I haven’t posted a reflection in quite some time. To be honest, I fell behind and had some catching up to do.
Having finished the readings on the Law (Genesis thru Deuteronomy) I was struck by a few things that are consistent, but maybe under-noticed themes in these books.
First, the law and requirements for obedience follow after God’s deliverance. Of course we know that the giving of the law at Sinai follows chronologically in history the redemption of Israel from Egypt, but the law and requirements for obedience follows logically too. Throughout the Pentateuch, God’s redemption of Israel is shown to be prior to and the basis for his commands and Israel’s obedience. For example, in Deuteronomy 5 Moses reads to Israel the the Decalogue (Ten Commandments) God gave to him. The prologue to the commandments is “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” For us, it’s a reminder that obedience to God’s commandments is still required (as summed up in the law of love), but isn’t the basis for our salvation. Redemption comes first; then, as God’s people, we are expected to obey.
Second, mere obedience wasn’t enough. God’s people were to delight in God, to rejoice as the offered sacrifices and observed feasts, and serve the Lord in joy and gladness. Doing our ‘duty’ is only enough if we understand our duty is to delight in the Lord!
Third, it is impossible to miss in these books God’s heart for the foreigner and sojourner. These books make up Israel’s constitution. It is striking how much material there is about justice and compassion directed for the foreigner who resides in their midst. God reminds the people of Israel that they were once sojourners and foreigners in a strange land and God had compassion on them. So, they are commanded to show compassion and give justice to the non-Israelite among them. Leith Anderson contends that this, “love the sojourner/foreigner/alien among you” is the third greatest commandment in the Old Testament behind “Love the Lord your God,” and “Love your neighbor.” DW