Some connect this (vs. 1-3) with what goes before, and take it as a sort of epilogue to
the preceding discourse; but it is rather to be regarded as introductory to what follows.
Being about to enjoin upon the people the commandments they were to obey in the
on which they were about to enter, THE
SELECTED TO BE A THEATER FOR PRACTICAL RIGHTEOUSNESS.
Moses prefaces this with a general announcement of what he was about to deliver, and
with a statement of the reason for such deliverance, and of the benefits that would
flow from the observance of what should be enjoined. The worship, fear,
and service of the one living and true God were the prime duties enjoined
on the people.
1 “Now these are the commandments,” - In the Hebrew it is, This is the
commandment, i.e. THE SUM AND SUBSTANCE OF THE DIVINE
ENACTMENT equivalent to “THE LAW” (ch.4:44). “The statutes and
judgments” (rights) are in apposition to “the commandment,” and explain
it - “the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD your God commanded
to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it:”
2 “That thou mightest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all His statutes
and His commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy
son’s son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged.”
The reason for this announcement of the Law was that the people might fear the Lord,
so as to keep all that He enjoined, they and their children, from generation to generation,
and that they might thereby continue long in life, and in the enjoyment of the advantages
accruing from the land of which they were about to take possession. The nurture and
training of the family are to be emphasized and this family loyalty to God is to be
continuous and unswerving — “all the days of thy life.” And in wealth and
of diction the Legislator points
out that in this loyalty of being
would find its well-being, our highest interests are ensured by the fulfillment
of the Divine commands. The forms in which the rewards of loyalty to God will
show themselves are very varied. The individual will find that godliness has
“promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” (I Timothy
4:8) The family will find that “He blesseth the habitation of the just.” (Proverbs
3:33) - The city will find that the keeping of God’s commandments is among the
things “which belong unto its peace.” (And “the righteous nation which
keepeth the truth” will find that “salvation doth God appoint for walls and
bulwarks” (see Isaiah 26:1-2; 48:17). It is a remarkable instance of the Divine
condescension to our ways of thinking, feeling, and acting, that our God
should stoop to teach us what is profitable to ourselves, and that He should
deign in mercy to reward with honor and peace those who fear Him (Psalm 62:12).
Descending Obligations (v.2)
· CHILDREN WITH THEIR PARENTS ARE INCLUDED IN THE
COVENANT. This has been a general principle in God’s dealings with his
servants. We have it affirmed, both in the covenant with Abraham
17:7-15) and in the later covenant with
It was signified in the rite of circumcision. The Israelitish child was regarded
as within the covenant, a genuine member of the theocracy, till by a personal
act of apostasy — if unfortunately it should be so — he severed himself from
its blessings. Similar language is used of the children of Christian believers
(Acts 2:39; I Corinthians 7:14). Received into the Church by baptism, they
are recognized with their parents as interested in the promise; they are
expected, on coming to years of discretion, freely to appropriate the
obligations of the Christian life; and they are, in case of refusal, justly
regarded as apostates from Christ.
· THE STANDING OF CHILDREN IN THE COVENANT ENTAILS
SERIOUS OBLIGATIONS ON THE PARENTS.
Ø Religious instruction (vs. 6-7, 20; Exodus 13:8, 14, etc.). The children
had not been personally at Horeb. They had not seen the mighty
works of God in
acquaint them with the history, and to instruct them in their duties.
Ø Religious training, which is education in act, as instruction is education
in word (ch. 21:18; Genesis 18:19; Proverbs 29:15, etc.).
Ø Religious example. The parent is to be one who loves the Lord for
himself (v. 5). The Word is to be in his own heart (v. 6). Only thus will
he teach with effect. All this has its counterpart in the duties of Christian
parents (Ephesians 6:4; I Timothy 3:4; II Timothy 3:15, etc.).
· THE STANDING OF CHILDREN IN THE COVENANT ENTAILS
SERIOUS OBLIGATIONS ON THE CHILDREN. Where parental duties
had been fulfilled, the Israelitish child was under the most sacred
obligations to choose and adhere to the God of his fathers, and to serve
Him in the way prescribed. There was in this no interference with freedom,
for when God proposes covenant relations to a human being, while it is his
privilege, it can never be aught else than his duty to accept them. In the
Christian Church, a like obligation rests on the children of believers. The
baptized child is bound to serve God, and, if properly instructed
(Matthew 28:19), it cannot evade the responsibilities thus laid upon it.
Great is the guilt of a child brought up in a Christian home if wantonly it
and that ye may increase mightily, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath
promised thee,” - God had promised from the first to the patriarchs that He would
make of their posterity a great nation (Genesis 12:1; 17:6; 18:18). But the fulfillment
of this promise was conditioned by their continuing as a people in the fear of
God, and in obedience to His Law. Everything, then, depended on their hearing
what Moses had been commanded to teach them, and observing to do it (compare
Leviticus 26:9) - “in the land” - This is to be connected with the clause, “that it may
be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily;” the land was to be the scene
and sphere of their prosperity and increase. Some would render thus: “As the Lord God
of thy fathers hath promised thee a land,” etc., i.e. a place in which thou mayest prosper
and increase; the other, however, is the more natural construction and rendering. There
is, indeed, no preposition before “the land” in the Hebrew; but nothing is more
common in that language than for the accusative of a noun to be used adverbially to
describe the place where anything is done -“that floweth with milk and honey.” -
an emblem of fruitfulness and sweetness (Song of Solomon 4:11); proverbially
whence the bees could extract honey (compare Exodus 3:8, 17). Robust health,
domestic comfort, national peace, prolific harvests, security, contentment,
honor, — these are among the fruits to be anticipated. Obedience is an investment
of moral capital, which brings LARGEST and SAFEST RESULTS!
Obedience to God is Conducive to the Highest Good (vs. 1-3)
The Lord God had launched forth into the world a new nation, the basis of
whose constitution was specifically religious. The worship, fear, and
service of the one living and true God were the prime duties enjoined on
the people, without which no bare morality as between man and man was
accepted before Him. In this paragraph, however, we get no indications of
duty which have not previously been included in the ten commandments.
How can we? The whole ground of duty was covered by them. Still, the
same truths are ever being thrown into forms fresh and new. The primal
laws of duty are not many; they may soon be recounted. But we need “line
upon line, precept upon precept,” that the very precepts which perhaps we
deem commonplace may be graven on our hearts, and there become living
powers! In the three verses before us the enjoined duties are summed up in
the one phrase, the commandment (v. 1: the word is singular, and
includes in its meaning both statutes and judgments). Four expressions
show how “the commandment” is to be kept.
1. There is to be a fear of the Lord; a fear based on trust, not on distrust.
2. The Divine appointments are to be THE RULE OF LIFE!
3. The nurture and training of the family ARE TO BE IN ENTIRE
4. This family loyalty to God is to be continuous and unswerving — “all
the days of thy life.” And in wealth and variety of diction the Legislator
points out that in this
loyalty of being
Whence we get the topic for our present Homily: That our highest
interests are ensured by the fulfillment of the Divine commands. Observe:
· IT IS SUPPOSED THAT MEN WILL NOT BE INSENSIBLE TO
THE QUESTION — “WHAT WILL BE MOST PROFITABLE TO US?”
As a matter of fact, they do regard the measure of profit likely to accrue, as
something which regulates their movements. Nor is there anywhere in the
Word of God any censure passed on this. In fact, even our Savior Himself
appeals to considerations of profit in Matthew 16:25-26. So also does
the Apostle Paul in I Timothy 4:8. The working of self-love is
recognized without rebuke in the Law, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as
thyself;” and it is even remotely enjoined in the words, “Do thyself no
harm.” (Acts 16:28) The distinction between self-love and selfishness is very
decided, yet is far too little noticed. Selfishness is having regard to our own
interests in distinction from those of others; self-love has regard to our own
interests in harmony with those of others. The first is sinful; the second is
lawful; yea, more, to fight against our highest interests would be wrong.
We may demur to the maxim that “utility is the foundation of virtue,” and
rightly so, if “utility” be taken in the selfish aspect thereof. But if by
“utility” we mean “the tendency to promote the highest good over the
widest sphere, for all time,” then the maxim is lifted up to a higher level,
and becomes at least practically wholesome, even if it may be objected to
on philosophical grounds. If, then, we do but entertain a right and
scriptural view of what our highest interests are, it is lawful for us, and
even binding on us, to have a regard to them; and it is to the desire in that
direction that the passage before us makes its appeal.
· IT IS SHOWN HERE THAT THERE IS A COURSE OF LIFE
WHICH IS APPOINTED FOR US BY GOD. The appointments of God
for us are specified here. We are to “fear the Lord.” Evidently this is to be
a fear, not of dread, but of love; for see v. 5. In Psalm 130:4 we read,
“But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.” God
forgives, and so takes away the fear of the offender, that the fear of
offending may take its place. There is to be dread of sin, but not of God.
The fear is to be suffused with tenderness and brightened with joy
(Psalm 33:1). See the phrases in this section, even touching in their
pathos — “God, thy God,” “the God of thy fathers.” Yea, it is our own
God who lays down our life-rules, and by all the force of His tender love
would He win us to obedience.
