All Roads Lead To Jesus - Deuteronomy

Reading – Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Matthew 5-7

There are two parts of my day that very well may be some of my favorite parts of life. The first is when I see my family in the morning. I usually wake up after my wife and come downstairs to find her studying God’s Word. My kids wake up one by one and I get hugs and squeezes from their sleepy bodies. The second time of day I love is when I come home for dinner and spend time with my family in the evening. Once again, there are hugs, a shared meal, laughter, video games, devotions and maybe we will take in a TV show or a movie. Some nights and mornings are way better than others. But in general, these are my favorite parts of the day.

The middle part of the day that is bookended by these family moments is my job.  My workload brings joy at times, and great sadness on other days. Just like every other person who has ever had to make a living in this world, I have my ups and I have my downs. One thing remains each and every day no matter what the workload may bring. I will return home and bookend my day with my wife and kids. I love seeing my family, hugging them, kissing them, teasing them, sharing a meal with them, and saying goodnight to them. They are my favorite people in all the earth. They are the bookends.

I work hard because of the bookends. I work hard because I love my family so much. I want to provide for them, and I want to do everything in my power to make sure that they not only have a good life, but that they enjoy the good things that God has provided for them. There are other reasons why I work – calling, vocation, love for others, a love for Jesus’ church, and feeling accomplished. But the middle of my day is certainly driven in part because of my gratitude for my family. I am grateful for the hard work my wife puts in to educate our children and run our household. I work hard in part because of the gratitude I have for kids who want me to be their daddy. I work hard in response to the great blessings God has graciously given me. I work hard because I am grateful for the ones I love who will greet me when I come back home.

I am trying to paint a picture of the way many of us view Law and Grace. We love to talk about grace just like I love to talk about and be with my family. We enjoy grace. But like our jobs, our feelings about the Law are much more complicated at times. Some days we really delight in God’s Law and other days we feel as if it is a burden.

The followers of Jesus often work hard at keeping the Law not to earn grace but because we are grateful for grace. You can find this concept of Law and Grace wherever you look in the Scriptures but it is especially clear in the structure of Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy is a book about God’s Law that both opens and closes with God’s gracious acts – Deuteronomy is the Law bookended by Grace. In Deuteronomy, Jesus is the Lawgiver.  

The title of the fifth book of Moses, Deuteronomy, comes from the Hebrew word for “words”.  It is a sort of farewell address written by Moses to Israel. It doesn’t take a person long to see that Moses was very much concerned with what God wanted from His people. In the words of Deuteronomy Israel found guidance for worship, relationships, and was given a lens to see the world through God’s eyes. The main content of Deuteronomy consists of laws, both moral and civil along with lists of punishments and disciplines should those laws be broken. Let’s be honest. It’s pretty severe at times. Sometimes, due to the severity of the Law we might miss the story of grace.

Moses was an old man when he wrote Deuteronomy. It must have been one special place to be when Moses began to recount how God had delivered His people from Egypt. The first chapters in Deuteronomy reflect on how God has kept His Covenant. He promised to deliver Israel from Egypt and slavery and He did it.  After Moses summarized the Law in the heart of the pages of Deuteronomy, he began to reflect once more on God’s promises. Only now, Moses recorded the future promises of God. There was still work left to be done. There was still a Promised Land that awaited Israel. Redemption had been accomplished and was being accomplished. God had been gracious in the past, he was gracious in His Law and He would continue to be gracious to His people in the future. God’s grace would never run out.

God required His people Israel to keep His laws, but His love for them would never be based on their ability to keep the Law. His Covenantal love and long-suffering heart were and always would be based on grace. The Law of God can only be understood within the context of grace. We keep God’s law out of gratitude for God’s grace – not to earn favor. We keep God’s law in anticipation of the future promises God has made of a new heaven and earth, where His law will not only be the standard, but it will be kept perfectly by all of His people. Who wouldn’t want that? A society that loves God properly and loves others wholly? Sign me up.

