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THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT
The ten commandments have been reaffirmed in chapter 5; now Moses emphasizes and enlarges upon the significance of the four commandments, which we have seen deal with Israel's relationship to God. He introduces this in verses 1-3 by again pressing on Israel the importance of obedience. This would prolong their days in the land and that would thus multiply greatly in accordance with the Lord's promise as to their land flowing with milk and honey.
Moses appeals also to the people on the ground of their concern for their sons and their grandsons (v.2). How deeply we should be concerned, not only for our present generation, but for children and grandchildren, for our character now will effect on these.
"How, 0 Israel, The Lord our God is one" (v.4)! This is basic to every department of our lives as it was to Israel's. There is no division in the Godhead: therefore God is the absolute. He is absolute in truth, absolute in supremacy, absolute in authority. Since this is true, it is only right that Israel be told, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength" (v.5). In Luke 10:25-27 a lawyer who tested the Lord quoted this verse (Deuteronomy 6:5) and added fromLeviticus 19:18; Leviticus 19:18, "and your neighbor as yourself." However, Deuteronomy 5:1-33 confines itself to loving God, for this must come first. What a law was this! Who could dare to say that the one absorbing object of his heart and soul is God? -- and that his entire strength is devoted to God's pleasure? This law is a perfectly righteous one, but man in the flesh is totally incapable of obeying it. The Lord Jesus is the only one who has done so.
Yet Israel was to lay up these words in their hearts and to teach them diligently to their children, talking of them when sitting or walking or lying down (vs.6-7). God's standard was to be standard for believers today. The only acceptable Standard for us is Christ. Certainly no one measures up to this Standard either, but we can allow no lower standard. How good to teach Christ to our children, to speak of Him while sitting or walking or lying down. How much more precious is this than teaching law!
Binding these laws as a sign on Israel's hand is not literal, but rather speaks of applying these laws to the works of their hands. As frontlets between their eyes speaks of their seeing everything from God's viewpoint, consistently (v.8). Writing them on the doorposts of the house and on their gates is intended to keep Israel reminded of the law whether going out or coming in (v.9).
GUARDING AGAINST DANGER
God was graciously bringing Israel to a land of beauty and prosperity and Israel is told to keep in mind that they did not develop this land: it was already prepared for them by the previous inhabitants whom God was dispossessing. Houses, wells, vineyards and olive orchards were there for them to possess and benefit by (vs.10-11).
But prosperity has its very real dangers and Israel was told to beware lest they forget the Lord (v.12). We can easily begin to depend on our Lord. Let Israel cultivate the true fear of the Lord and serve Him, not influenced by other gods such as the nations served (vs.13-14). How great a temptation it is to believers today also, to want to be in some measure like the nations! We see what they do and what they have and in seeing this we allow our eyes to wander from the Lord and are tempted to imitate those who are ungodly. But the Lord is a jealous God, jealous of our affections, and cool disobedience may incur His present judgment (v.15). By such disobedience Israel could be destroyed. Therefore let them not tempt the Lord as they did at Massah when complaining against His dealings with them (v.16).
"You shall diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God. His testimonies and His statues which He has commanded you" (v.17). This would require their applying themselves to learn and to obey, to "do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord," that they might prosper in possessing the land God promised them, from which He would cast out their enemies (vs.18-19).
They could be sure that in due time their sons would be asking questions. What was the meaning of all the commandments of the Lord that caused a clear separation of Israel from all the nations (v.20)? The answer would take them back to the days of Israel's slavery in Egypt and the great intervention of God in bringing them out of this slavery with great signs and wonders against Egypt and Pharaoh (vs.21-22). God brought them out that He might bring them in to the land He had promised (v.23). Therefore, He had a special claim on Israel, and commanded them to observe all His statutes, giving proper reverential fear to Him who had so greatly blessed them (v.24).
Verse 25 is specially interesting, "Then it shall be our righteousness, if we are careful to observe" etc. If Israel had perfectly kept the law, this would be their righteousness. But they miserably disobeyed and for centuries now, in spite of their disobedience, "being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, they have not submitted to the righteousness of God (Romans 10:3). If they would submit to God's righteousness by true confession of their guilt before Him, they could find that God will impute righteousness to them on the basis of the sacrifice of Christ -- the only place now where anyone can find true righteousness. But it is tragically sad to see Israel clinging to a law they have badly broken, and ignoring God's beloved Son!
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 6". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Epiphany