Morning Moments

with Sandra Bivens Smith

The Requirements of the God of the Old Testament

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“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? (Deuteronomy 10:12-13)

I would never have caught it if the commentator had not mentioned it – “and now”. I know the “therefore rule”, (when you see the word “therefore” find out what it’s there for) but I don’t think there is an “and now” rule; maybe there should be, the phrase appears some 109 times in scripture. The term in Hebrew is attah, it means whereas, henceforth. To understand how the “and now” phrase connects to this lesson, we need to go to Deuteronomy chapter 9.

(Moses speaking to the Israelites) (Moses speaking to the Israelites)  (1) “Hear, O Israel: you are to cross over the Jordan today, to go in to dispossess nations greater and mightier than you, cities great and fortified up to heaven,  (2) a people great and tall, the sons of the Anakim, whom you know, and of whom you have heard it said, ‘Who can stand before the sons of Anak?’  (3) Know therefore today that he who goes over before you as a consuming fire is the LORD your God. He will destroy them and subdue them before you. So you shall drive them out and make them perish quickly, as the LORD has promised you.  (4) “Do not say in your heart, after the LORD your God has thrust them out before you, ‘It is because of my righteousness that the LORD has brought me in to possess this land,’ whereas it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is driving them out before you.  (5) Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart are you going in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations the LORD your God is driving them out from before you, and that he may confirm the word that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.  (6) “Know, therefore, that the LORD your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stubborn people.  (7) Remember and do not forget how you provoked the LORD your God to wrath in the wilderness. From the day you came out of the land of Egypt until you came to this place, you have been rebellious against the LORD.  (8) Even at Horeb you provoked the LORD to wrath, and the LORD was so angry with you that he was ready to destroy you.  (9) When I went up the mountain to receive the tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant that the LORD made with you, I remained on the mountain forty days and forty nights. I neither ate bread nor drank water.  (10) And the LORD gave me the two tablets of stone written with the finger of God, and on them were all the words that the LORD had spoken with you on the mountain out of the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly.  (11) And at the end of forty days and forty nights the LORD gave me the two tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant.  (12) Then the LORD said to me, ‘Arise, go down quickly from here, for your people whom you have brought from Egypt have acted corruptly. They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them; they have made themselves a metal image.’  (13) “Furthermore, the LORD said to me, ‘I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stubborn people.  (14) Let me alone, that I may destroy them and blot out their name from under heaven. And I will make of you a nation mightier and greater than they.’  (15) So I turned and came down from the mountain, and the mountain was burning with fire. And the two tablets of the covenant were in my two hands.  (16) And I looked, and behold, you had sinned against the LORD your God. You had made yourselves a golden calf. You had turned aside quickly from the way that the LORD had commanded you.  (17) So I took hold of the two tablets and threw them out of my two hands and broke them before your eyes.  (18) Then I lay prostrate before the LORD as before, forty days and forty nights. I neither ate bread nor drank water, because of all the sin that you had committed, in doing what was evil in the sight of the LORD to provoke him to anger.  (19) For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure that the LORD bore against you, so that he was ready to destroy you. But the LORD listened to me that time also.  (20) And the LORD was so angry with Aaron that he was ready to destroy him. And I prayed for Aaron also at the same time.  (21) Then I took the sinful thing, the calf that you had made, and burned it with fire and crushed it, grinding it very small, until it was as fine as dust. And I threw the dust of it into the brook that ran down from the mountain.  (22) “At Taberah also, and at Massah and at Kibroth-hattaavah you provoked the LORD to wrath.  (23) And when the LORD sent you from Kadesh-barnea, saying, ‘Go up and take possession of the land that I have given you,’ then you rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God and did not believe him or obey his voice.  (24) You have been rebellious against the LORD from the day that I knew you.  (25) “So I lay prostrate before the LORD for these forty days and forty nights, because the LORD had said he would destroy you.  (26) And I prayed to the LORD, ‘O Lord GOD, do not destroy your people and your heritage, whom you have redeemed through your greatness, whom you have brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand.  (27) Remember your servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Do not regard the stubbornness of this people, or their wickedness or their sin,  (28) lest the land from which you brought us say, “Because the LORD was not able to bring them into the land that he promised them, and because he hated them, he has brought them out to put them to death in the wilderness.”  (29) For they are your people and your heritage, whom you brought out by your great power and by your outstretched arm.’ (Deuteronomy 9:1-29)

Lest they become self-righteous and prideful, God reminded the Israelites of their past rebellion and disobedience. He told them that even though they had disobeyed Him, He would honor His promises, but that His requirements had not changed.