· IN FOLLOWING GOD’S APPOINTED WAY WE ENSURE OUR
OWN HIGHEST GOOD. (vs. 2-3.) The elements of good which
obedience ensures are:
Ø Peace. We remarked above that the fear of God, which we are called on
to cherish, is one based on trust. The Christian form of this is reliance on
the Lord Jesus Christ in all the aspects in which He is revealed to us as
ours. The effect of this is named in Romans 5:1. Then there will be
peace of conscience (see Isaiah 32:17; Philippians 4:6-7; Matthew 11:29).
Ø Harmony. Our nature will be in self accord when what we are and do
corresponds to what we ought to be and do. There will be no schism
between the judgment and the affections.
Ø Health. Other things being equal, the man who is most obedient to
God’s laws will have the soundest health in body, soul, and spirit. The
gladsomeness and ease of a sound and well-balanced constitution will be
Ø Continuance will be a part of the reward — “that thy days may be
prolonged” (see Psalm 91:16; compare Ephesians 6:3; Psalm 37:9, 28,
34). The forms in which the rewards of loyalty to God will show
themselves are very varied.
o The individual will find that godliness has “promise of the life
that now is, and of that which is to come.” (I Timothy 4:8)
o The family will find that “He blesseth the habitation of the
o The city will find that the keeping of God’s commandments is
among the things “which belong unto its peace.”
o And “the righteous nation which keepeth the truth” will
find that “salvation doth God appoint for walls and bulwarks”
(see Isaiah 26:1-2; 48:17).
It is a remarkable instance of the Divine condescension to our ways of
thinking, feeling, and acting, that our God should stoop to teach us
what is profitable to ourselves, and that He should deign in mercy to
reward with honor and peace those who fear Him (Psalm 62:12).
Mercifully meeting us on the low ground on which we too frequently
stand in looking out for profit, God would raise us up to the higher
platform of a pure, self-abandoning self-forgetfulness and love, in
which we are content to be nothing, THAT GOD MAY BE ALL
IN ALL! For observe:
· APPARENT EXCEPTIONS TO THIS RULE ARE EXCEPTIONS
ONLY IN APPEARANCE. Sometimes obedience to God may be attended
with a most unusual amount of affliction or of persecution. Take, e.g. the
roll of worthies referred to in Hebrews 11:32-39. Can we say it was for
their “profit” to serve God? Most certainly we can. For:
Ø By their endurance they became witnesses for God, and served their
generation (like David – Acts 13:36 – CY – 2020) in the very way
they would most have desired could they have seen as God sees.
Ø Their afflictions were the means of purifying their characters,
strengthening their principles, and ripening their virtues.
Ø In the midst of all, God was Himself to them “their exceeding joy;” and
what they had in Him was, even on earth, an ample recompense for
all that they had suffered for Him. (“For our light affliction, which is
but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal
weight of glory” II Corinthians 4:17)
Ø They had respect to the recompense of reward (Hebrews 11:10, 16,
Ø Their sufferings are long ago forgotten in the rest of the unseen state
where they are “inheriting the promises” (Hebrews 6:12). They had
faith to believe them and patience to wait for them, and now they have
entered into “the rest.” Who need wish to change their lot for the
smoothest and most prosperous career of a man “without God in the
world?” Virtue may for a while seem “to have the worst of it,” but “they
that are losers for God shall never be losers by Him in the end.”
· OBEDIENCE IS EXPECTED TO BE THE RESULT OF AN
INTELLIGENT AND CULTURED FAITH, AND NOT OF A BLIND
ONE. (v. 1), “The Lord your God commanded to teach you.” Nowhere
has the adage, “Ignorance is the mother of devotion,” less warrant than in
the Word of God. The priests of a spurious or alien faith may inculcate
blind submission. Not so any of the inspired writers, whether legislators,
prophets, or apostles. Men were to be taught not only what God required,
but why He required it, that they might render Him the homage of a heart
quickened to love through the truth which reached the understanding and
“commended itself to every man’s conscience.” (II Corinthians 4:2)
God appeals to reason (Isaiah 1:18).
Obedience the End of Law (vs. 1-3)
All the machinery of law is abortive, unless obedience be the result. As a
mother teaches her children, giving them “line upon line” (Isaiah 28:13),
frequent repetition and variation, so Moses patiently taught
“faithful in all his house.” (Hebrews 3:5)
· SEE THE INTERNAL EXCELLENCE OF GOD’S LAW. It has so
many qualities of merit, that no one word in human language can express
them all. They are “commandments,” which word indicates the just
authority from which they emanate. They are “statutes,” implying their
fixed and permanent character. They are “judgments,” a description which
denotes thoughtful deliberation, patient forethought, and sagacious
decision. No greater benefactor can men have than a wise legislator. These
Laws, if reverently observed, would have been “health to the marrow,” and
life to the nation.
· THE DESIGN OF GOD’S COVENANT WAS HEARTY AND
COMPLETE OBEDIENCE. It was unprofitable for God to command, or
for Moses to teach, unless the people obeyed; just as it is futile for the
husbandman to plough his land, pulverize the clods, sow the seed, water
his crops, if no harvest ensue. The end which God had clearly in view —
the only end worthy of Him, was not
prosperity there; the final end was obedience. The land was selected to be
a theatre for practical righteousness. The land would be forfeited if
righteous obedience did not abound. And obedience, to be acceptable,
must be real. External conformity to law would not suffice. The whole soul
must yield compliance. There must be harmony between man’s will and
God’s. Obedience would foster reverence, and reverence would strengthen
love. (Jesus said, “If a man love me, he will keep my words, and
my Father will love him, and WE WILL COME UNTO HIM, AND
MAKE OUR ABODE WITH HIM!” - John 14:23 – CY - 2020)
There is action and reaction amid the forces of the soul.
· PIOUS OBEDIENCE IS ENTAILED. It is a moral inheritance
passing from father to son. Formal and superficial obedience will not
reproduce itself in others, will not bear seed of the true kind. But genuine,
vital piety is contagious. If bad qualities are communicated, surely good
qualities are also. Else truth would be feebler than error, virtue feebler than
vice. Thorough, straightforward, transparent, cheerful piety is the greatest
power in the world. For our children’s sake, and for our children’s
children, let reverent obedience brighten and beautify our life!
· PIOUS OBEDIENCE PRODUCES PRESENT FRUITS. Its rewards
are not wholly reserved for the future. On earth some advantages are
Ø Length of days is a result. “Thy days may be prolonged.” A green old
age is a beautiful thing. “The wicked shall not live out half their days.”
Ø Numerous progeny is a result. “Ye may increase mightily.” A growing
population is universally regarded as a token of material prosperity. “They
of the city shall flourish as grass of the earth.” Success in all enterprise is
announced as an effect. “It shall be well with thee.” (v . 3; ch. 4:40;
5:16, 29, 33; 6:3, 18; 12:25, 28; 19:13; 22:7, and Ephesians 6:3)
Ø Robust health, domestic comfort, national peace, prolific harvests,
security, contentment, honor, — these are among the fruits to be
anticipated. Obedience is an investment of moral capital, which brings
largest and safest results.
THE FIRST AND GREAT COMMANDMENT (vs. 4-25)
In the fear of Jehovah all true obedience is rooted (vs. 2-3); for this is the first
and most intimate fact in the relation of
the supreme fear of Jehovah hinders men from allowing self to preponderate in
opposition to God, there will be no stopping at this renunciation of self-will,
though this comes first as the negative form of the ten commandments also
shows, but there will come to be a coalescence of the human with the Divine
will; and this is love, which is the proper condition of obedience, as the ten
commandments also indicate (Ibid. v.10)”
4 “Hear, O
affirmation not so much of the moneity as of the unity and simplicity of
Jehovah, the alone God. Though Elohim (plural), He is one. The speaker
does not say, “Jehovah is alone God,” but “Jehovah our Elohim is one
Jehovah” (compare for the force of אֶחָד, Exodus 26:6, 11; Ezekiel 37:16-19).
Among the heathen there were many Baals and many Jupiters; and it was
believed that the deity might be divided and communicated to many. But the
God of Israel, Jehovah, is one, indivisible and incommunicable. He is the
Absolute and the Infinite One, who alone is to be worshipped, on whom
all depend, and to whose command all must yield obedience (compare
Zechariah 14:9). Not only to polytheism, but to pantheism, and to the
conception of a localized or national deity, is this declaration of the unity
of Jehovah opposed. With these words the Jews begin their daily liturgy,
morning and evening; the sentence expresses the essence of their religious
belief; and so familiar is it to their thought and speech that, it is said, they
were often, during the persecution in
involuntary utterance of it.
5 “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and
with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” To the one indivisible Jehovah
undivided devotion and love are due. Hence the injunction, Thou shalt love
Jehovah thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy
might. The “heart” is the inner nature of the man, including his intellectual,
emotional, and cognitive futurities; the “soul” is the personality, the entire
self-consciousness; and the “might” is the sum of the energies, bodily and
mental. Not by profession merely is Jehovah to be loved; the whole man,
body, soul, and spirit, is to be yielded to him in holy and devout affection
(compare Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:33; Luke 10:27; Romans 12:1). The last
letter of the first word, and the last letter of the last word in this verse are
larger than the ordinary size (majuscula), and as these two form the word for
witness (עד), the Jews say that they are written thus “that every one may know,
when he professes the unity of God, that his heart ought to be intent and
devoid of every other thought, because God is a witness, and knoweth
The Essence of the Decalogue is Love (vs. 1-5)
Moses here applies the Decalogue to their present circumstances. He wishes them
commonwealth depends upon it. To assist them in the understanding of the Law,
he sums it up in one all-embracing principle of love. GOD AS THE SUPREME
OBJECT is to receive the homage of the entire nature of man.
