It is the LORD your God you must follow, and Him you must revere.
Keep His commands and obey Him; serve Him and hold fast to Him. Deuteronomy 13:4
Hmm…Deuteronomy…What does Deuteronomy have to do with me?
I must confess; I’ve been quick to shelve certain Old Testament books like this one. I would much rather revel in grace than contemplate the gravity of sin. I’d rather delight in God’s mercy than feel the weight of His judgment. I love the Lord, but do I truly revere Him? – I’ve been challenged to pause and press in here. I might be tempted to write this off as ancient history – lengthy passages of laws that (thankfully!) no longer apply to me. But this “2nd law” is actually a 2nd telling. It’s an opportunity for Moses to tell the next generation – these post-wandering exiles now entering the Promised Land – who Yahweh is and what He has done for His people. Since I’ve been grafted into this family tree; it stands to reason there’s truth here for my generation as well.
These chapters contain harsh consequences for false prophets and rebellious nations; both particular and peculiar descriptions of what can and cannot be eaten; and instructions on tithing – all to maintain the purity of a people set apart unto the LORD. But something that caught my eye was the repeated warning against “other gods, gods you have not known”. The word used here for “known” is the Hebrew word yada’ – meaning “to know”, “to see”, or “to perceive with the eyes”. There is a connotation here of knowing by direct observation or through personal encounter or experience.
These foreign gods are gods that they and their fathers have not known, or observed, or seen in action. But Yahweh, the God of Israel, has made Himself known. He has gone before them, fought for them, and shown them His mighty hand time and again. This is an opportunity for Papa Moses to give an eye witness account of God’s faithfulness and provision, and to share with this generation an opportunity to know this God – and to respond to Him in faith and obedience. Indeed, the common thread amongst all four passages is God’s personal and powerful interactions with His people – demonstrating His faithfulness from generation to generation, even unto the end of the age. See Psalm 100:5; Isaiah 41:4; and Revelation 11:15.
I love Philippians 3:7-11. Like Paul, my heart’s cry is to know Christ. And if, as Paul shares in this passage, nothing compares to the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus, than there is no greater threat to me than that which competes for my affection or would draw me away from Him: modern-day idols. That is why I must take sin seriously. That is why I must take a good, long look in the mirror of the law to grasp how utterly lost I am without Jesus. John 1:17-18 says, “the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made Him known.” For me, this is a call to whole-hearted devotion – to a life spent knowing, believing, pursuing, and clinging to God, as revealed through Jesus Christ – and to making Him known by sharing the hope we have in Him!
Amy C. (guest on 66 books)