All of my writings stem from things stirring in my heart as I journey through the Bible this year. My reading pace has slowed, but the learning is only going deeper. I’m coming face to face with issues I’d rather avoid because they make me uncomfortable – they require me to change.
This morning I read through chapter 4 of Deuteronomy. The setting is Moses giving his final messages to the people of Israel before they enter the promised land (which Moses himself cannot enter).
If your Bible has section headers, then you’ll see chapter 4 has the header “Moses Commands Obedience.”
One of the hardest things to do.
Why should we obey? Whom should we obey?
If I’m honest, I don’t hold a high standard for obedience. I usually base my obedience in relation to how good or bad I think things are. Murdering is high on the “bad scale”, so I don’t go there. But if it’s things on the other end of the scale – I don’t think twice about turning a blind eye.
Am I talking about living a perfect life? No.
Reading through chapter 4 of Deuteronomy (where Moses commands obedience) a light bulb went off.
Verse 1 – “And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the rules that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live….”
Verse 4 – “But you who held fast to the Lord your God are all alive today.”
I think Moses is highlighting something here much deeper than physical vitality.
For those who hold the Christian view, following and believing in Jesus is a matter with eternal implications. However, following and believing in Jesus is not just something that impacts our life after we die, rather, it determines how well we live here in the mean time. It impacts how “alive” we are.
Why does Moses plead with the people of Israel to listen to God’s rules? Because they produce life – both physically and spiritually.
“Are these things bad simply because God forbids them? No. Like all sin, God forbids them because they’re bad. They open doors to demonic deception.” – Jon Courson
God knows which things are life-giving and which things lead to death.
God has told us how to live well – the way to live and be fully alive.
Sin – disobedience to God’s way – produces the opposite of life. Sin produces death.
Death to relationships. Death to joy. Death to your spirit.
Yes, we may very well have breath in our lungs but we can be dead inside. Why does God give us these “rules of life?” Because He wants us to live well. He wants us to be fully alive. He wants us to experience life to the fullest.
In verse 1 of chapter 4 Moses says, “And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes…” The Hebrew word used here that’s translated “listen” is “shema.” Shema means much more than to hear. To “shema” means to hear AND obey. In other words, if you’re not obeying, then you’re not really listening.
Why should we not only hear God’s word but obey it? Because it’s the difference between life and death. Eternally and in the here and now. Obeying God’s word makes us fully alive. We can often think that God gave us these rules to make life “less fun” – but in reality these rules help us to experience what real life is.
Obedience to God is not a matter of restriction. It’s a life and death matter. Will we chose life or death? We make these choices every day.
John 7:38 (ESV) – “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”