What did God require of the Israelites and what He requires of us? Just five simple things:

  1. Fear Him – and Him only. Not men, not the false gods, not the idols built with human hands.

It is the LORD your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you—(Deuteronomy 6:13-14)

To fear God is to stand in awe of His glory and His holiness. It is to recognize His power, and His authority. It is to be certain of His justice and His judgment.

Johann Gerhard wrote “To fear God is to be united with the love of God; for without love, fear makes man remiss and without fear love makes them servile [enslaved] and desperate”.

Fear comes with the realization of how sinful we are in light of how holy God is.

  1. Walk in His Ways – in all His ways. We tend to think of the Commandments as a list of ten do’s and don’ts. The ten commandments make up ONE LAW and God requires that we obey His Law in its entirety.

For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. (James 2:10)

The Holy Scriptures were written by the prophets under the power of The Holy Spirit. In His word God reveals his Law and teaches us what He expects of His children.

in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:4)

  1. Love Him– in every way, completely, fully surrendered, holding nothing back.

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. (Deuteronomy 6:5)

The word “love” has been overused and abused so much that it has lost much of its value of true expression. We say we love our house, our car, our job. We love the newest movie, song, and restaurant. We say we love our children, our spouse, and our parents. I wonder, when we so casually throw that word around, do we really think about what we’re saying?

What do we mean when we say we love God? Is our love for Him the same as our love for people or things? Before you answer, ask yourself:

  • “What is my first thought in the morning and my last thought at night”?
  • “What comes first in my life”?
  • “What or who am I willing to make the greatest sacrifices for”?

As you considered each question, was the first name that came to mind “GOD”?

When God says we are not to worship other gods, He’s not just talking about the wooden idols and graven images that were worshiped in the days of Moses or the one’s Paul and the other apostles preached and warned about.  The warning includes our own brand of wooden idols and graven images.  Anything, anything, anything that we put ahead of God or that we give more importance to, is an idol, and God is jealous! 

for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God (Exodus 34:14)

  1. Serve Him– with your worship, your devotion, your blessings, your gifts.

You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. (Deuteronomy 13:4)

Worship begins and ends with obedience. All that we do in His name must be done according to His will; anything less and we are serving ourselves rather than God. When we enter worship, are our thoughts on glorifying and praising God or are we looking for our own “feel good fix”?

Devotion to God requires complete surrender of self. It requires we pledge ourselves to Him with gladness and joy. Jesus said “no man can serve two masters”. By definition, devotion to God exempts devotion to anything or anyone else.

Then the people rejoiced because they had given voluntarily, since with a devoted heart they had freely given to the LORD. (1 Chronicles 29:9)

Blessings, every one of them, are from God and therefore belong to God. God loves us and cares for us, and we certainly benefit from God’s blessings, but that is not His primary purpose. (After all, when it comes to blessings how can God bless us more than He already has when He gave us eternal life? A gift that was given at very high cost – that is the life’s blood of Jesus.) When God blesses His children, whether materially or spiritually, He does so for two reasons; to equip us to bless others and thereby bring glory to His own name.

Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered. Proverbs 11:25

5.  Keep His Law without compromise, without apology, without resentment, from a heart of love.

Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments and to cling to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.”  (Joshua 22:5)

Remember when the legalist asked Jesus which of the commandments was most important? Remember His answer?

This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:38-39)

But Jesus didn’t stop there, He went on to say –

“On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:40).

Think about how much sense that makes. Read what the Law requires, study the writings of all the prophets; if we love God above everything including ourselves, and if we love others as much as we love ourselves, everything else that the law requires will take care of itself. God didn’t set us up to fail.  All that God requires of us, He has empowered us by His Spirit, to do.

God said it:  (through Jeremiah) And as for the prophet, priest, or one of the people who says, ‘The burden of the LORD,’ I will punish that man and his household. (Jeremiah 23:34)

Jesus said it: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30)

John said it: “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3)

What a great word to end this lesson. God’s are not meant to burden or punish us, they are for our good (Deuteronomy 10:13).  Read again the above passages from Jeremiah, Matthew, and John, let your mind rest there for a while. We make it so hard, but it doesn’t need to be hard. As a matter of fact, the way I read it, if we are struggling with obedience to God, something’s not right.

In our next lesson, “The Promises of the God of the Old Testament”, I suspect we’re going to find some answers on how to get out of our “burden walk” mentality and in to “living victoriously”.  I don’t know about you but I can’t wait!

בּרכה Sandra

 Give It Some Thought:

What do you think Moses referring to when he began his message to the Israelites with  “and now” ?

List 5 sins of the Israelites Moses named in Deuteronomy 9?

What is your “and now” story?

Of the 5 requirements discussed in this lesson, which one do you struggle with most?

Is there something in your walk that you make harder than it needs to be?

Author: Sandra Bivens Smith

Christian Writer Speaker Small Group Leader/Teacher

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