· MOSES INSISTS ON THE UNITY AND ABSOLUTE CHARACTER
OF GOD. This
“Jehovah our Mighty One is one Jehovah” — the uncaused, self-existent
One in His absolute unity and strength. All perfection is thus briefly
attributed to Him.
· GOD CAN BE THE OBJECT OF LOVE. His unity is not an unsocial
thing. Within His being there are social qualities demanding, and from all
eternity receiving, satisfaction. Hence we believe in what Jonathan Edwards
called a “social Trinity.” Our social nature is the reflection of God, since
we were made in His image. His unity does not imply that in the by-past
eternity, before anything was made, He was alone. It was the fellowship of
“Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” — three Persons in the one Godhead. The
Trinity makes God lovable, for it is the condition of the satisfaction from
all eternity of His social qualities.
· GOD DESERVES THE LOVE OF OUR WHOLE BEING. Heart,
soul, and might are to be enlisted in this service. Our love to Him should be
intellectual and also emotional; it should be passionate and strong; an all-
embracing energy of our nature. All our faculties are appealed to by the
Ø Our understanding is enlisted by God as the Infinite Mind. All our
intellectuality finds its counterpart and culmination in the infinite
intellectual powers which God possesses and exercises. We rest upon
His superior intellectual power.
Ø Our affections are enlisted by God as the Fountain of affection. God is
a Heart of unspeakable tenderness as well as a Mind of infinite grasp.
And so He elicits the love of the heart as well as of the mind.
Ø Our will is swayed into passionate devotion by God as the Infinite Will.
If the spectacle of will in resistless benevolence commands the homage
of our powers, then God entrances our whole will-power into passionate
Ø Our strength is enlisted by God as the embodiment of vital energies and
powers in their highest form. So that as a matter of fact, God fits into
every fold of human nature and elicits its loving and adoring homage.
· LOVE MAKES LAWKEEPING DELIGHTFUL. The Law is not a
pain to any who love the Lawgiver. Love is the essence of true loyalty. It
makes service freedom. It is this which we must cultivate daily, and then
life becomes delightful.
The Great Commandment (vs. 4-5)
· THE GROUND OF IT. A just view of God. The view given in v. 4 is
as comprehensive as it is sublime. It embraces two parts mutually
Ø God’s absoluteness and unity — “Jehovah one.”
Ø In the covenant name — “Jehovah.” This, on the one hand, denotes
God as the Eternal:
o the ever-living,
o the self-existent, and
o therefore self-consistent One.
On the other, it gathers into its rich significance the love, and truth, and
faithfulness of centuries of gracious revelation. It will not awaken love
to God to think of Him merely as absolute Deity. It is the discovery of what
else is contained in the Divine essence; above all, the revelation of His love,
grace, and covenant-keeping faithfulness, which attracts affection. While,
without the revelation of God as one and absolute — exclusive, self-
subsisting Deity — it would be impossible to raise the demand for love
to the requisite moral height. In Jesus Christ the revelation of God reaches
its highest point. Only the Son could reveal him in the fullness of His glory
and love. He is “Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express
image of His person..” (Hebrews 1:3)
· THE HEIGHT OF IT. It requires not merely that God should be loved,
but loved with all the powers of our being, and with all the energy of these
Ø With clear intelligence - “mind” (Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:33).
Ø With undivided affection - “heart.”
Ø With entire self-surrender - “soul.”
Ø With strenuous energy — “might.”
The right view of God is obviously presupposed in the command to love
Him. The command would be unmeaning as addressed to a polytheist, a
pantheist, an agnostic, or even to a deist disbelieving in revelation. But this
view of God being given, the demand, as obviously, could not be placed
lower. God as Creator and Savior cannot accept a place in our affections
lower than THE SUPREME ONE! He will have this or none. It is due to our
morally perverted state that this demand should ever be felt by us to be
unreasonable. Pure beings would not feel it to be so. They would delight in
the exercise of love to God, and find it natural and easy. The angels, Christ,
the just made perfect, love the Father thus. Nor ought the height of this
demand unduly to discourage us. Love to God is truly begotten, though
not yet perfected, in every heart which has made choice of God as its
supreme Portion, and cleaves to Him with constancy. God has the ruling
place in such a heart, and it needs but growth to raise our love to its
required purity and vigor. What is left unattained on earth will be attained
6 “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine
heart:” - Where true love to God exists in the heart, it will manifest itself in a
regard to His will, and in the diligent keeping of His commandments. Hence
His words were to be not only in the memory of the people, but laid upon
their heart (compare ch. 11:18), that they might be ever present to the thought
and will. They were also to be inculcated upon their children, and to be the
subject of conversation on all fitting occasions between them, the members
of their household, and even their casual associates.
7 “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children,” - literally, Thou
shalt sharpen them to thy children, impress them upon them, send them into
them like a sharp weapon – “and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine
house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and
when thou risest up.” Truth and godliness are to be PERPETUATED BY
HOME TRAINING! The home is here supposed to be a center in which the
conserving forces of truth and godliness are to be themselves conserved.
What a profound principle Moses here indicates, viz. that a nation will be good
or bad according to its home life! Wonderful! that an infant nation should, at
starting, have this truth deep graven in its statutes; — OUR LAND WILL BE
AS OUR HOMES ARE! And our municipal and political life will be
conducted on the same line of obedience. Legislation, justice, taxation,
commerce, literature, art, (A moral barometer with which to check the
of the National Endowment of the Arts – the sacrilegious blasphemy
which some so-called artist have exhibited, all the while being
funded by tax dollars of unwitting citizens – CY – 2012) will all be
consecrated to God’s glory. As the flowers of earth send their fragrance
heavenward, so from every act of ours a fragrance of homage should
ASCEND TO GOD!
and influence. A child’s religious faith is, in a high and holy sense, to be
chosen for him by anticipation, by those who were “in Christ before” him.
The truths mentioned in this section are to be in the parents’ heart that
they “MAY BE POURED OUT ANEW FROMTHENCE AS RIVERS
OF LIVING WATER” into the child’s heart!
with the truths of God.
Ø By talking of them, in the house and out of it (v. 7).
Ø By exhibiting them, not only in the literal sense (v.8) but in a
higher spiritual one.
Ø By writing them (v. 9) Thus the child is from the first to be
regarded as God’s child, to be trained for Him. He is to
receive God’s Word through the avenues of
Divine truth is to be ever before him, night and day, indoors and
out. Those who gave him birth and who love him best, are to
mold his young life for God; he is to grow up as the Lord’s
rightful possession, (as Samuel) with the view of his afterwards
saying, in the spirit of devout surrender, “I AM THE LORD’S” -
Our ambition for our children must be the highest – not that they be richly endowed,
or learned, or placed in earthly rank, BUT THAT THEY BE INTERNALLY
AND THOROUGHLY RIGHTEOUS! Many a father and mother have
is much easier to lead their children into
IT IS TO LEAD THEM OUT!
Whatever was essential in the days of Moses, in the training of children for God as the
means of guarding a nation, is not less needful now (Ephesians 6:4).
8 “And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall
be as frontlets between thine eyes.” The words of God were to be bound
for a sign [a memorial or directory] upon thine hand, the instrument of acting,
and to be as frontlets [fillets or bands] between thine eyes, the organs of direction
in walking or moving, and so on the forehead, the chamber of thought and
9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.”
They were to inscribe them on the posts of their houses, and on their gates.
The purport of this is that they were constantly and everywhere to have these
commandments of the Lord in view and in mind, so as to undeviatingly
observe them. It seems, however, to have been a custom widely prevalent among
the ancient Eastern peoples to carry about their persons slips of parchment or
some other material, on which were written sentences of moral or religious import;
and such sentences they were also wont to inscribe on conspicuous places of their
dwellings; usages still to be found among the Moslems and the latter of which
was not altogether unknown among Western nations, of which traces may still be
This custom originated, probably, in a desire to have the sentiments inscribed
always in mind; but for the most part these inscriptions came to be regarded as
amulets or charms, the presence of which on the person or the house was a
safeguard against evil influences, especially such as were supernatural. By the
Jews this custom was followed; and they regarded it as authorized by the
injunction of Moses in this passage. Taking his words literally, they had their
tôtâphoth and their mezuzah, the former of which — the phylacteries of the New
Testament — were strips of parchment, on which passages of the Law
(Exodus 13:2-10, 11-18; vs.4-10 here and vs.13-22) were written, and these,
enclosed in a box, were bound on the forehead and left wrist, and worn at prayers
by the worshippers; the latter a slip of parchment, on which were written certain
passages of Scripture (vs. 4-9; ch.11:13-21), and which, enclosed in a reed or
cylinder, was fixed on the right-hand doorpost of every room in the house.
Truth and Godliness to be Perpetuated by Means of Home Training
In this paragraph, the aged lawgiver rehearses the sum and substance of the
Law he had delivered, and is showing what provision God had made in the
structure of society for the maintenance and perpetuation of truth and
godliness. It is easy to see how very incomplete his work would have been,
had he not been guided to make provision for its perpetuation after his
death. Doubtless God designs to use various kinds of workers in His field.
Some may, like Whitefield, make a great impression while their oratory is
swaying its thousands and tens of thousands. Others may be like Wesley,
who not only moved the people for a generation by his pulpit power, but
also prepared the way by his organizing skill for a great institution which
should last for ages. Now, it is not for us to disparage one man because he
does not do the work of another, but certain it is that, other things being
equal, there is no comparison between the power of a man whose felt
influence passes away with his life, and that of one whose works follow
him, in the productions of his pen or the creations of his up-building skill.
