How and why: a wonderful passage and a contemporary paraphrase
Deuteronomy 9 ends with Moses remembering how he begged God not to destroy the Israelites. He pleaded with Him to overlook their stubbornness, wickedness and sin. He reminded Him of what He had done for them and who they were in His eyes. He urged Him to think of how the other nations would perceive this act. At the end of the day –
But they are your people, your inheritance that you brought out by your great power and your outstretched arm. Deuteronomy 9:29
And God listened. He did not destroy His people.
In Chapter 10, we are reminded how God told Moses to chisel out two new tablets of stone for God to inscribe the Commandments on and make a wooden ark to keep them in. We are reminded of the death of Aaron and how his son Eleazar is instated as High Priest and the role of the Levites.
And then there’s this wonderful, wonderful passage. Here it is in it entirety, followed by a modern paraphrase of my own –
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, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?
To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. 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. Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. 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. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. Fear the Lord your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. 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. 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. Deuteronomy 10:12-22
So, people, you ask what God could possibly want with you and from you? It’s simple.
He wants you to recognise who He is and be in awe of Him.
He wants you to obey Him as you go about your everyday life.
He wants you to love Him.
He wants you to give all that you are and have to serve Him, to be 100% available to Him.
He wants you to follow the way He is teaching you to live.
For that is what living life to the full is all about.
And yet He loves you. He chose you. He wants to be in relationship with you. How awesome is that?
Know your place, then, in God’s grand scheme of things. Don’t get full of yourself and think that you can do it all on your own; that you know best.
God is God. God knows best.
He is great and powerful and awesome.
You can’t get round Him with clever words. He doesn’t have favourites. He is the definition of fair.
He looks out for the weak and defenceless, the invisible individuals in society with no voice that can be heard. He stands up and speaks out for those who feel alone and abandoned. He loves and provides for the foreigner living among you.
He expects you to do the same. However hard you find it, you are to love everyone too – the lonely, the isolated, the marginalised, the poor, immigrants, asylum seekers, your foreign dentist that you find hard to understand, that new family at the school, the couple that have moved in up the street……..because you never know when it could be you that feels alone and abandoned and misunderstood by the people around you.
Don’t forget to put God at the centre of your life. Work out for yourself what it is to be grounded in Him and inspired by Him. Let Him be your reason for all that you do.
Remember to thank Him for all that He has done in your life and continues to do everyday. Give Him the credit for all the amazing things He is doing in the world.
Back in the day, seventy individuals made up the entire chosen nation and entered Egypt as eleven brothers (Joseph was already there, remember) and their families. Look at all the followers of God who have ever lived and who are living across the whole world now! Impossible to count. Like the grains of sand on a beach or the stars in the sky.
God has done exactly what He promised to do.
Now it’s up to you.