Deuteronomy 6:1-9 – Law is Love?? - Pastor Joshua
All of us remember the rules our parents gave us growing up. They weren’t meant to constrict us but were meant to help us live, to help us flourish. And that’s what God does with the 10 Commandments. They aren’t a set of blind rules for us to follow but are meant to point us to His love and in turn call us to love Him. And that’s where we get our main idea. The heart of God’s law is the call to love Him. The underlying principle of the 10 Commandments is the idea that we’re to love God. Not a legalistic obedience but a response to love Him because He first loved us. So the heart of God’s law is the call to love Him… so how do we do that? Well for one…
1. God’s law helps us to revere/fear Him (Dt. 6:1-2). We love by God by revering, fearing Him with our entire beings. God’s law helps us to honor and to respect Him. Again this is Moses speaking on behalf of God. In verse 1, Moses makes reference to a single command, most likely a reference to the same principle underlying the whole law. Thus, all of the commands and laws are related to and stem from this one single commandment that Moses was commanded to teach Israel.
Then we see in verse 2 that this was so that they would fear the Lord. Now let’s hit the pause button for a second. “Fear the Lord?” Does God want us to be afraid of Him? When we think of fear, we might think of scary movies. Or in relation to God, we might think of God as some almighty being who is looking to crush us for every minor wrong we might commit. This is not the kind of fear that God wants us to have of Him. What “fear” is here is the idea of reverence, which means deep respect. It’s the feeling of standing before a God so magnificent that the only proper response is to honor Him with all that we are and do. We can’t underline this enough! That the object of Moses’ teaching was a life-long reverence, honor and respect for God not a scaredy-cat fear!
So which of the 10 Commandments deal with revering God, deeply respecting Him? While the latter 6 commandments deal with our relations with one another as people, the first 4 deals with our relationships with God. So Dt. 5:7, the 1st commandment, fear God alone. God doesn’t want us to worship other gods in our lives. Be careful not to allow the things in our lives that we love to become things we love more than we love God.
The 2nd commandment, 5:8-10, have no idols. Similar to the first commandment, God doesn’t want us to worship anything other than Himself. While creation does reflect the magnificence of the Creator, it’s meant to give glory to the Creator not to the creation.
3rd Commandment, 5:11, revere God’s name. Respect it. We tend to forget that God’s name represents the totality of who He is, His being, His nature and His attributes so we should take great care to honor it. And in another sense, when we pray in Christ’s name, we’re taking His revered name, taking His identity upon us. But when we intentionally and continually disobey His commands, we are also taking His name in vain.
And last but not least the 4th commandment, 5:12-15, rest in the Lord. What does this mean? We have to keep in mind that the underlying principle of keeping the Sabbath is the call to rest. And as we rest, we are to remember God’s acts faithfulness not only from Exodus as He saved Israel from slavery but His acts of faithfulness in saving us from our sin. Sabbath rest is also a sign of our dependence on Him.
So that’s the “how” in how we’re called to love God; we revere Him by keeping the heart of these 4 commandments. But what does that call bring? Point number two…
2. God’s law brings blessing. God’s law brings blessing (Dt. 6:3). We don’t deserve anything for revering God; it’s not like we’re a dog that does a trick in order to receive a treat. But when we follow the call to love God, God graciously gives us blessings. It’s not a false gospel of promised health and wealth. That’s plainly not true. But what God has in store for us is greater than health & wealth.
Moses is telling the Israelites that if they carefully follow God’s commandments, then they will receive blessings. One where Israel will grow greatly and receive the great land that was promised to their forefathers, the milk and honey mentioned are clear signs of that. What a good deal! Quick warning though: we have to be careful anytime we read of a promise in Scripture. We must always read the Bible in context, meaning what’s the situation: who’s speaking and who are they speaking to, when was this taking place. This is a prime example of that. So though God has promised to bless Israel by multiplying them and giving them a great land, this does not mean He is promising us those things.
So if those are the blessings that Israel gets for following and loving God, is there anything we get? We do get something, or rather someone. We get Jesus Christ. Better than any earthly possession, better than any land or any promise of material wealth, we are promised an eternal relationship with Christ.
When Jesus was being tested and questioned as to what is the greatest commandment of the law (Mt. 22), he answered by quoting from here in Deuteronomy saying, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.” Jesus recognized the heart of the very law that we’ve been talking about. We are to love God with all that we are. And when we do, when we believe that God sent his son Jesus to live for us and die the death that we deserved then rose again to conquer our sin and death, we no longer have to face death but we get the best blessing of eternal life together with Christ. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 6:23)
So, better than good health, greater than material riches, God saves us from guaranteed death that would make any good health or riches forever irrelevant. Because what’s the point of those things if you’re not alive to enjoy them? And I’m not just speaking of death in the sense of when our time runs up here on earth. But even as those who are living and breathing, to be spiritually dead and not have a relationship with Christ means to miss out on all the relationship, all of the joy that knowing Jesus as our Savior brings. Because regardless of our bank statements and our health records, we have the assurance that Jesus is always there for us and loves us because it was proven on the cross. This is God’s great and free blessing and gift to us. Which leads us to our last point…
3. God’s law points to God’s love. God’s law points to God’s love (Dt. 6:4-9). The call of God’s law points us to His great love for us. These verses are the most important and fundamental truth of all Jewish religion. The fundamental truth that the nature – that God is one and calls for a proper, fitting response – to love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul and might… in other words, with all the senses, both tangible and intangible, of our beings – our wills, our inner persons that we know ourselves to be, and our might. And Jesus calls us to do the same when quoting this same verse. It’s a call to love with an all-encompassing, holding nothing back kind of love. This was to be expressed in joyful and willing obedience. It leads to a more satisfying life than what the world could hope to offer us.
And we don’t love God out of nothing. “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19). He acted out of His own volition, His own love to save us through Jesus, so that we are now filled with His love (Rom. 5:5) and are able to love Him back. Not a forced love, something done out of burden or obligation, but a love that comes from true joy in Him. So in response, we are to have his words on our hearts, verse 6. We’re to think, meditate, ponder, and pray through these commands. And as we meditate day and night on His Word, our very lives become transformed, making clear the path that these commandments make before us.
Regarding verse 7, yes, teach your children to love God as He loves us. Not just children by birth but those who can be considered spiritually young in the faith too. Teach as you relax in your homes, eating meals, walking by the way – meaning as you travel or drive places, when you lie down and when you rise meaning morning and night… Make the most of any time that you have with others so that these commandments would permeate every corner of our lives. So that as you share testimonies, share tough situations in life, talk about TV shows or culture, ask questions on hard to understand passages, that God’s Word would become the lens through which we see everything.
Then verses 8 to 9, it’s not clear whether this was to be done literally or figuratively, writing Scriptures on small pieces of paper and attaching them to yourselves or to doors. But either way, the fact remains that a person’s self, home and community are to be marked by their obedience to the command to love God.
So again, God doesn’t give us rules and commands for us to live by in order to restrict and constrain us. He does so because He loves us and doesn’t want to see us get hurt but see us thrive by living together with Him. So remember to revere God, deeply respect Him everyday. Behold His greatness and magnificence. Examine and meditate on His great grace & goodness. And as you do so, know that this was only possible first because of Christ. That He gives us Himself by giving up His very life for us… which all began by His love for us. So now in response with our lives, we have the privilege and joy of being called to love Him.