New, it was not by one like Aaron, eloquent though he was, that the
continuance of the Hebrew faith and life was to be secured. He gives us no
proof of stability or of that kind of power which ensures its own
reproduction. That was found in Moses, a man naturally slow of speech,
who, in spite of his occasional outbreaks of vehemence, was yet a patient,
wise, faithful leader, by whose practical genius provision was made for the
Ghost, he called into existence those great institutions of worship and
teaching, by means of which even we down to this day are feeling the
impulses which started from
have what may be called a threefold appointment of God, which in all its
essential features is as much in force now as ever. We propose to study it,
not so much in its historical and local aspect, as in its bearing on us and on
all men for all time.
· HERE, AT THE BACK OF NATIONAL LIFE, IS SET THE
EXPRESSION OF A CONDENSED THEOLOGY. “The Lord our God is
one Lord.” Time was when this verse was quoted in the Socinian
controversy in proof of the unity of God, as against the Trinitarians,
though it has in fact no bearing on the matter at all. It refers, not to the
nature of the Divine Being in Himself, but is rather set over against the
faiths with which
many.” In contrast from polytheism, it declares that there is but ONE
GREAT SUPREME, who is the Lord of heaven and earth. And this is not
the basis of
than the Hebrews did, but what they knew we retain. In atheism, the highest
intellectual natures never can rest. Deism chills. Pantheism ignores
personality. The God of the Bible, as revealed to us, satisfies the cravings
of intellect and heart. In Jesus Christ, God is “manifest” as nowhere else.
Nor should we leave out the touching word, “the Lord our God.” We have
one God and Father of all, to whom the vast and the minute are equally
distinct, and by whose hand both are moved with equal ease (I recommend
Fantastic Trip on You Tube – CY – 2020) ; who, while He
rolls the stars along, can take under his special sheltering love the widow
and the fatherless; who hears the orphan’s moan and dries the falling tear.
It is our inestimable privilege to know that infinitely above us, combined
with an arm of mighty power, there is a heart of tenderest love, whose
great concern it is to heal the wounds, to dry the tears, and obliterate the
sins of a bleeding, weeping, guilt-stained world! What a revelation is this to
our race! Well might Moses bid
message to man, that there is a redeeming God whom he may call his own,
Ø our gospel,
Ø our life,
Ø our joy, and
Ø our crown!
· FRONT OF THE CONDENSED THEOLOGY, WE HAVE HERE
CONDENSED RELIGION. (v. 5.) The fundamental truth of theology is
to be fruitful in practical godliness. God’s revelation of Himself to man is
meant to be a redemptive power in man. Man has heart, soul, strength,
understanding, emotion, will, energy. God would have no schism in our
being. Our varied parts and powers are to be in tune. There is no need for
us to present the sad spectacle of the heart going one way, while duty and
conscience point another. Apart from the dissipation of force which that
involves, what reproach and self-loathing such inward discord must ensure!
Now, we have one inner faculty, even that of love, which is meant to rule,
and does in fact rule, the man. According to the love, so:
Ø intellect thinks,
Ø emotion feels,
Ø will decides,
Ø life moves.
Our text says, let love be all concentrated on one grand object — God!
LET HIM HAVE ALL! (see chs. 10:12; 11:1, 13, 22; 19:9; 30:16). Not
even in the New Testament have we a greater commandment than this
(Matthew 22:37-40). “The love of God which the gospel demands is more
intensive and cordial than that which the Law of Moses demands of the
Israelites, according to the gradual unfolding of the love of God Himself, which
was displayed in a much grander and more glorious form in the gift of His only
begotten Son for our redemption than in the redemption of
God as revealed to us in Christ — that is theology; our love responding to
God’s — that is religion. Without the first, in what could the religious faculty
find a proper object? Without the second, infinite love is defrauded of its rights!
Still, a third question naturally follows: granted that in this interlacing of
theology and religion we have both interpreted in meaning and both realizing
their aims, what means can be devised to ensure the preservation of both
through generation after generation?
· HERE IS A SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT DIVINELY
APPOINTED, TO CONSERVE AND PERPETUATE BOTH.
Ø The home is here supposed to be a center in which the conserving forces
of truth and godliness are to be themselves conserved. What a profound
principle Moses here indicates, viz. that a nation will be good or bad
according to its home life! Wonderful! that an infant nation should, at
starting, have this truth deep graven in its statutes; — our land will be as
our homes are!
Ø In the home, our God looks to the parent to give it its character, tone,
and influence. A child’s religious faith is, in a high and holy sense, to be
chosen for him by anticipation, by those who were in Christ before” him.
Ø The truths mentioned in sections 1 and 2 are to be in the parents’ heart,
that they may be poured out anew from thence as rivers of living water.
Hence the word in v. 7, “Thou shalt sharpen them;” coming fresh out of
the sanctuary of a living soul, they are to be pointed, quick, and breathing
Ø By a variety of ways, the parent is to see his child’s spirit early saturated
with the truths of God.
o By talking of them, in the house and out of it (v. 7).
o By exhibiting them, not only in the literal sense but in a higher
o By writing them on things around the house! Thus the child is from
the first to be regarded as God’s child, to be trained for Him. He is to
receive God’s Word through the avenues of eye, ear, intellect, heart.
Divine truth is to be ever before him, night and day, indoors and out.
Those who gave him birth and who love him best, are to mold his
young life for God; he is to grow up as the Lord’s rightful possession,
with the view of his afterwards saying, in the spirit of devout surrender,
“I am the Lord’s!” (Isaiah 44:5).
Note — Whatever was essential in the days of Moses, in the training of
children for God as the means of guarding a nation, is not less needful now
(Ephesians 6:4). The wider the range of human learning becomes, the
more needful it should be rightly directed; otherwise THE GREATER
Love, the Root-Principle of Obedience (vs. 4-9)
Attention is summoned for the reception of central truth, viz. the unity of
the Godhead. At that period, this doctrine was in great peril. All the
Orientals believed in “lords many and gods many.” Science here confirms
Scripture. The unity of design, running through all natural law and force,
indicates clearly unity of the Creator. To know the true God is, for honest
minds, to love Him. But rebellion of heart has engendered repugnance
2. hatred, and
· THE SOURCE OF ALL AUTHORITY IS A BEING OF ESSENTIAL
Ø He is sole Monarch, incomparable and unapproachable. He dwells
alone, higher than the highest creature. The disparity between Him and
an archangel is immeasurable. (Over the years, the way I have under-
stood God’s greatness is an analysis of Isaiah 55:9 – “For as the
heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than
your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” We live in the
Milky Way Galaxy, which I believe it would take 120,000 years
going at the speed of light, 282,000 miles a sec. to get across it.
They say that there are millions of galaxies that can be viewed by
telescope, within the bowl of the Big Dipper. To fathom this,
gets close to, what to me, is eternity! God is Great and He is Good!
I recommend putting Fantastic Trip in your internet browser – it
is a ten minute clip which is eye opening of the heavens and of earthly
things. Also, I remember once reading about President Theodore
Roosevelt who had a habit of going with an aide or aides, out on
the balcony of the White House at night time. They would sit for
a time and say nothing. Then, the President would say, “I think
were are back down to size.” This ended the meeting. CY – 2020)
Ø HE IS ABSOLUTELY PERFECT! Every attribute and quality that
is essential to perfection is found in Him. “He is light,” having no dark
shade anywhere. (I John 1:5)
Ø HE IS THE SOURCE OF LIFE! Jehovah — the Living —
the Life-giving. All we have, and are, and hope to be, is derived
Ø He has deigned to come into intimate relation with us. He has made a
voluntary compact with us. He calls us His people. He allows us to call
Him OUR GOD! We have a proprietorship in Him.
THIS GOD DESERVES THE
HEARTS. Because of the moral beauty and essential goodness of our God,
He is incomparably most worthy of human love. To give to any other a
higher place in our affection than we give to God, would be an outrage
against righteousness, fitness, and self-interest. For all these faculties and
susceptibilities of the human heart have been fashioned by God Himself,
and have been fashioned for this very purpose, viz. that we should bestow
our worthiest love on Him. If this eternal design be frustrated, there is
misery within. (Such as is evidenced in
and the world today! CY – 2020) Such love is commanded. It is a duty as well
as a privilege. Though we cannot instantly and summarily command our love,
we can indirectly.
Ø We can fix our thought on the worthiest object of love.
Ø We can contemplate His charms.
Ø We can appreciate His goodness.
Ø We can assure ourselves of His love.
This in an intelligent, reasonable, and practical love.
· THE LOVE OF THE LAWGIVER PRODUCES LOVE TO HIS LAW.
Law is a projection of God’s thought, a mirror of His mind, an overt
act of love. The true child will highly esteem every known wish of its
father. To have practical direction from an unseen father will be treasured
as a choice token of that father’s regard. If children, we shall hide every
word of our father in our memory and in our love. (“Thy Word will I hide
in my heart, that I might not sin against thee.” (Psalm 119:11) Every wish
of His heart will be a visible feature in our life. It may be painful to the flesh,
but it will be pleasant to the soul. To the dutiful child, obedience is a luxury, a
banquet of joy. “Oh! how I love thy Law!” exclaims the pious Psalmist.
