferred their honor and respect from their visible parents, extending it to an invisible God? Oh parents, do not exasperate your children, but train them, guide them, lead them as Your Shepherd leads you.
The 9th, oh…empty, vain words against a neighbor, that would decide his future and perhaps his life and therefore the life of his family. The impact on the community for testifying falsely was to be weighed. Words are powerful, important. They have the power to give or take life; Israel was to love truth and speak only truth. To sum, the commandments were not burdensome, and revealed much about the love of God, and how godly people would act.
A heart to flourish
After the retelling of the commandments, and the circumstances surrounding that day, we hear that God replied to Moses “Oh that they had a heart in them to…” 5:29 or “Would that they were continually of this mind…” A heart to believe, to follow, to obey, to flourish. A heart to decide, to know, to love. Even and especially in the mundane, the quotidian affairs all done for love of Creator, Sustainer, Redeemer, King. Remember, in this culture heart and mind are not separated. Heart and mind do not operate separately. With the heart one believes, knows, remembers, thinks, plans…
6:4-5 The only proper response to your Rescuer, who is giving you a wonderful new home and creating a community for His glory? LOVE!!! Love to Him who extends His hesed continually. Love Him with all your thoughts and desires and plans and actions and pursuits and memories and in/with your entire being which will live eternally with Him.
6:6-9 Oh that the people of God would unceasingly share His Words! Not only should parents teach them to children, but all people were to talk of them no matter what part of the day it was. Talking of them together at all times, throughout every part of every day. That His Word would lead and guide us.
Chapter six also shows us that Godly jealousy comes directly from the God who is LOVE. Our covetousness and envy and jealousy produces a pseudo jealousy that comes from hearts refusing to abide in His love. It is from desires that are ungodly. Whereas when our hearts are set upon God, loving Him alone, He gives us the desires of our hearts–then we do not walk in covetousness but in pure delight, trust, and unceasing prayer (Give me this day my daily bread…give me neither poverty nor riches).
6:17-25 …testimonies, statues and judgements… Turn to Psalm 19 and read. The testimonies of the LORD are sure, making wise the simple. Wisdom operates with the mind of Christ, with God’s “worldview” rather than a merely finite worldview. The testimonies of the LORD lead us to see God’s goodness as His plans unfold, and answer that He brought us out in order to bring us in… The testimonies, statutes and judgments keep us back from grumbling–grumblers say “you brought us out to kill us!!!” we say “You brought us out of darkness, into Your kingdom, to give us abundant LIFE! And all the promises!!! Thank You!”
The fear of the Lord?
Psalm 19 cf 6:24 statutes and fear…the fear of the LORD is clean enduring forever. The fear of the LORD leads to…our good always, survival… We want to remain, and fearing Him leads to the assurance that we will. Fear is mentioned in 4:10, 5:29, 6:2, 13, 24…and we will continue to see it throughout the book. A good word picture for now, to help you imagine what fear “looks like” comes from the Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis. Throughout this series whenever someone who does not ‘believe’ in Aslan meets him (the lion, you remember?) they are filled with dread. But whenever someone who believes comes near they are filled with such beautiful, strong, longings; their souls are filled with music and everything delicious. They see Aslan and are as giddy as can be, filled with joy and the desire to be near Aslan. When Lucy meets Aslan in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, she remarks that he is bigger than the last time she saw him. He tells her that every time they meet he will be bigger. What Lucy expresses throughout these books is what we who fear God will express. Awe. Awestruck. Reverence for our King.