Deuteronomy was an important book for Jesus. He quoted from Deuteronomy more than any other book in the Old Testament. In one instance, as his enemies attempted to trap him in a theological debate, Jesus was asked which law was the greatest law. Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy when he said, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

In the Gospel of Matthew, we have a summary of one of Jesus’ greatest sermons as he preached what has been affectionately called, “The Sermon on the Mount.” In this sermon, Jesus expounds on the Law that had been recorded in Deuteronomy. For Jesus, the Law is not a burden but a standard to look forward to when the Kingdom of God is realized. He told the people that in the Kingdom of God where God’s Law was obeyed things were going to change. Where the Law of God is obeyed the first in society would be last and the last would be first. People would start to treat one another righteously regardless of their power and status.  In this new Kingdom the grieving heart will be comforted with everlasting comfort. Kind-hearted people will inherit the earth. Merciful people will finally find mercy and no longer be taken advantage of. Those who seek peace and justice will finally see their greatest desires for peace and justice come to pass. Those who had been hurt and abused by this world will be made whole. In other words, Jesus’ view of the Law is not a burden but a natural result of the Kingdom of God realized in a recreated and reconciled culture and society.

We often look at rules and regulations as burdensome. But Jesus views the Law as something we can meditate on day and night. For Jesus, the Law is something to delight in. He submitted himself to the Law of God perfectly. He was both the Law Giver and the Law Keeper.

Our natural inclination is to rebel against God’s Law. I think we are seeing the fruit of our rebellion around the world today in a way that we have never been privy to before. I am not saying that the human race is more wicked than ever, but I am saying that our evil deeds are more prominent than ever before. Our hearts have been exposed on the internet and on a 24-hour news cycle. We have abandoned the Law of God for our own sinful desires and we are reaping what we have sown. We are experiencing the exact opposite of what Jesus promised in His Sermon on the Mount. Those with power crush those without. Peace and justice are hard to come by. Mercy is only for weak-minded people.

So, what have we done about this? We keep going back to the same well. We believe the promises of the next politician who wants our vote. We put our faith in failed human ideologies. We subscribe to conspiracy theories. We keep scrolling our feeds looking for answers. Or we try to hide our heads in the proverbial sand until everything passes over. But this is not what God wants from us. Jesus, the Lawgiver says, “Love God with everything that you have. And love others. These two laws summarize everything you have ever been told do by your Father in heaven.”

Jesus our lawgiver taught that the Law functions in our life in several ways that I want to lay out here. The Law teaches us about the attributes of God. His holiness. His transcendence. His love. His righteousness. His justice. If we want to know the desires of our God we don’t have to search any further than the law Jesus has given us – He desires that we would love Him and love others.

Additionally, the Law functions like a mirror that teaches us about who we are apart from Christ and who we are in Christ. Moses told Israel in Deuteronomy that the Law was given for their own good.

The Law works grace in us through the movement of the Holy Spirit. In other words, the Law’s requirements give us direction for a standard of change. We don’t remain the same old person when we seek to do God’s will as laid out in His Law.

The Law informs our relationships with other people. God saw fit to spend 6 of the 10 commandments on our relationships with others. This means the Law guides us in interpersonal relationships, but it also helps us to interpret, interact and react in our culture. We learn to love others well when we follow God’s Law.

Finally, the Law is a teacher that shows us the glory of Jesus Christ. We don’t need Jesus just once. We need him every second, of every minute, of every hour, of every day of our life. Jesus not only gave us the Law but He has fulfilled the Law on our behalf and that is one of the many reasons why we need Jesus. 

We love grace. We must learn to love and delight in the Law in just the same way that we delight in grace. Jesus is reconciling this world and when He is finished, His Law of loving God and others will be the Law to end all need for any other laws.  

1 Comment

Franklin LUM - July 10th, 2020 at 11:23am

Hi Paster Dan I feel you should put all 66 points you are making into book form.