As I considered today’s reading, what stood out to me was God’s insistence on being obeyed. While this insistence occurs throughout the book of Deuteronomy, it occurs with the most frequency and variety in chapters 4 – 8.
“Be sure to keep the commands of the Lord your God”
“Be careful to obey”
“Observe the commands of the Lord your God”
“Fear the Lord your God and serve Him only”
“Do what is right and good in the Lord’s sight”
These are just some of the phrases I underscored, but these alone occur nearly 100 times in the book of Deuteronomy. God is a god of grace and love, but He expects to be obeyed. Israel’s deliverance from Egyptian bondage did not come because Israel “obeyed” God. God provided deliverance first. But having delivered Israel from slavery, God expected obedience.
That outline has not changed with the coming of Christ. Salvation is not available to us because we are obedient. God made it available before we ever thought of serving Him – or even, before we were born. But having provided it to us, and we having accepted it, God calls us to be obedient. Israel’s future depended on it, and so does our own. It’s part of the gospel (Matthew 28:18-20). We cannot love Jesus without it (John 14:15), and it is the condition of remaining in Christ’s love (John 15:10).