(ibid. v. 97) “Thy Law is within my heart” (ibid. ch. 40:8). Thy Word is
to me as honey, as the droppings of the honeycomb. (ibid. ch.19:10)
· LOVE IS THE MOTIVE-POWER OF SPEECH. The tongue is the
servant of the heart. We speak freely and fluently of that which is dear to
our hearts. The child will speak freely of its toys and games, the farmer of
his crops, the artist of his works. If men esteemed and valued God’s Word,
they would spontaneously converse of it, morning, noon, and night. It
would be a painful restraint upon our desire if we withheld our speech.
This precept of Moses need not be an external law imposed upon us from
without; it may become the living law within, “the law of the Spirit of life.”
· LOVE CONSTRUCTS ITS WHOLE LIFE ON THE MODEL OF
GOD’S LAW. The hand will become the instrument of righteousness. On
it will be written God’s Word, viz. industry, honesty, restraint, generosity,
kindness, helpfulness. God’s Word will be our ornament. Instead of gold
and jewels upon the forehead, “our adornment will be” modesty, chastity,
cheerfulness, moral beauty. (“Whose adorning let it not be that outward
adorning of plaiting of the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on
of apparel.” (I Peter 3:3) God’s Name will be indelibly inscribed upon
our foreheads. (There will be an aura about us, that there will be no
question as to its source! CY – 2020) Our domestic affairs will be ordered
by the Divine will. We shall write His Word on the posts of our houses.
Every home in which love dwells will be a temple. Order, active piety,
frugality, peace, mutual service, will be the principles conspicuous in
godly homes. And our municipal and political life will be conducted on
the same line of obedience. Legislation, justice, taxation, commerce,
literature, art, will all be consecrated to God’s glory. (There being no
such thing as that non-Constitutional phrase, separation of church and
can imagine, and perhaps, anticipate, what Satan, Secularism, and
the pseudo-term of Progressivism has in mind by opening your eyes
as to what is going on in this country in the 21st century! CY – 2020)
As the flowers of earth send their fragrance heavenward, so from every
act of ours A FRAGRANCE OF HOMAGE SHOULD CONTINUALLY
RISE HEAVENWARD TO THE GOD OF THE HEAVENS AND THE
God’s Words to be Valued (vs. 8-9)
The usages to which allusion is made suggest:
· THE DUTY OF A HIGH VALUATION OF GOD’S COMMANDS.
Only precepts highly valued would be treated as described.
· THE NECESSITY OF TAKING MEANS TO SECURE THE
KEEPING OF GOD’S COMMANDMENTS IN REMEMBRANCE. We
may keep the injunction in spirit:
Ø By frequent reading of Scripture (Psalm 1:2; 119:11-16).
Ø By frequent converse with others (Malachi 3:16).
Ø By frequent recalling of God’s words to our thoughts (Hebrews 2:3).
Ø By the use of such expedients as experience suggests — a privately,
marked Bible, etc.
· THE IMPORTANCE OF CARRYING GOD’S COMMANDMENTS
INTO EVERY DETAIL OF LIFE. Hands, eyes, doorposts, etc. Our
working, seeing, home occupations, etc.
10 “And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee
into the land which he swear unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and
to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not,
11 And houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and
wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees,
which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full;
12 Then beware lest thou forget the LORD, which brought thee forth
out of the
As the Israelites were about to enter upon the possession of a rich and fertile
land, where everything for their accommodation and comfort was already
provided for them, there was a danger of their being so engrossed with their
new possessions as to forget the Lord and his gracious dealings with them.
They are, therefore, here warned against the danger to which they would
be thus exposed.
13 “Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God,” - The fear of the Lord
— that reverent awe which is akin to love — is the beginning of wisdom
and the foundation of piety; where it is in the heart it will lead to serving of
the Lord in holy obedience; and they in whom it dwells will swear by His
Name, recognizing His presence and omniscience, and not daring to
asseverate anything but what they know to be true - “and serve Him,
and shalt swear by His name. 14 Ye shall not go after other gods, of
the gods of the people which are round about you;” - Thus, really believing
in God and reverently worshipping Him, the Israelites would be careful not to
go after other gods, or to give to any object that homage which is due unto
Jehovah alone, knowing that this He will not endure or suffer with
impunity; for He is a jealous God, and them that thus dishonor Him He will
destroy (Exodus 20:5; ch.4:24). 15 (For the LORD thy God is a jealous
God among you) lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against
thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth. 16 Ye shall not tempt
the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah.” Thus also they should
be kept from murmuring against God, and thereby tempting Him — putting Him,
as it were, to the proof, and calling in question His presence and His power, as
they had done at Massah (Exodus 17:1-7). Without this genuine religious
principle there will be no sincere worship, no true reverence, no real obedience,
rendered unto God. Where this dwells in the heart it will influence the whole
life, so that the commandments of God shall be diligently kept, and that which
is good and right in his sight shall be done. 17 “Ye shall diligently keep the
commandments of the LORD your God, and His testimonies, and His statutes,
which He hath commanded thee. 18 And thou shalt do that which is right
and good in the sight of the LORD: that it may be well with thee, and that
thou mayest go in and possess the good land which the LORD swear unto
19 “To cast” - rather, to the castling out of, The infinitive here expresses the
carrying out of the action intimated in the words, “that it may be well with thee”
(compare Exodus 23:27; 34:11) - “out all thine enemies from before thee,
as the LORD hath spoken.”
The Creature Displacing the Creator (vs. 10-16)
· THE PRONENESS OF THE HEART TO ADMIT THE WORLD
INTO GOD’S PLACE. (v. 12.) The tendency is universal. A result of
the Fall, in subverting the original constitution of man’s nature with a result
Ø In giving to the worldly and sensuous principles in the soul an undue
Ø Destroying that love of God, and sense of dependence on Him, which
would counteract their operation. There may be no “going after other
gods” in the sense of v. 14, yet the first commandment may be broken by
making the world itself our god — giving it the place of the true God in
our affections. The principle of worldliness usually operates secretly.
The heart is “secretly enticed,” does not perceive the progress of its
declensions (Hosea 7:9), and fights against the admission of it
· THE PECULIAR CONNECTION OF THIS TEMPTATION WITH
PROSPERITY, (vs. 10-11.) Not, indeed, so peculiarly connected with
it, but that the poor man may fall into the same snare. But riches
unquestionably constitute a temptation which few succeed in resisting
(compare ch. 8:11-19; Proverbs 30:8-9; Matthew 19:22-27; I Timothy
6:9-10, 17, etc.). The temptation is the greater:
Ø If worldly possessions are very abundant (v. 11).
Ø If the prosperity, is sudden (vs. 10, 11).
Ø If it is freely enjoyed (v. 11) — “hast eaten, and art full”
· THE SAFEGUARDS AGAINST THIS TEMPTATION. There are
safeguards. Bible examples show that riches may be used with:
o glory to God,
o happiness to self, and
o good to mankind (Abraham, Joseph, Job, Daniel, etc.).
Among the foremost we would place the cultivation of a thankful spirit
(compare ch.8:10) — the remembrance of God as the Giver of what we
have; also the remembrance of God’s past mercies to us (vs. 12, 13).
Other safeguards are:
Ø Serving God with our possessions (v. 13). The serving will include
serving with our wealth, using what He has given for His glory, as
good stewards, and not luxuriously and wastefully spending all on
self (Luke 12:15-21).
Ø Making public acknowledgment of God (v. 13). The spirit of this
command is kept by being willing, on all proper occasions, boldly and
without shame to avow God to be our God. The man of wealth who will
do this is carried at one stroke above half the dangers of his position.
Ø Non-conformity to the world’s ways (v. 14). It is not easy to avoid
being led away by fashion, love of appearance, social custom, etc. The
good man will beware of the snare, and keep aloof (Romans 12:2).
· THE PENALTY OF YIELDING TO THE TEMPTATION. (v. 15.)
God’s wrath is kindled and destroys the transgressor.
Ø He is destroyed spiritually.
Ø He may be temporally (Psalm 37:35; 73:18, 19).
Ø He will be eternally.
Tempting God (v. 16)
Wealth has its temptations; so has poverty. It incites to unbelieving
murmurs, and to a spirit called here “tempting the Lord.”
· THE NATURE OF THIS SIN. The peculiarity of it deserves to be
carefully studied. It is apt to be taken for granted that “tempting God”
means simply provoking Him to anger. This, however, is a sense of
tempting scarcely applicable to the Divine. God can be provoked to wrath,
but He is not “tempted” thereby (James 1:13). “Tempting,” in the sense
of the text, means “putting to the proof,” “imposing tests.” Professor
Tyndall’s famous proposal of a prayer test would have fallen under this
description. That this is the right view of the sin is plain from the narrative,
and from allusions in the Psalms. “They tempted the Lord, saying, Is the
Lord among us or not?” (Exodus 17:7). “They tempted God in their
hearts… they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?” (Psalm
78:18-20). In this view of it the appositeness of the Savior’s quotation of
the passage becomes more obvious (Matthew 4:7).
· THE OCCASION OF THE SIN. A result of the want of food and
water. Poverty suggests this class of doubts, and inspires the thought of
putting God to some test of His faithfulness. But the temptation may
originate in other causes:
Ø in intellectual doubt,
Ø in a sign-seeking spirit (Matthew 16:1),
Ø in downright presumptuousness.
· THE EVIL OF THIS SIN.
