The title of this blog may seem a little surprising.
When most people think of reading Deuteronomy they probably picture it being as moving as watching the grass grow, but for those people I feel very sorry. Relatively recently in my Christian walk I have discovered the treasure of reading through books of the Bible in one sitting; usually those books I’ve read through in one sitting have been New Testament books which consist of only 2-3 pages.
A friend of mine created a Bible reading plan that allows you to fall behind a little and still stay on track with reading the Bible through in a year; the catch is that he has you read certain OT books in one sitting. I was intrigued by the idea of reading through an OT book in one sitting, but knew the challenge that it would involve. Today, I read through this quarter’s OT book of Deuteronomy in one sitting. It took me about and hour and forty-five minutes, and my eyes were a little red afterwards; but let me just say, my eyes were not red primarily because of staring at a page that long (though that may be part of the reason). They were red primarily because I was overwhelmed with God and the way he dealt with his chosen people Israel. What led me to be teary-eyed over Deuteronomy specifically? Here are ten glorious truths that stood out to me about God (fitting, as it goes along with the Ten Commandments):
1. God alone is totally sovereign over all that he has made. There are no others gods really. God himself testifies that all other gods are no more than the work of men’s hands and cannot truly deliver the people who follow them.
2. God deserves the worship of all peoples, yet all peoples have rejected him. Sometimes we forget that the people of Israel were once not a people at all, but rather entailed only Abram, who was himself a worshiper of false gods and lived in the region that would later become a symbol of enmity against God.
3. God chose, of his own grace and purpose, to set his love on a people. God’s choice of Abram was not because of anything in Abram. I love Deuteronomy 7:7-8, which reads, “It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” Abram wasn’t looking for God. God wasn’t sitting around in heaven on some recliner waiting for man to respond. God sought out Abram. Why? His grace! Glorious grace!
4. God graciously delivers these people he has chosen from slavery and destroys their enemies. The repeated theme of Deuteronomy is a call for the people of Israel to remember that they were slaves for 430 years in Egypt and God delivered them by his almighty power.
5. God lavishes these people he has chosen with rich blessings. God chooses to lead these people out of their slavery and through the wilderness for forty years, yet they never starve or have to change clothes or shoes. God not only provides for them, but leads them to defeat all their enemies during that wilderness wandering and promises to bring them into a land with seven nations mightier than they, assuring them he will destroy those peoples and give them the glorious land of Canaan.
6. God calls these people to a radical lifestyle of worship to him that acknowledges his saving them. Moses repeatedly reminds these people to live their lives within the framework of a rebellious people who were once enslaved and serving their enemies, whom God has graciously redeemed and set free. Moses calls them to constantly remind themselves of their once slavery and so to treat others with the grace they have been given, except when those others will turn their hearts away from the God who alone has saved them and who alone is worthy of their praise. Moses even calls them to teach their children they were saved by nothing but God’s grace.
7. God calls these people away from pride by calling them to remember his gracious salvation. God knew these people he had chosen, graciously redeemed, and blessed would turn away from him after they entered the promised land; all because they would think they did it by their own power and efforts. We are still so prone to think we have earned the grace of God by our efforts, but we must guard against such ridiculous lies, for they minimize the true power of God.
8. God disciplines the people he has chosen when they rebel. God is not content to let his chosen people be destroyed by their own sins, so he disciplines them and reminds them whose they are.
9. God graciously forgives these people he has chosen when they repent. The result of God’s hand of discipline always achieves from his people a repentant heart, which is why he disciplines them in the first place. Our God is not angry with his people, but disciplines those he loves, so they will come back close to him.
10. God promises to one day set a people free from slavery to their own sinful desires so they can worship him from the heart
But perhaps the sweetest truth from Deuteronomy was the way the people of Israel were so rebellious and never seemed to learn these lessons fully, yet God promises: “And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live” (Deut. 30:6).
God was not a fool. He knew that the people of Israel would not obey the 10 Commandments. In fact, Paul tells us much of the reason God gave these commands to rebellious people like Israel was to remind them how they were in desperate need of a Savior to live them on their behalf. In the New Covenant, God has graciously cut away the wickedness of our hearts through the new birth and has stamped his law on our hearts. Jesus has obeyed where we have rebelled and by faith in his finished work and victorious resurrection, God credits his righteousness to our account. This doesn’t mean believers obey all the time from the heart, but it does mean that believers are no longer bound by their sins, but have the power of the Spirit of God within them to kill their sin…more radically than the people of Israel had to destroy all that tempted them to turn away from God.
I have pages of Scripture from Deuteronomy I have underlined and may include more of it here, but for now I’m content to let these glorious truths of our gracious saving God keep me ever close to him, rejoicing in his grace towards me in Christ, and in the company of those he has redeemed to himself. May your eyes ever be teary and red from our God’s grace in the gospel of Jesus Christ.