You can find a one-year Bible reading plan here.
I may have erred last week in not discussing the Shema, the charge in Deuteronomy 6 that Israel should listen to the Lord (Hear, O Israel) and devote themselves to him (You shall love the Lord). But good news! The verses are full of implication for this week’s writing, for they speak of Israel’s need (and our need) to listen with an intent to obey, and to love God with a devotion that acts rather than an emotion that fades.
The implication has much to do with the charge Moses lays before the people as he teaches this younger generation the law and then renews the covenant with them. Before Moses dies and passes leadership to Joshua, he takes the people to two mountains in Moab just to the east of the Promised Land. He stations six of the tribes on Mt. Gerizim to represent God’s blessings, and six on Mt. Ebal to stand for God’s curses on them. Moses makes a list of the ways God will bless them if they obey the law, but then gives a much longer account of the curses they will endure for disobedience. The people pledge themselves to the covenant, but how are they to keep it? This is where the Shema comes in. If they listened to the law with an intent to keep it and not just hear it, and if they loved the Lord with acts of devotion rather than a passing emotion, their faithfulness could last.
God knew their heart, however, and in one of the greatest prophecies of the Old Testament he reveals the true nature of their commitment.
…this people will arise and play the harlot with the strange gods of the land, into the midst of which they are going, and will forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them.Then My anger will be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them and hide My face from them, and they will be consumed, and many evils and troubles will come upon them; so that they will say in that day, ‘Is it not because our God is not among us that these evils have come upon us?’But I will surely hide My face in that day because of all the evil which they will do, for they will turn to other gods. Deuteronomy 31:16-18
Yet God remained faithful to the Israelites, even though they abandoned him. This was a covenant, after all, and not a mere contract which one could tear up and walk away from. God promised that after their captivity he would restore them to the land and then
…your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live. Deuteronomy 30:6
Though God’s plan for Israel has not yet been fulfilled, we can see and give thanks for the way he has circumcised the hearts of Christians through the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. We can say together with believers throughout history that “the Lord our God, the Lord is one.” By the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit we can now confidently pledge to love the Lord “with all our heart, and all our soul, and all our might.” And God, who began this good work in us, will be faithful to complete it.
About this blog
During 2020 I plan to post weekly writings covering the material you would read during each week as you proceed from Genesis to Revelation in one year. And so for this week I have covered Deuteronomy 17-Joshua 4. Next week I will write about Joshua 5-Judges 2. I hope you will continue along with me. You can find daily posts about these chapters archived here on the Bible in a Year blog. For your convenience here are the previous posts covering Deuteronomy 17-Joshua 4.
The King’s sins: Deuteronomy 17
What about astrology? Deuteronomy 18
Messy Lives: Deuteronomy 21-23
(No) Fear of the Lord: Deuteronomy 25
Deeper in debt: Deuteronomy 28
Grace in a pair of shoes: Deuteronomy 29
Predicting the future: Deuteronomy 31
The end of an era: Deuteronomy 34
Strong and courageous: Joshua 1
Don’t be discouraged: Joshua 1-4
Image by PeteDz Photography on Flickr, CC by-nc-sa 2.0