Listen and Obey
JUNE 28, 2022
“And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the rules that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you.
You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you. Your eyes have seen what the Lord did at Baal-peor, for the Lord your God destroyed from among you all the men who followed the Baal of Peor. But you who held fast to the Lord your God are all alive today. See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our G od is to us, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today? (Deuteronomy 4:1-8)
God has designed the world to work in a certain way. He gave the law to show his people how to conform their lives to that way. The law does not constrain us from a fulfilling life, it frees us to live with abandon within the boundaries of the God’s design.
It is through the law that God teaches his people what is right and how to live well. Knowing and obeying the law does not save us. But knowing and obeying the law does bring balance and security to life for those who are saved.
“What great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today” (4:8).
God does not make us guess what he requires. He does not leave us to wonder what is good and right. The law of God makes clear to his people what it is that he expects of them.
The world sees truth as culturally defined and changeable from one generation to another. People and cultures have their own truths. Morality changes. Things that were thought to be right in one generation are now thought to be wrong and vice versa.
But not so with the moral law of God. It does not change; it is always righteous. Living by its standards is always what is good and right and best.
Moses showed Israel that the law would serve as a guide for how to live for that generation as God’s covenant people and for generations to come.
The law is not a thing meant to shackle people’s individual freedom as is so often thought of today. It is a good thing. It is by the knowing and keeping of the law that the people would live and take possession of the gift of God (4:1), be wise and understanding (4:6), and experience God’s nearness (4:7).
A child is not born with the necessary knowledge or wisdom to make her way through life successfully. She needs a loving parent who will guide her in the way so that it may go well with her. That is what God does for his people with the law.
“For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us…” (4:7). God was not near to the Israelites because they were better or more obedient that other people. He was not near to them because they were more religiously observant or more pious. God was near to them because he chose to be near to them.
Note the order of verses 7 and 8. First God reminds Israel that he is near to them, and only then does he remind them that he has given them “statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today” (4:8).
This is the gospel. First God graciously draws near to the believer. Then it is that he holds out the law as the way to live in response to his gracious presence.