Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Doomed from the Start: Dt 6 (Part 1)

"Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the Lord your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it, so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as the Lord , the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey... So the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God for our good always and for our survival, as it is today. It will be righteousness for us if we are careful to observe all this commandment before the Lord our God, just as He commanded us." (Deuteronomy 6:1-3, 24-25)
Throughout the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses lays out the conditions of the covenant between God and the Nation of Israel. A covenant which, if they would be faithful to observe, would grant them long life and prosperity in the new land into which they were about to enter. This was a covenant not based upon their relationship with God but rather upon their faithful and strict observance of the laws and ordinances established by the covenant. As excited as they must have been, standing ready to possess the Promised Land, it was a covenant doomed from the start.

It was not that there was anything wrong with the covenant or its laws, for Paul reminds us, "So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good." (Romans 7:12) Rather it was the inability of the law to produce righteousness within them that was the problem. "Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life , then righteousness would indeed have been based on law." (Galatians 3:21) Though the people didn't know it, they were entering into a covenant that they were completely unable to keep.

I believe that there are at least three reasons why the Mosaic covenant failed.

"These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart." (Deuteronomy 6:6) External pressures and reminders to observe the law will never server to create in us a heart to observe the law. Moses counseled the Nation of Israel never to forget the requirements of the law. "You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." (Deuteronomy 6:7-9) But for all their external reminders, symbols, and exhortations, their hearts were rebellious and they consistently failed to keep God's law. For example, it is not enough to have the Ten Commandments prominently displayed in your house, unless they are written on your hearts, we will most certainly fail in our attempts to keep them.

We need to let God write His laws on our hearts. "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be My people." (Hebrews 8:10) When God wrote the Ten Commandments, it was said, "He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the finger of God." (Exodus 31:18) In the same way, as we grow in our relationship with God, He will write, with His own finger, His laws on our minds and our hearts. Without a relationship, they are just external laws, laws we are unable to keep, but with a relationship with God, then His laws become a part of us and His Spirit empowers us to keep them and to live Godly lives.

More to come... David Robison

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