The question asked in the title today may be the most common question that comes to a pastor – though it may be expressed in varied forms. So what does the Lord want from his people – then or now? Well, the answer is rather simple, though, not to be trite about it, living it out in the details of life can be confusing at times. But, this is one time where it is not the Devil who is in the details, but the Lord God.
Look at this first verse in our reading today (verse 12). Moses gets really practical here with the application from all the history that he has been rehearsing about what God has accomplished and what the nation has done in response. Moses is essentially saying to this conquest generation: Here is what God wants from you …
– To fear God – This means to appropriately honor and respect and acknowledge God accurately for who he is and what he has done.
– To obey his commands – Does this need explanation? God has spoken; he has not stuttered.
– To love God – Yes, this is a matter of passion and worship from a thankful heart that recognizes his goodness. Yet it is also evidenced, as is anything we love, by the amount of time and priority we give to it – to Him and to what He values.
– To serve God – As immediately above, this means to prioritize those eternal values with all of who we are in our heart (mind) and soul (intellect, emotions, will) and strength (not stated here, but often in similar contexts).
Do you need some help and perspective in getting to the point of applying this? Look at verses 14 and 15, and see how they speak of something terribly vast, followed by something terribly small. In this context, it is the creation and the smallness of the nation of Israel – promised to Abraham individually, named after his grandson Jacob, comprising but 70 people some 400 years or so earlier when they all went to Egypt at the time of Joseph. And now, as Moses speaks to them, they numbered in the millions – and they, of all nations, were those upon whom God set his love… leading to a response of worship of lips and lives!
Hey! Listen! Don’t you see the same thing here about who we are in 2013? We are those upon whom God has set his love by having Christ die for us. Out of all peoples, we have this calling, this truth made known to us, this grace lavished upon us through God’s Word and his sovereign arranging of circumstances of life that we may receive it and walk in its beauty. How do we respond to that? We do so with the worship of lips and lives. We praise God in the quiet moments of our personal adoration. We long to gather with others of like precious faith to join our praises in a swell we cannot render by ourselves, and we prioritize eternal values in the organization and administration of our personal lives and deeds.
Committing anew to this is …….. revival!
Fear the Lord
12 And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?
14 To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. 15 Yet the Lord set his affection on your ancestors and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations—as it is today. 16 Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. 17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. 18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. 19 And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. 20 Fear the Lord your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. 21 He is the one you praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes. 22 Your ancestors who went down into Egypt were seventy in all, and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars in the sky.