Observe the Law

Scripture: Deuteronomy 30:9-14

Key Verse: Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away. (verse 11)

Observation: Moses speaks words of encouragement to the people of Israel. He seeks to reassure them that they can and will be redeemed by God, if and when they turn from their rebellion and once again heed God’s voice. This return will be marked by an adherence to the Book of the Law that God gave Israel as a gift with the intention of bringing life and prosperity to the people of Israel so that they will be an example leading the rest of the world to observe the Book of the Law and live. This is a dire situation as Israel’s rebellion is not superficial but is deeply rooted in their hearts and souls. Moses calls them to renounce their sinfulness and give their entire being (heart) and all their hopes and desires (soul) back to the Lord. Moses proclaims that this return to the Book of the Law is not as hard as the people want to make it out to be. He argues that the law is near to the people. It is not so over their head that they need someone to ascend to heaven to get it for them. It is not so broad and wide that they need someone to go across the sea to bring it back to them. According to Moses, the law is in their mouths and their hearts because God gave it to them. God makes it possible for the people to love God with all their heart and all their soul because God has circumcised their hearts not just their flesh (verse 6). The law is no longer limited to the stone tablets Moses received but has been implanted in the people themselves. For Moses, Israel’s disobedience to the law is about their unwillingness, not their inability, to observe the law.

Analysis: Modern protestants are quick to point out that we no longer live under the law, but we live under grace. If we are not careful we begin to make the law out to be a bad thing that can be discarded. Yet, Jesus himself says that he came to fulfill not abolish the law. This passage from Deuteronomy is helpful in reclaiming the usefulness of the Book of the Law even for those of us who believe we are saved by faith through grace. Perhaps our problem with the law is based on our understanding that getting caught breaking the law means receiving punishment. We equate Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension as a means to cover all of our misdeeds and help us escape punishment for our sins. However, we fail to see the similarity between our abuse of grace and Israel’s rejection of the law. We easily slip into a half-hearted relationship with God when we falsely believe that living under grace means anything goes. Likewise, we are still involved in a half-hearted relationship, if we only go through the motions of Bible studies, church attendance, and mission trips. God seeks our whole hearts and our entire soul because we are lost without recognizing our complete dependence on God’s grace and guidance. Observing the law begins with establishing an intimate relationship with the true and living God who gave the law and gives us grace.

Prayer: Merciful and just God, we come before you giving thanks for the law that provides guidance and direction to our lives. We are grateful for the order you have placed in this world that prevents chaos from overtaking us and leading us into destruction. We embrace our need for you to cleanse and renew our hearts so that we can observe your life-giving law and live in your redeeming grace. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.


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