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mom instructing child March 16 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Deuteronomy 6, 7, 8

The Purpose of Rules

Rules can seem to be very restrictive. Our natural inclination is to kick against them, to have no demands placed upon us. But consider the folly of that. What would happen if we did not warn children of the dangers of wandering out onto the beach or into the water alone with no life guards or adults to watch them? Would not more children die? What would happen if we took away the rules of society like “do not kill” and “do not steal”? Without an enforcement of rules for the security and peace of mind of citizens, would there not be massive chaos and crime? Rules are made to safeguard and preserve us, and they demonstrate wisdom and understanding. This is what the Israelites were reminded of by Moses as they camped on the east side of the Jordan River, waiting to go across into the Promise Land.

Moses says

These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life.

Hear, O Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, promised you. (Deuteronomy 6:1-3, NIV)

What are the most important rules for the Israelites to obey? If they forget everything else, what should they remember? What about us? If we forget everything else, what should we Christians remember? Where is the “Easy button” we can push? A religious sect of Jesus' day, the Sadducees, test Jesus with this question. Listen to his answer; it is the same as recorded in Leviticus 19:18 and Deuteronomy 6:4-5.

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-30, NIV)

The keeping of rules, therefore, is not the most important thing to remember. The most important thing to remember is to love the LORD and our neighbors. Our allegiance must be to God (part of the Suzerain Treaty, see more…). However, we cannot love God if we do not know Him. Jesus said,

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. (John 10:27-28, NIV)

Do you know Jesus, God's Son? Have you received eternal life? (more...).

Christians, do we love God? Then, we should love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and our neighbor as ourselves. These are the most important rules to remember. If we keep them we will keep all the others.

God also reminds the Israelites that to continue their success and prosperity they are not to compromise with the culture around them; they are to eradicate their evil influence.

For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession, (Deuteronomy 7:6, NIV)

The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the Old Testament, by Walvoord and Zuck, ©1985, p.276, gives a few reasons why these nations, men, women, and children are to be completely destroyed. First, these representative nations are the most immoral, idolatrous, and vile of all the nations on the earth at this time (Deuteronomy 9:4-5 ). Second, they persist in their hatred of God. Had they repented like the city of Nineveh (Jonah 3) they certainly would be spared. God already waited patiently for 400 years during Israel's slavery in Egypt for at least one of these nations in Canaan to repent (Genesis 15:13-16), but there is no record that they ever did. They are hardened against God. Third, in the author's strange sense of reasoning, he says it would be merciful for the children who do not know right from wrong to be killed because God will take them to heaven, whereas if they are allowed to be raised by their wicked parents they will become wicked themselves and be cast into hell (is there an age of accountability? see more... ). Fourth, there is no dichotomy between the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament, for Jesus Christ himself will one day come in judgment to slaughter the unrepentant at the end of the seven year tribulation period. This is mentioned in 2Thessalonians 2:5-10 and Revelation 19:11-21. Fifth, the Canaanite nations would be a deadly moral cancer to the Israelites. God says,

Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the LORD's anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you.

This is what you are to do to them: Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols in the fire. For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. (Deuteronomy 7:3-6, NIV).

Although most of us are not Jewish, by God's grace those of us who have been delivered from the slavery of our sins by Christ are also a chosen people of God.

... Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,
and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father-- to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen., Revelation 1:5-6, NIV).

Unlike the Israelites, we are not in a holy war and are not to kill our enemies, but we should eradicate our own evil habits and sin. Sin stops us from having success and prosperity. God will help the righteous, but His hand is against the wicked.

How can we pass our faith on to our children? We want them to come to love the LORD and love their neighbors and become good citizens. Moses tells the Israelites to teach their children about God and His Word at every opportunity so they will know that God delivered them from slavery by His mighty hand.This is also why they are now to obey Him (Deuteronomy 6:6-9, 20-25). Likewise, we are to remind our children of how God saves us through the blood of Christ, and that is why we obey Him. And, as the Israelites, we are to be thankful and teach our children to be thankful so we might remember all that the LORD does for us, and so that our blessings may continue (Deuteronomy 7:7-8; 8:1-5). By example, we are also to exercise faith in the LORD to face the figurative giants in our life, as Israel faced literal giants, so that our children will learn to trust in the LORD (Deuteronomy 7:21). When we prosper, we are not to forget the LORD who gives the blessings. With prayers of thanksgiving, by teaching, and most of all by our examples we pass these things on to our children. We must teach them to love God first and then love their neighbors as themselves. Then and only then will we and they not have as many problems obeying rules, for we will realize that God's rules are meant for our own good and prosperity.

Lessons to live by:

  • God's rules are for our good and prosperity.
  • The most important rules are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Do you know him? (more...)
  • Christians are God's holy people and must live holy lives to prosper.
  • We need to eradicate evil influences in our personal lives so that we will not be punished by God.
  • We are to teach our children about God and his commandments so that they may obey and prosper.

Today's Bible memory verse:

Deuteronomy 6:1-2

These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. (NIV)

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