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mom instructing child March 16 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: 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 took away stop signs and stop lights? Would there not be more accidents? Stop signs and stop lights only restrict our liberty to drive for the safety of everyone who might be in our path, and so the law protects us. What would happen if we took away the rules of society like “do not kill” and “do not steal”? If there were no rules then we would have no need for a police force. 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 just on the east side of the Jordan River, waiting to go across into the Promise Land.

Deuteronomy 6:1-3 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. (NIV)

What were the most important rules to obey? If they forgot everything else, what should they remember? How about us? Where is the “Easy button” we can push? A religious sect of Jesus' day, the Sadducees, tested 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 a person we do not know. Jesus said, John 10:27

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; more...)

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 reminded the Israelites that to continue their success and prosperity they were not to compromise with the culture around them; they were 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 were to be completely destroyed. First, these representative nations were the most immoral, idolatrous, and vile of all the nations on the earth at that time (Deuteronomy 9:4-5 ). Second, they persisted in their hatred of God. Had they repented like the city of Nineveh (Jonah 3) they certainly would have been spared. God had already waited patiently for 400 years of 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 were hardened against God. Third, in a strange sense of reasoning, it would be merciful for the children who did not know right from wrong to be killed because God would take them to heaven, whereas if they were allowed to be raised by their wicked parents they would likely 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 someday 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 said,

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 sins. 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 neighbor and become good citizens. Israelites were to teach their children about God and his Word at every opportunity so that they would know that God delivered them from slavery by his mighty hand, and that is also why they were to obey Him (Deuteronomy 6:6-9, 20-25). Likewise, we are to remind our children of how God saved us through the blood of Christ, and that is why we obey him. And, as the Israelites, we are also to be thankful and teach our children to be thankful so that we remember all that the LORD did 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. By prayers of thanksgiving, 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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