Its root of unbelief. It is a “limiting of the Holy One of
Ø Its querulous (whining) impatience. Instead of trusting God, waiting
upon Him, and seeking light and help in a proper spirit, it flies in
God’s face, accuses Him of unkindness, and complains of His injustice.
Ø Its daring presumption in presuming to lay down rules to the Almighty,
to which He is required to conform. God brings us into situations of trial,
not that we may apply tests to Him, but that He may test us — test our
faith, our patience, our humility. For those who come successfully
through the trial there is the great reward of having dark things at
length cleared up, and of being purified and strengthened by the
struggle. Failure, on the other hand, exposes to severe chastisements.
(Although, not in the Bible:
“Adversity will make one bitter or better.”
Dangers Ahead! Beware! (vs. 10-19)
The forecast of Moses is here directed to a period when
taken possession of the Promised Land (v. 10). There, their deliverance
would be entire and complete. No longer would they be wanderers hither
and thither, but would be occupants of a land that they would call their
own. Neither from the nation to which they were once in bondage, nor
from those which they were called on to supplant, would they fear aught
any longer! And yet there is throughout this paragraph a voice of warning,
as if danger would attend them still! It would be so. But THE DANGER
WOULD BE FROM WITHIN RATHER THAN FROM WITHOUT!
“When thou shalt have eaten and be full; then beware lest thou forget
the Lord,” Whence, observe —
MAN FROM HIMSELF! By the time the state of calm was attained, which
is here indicated, there would cease to be danger from hostile foes, at least
for a while; but there would be perils of another kind, which would attend
them even in the Promised Land.
behind, it had been otherwise; but alas! go where they might, they must
perforce take themselves with them, with all their liability to err, all the
proneness to sin, and all the temptation to doubt or to pride. And not all
the spears and slings of warriors could put the people in such peril as the
corruptions of their own hearts! And so it is with us now and ever. We
carry ourselves about with us everywhere; we cannot escape. There is
within each one’s heart a “root of bitterness,” “a root that beareth gall and
wormwood;” (Hebrews 12:15) and let earthly circumstances be as fair, as
easy, and as pleasant as they may, yet, unless we heed the danger within,
they can do but very little to ensure our peace. And herein lies the great
mistake of monasticism, as even Augustine reminded his hearers. He told
them that it was vain for them to attempt to flee out of the world in order to
escape corruption, for wherever they might be they would carry the evil
within them. Never let us look to outer circumstances alone to ensure our
entire rest. Not even a perfect world could bring us that, unless we were
first made perfect.
PROSPERITY MAY EXPOSE US.
Ø The first is that of “forgetting the Lord” (v. 12). When fields and
vineyards and olive yards increase, and our cup is overflowing, then we
are apt to lose sight of Him to whom we owe all; and this not only in the
receiving but in the using thereof (Hosea 10:1). Too apt are we to
say in our pride, “My river is my own; I have made it for myself.” So also
are we apt to let our enjoyments conceal our God from view, and to think
only of the mercies, while we forget to glorify God in the use of them. Nor
is it any uncommon evil for men to be so set upon the enjoyment of this
world’s comforts, as to forget almost or altogether that higher world for
which they are bound to live, and that future life on which all soon must
Ø Another danger indicated is that of undue tolerance of the idolatries
which were round about them (v. 14). One effect of prosperity is
easygoingness; (Three sins
and abundance of idleness – Ezekiel 16:490 – CY – 2012) and that,
unless checked and guarded, will degenerate into a looseness of
principle, whereby, under cover of suavity and amiability, respect
for the convictions of others may come to be substituted by our
having no very strong ones of our own. Nothing is more common than
to see worldly aggrandizement attended by deterioration of moral
Ø A third danger specified is that of “tempting the Lord” when
Prosperity meets with a check. This seems to be the danger indicated
in v. 16, by a reference to “Massah” (see Exodus 17:2-7). At this place
of sojourn there was a lack of water. The people murmured. They
tempted the Lord and said, “Is the Lord among us or not?” As if
they ceased to believe in God’s presence with them, the moment
He made them thus feel their dependence upon Him! Strange perversity!
Yet how like ourselves! The course of worldly prosperity scarcely
ever runs with absolute smoothness for many years together. And the
self-will engendered and strengthened in times of ease leads men
to repine and complain bitterly the moment that ease receives a
check. (Witness the current check that economically is placed upon
the United States today – a check, not doubt, upon us because of
our turning our backs on THE GOD who has blessed us so
much. The “god of materialism” has reared his ugly head and
when it is chopped off or threatened, “O how the people complain!
In times of prosperity men forget God, and then when adversity
comes they often complain as if God had forgotten them. (We
often hear “God Bless
God? – CY – 2012)
THESE PERILS, MOSES SHOWS
THEY ARE DILIGENTLY TO OBSERVE.
Ø They are to fear the Lord only (v. 13).
Ø They are to swear by Him only (Matthew 4:10), i.e. to cherish
a profound reverence for Him as the Author of all mercies, and as
the sole Regulator of their lives. The honor of His Name is to be
Ø They are to give the supreme affection of the heart to God, so that
they may not provoke His jealousy (v. 15).
Ø They are to serve Him by constant obedience (v. 18). By the constant
recognition of these four duties, they will do much to guard themselves
from yielding to the perils attendant on their growing wealth and ease.
(This may be compared with the apostolic maxim, “Walk in the Spirit,
And ye shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16)
Evil is most successfully counteracted by the positive and earnest
pursuit of the opposite good.
PROSPERITY AND SPIRITUAL WEALTH WOULD GO TOGETHER.
V. 18, “That it may be well with thee,” - Whether our earthly
circumstances are helps or hindrances to us will depend much
more on what we bring to them than on what they bring to us. And
however, on the side of this life, things may favor us and circumstances
befriend, it is only as they help us to serve God better that they are really
blessings to us: it is “well” with us only when God is well pleased with us.
So much stress did Moses attach to the maintenance of unswerving loyalty
to God, that he intimates that the possession of the land is secured to them
only so far as they are true to their Great Deliverer (vs. 18-19).
BECOME FAR MORE SACRED TO US, BY THE USE WHICH OUR
SAVIOR MADE OF IT IN A TIME OF SORE TEMPTATION. It is
never to be forgotten, that our Lord repelled the tempter by the words, “It
is written,” etc. Of the three passages used as weapons for the discomfiture
of the evil one, two are taken from this very paragraph (see Matthew
4:7, 10). So that we are warranted in using it as our armory from whence
we may fetch the darts which shall make the tempter flee. These precepts
cannot be needed by us less than they were by the Son of man. From Him
let us learn a use of the Divine Word that may serve us in a thousand
assaults of the destroyer. For not until we do this can we discover the
varied uses to which we may put the Word of God in the actual struggle
of life. We, like our Master, have to be made perfect through suffering. Now
we may suffer from want, hunger, and privation; and at another time all the
kingdoms of the world, in a moment of time, may be set before us, to
dazzle by their glare. We need to take to us the whole armor of God, that
we may be able to stand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand
(Ephesians 6:11-18) Go wheresoever we may, let our surroundings be
easy and prosperous as they may, dangers will attend us everywhere, till
we cross the pearly gate across whose threshold SIN NEVER COMES!
(II Peter 3:13) At one time it may be that adversity makes us fretful and
apt to tempt the Lord, and then at another prosperity may make us slothful,
and a sinful indifference may lull us to sleep. Our chief dangers are from
within. But here in this holy Book are promises to cheer us when drooping,
and warnings to quicken us when sluggish. Here is an arsenal from
whence we may fetch our weapons, and a storehouse whence we may draw
our supplies. Yea, in this wondrous quiver there are arrows which will be
sharp in the hearts of the King’s enemies, which shall pierce them to their fall!
The Peril of Prosperity (vs. 10-19)
Secular prosperity is hazardous. Unless the ship have ample ballast in the
hold, a strong gale, however favorable, will be likely to capsize the ship
and bury her in the caverns of the sea. The greater our earthly abundance,
the greater our need of religious principle.
· WISE MEN INHERIT THE FRUIT OF OTHERS’ LABORS. Under
the leadership of God, the Hebrews inherited cities which the Canaanites
had built, and vineyards which the Amorites had planted. If we knew all
the facts of the case, we should admire this as an act of righteous wisdom.
We do know that the iniquity of the Amorites was a cup full to the brim.
The Hebrews, with all their faults, were a superior race. Similar
displacements have gone on in all the lands of the world. It is an instance of
the “survival of the fittest.” Redeemed men are destined to be the lords of
the earth. The Church shall possess and rule the world. “All things are
ours.” This inheritance of
ought to have produced a deep sense of gratitude. All the Hebrews enjoyed
they owed to the bountiful hand of God.
· SUDDEN PROSPERITY IS A SEVERE STRAIN ON PIETY. The
sense of daily and hourly dependence upon God for material food is an
advantage; it is a constant incentive to gratitude and faith. Poor human
nature cannot bear much indulgence. Poverty is more conducive to piety
than wealth has ever been. Hence our Lord chose a state of poverty as
most suited to His mission. “How hardly shall they that have riches enter
into the kingdom of heaven!” So long as men continue in the flesh, they
prefer a visible God to an invisible. So they say to gold, “Thou art my
god.” To be singular in religious belief and practice is always an arduous
effort. The example of others has always been a sore temptation. Unless we
can persuade them by the force of our superior faith, they are sure to bias
us injuriously. Our safety lies in a stalwart and fearless piety.
