Deuteronomy Chapter Six
When are we in most danger? Is it when everything goes wrong and we are in danger of doubting God’s commitment to us? Or is it when everything goes well and we are in danger of ignoring God’s Word to us? Believers have struggled with both situations but surely the difficult times are more likely to drive us to Him, while the easy times are more likely to drive us to a sense of (naïve) independence.
In Deuteronomy 6 we come to the second ‘facet’ of the ‘diamond ring’ that God’s covenant brings to His people and it’s the uniqueness of God which is summarised in the famous Shema of 6:4 “Hear O Israel: The Lord our God is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart…”. There is a wealth of truth in this word “one”. It not only means there is one God and therefore other gods are a fiction not a fact, but it also means that this one God has every area of life under control and you don’t need to look anywhere else for help.(To say nothing of the Trinitarian God being one God in three Persons).
The first urgency for this truth to be taught is within the families of Israel “so that your children and their children after them may fear the Lord “(6:2). It’s one thing for the present generation to believe but it’s crucial that the next generation believe for the ongoing witness to God’s grace in the world. Those of you who have children or grandchildren will know the very great desire that your offspring share the riches of Christ and even when our children go through doubts and detours it’s the foundation of truth and love that you have laid in their lives that cannot be removed and that comes to be appreciated again and again.
Moses teaches the adventure of talking of the Lord in the ordinary things of life “when you sit….when you walk…when you lie down…when you get up” (6:7-8) because there is so much of life to be seen on the backdrop of His genius and grace. Putting texts on hands and foreheads and doorframes – though taken literally in the Jewish community – was surely a spiritual lesson and a way of saying ‘keep them close to yourselves’. And all this domestic faith looks happy and peaceful.
So the warning from 6:10 is to make sure that the riches of the Promised Land which they will find themselves experiencing and enjoying, do not make them “forget the Lord” (6:12). Practical steps to avoid this are to “fear” Him (6:13) and reject other gods (6:14) because the Lord who is “jealous” (6:15) is rightly resentful of rivals. Being in covenant with the Lord – for all His love and goodness – is not a game but a marriage. And the danger of rejecting the Lord is being removed from the land – the benefits of embracing Him are massive.
Notice how Moses again puts all the laws on the backdrop of salvation – “the Lord brought us out of Egypt” (6:21). We will do well to keep reminding our children and ourselves that we have received a rescue that outweighs any costs in discipleship. When we find ourselves feeling careless, we need His kind warnings and when we find ourselves feeling hard done by, we need His kind promises.
When Peter said “we have left everything to follow you” Jesus replied that followers would receive “a hundred times” what is lost and “in the age to come eternal life” (Mark 10:28-30).
Heavenly Father, Re-clothe us in our rightful mind so that when things seem easy,we would love you all the more and when things seem hard we would grasp your love all the more.
In Jesus’ Name. Amen.