Reading the Old Testament – Part 5

old testamentToday we are continuing our discussion around reading the Old Testament by looking at two more Old Testament passages and what we can extrapolate from them after just a cursory read-through.

Deuteronomy 6:4-7

“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

We know that this command, to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and might is repeated for us in the New Testament as the “great and foremost commandment” (Matthew 22:36-40). I always enjoy seeing the original OT passage that a familiar NT passage references (Deuteronomy 8:3 was another cool one I read this morning).

I also appreciate the obvious importance and urgency of the OT command. While we are no longer under the law, and therefore don’t have to follow the passage in Deuteronomy word for word, it is still helpful to see how strongly God feels about this command. Is God’s Word as much on my heart and mind as it should be? What things are keeping it from being so? Is there something I need to put away? Is there something I need to repent of? Am I faithfully raising my children under the umbrella of loving God with all one’s heart?

Deuteronomy 13:6-11

“If your brother, your mother’s son, or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul, entice you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods’ (whom neither you nor your fathers have known, of the gods of the peoples who are around you, near you or far from you, from one end of the earth to the other end), you shall not yield to him or listen to him; and your eye shall not pity him, nor shall you spare or conceal him. But you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. So you shall stone him to death because he has sought to seduce you from the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and will never again do such a wicked thing among you.”

Over and over in the OT we see how jealous God is for His Name and His people. Deuteronomy 13 gives three examples of people who might urge an Israelite to turn away from the one true God to serve other gods. The first is a ‘prophet or dreamer of dreams’ and the third is ‘some worthless men in the cities’. But between the two we have family and friends, those who we love the most – “the wife you cherish” and “your friend who is as your own soul” – these are strong, soul-stirring words! But even here God shows exactly where He ranks – no pity is allowed, they are commanded to kill the person who “has sought to seduce you from the Lord your God.” Even more strongly than just to kill the person but He goes on to say “your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”!

When I stop to think about this, I feel some of the fear mentioned in verse 11. My mind literally cannot fathom ever hurting my brother, let alone being first in line to put him to death! So what should our reaction be to these verses? Well the first should be great thanks that we are under the new covenant, the covenant of grace. But the second should be to consider our own actions, decisions, and thoughts. We see how strongly this command was worded, how jealous and our God is that His people love and serve only Him. Do I take my life as His redeemed daughter this seriously? Or do I take the immense grace that was freely lavished on me in Christ for granted? Too often it is the later.

I have some other examples for later weeks but in the meantime, what are some of your favorite Old Testament passages and why? 

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