Tuesday, November 8th. Deuteronomy 4:5-20

“See, just as the LORD my God has charged me, I now teach you statutes and ordinances for you to observe in the land that you are about to enter and occupy. You must observe them diligently, for this will show your wisdom and discernment to the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and discerning people!” For what other great nation has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is whenever we call to him? And what other great nation has statutes and ordinances as just as this entire law that I am setting before you today?”


“But take care and watch yourselves closely, so as neither to forget the things that your eyes have seen nor to let them slip from your mind all the days of your life; make them known to your children and your children’s children— how you once stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when the LORD said to me, “Assemble the people for me, and I will let them hear my words, so that they may learn to fear me as long as they live on the earth, and may teach their children so”; you approached and stood at the foot of the mountain while the mountain was blazing up to the very heavens, shrouded in dark clouds. Then the LORD spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice. He declared to you his covenant, which he charged you to observe, that is, the ten commandments; and he wrote them on two stone tablets. And the LORD charged me at that time to teach you statutes and ordinances for you to observe in the land that you are about to cross into and occupy.”


“Since you saw no form when the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire, take care and watch yourselves closely, so that you do not act corruptly by making an idol for yourselves, in the form of any figure—the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the air, the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water under the earth. And when you look up to the heavens and see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, do not be led astray and bow down to them and serve them, things that the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples everywhere under heaven. But the LORD has taken you and brought you out of the iron-smelter, out of Egypt, to become a people of his very own possession, as you are now.”  Deuteronomy 4:5-20


A “god” is whatever we look to as our ultimate source of security, status, and identity.   This is a key insight into the first commandment – You shall have no other gods before me – as the basic foundation for the other commandments which follow.


In Martin Luther’s explanation to that commandment he writes, “We are to fear, love, and trust God above anything else.”  This is the fundamental relationship in our lives.  God is God and we’re not. Fear (reverent devotion), love (choosing to follow God’s will over our own) and trust (living out of this fear and love) describes our side of our relationship with God.


So it is that Luther’s explanations of each of the other commandments all begin, “We are to fear and love God so that…”  TRUST means demonstrating our fear and love for God in our relationships with God and with other people.  Because we fear and love God, therefore we call upon him, we set aside time to rest and listen to God, we honor authority figures, we protect life, we enjoy our sexuality within safe boundaries, we help our neighbors keep their stuff, we speak well of others (or keep our mouths shut) and we rest content in what we have.


This is “the way of being in the world” that Deuteronomy insists is a sign of God’s love.  It is well worth teaching to our children.  But it is fragile in that our rebellious nature always wonders if that is enough.  Idols, gods who are no gods, fashioned by our own hands, within our own power, entice us to follow.


So God says, “You are going to have a god.  You might as well have the right one.”  So we have heard and so we follow.


Let us pray:  Dear Lord, we’re always looking for an edge, a loophole, an easy way out.  We entrust ourselves to shifting sands and lose our way.  Draw us back to you.  Teach us, that we might teach our children to fear, love, and trust you above everything and anything else.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.  


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