Meditations on Deuteronomy 6:16-19
God, through Moses, is instructing the children of Israel how to live in the fullness of God’s covenantal promises. This is more than a list of rules, regulations, and commandments. God is giving His children instructions on how to fully experience the prosperity He desires to lavish upon them. God is also reminding them that this is a daily faith, requiring a daily honoring of God’s will and ways. The irony of entering the Promised Land is the Israelites lose their tenacity of faith as they enjoy the fruit of God’s faithfulness. This reminds us that having our prayers answered does not necessarily lead to greater obedience. When facing extreme adversity or abundant fruitfulness our response must be the same: complete obedience!
(v.16) “You shall not put the LORD (YHWH) to the test, as you tested him at Massah.” The children of Israel refused to rest in the fact that God’s miraculous power had brought them out of their bondage in Egypt. When the water ran out at Massah (Exodus 17:1-7), they grumbled greatly against God and were ready to stone Moses. At Massah the people did not value God’s past and present provision. They did not believe He would continue to provide. Facing adversity, the children of Israel exercised extreme discontent over extreme faith.
Ways we test God, rather than choose faith.
1. We forget God’s past provision.
2. We don’t value God’s present provision.
3. We don’t believe in God’s future provision.
4. We don’t value God’s messenger(s).
(v.17) “You shall diligently keep the commandments of the LORD (YHWH) your God, and his testimonies and his statutes, which he has commanded you.” The ways of God are not hidden. His word instructs the soul, motivates the heart, enlivens the mind. God’s word is worth pursuing.
The reality is God’s word cannot be fully activated in our lives unless it is fully valued. Spiritual maturity is not a skill mastered; rather, it is a way of being. We grow in God as we learn to activate God’s word and will in every aspect of our lives. God’s word must always be before us; available for our use. There is a reservoir we can draw from when the word permeates the daily habits of our lives. When the word is in us, it comes out of us. The word requires a diligent pursuit.
Ways we keep the commandments of YHWH.
1. We read God’s word (quantity).
2. We reread God’s word (quality).
3. We hear God’s word (understand).
4. We live God’s word (activate).
(v18) “And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the LORD (YHWH), that it may go well with you, and that you may go in and take possession of the good land that the LORD swore to give to your fathers (v.19) by thrusting out all your enemies before you, as the LORD (YHWH) has promised.” What matters is God’s sight, God’s perspective. It is in His eyes that our lives are measured. Proverbs 3:7 states, “Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and turn away from evil.” Once we begin to validate our actions and behaviors on anything but God’s timeless word, we find death and decay. What is right and good is not culturally relative, it is rooted in God’s word.
God wanted the Israelites to do well in the good land. To do well, they had to take full possession of the land. Full possession was more than a territorial mandate; it was a command to be a certain way while in the land. Full possession was defined not by boundary markers, but by obedience. What is true of the land is true of a person. God wants His good news to take full possession of us. We are called not only to receive Jesus, but to yield completely to His will.
Just as God scattered Israel’s enemies, Jesus Christ conquered sin and death. This allows us to enter into God’s promise of salvation. When we enter this covenant, God has a plan for how we will live and have our being.
God wants our Christian life to go well. He wants us to experience a prosperous, kingdom advancing faith. This requires we approach God with a thankful heart, not with perpetual grumbling and complaining. It requires that we value and consume His living word with a sincere passion. Living well as sons and daughters of God’s promise requires we see things from God’s perspective. God is not calling us to a series of rules and regulations. Rather, He is calling us to come alive in a genuine, tenacious pursuit of His word and ways.
It will go well with us in God’s promised land if . . .
1. We have the right attitude and heart (v.16).
2. We value God’s word (v.17).
3. We measure our lives from God’s perspective (v.18-19).
The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.