· TO FALL FROM THE FAVOR TO THE FROWN OF GOD IS
IMMEASURABLE AND COMPLETE. It would have been better for
their peace and their reputation not to have inherited the land, than to be
ejected from it again. It is a tremendous calamity, having been lifted high,
to be thrown down. The effect of disloyalty among the Hebrews would not
simply be a replacement in their former state; it would be destruction from
the face of the earth. In the realm of morals, we cannot descend to a station
we had occupied aforetime. If there is declension, retrogression, fall, it
must be to a lower level than that we formerly held. The penalties imposed
by righteousness are complete and remediless. We may well “stand in awe
and sin not.” (Psalm 4:4) It is perilous in the extreme to “try” God’s patience
— to make experiments on the long-suffering of God. Suddenly, he “whets His
glittering sword, and His hand takes hold on judgment.” (ch. 32:41)
· HOPE IS AN INSPIRATION OF STRENGTH. Although Moses has
addressed to them these cautions, and pointed out these perils, he will not
think so meanly of them as to forecast their fall. He will cherish in his own
breast the bright hope of their loyalty. He will call into exercise their own
best principles and aspirations. He confidently predicts their wise and
upward course, and sketches before their eyes their future greatness and
security. Herein is wise generalship. If hope kindles her lamp in the human
breast, all is not lost. This is Heaven’s cordial for a fainting soul.
In the last six verses of this chapter the injunction to teach the words of the Lord
to the children (v. 7) is here more largely explained. When asked by their sons
the meaning and reason of the commandments and institutes which they
observed, they were to show them what the Lord had done for His people
in bringing them out of
had enjoined on them all these statutes that they might fear Jehovah their
God for their good always, and for their preservation and safety.
20 “And when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What mean
the testimonies, and the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD our
God hath commanded you? 21 Then thou shalt say unto thy son, We were
Pharaoh’s bondmen in
a mighty hand: 22 And the LORD shewed signs and wonders,” - (compare
ch.4:34) - “great
and sore, upon
household, before our eyes: 23 And He brought us out from thence,
that He might bring us in, to give us the land which He swear unto our
fathers. 24 And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to
fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us
alive, as it is at this day. 25 And it shall be our righteousness,” - literally,
And righteousness shall be to us, i.e. we shall be held righteous by God if we
observe to do all that He has enjoined (compare Romans 10:5; Philippians 3:6) –
“if we observe to do all these commandments before the
LORD our God, as He hath commanded.” - i.e. not only in his sight, but
according to His judgment, so as to be approved of Him (compare Psalm 56:13;
The Religious Education of Children (vs. 6-9, 20-25)
This is a matter much insisted on in these addresses (compare ch.11:18-22).
· THAT THE RELIGIOUS EDUCATION OF CHILDREN IS GOD’S
WAY OF PERPETUATING VITAL RELIGION. Without this, religion
would soon die out; with it, a holy seed will be kept up in times of greatest
· THAT THE RELIGIOUS EDUCATION OF CHILDREN
DEVOLVES PRIMARILY ON THE PARENT. The Church, Sunday
schools, etc., may assist, but nothing can relieve the parent from this duty,
or compensate for his neglect of it (Ephesians 6:4; II Timothy 1:5).
“If a parent does not do his work, it will for ever be undone.”
· THAT THE RELIGIOUS EDUCATION OF CHILDREN IS TO BE
CONDUCTED WITH GREAT CARE AND FAITHFULNESS.
Ø Very diligently (v. 7 – literally, exert thyself). It is to be gone about most
painstakingly and systematically. “In thine house, and when thou
walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”
There is need for specific teaching at regular times, but the text indicates
a broader view of this part of parental duty. An element pervading the
whole life, blending with all occupation, insinuating its pleasant
influence in all our relationships with our children.
Ø Very particularly (vs. 21-25). A specimen is given of the careful
instruction parents are to study to impart.
Ø Taking advantage of a child’s natural curiosity (v. 21). The principle
of curiosity is strong in children. It early manifests itself in reference to
religion. The Bible, with its delightful variety of story, parable,
proverb, etc., is peculiarly adapted for the instruction of the young.
Family Training is to Propagate the Law (vs. 6-25)
The Law has as its essence love. In the family, love’s home and circle, this
Law is to be propagated. And here we are to notice:
· PARENTS ARE TO IDENTIFY THEMSELVES WITH GOD’S
CAUSE. The Jews were directed to wear portions of the Law upon their
persons. This is the sign of identification with it in a rude age. The idea is
parental profession, a glad identification of themselves with the Lord’s
· THE HOME IS ALSO TO BE CONSECRATED AS A GODLY
HOME. God’s Law was to be written on the posts of the house and on
their gates. This, like the last, meant the identification of the house with
· THE CHILDREN ARE MANIFESTLY MEANT TO BE THE
COMPANIONS OF THE PARENTS. The little ones are to have their
parents’ society at home and abroad, at morning and night (v. 7). The
mistake made by many parents is not making themselves sufficiently
companionable. It is companionship that after all determines the bent of
· THE HOME TRAINING IS TO BE RELIGIOUS. God’s Law is to
be brought in, morning, noon, and night, as the great interest. Of course, if
parents are to do this as God intends, His Law must be a great personal
interest to themselves. They must delight in it and love it, and make it a
matter of study continually.
· AMID THE SECULARISM OF EDUCATION THE HOME MUST
BE THE MAINSTAY OF RELIGION. With the parent the responsibility
of training and interesting the children in religion eventually rests. To the
well-ordering of Christian homes, Church and State must alike look as the
last refuge. The adjustment of rival interests in education is well-nigh
impossible, and so it becomes all the more needful that the home should be
made to supply the religious element, whatever course educational
curriculums and legislation may take.
· PROSPERITY MUST NOT ENGENDER ATHEISM. This is the
warning here given to
engenders atheism. The prosperity of the prodigal led him away to the far
off land of forgetfulness of God, while his adversity brought him back
The Value of History in Parental Teaching (vs. 20-25)
The Bible is preeminently a family Book.
centers of strength and permanence in godly homes. It would not be easy to find
words which should overrate the importance of such a principle as this. That a young
nation should at the outset of its existence have this laid down as a first law of its life:
“The land will be as its homes are;” is an indication of the Divine guidance which
Was vouchsafed to him on whom, under God, the foundation of its national life
depended. In the paragraph before us there are seven lines of thought suggested.
ARRANGEMENTS IN LAW AND PRECEPT READY TO HAND.
Parental life holds a great trust in charge, to be committed to those who
shall come after; that though one generation passeth away and another
cometh, there may be NO BREAK IN THE CONTINUTIY OF
HOLY LIVING AND THINKING FROM AGE TO AGE!
“That the generation to come might know them, even the
children which should be born; who should arise and declare
them to their children: That they might set their hope in God,
and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments.”
(Psalm 78:6-7; 22:31) The Hebrews had their Law, which, as a revelation
From God, was in advance of aught possessed by the rest of the world, and
in which was couched the germ of larger truth that was to follow. There
might be more light thrown upon it; there was never to be a forfeiture of it.
Hence there were special reasons why parents should guard it intact
for all the ages that were to follow.
It is not supposed that the children will lend themselves to either of
two extremes: they will neither wildly tear up and obliterate “the old
paths” (Jeremiah 6:16), nor will they walk in them heedlessly and
without inquiry. The course here indicated is that which any sensible,
well-disposed youth would naturally follow. He would ask, “What mean
these testimonies?” (v.20) - However a spurious priesthood may demand
a blind and uninquiring faith, the Word of God never does anything of the kind.
Reason is made for reverent inquiry, but it may be neither deified nor stultified.
And what can be more charming than the honest, eager inquisitiveness of the
young, asking for the reasons which govern the faith and worship that they
find at work before their eyes? Specially delightful is such inquiry, when the
parent is well able to give his answer.
OF A GREAT DELIVERANCE.
(vs. 21-22.) The rescue from
always formed the grand historic
99.; 105.; 106.; 103:7). Here was a disclosure of Divine love and care, the
like of which had never been known. The great institution of sacrifice
revealed provision for pardoning love. The precepts for the individual, the
family, the nation, told what sort of a people God would have them be;
while the oft-recurring strains,
thee up out of the land of bondage,” would evoke all their national ardor,
and create and foster an historic pride. The life-histories, too, of their
fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, would tell of the blessedness of having
God as their God: and these, instilled into the heart with all the sweetness
of fond parental love, would lead the young Israelite, when the teaching
was sanctified by God’s grace, to say right joyously, “THIS GOD SHALL
BE MY GOD FOR EVER AND EVER! (Psalm 48:14) Yes! the young life
ever coming on earth is not to be left to grope its way. The light from the past
is to be handed down for the ages to come, that sire and son and son’s son
MAY REJOICE IN THE SAME GOD and ensure a blessed continuity of
holy faith and consecrated life.
PEOPLE MIGHT RE A NEW NATION WORTHY OF GOD (v..23).
