November 8, 2012

Scripture and Commentary, Friday after the Twenty-second Sunday after Trinity


Lectionary

Morning - Ps. 40, 2 Kings 23:1-23, 2 John
Evening - Ps. 37:26, Dt. 5:1-21, Mt. 25:14-30

Commentary, Deuteronomy 5:1-21

Tonight we are in Moses' second sermon, where we find a re-statement of, and short commentary on, the Ten Commandments.  Moses begins with words also found in the famous and beloved verse of Dt. 6:4-5:  "Hear, O Israel."  "Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and keep, and do them."

I can think of at least four reasons to keep the statutes of God.  For one, He is the Almighty, all loving Father of all mercies; the creator and owner of all things, therefore, He is worthy of our full obedience.  Second, His Law is good. It is an expression of His own goodness.  Third, living by His Law leads us into the ways of peace, while living contrary to them leads us into habits and life-styles that are self-destructive and culture-destructive.  Fourth, we ought to love One as loving and good as God; and loving, by definition, means attempting to please and honour the One loved.

Moses does not directly mention these things in tonight's reading.  He will state them boldly in the summary of the moral law found in Dt. 6:5.  But,  though not directly stated in tonight's reading, they are implied here, and in every word of the book of Deuteronomy.  Moses bases Israel's obedience on the Covenant God made with her at Horeb (Sinai).  Moses continues to remind Israel that God delivered her from bondage and blessed her with the promise of a homeland.  More than that, He promised to be her God, meaning  He will be and do for Israel what only He can.  In return He requires her to conduct herself in ways that reflect His goodness and mercy toward her.  He requires her to walk in holiness.  It would make no sense for God to promise His blessings to a people who disregard good, choose sin over righteousness, and live in ways that are utterly opposed to His perfect goodness.  Therefore, He calls Israel into a Covenant agreement which binds God and Israel to certain actions.  And yet, God desires more than mere actions, He desires the heart, and actions that come from the heart.  Israel's actions must be the natural expression of their love and gratitude for God, else He has no pleasure in them.  To God, the real Covenant between Himself and Israel is not engraved in stone: it is engraved on His heart, and their hearts. Verses 6- 21 re-state the Ten Commandments, the moral requirements that are the foundation of Israel's Covenant obligations.
              
Like the Old Israel, the New Israel is bound together as a people in Covenant with God.  He has called us into His grace and promised forgiveness and blessings to us.  He has given us His Word to direct our lives into the thoughts, habits, and life-styles that bring peace.  He has delivered us from those that destroy lives, homes, cultures, and churches.  Like the Old Israel, our covenant obligations are to believe and to obey our God and Saviour.