The immediate context of this verse begins at verse 12 and continues on through chapter 11. There is so much to be found in this wonderful passage that we will only be able to touch on a few things. Further study would be encouraged.
Moses has just reminded Israel about their history, including their rebellion against God and the fact that he did not utterly destroy them. He reminded them that God, in his continued forbearance, spared them from the destruction they deserved. It is within this context, that Moses presents to them what could be called the theme of this passage:
And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD'S commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good? (Deuteronomy 10:12-13)
This theme is echoed throughout the whole passage. Note the numerous "action verbs" (shown in italics). These words are used the same way in several other verses in the passage, as shown in the following list.
Fear the LORD your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. (Deuteronomy 10:20)
Love the LORD your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always. (Deuteronomy 11:1; the word "keep" comes from the same Hebrew word as "observe," in verse 13)
Observe therefore all the commands I am giving you today, so that you may have the strength to go in and take over the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, ... (Deuteronomy 11:8)
So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today--to love the LORD your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul-- (Deuteronomy 11:13)
If you carefully observe all these commands I am giving you to follow--to love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways and to hold fast to him-- (Deuteronomy 11:22)
(Additional passages mention similar concepts, though not using the exact words listed above.)
What types of things did the LORD ask them to do? Only things they should be doing anyway - things that were for their own well-being! (10:13) What a wonderful God! (It's amazing - or perhaps appalling - to see how distorted a person's thinking can become, when sin takes over! People even come to the point that they consider the requirements of the LORD to be burdensome and something to be avoided!)
Everything in heaven and earth belongs to God (v.14), yet he chose to focus his attention (and undeserved favor) on these people. Because of this, they had an obligation have more than just a superficial, "external" devotion to God. They were to have an undivided devotion and loyalty that comes from the heart.
So circumcise your heart, and stiffen your neck no longer. (Deuteronomy 10:16)
Their God was a great God, a mighty and awesome God, who showed love to those who were "outsiders," and who defended those who nobody else would defend (and they were to follow his example - verses 18-19). But he was also an impartial God, who could not be swayed from a righteous judgment against sin. If they chose to forsake him, they would have to suffer the consequences their rebellion earned.
Throughout this passage, there is a constant reference to the wonderful acts of God, in his providing and caring for his people - great deeds which they themselves witnessed (Deuteronomy 11:7) and which they were to teach to their children (those who were not yet alive when God did them - 11:18-21). They were witnesses not only of the often-miraculous protection and safety that he provided for them, but also of the great overwhelming judgments, poured out against those who chose to oppose him. Now they were about to receive from him even more blessings beyond imagination! All this in spite of the fact that they deserved the opposite. Their rebellion against God had been so great, that it was only on account of Moses, that they were not totally destroyed (Deuteronomy 10:10-11).
Though God blesses us beyond what we deserve, we must not forget that our mighty God is (and must be) impartial. If, when they entered the land, they would do the things God required of them (things that were for their own good), he would continue to bless them. But if they refused, and continued in their rebellion, he would, of necessity, let his anger burn against them. Considering all he had done, they would have more than earned it! And if it came to that point, not even a bribe (10:17) could prevent it from happening.
At this present moment, they were being given the choice of a blessing or a curse - and God, being the mighty God, had the power to give them whichever they asked for. (History shows that they chose the curse.)
Today we do not have a duty to practice the ceremonial obligations that were given to Israel. (Those obligations had a special purpose in teaching about salvation and the work of Christ - which, at that time, was a future event.) But we do have the same obligation to have supreme devotion and love for God, and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39). What is your attitude toward your fulfillment of those duties? How does your attitude compare/contrast with the lax or rebellious attitude that most of Old Testament Israel had?
In the above passage, God describes our obligations as "for our own good." In the New Testament, Jesus makes demands such as these:
In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus describes his "yoke" of discipleship as "easy" and the "burden" as "light."
Jesus replied, " 'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' " (Matthew 22:37-39)
Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:37-39)
Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart; and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
What is your attitude toward the obligations he places upon us? If you don't view them the way Jesus views them (as being "easy" and "light") why is that?
God warned the nation Israel that they would experience blessing if they followed his ways, and cursing if they opposed them. What is the attitude of our nation toward the God of the Bible and the moral influence of his Word? What type of circumstances are we experiencing - as far as blessings or judgment are concerned? Does there seem to be any correlation between our attitude (as a nation) toward God and his moral precepts, and what we are experiencing? Do you see any trends?
What does this passage tell us about "the mighty God"?
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Dennis Hinks © 1993, 2004
Scripture quoted from ... NAS (Deuteronomy 10:16); NIV (Deuteronomy 10:12-13, 17, 20; 11:1, 8, 13, 22); NLT (Matthew 22:37-39);
NRS (Matthew 10:37-39); WEB (Matthew 11:28-30). Words in some verses have been put in italics for emphasis.
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