Day 11: May 14, 2017: What God Requires
Deuteronomy 10:12-13: 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, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good?
I will always be grateful to God for the example and influence of the godly men who have invested in my life. I am blessed to have a humble and loving dad who loves and serves God with his whole heart. Alongside my dad are several men of his generation who have been “fathers in the faith” to me almost from the moment of my birth. I have known, learned from, and looked up to these men throughout my life. Since they have ardently followed Jesus they have fulfilled the call of God to pass the Christian faith onto the next generation. I am only one among many who trace the roots of their faith to the steadfast example of these men who came before us.
The generation of Israelites who were preparing to enter the Promised Land did not have such godly and dedicated examples to learn from. Instead their fathers, the generation of Israelites who came out of slavery in Egypt, were idolatrous, rebellious, and faithless. Again and again that generation turned away from the Lord to worship other gods. Again and again that generation tested the Lord in the wilderness. Again and again that generation grumbled against the Lord and chose fear instead of faith. As a result every member of that generation, with only a few exceptions, died in the wilderness under God’s judgment (Numbers 14:20-38, Deuteronomy 1:34-40).
In the book of Deuteronomy Moses addressed the new generation of Israelites who had the opportunity to succeed where their fathers had failed. Deuteronomy then is, basically, a collection of the speeches Moses made to this new generation of Israelites as they were positioned on the east side of the Jordan River waiting for God’s command to cross-over. Moses wanted to be sure that this new generation understood how badly their fathers had rebelled against God. He wanted to be sure that they knew the nature of their covenant relationship with God and what God required of them. He urged them, again and again throughout his speeches, to love and obey the Lord their God.
This is why the verses in our text for today can be thought of as a powerful summary of the message of Deuteronomy. What does God require of his people, whether the generation of Israelites who entered the Promised Land or the generation of Christ-followers alive through the earth today? He requires from us that we “fear the Lord our God, walk in all his ways, love him, serve him with all our heart and soul, and keep his commandments.”
The men who stood out as exceptions to the faithlessness of the Exodus generation were Joshua and Caleb. It was said of Caleb that he “followed the Lord wholeheartedly” (Dt. 1:36, NIV). This phrase sums up the requirements of Dt. 10:12-13 quite well. It is also is a very fitting description of my father and the men who with him have been such a significant influence on my life. They have followed the Lord wholeheartedly and thus I have been able to learn from them what that looks like.
The key to our ability to wholeheartedly follow the Lord in fear, love, and service is Jesus Christ. He is the perfect Servant of the Lord who perfectly obeyed God on our behalf. We can walk in the ways of God only by trusting Jesus and keeping our eyes fixed on Him. We can learn from negative examples, such as that of the Exodus generation, about the consequences of rebelling against God. We can also learn from positive examples, like the men whose lives have molded mine and like your own ‘mothers and fathers’ in the faith. But our learning from them is mediated to us through Christ. For their message to us is the same as the message Paul gave to the Corinthians: “Follow my example as I follow Christ’s” (1 Cor. 11:1, REB). This is the message we need to live and give to the generation which is coming after us.
Take time now to commit yourself once again to wholeheartedly following Christ. This prayer can help you get started: “Father, you call us to love, serve, and obey you with all our heart and soul. Thank you that Jesus Christ did this on our behalf, and thank you that through him we can come to faithfully live our lives for you. Lord, help me by your Holy Spirit to wholeheartedly follow you. Help me to walk in your ways so that by your power I can be an example of following Christ to others. In the name of Jesus, Amen.”