A book worth reading to understand more about Deuteronomy
I was at a boarding school for high school; we had plenty of rules to guide conduct inside and outside the classroom. The rules did not mean much to me as a junior student, until I saw students suspended and dismissed for breaking the rules. The rules made me afraid, and some, like needing a permit to go home, made me angry. However, these rules that caused fear and anger, kept me safe and successful!
What was it I feared about the rules? It was the painful consequences that resulted from breaking the rules. I did not mind spanking and hard labor; I was terrified of suspension and dismissal. I loved my parents deeply, and saw how hard they worked to keep me at that school, I was careful not to do anything to hurt them. So as a senior in high school, I kept the rules mainly out of love for my parents.
When we read Deuteronomy Chapters 27-30, it comes as a shock to read so much about the terrible curses for Israel if they fail to live according to the covenant they signed with God at Mount Sinai. This section on consequences of obedience and disobedience, was to keep them away from worshipping the gods of Canaan, with their occult sexual practices and burning of their children as human sacrifice.
Deuteronomy 30:15-20 (ESV) (shortened) says: “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil… by loving the Lord your God… you shall live and multiply… if your heart turns away… to worship other gods and serve them… you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land… I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse… choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him…”
“Love the Lord your God”, and “don’t worship other gods and serve them”, are two sides of the same coin. This was the golden rule, the big rule, that Israel was called to keep above all others. Like any other rule, great rewards presented side by side with tough consequences were necessary to motivate Israel to keep the rule. Keeping that big rule was a guaranty of peace, security, and prosperity for Israel.
Lord, teach us how to love you; deliver us from the other gods that attract us; give us peace and prosperity, Amen!