As Moses’ death rapidly approached, east of the Jordan River he spoke to the children of Israel to remind them about several matters before they crossed the Jordan into the promised land of Canaan. That is the essence of the Book of Deuteronomy. Moses reminded them of what God had done for them, of their obligation to the Lord, and about the need for them never to forget Him.
A plain portion of Moses’ instruction is recorded for us in Deuteronomy 10:12,13, where it is written, “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 and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good?” What a soul-stirring question!
We recognize that these instructions were given to Israelites and not Christians. We realize, too, that we now are under the authority and covenant of the Christ and not the Law of Moses (Matthew 28:18-20). There are, however, some principles for us to see in what God required of His people in days gone by. The Old Testament was written for our learning, so let us learn from it (Romans 15:4). Christians are “the Israel of God” today, so let us look at the words of Deuteronomy 10:12,13 and see what is in it for us. What is the built-in answer to the question that Moses asked? Let us break it down.
Someone required something of the nation of Israel. Who was the Requirer? Moses’ question was, “What does the LORD your God require of you . . .? It is not a question of what humans desire, but of what Jehovah says must be done. The context shows that He is “God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome . . .” (10:17). Needless to say, what He says should get our attention! God was not making suggestions to Israel; rather, He was setting forth requirements. There is no such thing as an optional requirement.
“Fear the Lord.” That should have been a natural thing for the Israelites, as Moses told them, “. . . He is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things which your eyes have seen” (10:21). Fearing God has been man’s duty in every era of human history (Ecclesiastes 12:13). As servants of Jesus, we are to “serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Hebrews 12:28). While it is true that we are privileged to walk with our Creator, it is flippant and blatantly disrespectful to speak about or to God as if He were our “buddy” or “pal.” Such thinking and talking fail to manifest proper reverence for the Almighty.
“Walk in all His ways.” What did that mean? The very next verse (10:13) makes it clear that it means to keep God’s commands. Thank God that He has set forth clearly in the Bible His instructions for our lives. Should Christians be concerned about obeying God’s commands? We are His servants, right? (1 Peter 2:16). We are His children, right? (1 Peter 1:14). Servants and children are expected to obey. When we obey God’s commands, we are not earning our salvation or putting God in a position to owe us anything. But, if He has told us that receiving salvation and all other spiritual blessings is conditional upon our submitting to His will, then submit to His will we must! (Matthew 7:21).
“Walk in all His ways.” It was not enough for Israel to submit to a portion of God’s commands. In fact, willfully obeying the majority of what God said would not do, either. The same is true for members of the Lord’s church. Partial obedience is actually disobedience, as we see when King Saul failed to do all that the Lord instructed him to do (1 Samuel 15). We must put away any thought of trying to disregard portions of God’s law. Such an approach leads to spiritual disaster! Children of light, let us act like such children by walking in the light, which is the same as doing the truth (1 John 1:6,7).
“Love Him.” Read those two words again. Let them sink down into your soul and let your mind meditate on them. Love God. Is there any concept that is more important for a human being to grasp and follow?! “But I thought in the Old Testament God did not care about people’s hearts; I thought that all He looked at was outward actions and Judaism was just a cold, formal, outward religion.” Not true, my friend. Jesus said that the greatest command is to love God with all of one’s being (Mark 12:28-30). If we love God, we will obey His commands (1 John 5:3), but He does not want us to love Him as if we were some type of heartless robot. He wants us to submit to Him because we are in love with Him and grateful for all that He has done.
“Serve” God “with all your heart and with all your soul.” That is, we are to serve our God with all of our being, diligently giving Him the best that we have. Surely no child of His that is appreciative of all that He has done for our benefit would ever contemplate trying to sneak by and do just as little as possible in His service. May we all put forth our best effort for our God, always counting His Cause as the most important portion of our earthly sojourn.
“For your good” (10:13). To fear the Lord, walk with Him, love Him, and serve Him – these are for man’s good! God’s commands are not a burden (1 John 5:3). They are a blessing. That is right; all of God’s commands are a blessing to those who humbly submit to them. “What does the Lord require?”
— Roger D. Campbell