Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Mar 23 2019 - Deuteronomy 6:1-25 – Love the Lord your God

The name "Deuteronomy" means a second giving, or repetition, of the law. The Israelites have arrived at another critical point in their history; they have come to the land which God had promised to give them and will soon cross the Jordon to possess it. Moses will shortly be taken from them by death, so it is with a sense of urgency that he repeats and summarises the instruction God had given him for Israel his people, and he exhorts the people to live in obedience to the Lord (6:1-3).

This is a key theme of the Book of Deuteronomy: God has been wonderfully gracious to his people, he has rescued them from Egypt, provided for them in the wilderness and is about to give them this good land – a land flowing with milk and honey. God has made his covenant with Israel and is a faithful God who never fails to keep his promises. Now he calls for them to respond to his grace with obedience. If they are obedient to the instruction that God has given them they will enjoy God's abundant blessings in the land he is giving them to possess: "be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you." (6:3). If, however, they are disobedient they will suffer his discipline and judgment and may even be exiled from the good land that God is giving them. Obedience will bring blessing, but disobedience will bring judgment.

This is not salvation by works. The Israelites are a redeemed people; God saved them out of undeserved love towards them – it was all of grace. Now, as a redeemed people they are being called to love and obey the one who has first loved them.

The great danger is that they may forget what God has done for them. They are about to possess riches they have not worked for (6:10-11); the danger is that they may be so satisfied with the gifts that they forget the giver: "be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery." (6:12). Moreover, the danger of forgetting will increase as the years go by. The generation entering the Promised Land, and all the generations following them need to remember what God has done; each generation is to tell the story of God's salvation to their children so that it will not be forgotten but celebrated (6:20-25). The instruction that God has given them is to be handed on to the generations to come; it is to be the continual subject of conversation in the home and is to shape every part of their daily lives (6:7-9). But above all, God's word is to be impressed on their hearts and is to be expressed in love for God with all their heart and soul and strength (6:5). It is to shape a life of heartfelt remembrance and devotion.

We also are a redeemed people. We have been rescued from enslavement to self and to sin through the shed blood and risen power of the Lord Jesus Christ. We also are called to respond to the one who has first loved us with single-minded and wholehearted love expressed in devoted obedience to him. We also are called to remember all that God has done for us – his costly grace towards us in Christ. We do this especially when we meet together to break bread and drink wine in remembrance of him. But our remembrance must shape every part of our lives: it is to be the frequent topic of conversations in our homes; it is to be central to our instruction of our children; it is to shape every aspect of our daily lives. We are to love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind and with all our strength and to love others as we love ourselves (Luke 10:27). This is the way to enjoy the blessings of our God.

Father God, we praise you for your great love for us shown in the gift of your Son. Help us by your Spirit to love you in return. Help us to follow our precious Saviour in glad obedience to you and in service of others that we, and they, may enjoy the blessings of your grace.

Peter Misselbrook