With All Your Might

“Now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require from you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the LORD’s commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good?” (Deuteronomy 10:12-13)

Our text comes from the book of Deuteronomy and was the last book that Moses wrote while on the plains of Moab. Moses is trying to prepare the Israelite people for their conquest of the Promised Land, the land that the Lord had promised to their forefathers. The Lord had made it clear that He would go before them and they would receive the victory. They would not be victorious because of their righteousness, as they had been a stubborn people and disobedient to His word. They would be victorious because God had promised this land to them in His covenant and because they were to be His instruments of judgment upon the people of Canaan. Moses told the people to “So circumcise your heart, and stiffen your neck no longer.” (Deuteronomy 10:16) They were to put wickedness out of their hearts and return to a right relationship with their God.

There are five thigs that Moses told the people to do in order to have a right relationship with God. Fear the Lord your God, walk in all His ways, love Him, serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and keep the commandments of the Lord and his statutes. As these words were sung in the old hymn “Old Time Religion,” “It was good for the Hebrew children its good enough for me.” Let us look at each of these that we may further develop them in our life to better our personal relationship with our Creator.

Moses told us to fear the Lord our God. This word in the Hebrew has a root meaning of awe and terror. There are two ways in which this word is used in our language. One is that we are afraid of something or scared to attempt a challenge. God is certainly almighty and a being to be afraid of. But that would be the response of one who did not know God and who He is. I believe the basic attribute of God is that He is love. (1 John 4:16) God can be angry with us, certainly He is many times disappointed with us, God can and does punish us or reproof us for our disobedience, and God often strongly rebukes our actions. As unpleasant as this may be it is no different than our parents when we were children, they were trying to bring us up right. This is what God is trying to do, teach us to become the people He created us to be. God is love and everything that He does is in the context of that love because as our Heavenly Father He loves us.

The other sense of the word fear is reverence or respect for who God is. When I see people who profess to believe in God and carry on in unrighteous ways I question do they really believe in God? Jehovah is the almighty all-knowing ever present Spirit being that created the universe by His Word and that alone is worthy of our reverence. Perhaps they should be afraid. I pray that they repent least they hear those terrible seven words from Jesus on the day they meet Him, “depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:23)

In the beginning was God and all came from Him. Solomon in the book of Proverbs tells us that fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom. From God and our reverent fear of Him is where we gain our understanding. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7) To gain understanding of God is to better understand ourselves. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10) To gain the knowledge of His creation is to gain a better understanding of the world we live in. To meditate on His Word is to gain the wisdom to use our knowledge and understanding. It begins with reverent fear and blossoms into our praise and love for Him.

Solomon was perhaps the wisest man who ever lived. When his life came to a close he had all that any man could possibly have. In the book of Ecclesiastes, which Solomon wrote as an elder he finishes with the conclusion that the meaning of life was to fear God. “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)

How do we prove that we fear God? When I was growing up in my father’s house the best proof of my love for him was through my obedience to his rules. By obeying my father I displayed that I had respect for who he was in my life. My father set a high measure which I never fully achieved but I tried and he returned his respect for my honest effort at trying to be good. My father was a godly man and built his life on nothing less that the Word of God. As obedience to my father showed my respect towards him, my obedience shows my respect towards God. I did not just happen to be good, I had to be disciplined. There were many years of willfully disobedience before I learned that the rules of my father’s house were not because he was mean but because he loved me. My father wanted my life to be the best it could be. Being stubborn I had to learn that the hard way. “For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” (Hebrews 10:26-30)

At first I got in line because I was tired of all the trips to the woodshed. As I grew I obeyed because I learned to respect my father for who he is. This is the founding example of my revelation of God’s love. God’s commands are rooted in His love for us, His love for me, and as I grew I transferred that truth to obedience in God’s Word for who He is rather than being afraid of His punishment. That is not to say that God has not reproved me but to say that I am growing up now that I am already old. More now than at any age the hope of His Kingdom lays closer ahead of me. I marvel at the majesty of it and am humbled that He has prepared a place there just for me. (John 14:2) Looking back over my life God has earned my respect for the great things He has done and only He is worthy of all praise. “Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe.” (Hebrews 12:28)

Moses also told the Israelite people to “Walk in all His ways.” We all know the general meaning of walking as placing one foot ahead of the other and moving on down the path. But in this context our walk is the way in which we live our life. In the Bible it has to do with the way people conduct their lives. Three people were referred to as living their life by walking with God. Enoch and Noah both walked with God. (Genesis 5:24 and Genesis 6:9) Abraham was told by God to walk before Him. “Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless.” (Genesis 17:1)

There are two ways to walk through this world. The many, the broad road people walk in the ways of the world. Their hearts are set with desires for the things of this world. Their attitudes are governed by the popular culture of this world. They seek after the things that their neighbors have and they find themselves in a slippery rat race to achieve this or that but seldom, if ever, find satisfaction. In the end they hold nothing that has any eternal value and when they depart they have nothing to show for their lives here. Their accomplishments will not stand in the test of God’s judgment. “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.” (Ephesians 2:1-2) We all have walked in such a manner at one point of our life. Maybe even now we still may be.