“That He might bring us in, to give us the land which He swore unto our
fathers.” And in this new relation they were to be witnesses for God (Isaiah
43:10). They were to be a distinct, compact people, with faith, laws, and polity,
higher than the rest of the world, holding in trust for mankind, till the fullness of
times, much precious truth which was to find its outcome in a great, world-wide
deliverance which should overshadow all; while the Israel of God was to
merge into a spiritual
“peculiar people, zealous of good works.” (Titus 2:14)
FOUND. “It shall be our righteousness,” (v. 25). It is scarcely
possible to regard these words as having reference to any doctrine of
justification by faith; for though, even as far back as Abraham’s days, that
was a doctrine, yet it was not formulated till the times of the gospel, by
Paul. The meaning of the phrase seems to be: “This will be our justification
of our position and claims; we claim to be a people of God, above all the
nations that are on the face of the earth, and we shall vindicate that claim,
not by words only, but by being what we profess to be.” Thus would the
parent quicken his child, and stimulate and inspire him to be all that his
glorious faith bade him be — “holy unto the Lord his God!” (ch.7:6)
AS MANIFEST AS GOD’S REGARD FOR HIS OWN HONOR. (v.24)
“To fear the Lord our God, for our good always.” THE GLORY OF
GOD AND THE GOOD OF MAN ARE IN HARMONY! So has God
constructed the universe, so Doth He carry on His government, as to ensure
that “they that honor Him, He will honor.” (I Samuel 2:30). “All things
work together for good to them that love God.” (Romans 8:28)
“Great peace have they which love God’s Law; and nothing shall
offend them” (Psalm 119:165), “Godliness is profitable unto all things”
(I Timothy 4:8), “Seek ye first the
and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)
GOOD, BUT ALSO ITS CONTINUANCE IN THE LAND. (v. 24)
“That He might preserve us alive.” Repeatedly do we read that the
The land was given them, not for their own sakes merely, but for God’s. If
they continued there, faithfully witnessing for Him, the land would be
continued to them; if not, they would have to quit, and give up the
possession thereof to strangers. THIS IS PRECISELY THE
PRINCIPLE ON WHICH GOD GOVERNS THE NATIONS
NOW! No nation can preserve itself in being by any other policy than that
of OBEDIENCE TO GOD! Disloyalty to God and the right is the
SUREST POSSIBLE POLICY OF DECOMPOSTION! Even attempts
at self-preservation which violate God’s laws will fail of their end. And is it
not of vast significance that these are the principles by which the young life of a
nation is to be molded? Whatever allowance must be made for changing
circumstances, however true it may be that no nation now holds exactly the
same place in the world that
the New Covenant, the
of Christianity, rose to be “a city set on a hill” [Matthew 5:14] – a true
yet it is also true that all the more substantial part of the seven lines of thought
here indicated is unchanged and unchangeable. Christian parents are
inheritors of the truth of God: they hold it in trust for their children: they,
as they grow up, will inquire concerning it: its historic basis is the great
deliverance effected by the Lord Jesus: Christians are now God’s peculiar
people: they are redeemed that they may be holy, and that in holiness they
may train succeeding generations: and just in proportion as through them
loyalty to the truth and to God is leavening their posterity, are they bringing
honor to the cause they espouse. Hebrews were to be conservative. Christians
are to be also aggressive. We are to be “the light of the world,” and “the
salt of the earth” (Ibid. vs. 13-14). By the light of God’s love we are to
scatter men’s darkness, and by the salt of God’s truth are we to stay its
corruption. And just so far as our nation is imbued with righteousness
and truth, will it have within it the guarantee of its own perpetuation.
The best defense is the armor of light. WITHOUT RIGHTEOUSNESS
AND THE FEAR OF GOD not all the pretence and brag — not all the fleets
or armies at command, can ever GUARD A NATION FROM DECAY!
“If the salt have lost his savor... it is thenceforth good for nothing
but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” (Ibid. v.13)
The Parental Office (vs. 20-25)
In the Mosaic economy, the parental office is made prominent, and parental
influence is pressed into service. All God’s arrangements for training
mankind dovetail into one another. (“Known unto God are all His
works from the beginning of the world.” - Acts 15-18)
· THE DUTY OF A PARENT TO PROVOKE RELIGIOUS INQUIRY.
No greater folly can be perpetrated than the attempt to repress inquiry.
Inquiry is the king’s highway to wisdom, and who dare block it up? God
loves to hear honest inquiry. To afford instruction is the delight of the
Divine Spirit, but what instruction will be valued if no spirit of inquiry is
awake? Some questions which we ask can never be solved; they are
beyond the range of the human mind. Some questions God will not answer,
because they are vain and useless. But honest questions, with a view to
practical obedience, God delights to hear. You can do the young no better
service than encourage their minds to inquire after religious facts. “What
mean these things?”
· THE DUTY OF A PARENT TO ANSWER FULLY CHILDREN’S
QUESTIONS. It is childish folly to attempt to conceal our lowly origin.
There is no real disgrace in an obscure parentage. To have been formerly
enslaved, or imprisoned, or oppressed, through man’s injustice, is an
honor, not a stigma of reproach. There is no real shame, except such as
proceeds from WRONG DOING! It will do us good, it will do our children
good, to see the “rock whence we were hewn, the hole of the pit from
which we were digged.” (Isaiah 51:1) It will foster humility, gratitude,
contentment, trust. It will lead us afresh to adore the Divine goodness,
and to count ourselves and our children the servants of this mighty God.
Never let true Israelites forget that all they have they owe TO GOD!
Unto this state of happy privilege A DIVINE HAND HAS BROUGHT US!
· THE DUTY OF A PARENT TO OPEN UP GOD’S BENEFICENT
INTENTION. If any man is too indolent to investigate truth for his own
sake, he may be provoked to do it for his children’s sake. We should have
such a firm conviction that every arrangement and command of God was
“for our good always” (ch. 10:13), that we can demonstrate it to our
children. Our knowledge of God and of His practical dealings should be so
broad and clear that we might see and feel that HIS CARE FOR OUR GOOD
enjoyment, but our good. Not to demonstrate His power, or His consistency,
or His determination to conquer, — these are not His foremost aims, but “our
good always.” His costliest deed of condescension was the yielding of His
Son to death. And where shall we seek the moving principle? In His own
future glory merely? No! In His love for the world! Yet His glory, and
man’s real good, are but the separate threads that make one cord.
· THE DUTY OF A PARENT TO PROMOTE HIS CHILDREN’S
RIGHTEOUSNESS. “It shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all
these commandments.” (v. 25) No more conclusive argument can parents use;
no loftier end can they contemplate. To become righteous — this is to be the
lofty ideal we set before our children. But commensurate with the grand
acquisition must be the care that we promote it by proper and practicable
methods. It is impossible for guilty men to regain righteousness by their
own efforts or merits. But real righteousness is provided for us by
THE BOUNTY OF GOD, AND IS OFFERED TO US IN CHRIST AS
A FREE GIFT! “He hath brought in everlasting righteousness, which
is for all and upon all that believe.” (Daniel 9:24) Our ambition for our
children must be the highest — not that they be richly dowered, or learned,
or placed in earthly rank, but that they may be internally and thoroughly
Our Righteousness (v. 25)
As contrasted with Paul’s writings, the text is an illustration of the maxim,
“On the outside of things look for differences, on the inside for likenesses”
(Hare). The form is that of the Law, the spirit is that of Christ, whose
gospel is the key to the Law’s utterances.
· A REQUIREMENT WHICH ONE ONLY, VIZ. CHRIST, HAS
PERFECTLY FULFILLED. “This is the name whereby He shall be called,
the Lord our Righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:6). He “is the end of the Law
for righteousness to every one that believeth” (Romans 10:4). How? In
the strictly legal, as in the strict ideal sense, righteousness requires an
absolutely perfect fulfillment of every one of God’s commandments. The
Jewish covenant required no less. The Jews were to live in their
righteousness, i.e. in perfect keeping of the whole Law. But in point of
fact, no Jew ever rendered perfect obedience. In many things, like others,
he offended, and the covenant footing was only maintained through daily
pardon of daily offences. Christ is our Redeemer from the curse thus
entailed by transgression (Galatians 3:13). As the Lord’s righteous
Servant, and Fulfiller of the Law, He has implemented the condition of
acceptance in such a way that His obedience carries with it results to others
as well as to Himself (Romans 5:17-21). In Him the believer is justified.
He claims Him as the Lord his Righteousness. Christ has for him at once
fulfilled the Law’s precept, and abolished its penalty. Sinful in himself, in
Christ his sins are covered, and justification is obtained (Romans 3:22-27;
8:1-4; I Corinthians 1:30; II Corinthians 5:21).
· A REQUIREMENT WHICH BELIEVERS IS CHRIST ARE
ENABLED TO FULFILL, THOUGH IMPERFECTLY, YET
ACCEPTABLY. The utmost that the Jew could render was that imperfect
but sincere obedience which is still the mark of the true believer. The
believer’s duty is to render a perfect obedience; his privilege is that, falling
short of this, his sincere though faulty obedience will be graciously
accepted for the sake of Christ. In harmony with his calling, it was to be
the Jew’s aim to realize the righteousness which the Law set before him.
But in his inability to do this the weakness of the Law revealed itself, and
in contrast with this weakness (Romans 8:3) is the power of the gospel,
enabling the believer to triumph, and to bring forth fruit unto holiness, the
end of which is everlasting life (Romans 6:22). This also is a
“righteousness of faith,” as springing from faith, and rendered possible
through it. It is his righteousness, yet in a deeper sense not his, but
Christ’s, for it is the work of Christ living in him (Galatians 2:20). It is
not the ground of acceptance, but a result of it; not a title to heaven, but
meetness for it. It is itself a gift of grace, part of Christ’s salvation
(Matthew 5:6; Ephesians 5:9-10; Philippians 2:12-13; I Peter 2:24;
I John 3:7-10; with Romans chapters 6-8).
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