“It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others.”
My cynical side finds this quote to be really funny. But on a serious note, it sums up the collective experience of the Old Testament Israelites. I find Deuteronomy 6 to be a great place to remind myself of the message God is communicating through the account of the Israelites. The Lord has just brought them out of wandering through the desert for forty years and He makes some great promises:
“These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess…so that you may enjoy long life” (v1-2, abridged)
“Hear, O Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey…” (v3a)
“Do what is right and good in the LORD’s sight, so that it may go well with you…” (v18a)
“The LORD commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the LORD our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today.” (v24)
After all the Israelites have been through, these promises of long life, comfort and prosperity must have been music to their ears. In their celebratory mood, it appears they didn’t read the fine print. These promises all have stipulations attached. They require the Israelites to obey God’s Law.
All of it.
All of the time.
“And if we are careful to obey all this law before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.” (v25)
In retrospect, we can see the futility of trying to earn righteousness by obeying the law. But only because the Israelites lives served as a warning to us.
Thank you that you have provided another way for me to attain righteousness. I confess that I spent years (not 40, but too many) trying to “earn” my righteousness through obedience. Thank you for the mercy you have for this sinner. I offer up my obedience as an expression of my gratitude for what your Son did for me on the cross. Amen.