Few become aware of the vanity of this way of walking and repent and turn to the Lord. They no longer walk in the way of the world but in the way of the world to come, God’s Kingdom. They have turned away from walking in the darkness and now walk in the light of God’s truth. “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” (1 John 1:5-7) Walking in God’s light of truth is walking in God’s ways.

Earlier in Moses’ message to the Israelite people he told them the importance of loving God. “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:5) the Israelite people and we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and strength. Moses went on to tell the people that they are to teach their children to love God also. As God is love this is an important commandment, so important that Jesus repeated it to His disciples. (Matthew 22:35-38) Love is the most important thing to God and the most important thing we can do is love God.

Love is more than just a good emotional feeling that makes the butterflies fly in our stomachs. The Apostle John explains our love for God in his first epistle. “For this is the love of God that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3) Fearing and loving God are related. We respect God because of who He is and when we recognize who He is we love Him because He is love. “We love, because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) When we consider from where we have come and what we are in relationship to Him and in spite of that He loved us first. Not after we loved Him, not after we repented and turned towards His ways, but loved us in spite of who we were. Jesus died for us while yet we were unforgiven sinners. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

Moses now says that we are to “Serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” The basic meaning of serve is to work for or wait upon someone. People of wealth have servants that wait upon them, they cook and bring them their food, clean their houses and care for their grounds and so on. When Moses said that we are to serve the Lord this is the backdrop of the meaning. We are to work for the Lord, we are to wait on Him, and we are to do as the Lord tells us. We were not created to be spectators in life but to do the good work of the Kingdom of God. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)

As we are created, we were created for a purpose. We can serve the purpose of self and work for the things of this world. Or, we can serve the purpose that we were created and serve God. We have to choose which as we cannot be involved with both. They both are full time jobs and require all that we have. Jesus made this point in His Sermon on the Mount. “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” (Matthew 6:24)

Slave is the ancient word for servant. Slave today has negative connotations to it but in many places in the scripture it carried the same meaning. Along with the same meaning it has the same pitfall. We can be salves to the world or we can be a slave to the Lord. All of us will be one or the other. The question to me becomes to which slave master do I wish to serve, God or Satan? We can choose to serve sin for which the wage is death or we can serve God who rewards us with eternal life. “Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” (Romans 6:16-18)

Last Moses tells us to “Keep the commandments of the Lord and his statutes.” We have already looked at keeping the commandments of the Lord as an expression of our love for Him. But Moses feels it important to repeat the thought, why? We must understand that the purpose of the law of God is not to take all the fun out of our life. It is not so that God can catch us being disobedient and deny us passage into His Kingdom. God’s law was decreed out of His love for us and obedience to His law prolongs our life here and leads to everlasting life in His Kingdom. “When your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What do the testimonies and the statutes and the judgments mean which the LORD our God commanded you?’ then you shall say to your son, ‘We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and the LORD brought us from Egypt with a mighty hand. ‘Moreover, the LORD showed great and distressing signs and wonders before our eyes against Egypt, Pharaoh and all his household; He brought us out from there in order to bring us in, to give us the land which He had sworn to our fathers.’ “So the LORD commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God for our good always and for our survival, as it is today. “It will be righteousness for us if we are careful to observe all this commandment before the LORD our God, just as He commanded us.” (Deuteronomy 6:20-25) God is the Creator of us all and He knows what is best for us. His commandments are for our good and given for our best interest.

Here in the world those who break the law often suffer shame, they find themselves on the run trying to avoid the consequences for their crimes, their reputations are damaged and follow them the rest of their life, and they often end up in jail or come to a tragic end. Those who live in obedience to the law do not have these difficulties. David did not have a trouble free life but he lived after the heart of God. He had understanding and delighted in the word of God. “Trouble and anguish have come upon me, Yet Your commandments are my delight. You are near, O LORD, And all Your commandments are truth.” (Psalm 119_143, 151)

It is not possible for us to fear the Lord or love the Lord without keeping His commandments. “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15)

This was the message that Moses gave to God’s people the Israelites. The Church is God’s people of this age. The Church has been grafted into the nation of Israel. We serve a Jewish Savior the Lord Jesus Christ and we are to fear Him, we are to walk in His ways, we are to love Him, we are to serve Him with all our heart, and keep His commandments. “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation.” (Hebrews 5:8-9)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, August 11, 2016

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