God’s Love Language
MAY 10, 2022
Deuteronomy 4:25 - 40
Consequence for disobedience – 4:25-31
When you father children and children’s children, and have grown old in the land, if you act corruptly by making a carved image in the form of anything, and by doing what is evil in the sight of the Lord your God, so as to provoke him to anger, I call heaven and earth to witness against you today…
God knows that despite his faithful loving care for his people they will not remain faithful to him. Even though he will be loyal to the covenant he made with them and with their fathers, they will prove disloyal to him. Their faithlessness and disloyalty will come with terrible consequences. They will be taken from the Land and scattered among other nations (verses 26-27). He will give them over to the worship of inanimate things (verse 28). But, in the end, their continuing relationship with God does not depend on their holding on to him but on his holding on to them. Even after they have forgotten their God, even after they have been disloyal to him, even after they have turned from him and foolishly pursued false gods, he will remain loyal to them. He will not forget them. He will not turn from them.
“For the LORD your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers that he swore to you” (verse 31).
In this life we may have to suffer difficult consequences for forgetting God and turning from him, for pursing self-centered and sinful desires. Our sin may cost us dearly. But God is a merciful God. If we find ourselves in hardship due to our sin (verse 30) and then seek him, we will find him (verse 29). We may, for a time, forget him. But he will never forget us. He is always ready to receive his people when they turn toward him. That is love. That is grace.
How then should we who have received such love and grace respond to the lover of our souls?
With Awe – 4:32-34
For ask now of the days that are past, which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, and ask from one end of heaven to the other, whether such a great thing as this has ever happened or was ever heard of…
The people should be filled with awe as they consider the things that God has done. Think, Moses says, from the beginning of time until now, from any place in all the creation, has “such a great thing as this ever happened or was ever heard of?” (verse 32). The implied answer to the rhetorical question is “No!” No people have ever heard the voice of God and lived (verse 33). No people have ever had a god take them out from the midst of one nation and make them a nation of his own (verse 34). This knowledge ought to fill the Israelites with awe for the LORD their God.
If we are believers then we too have been chosen by God just as those people were (Colossians 3:12, 1 Thessalonians 1:4). This is the doctrine of Election. “The most obvious reaction we must have to the knowledge that the God of the universe has chosen us to be his people must be wonder. Wonder is the emotion that is evoked when we are enlightened with some piece of knowledge that is magnificent, wonderful, and incredible that we can utter no proper response. We can only wonder” (George Robertson, Deuteronomy: More Grace, More Love, 51).
With Faith – 4:35-39
…know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other…
God revealed these marvelous things to these people so that they would “know therefore today, and lay it to [their] hearts, that the LORD is God in heaven above and on earth beneath; there is no other” (verse 39). They have been shown the truth of God and of his love and grace for them in such a way that it is not merely a philosophical proposition. It is settled knowledge. And the knowledge of the things that God had done for them should move the people to know the Lord is God and there is no other. This knowledge ought to engender greater faith and trust in the God of heaven above and on earth beneath.
With Obedience – 4:40
Therefore you shall keep his statutes and his commandments…
The conclusion then of how the believer ought to respond to such love and grace is obedience. First awe, then increased faith and trust, and finally obedience. “Therefore you shall keep his statutes and his commandments, which I commanded you” (verse 40).
One of the most popular books of recent years is The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Chapman’s thesis is that there are five ways in which people express and receive love, which he calls love languages. Knowing your spouse’s love language and then intentionally communicating to your spouse in that language increases relationship happiness and satisfaction.
God has a love language. I often ask people what they think God’s love language is. The responses are predictable. The most frequent ones are praise and worship. While it is certainly good and right and pleasing to God to praise and worship him, that is not how Jesus said we should show God we love him.
“If you love me,” Jesus said, “you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me” (John 14:21).
God’s love language is obedience. If we have understood the love and grace that he pours onto his chosen ones, if the knowledge of his great love for us has transformed our hearts, then the most proper response is to obey him. And, even more good news is that obedience will result in things going well for us. “Therefore you shall keep his statutes and his commandments…that it may go well with you and with your children after you…” (verse 40). Obedience is not a guarantee of health and wealth in this life. But it is undoubtedly true that things in life tend to go better if we obey God than if we do not. “This God who is unequaled and manifested Himself in an unprecedented revelation to Israel in redemptive power, is to be given careful respect and reverence through obedience. This response of obedience will prolong life and blessings for the Israelites and their children” (Samuel Schultz, Deuteronomy: The Gospel of Love, 33).