What Does The Lord Require Of You?

Deuteronomy 10:12-13

Rev. Bryn MacPhail

It has become common in many Christian circles these days to talk about, 'Making a decision for Christ', as if a one-time decision was all that God required of us. Yes, we are required to "believe in our heart " and "confess with our mouth " that Jesus is Lord(Rom. 10:9), but there is much more to the Christian life than a single, momentary, decision.

The people of Israel understood this reality. The people of Israel understood that following God, following Yahweh, was a life-long commitment . I am grateful for the book of Deuteronomy--a book that goes to great length to explain the nature of our commitment to God. Deuteronomy establishes for us what is required for a renewed relationship with God. A quick glance at Deuteronomy may lead one to conclude that this is a book concerned primarily with rules, but there is much more to this book than rules and regulations. We see throughout Deuteronomy, and we see clearly in this passage, that God requires, not only, our loyalty, but also our love .

Moses asks the people rhetorically, "what does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the Lord's commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good? "(10:12, 13).

More succinctly, God requires that we fear Him, that we obey Him, and that we love Him . If we neglect any one of these things, we are not fulfilling what the Lord requires of us.

It is unfortunate, that many Christians today think very little about fearing God, even though there are more than 150 references to the fear of God in the Bible. While the majority of these references occur in the Old Testament, there are a sufficient number in the New Testament to convince us that fearing God is indeed an attitude that every Christian should endeavour to cultivate .

For some of you, I suspect, the idea of fearing God is not something you are comfortable with. This is likely because you do not know what is meant by the command to "fear God ". In order for you to begin to understand and cultivate the fear of God in your life, you will need to, first of all, move beyond equating the fear of God with being afraid of Him. Fearing God does not mean being afraid of God .

What does it mean then, to fear God? Rather than give you a definition, allow me to share an example of the fear of God found in C.S. Lewis' book, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe . In this particular scene, one of the children asks Mr. and Mrs. Beaver about Aslan the Lion.

'Is he--quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion'.
'That you will, dearie, and make no mistake,' said Mrs. Beaver. 'If there is anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they're either braver than most or just plain silly'.
'Then he isn't safe?' said Lucy.
'Safe?' said Mr. Beaver; 'don't you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the king, I tell you'.

Is God safe? The Bible teaches that God makes Himself a place of refuge for those who trust in Him(Ps. 46:1). However, there is a larger sense in which God most definitely is not safe . The book of Hebrews reminds us that God is also "a consuming fire " and cautions us therefore to worship Him "with reverence and awe "(Heb. 12:28-29).

No, God is not safe--but He's good . And we must keep both these truths in mind if we are to understand and practice the fear of God--a practice commanded throughout Scripture.

While the Bible never precisely defines what it means to fear God, what it does do frequently is relate fearing God to obeying God. In fact, one quarter of all the verses about fearing God make a link to obeying Him(Bridges, The Joy Of Fearing God , 155).

The passage before us is a prime example of this. After being instructed to "fear the Lord your God ", the people are also told to "walk in all His ways ", to "serve the Lord ", and to "keep the Lord's commandments "(v.12, 13). If you jump ahead to Deuteronomy 10:20, to 13:4 and to 31:12, you see the same thing. The Book of Ecclesiastes ends with this conclusion: "fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person "(Eccl. 12:13).

We are likely familiar with the verse, "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom "(Prov. 9:10)--well, what is the biblical definition for wisdom ? Wisdom, throughout the Bible, is most often equated with right living . The fear of the Lord then, is the basis of right living.

This means that our obedience to God's law must be rooted in a conscious knowledge of who God is . Moses points us in this direction in verse 14, "Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the highest heavens, the earth and all that is in it ". These are God's credentials. As the Creator and Sustainer of all things, it makes only perfect sense for us to follow His standards for how to live our life. True biblical obedience must spring from a reverential awe of who God is.

The Lord requires that we fear Him. He also requires that we obey Him. But equally important, the Lord requires that we love Him . Just as the Bible closely links fearing God with obeying God, so does the Bible relate obeying God with loving God. In verse 12, Moses tells the people to "walk in all (God's) ways " and to "love Him ". The relation between love and obedience is also confirmed by Jesus who says in John 14:21, "Whoever has My commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves Me ".

To better appreciate the connection between love and obedience it may be helpful to consider a modern, and biblical, analogy. Our relationship with God can be compared to the relationship of a husband and wife. In many societies the relationship between husband and wife is formally instituted by the taking of marriage vows. While the wedding ceremony formalizes the relationship of husband and wife, it cannot itself sustain the relationship. For a marriage relationship to develop in a meaningful way, it is essential that there be mutual love.

Can you imagine what my marriage would be like if my primary motivation to be a good husband was to keep my wedding vows? Can you imagine what my marriage would be like if, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, I remain faithful only because it is my duty? Fulfilling marriage vows are meaningless if I do not love my wife. In the same way, obeying God without loving Him is not how the Christian life is to be lived.

I recognize that this is demanding stuff. We are not simply told to fear, obey, and love God, but we are told to do it "with all (our) heart and with all (our) soul "(v.12). What this boils down to is a call to live for God. To God belongs "heaven and the highest heavens, the earth and all that is in it "--that includes us. We belong to God. And when we look to God with the reverential awe that He is due, one must come to the conclusion that we owe God everything we have.

To live for yourself is to deny the Scripture that says "(we) are not (our) own . . . (we) have been bought with a price "(1Cor. 6:19, 20). We are to fear, love, and obey God with all our heart and soul.

If you find these commands overwhelming, let me direct your attention back to the end of verse 13: "keep the Lord's commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good ". Living for God is for our own good! God does not require that we fear, love, and obey Him, because He wants to shore up some personal deficiency. God does not command that we worship Him because He struggles with self-esteem. God commands these things for our own good .

You will remember from last week's sermon, the 3 groups of people who attend church. The first group are the spectators--people who are not interesting in participating, but only watching. The second group are those who enter the race, but drop out when things become difficult. The third group are those who enter the race and press on to the finish regardless of the trials that they may encounter on the way.

Belonging to the third group entails taking the more difficult road, but it is the road with the most rewards. Fearing God, obeying God, and loving God--this is what the Lord requires of us . The wonderful reality is that the 3 things that God commands are also the 3 things that make life most enjoyable. Amen.