What the Lord Requires
Open Your Bible
Deuteronomy 9:7-29, Deuteronomy 10:1-22, Micah 6:7-8
My family will soon take a vacation to New England, the land I called home for every summer of my childhood and then some. We’ll cross Washington Bridge leaving Manhattan glimmering to the east, and wind through Connecticut’s tree-lined highways. Then we’ll hit the Massachusetts coastline, dotted with perfectly manicured hydrangeas and gray-weathered houses that stand at the sea. Finally, we’ll cross the border into New Hampshire, get off I-93, and I’m there. I know every beat of the drive, every bend of the road. I am at my most “me” when I stand among New Hampshire’s lakes and mountains. I shut off every piece of technology (no social media, no email, no phone), and bask in what is, to me, perfection.
But we always have to go back to our current home, jolted back into reality. And I’m reminded that the gift of experiencing vacation in your favorite place means that reentry will always be a little painful: laundry, dishes, the flat landscape of my current state and the scorching southern heat, made all the harder because I just experienced something I find to be so very good.
On Mount Horeb, Moses experienced perfection beyond human imagination when he encountered God. The Lord’s radiance was so glorious, Moses had to cover his face. Moses glimpsed the glory of the Lord, the unimaginable sweetness of His perfect goodness.
And yet when Moses returned to the Israelites, he was jolted back into the reality of a broken world: the Israelites, led by Aaron, had constructed an idol, a golden calf. Moses, who had just tasted and seen the source of all good, saw a people who had turned away from God. Moses knew what they were turning away from, better than almost anyone who has ever lived. So his anger and mourning were deep, as were the Lord’s. The Lord threatened to destroy this people, but Moses begged the God who he had just met face to face to change His mind.
In today’s reading, Moses recounted this story to a new generation of Israelites as a reminder of a beautiful truth: God is real. He loves His people. And the shalom-filled life God gives in His commands is worth striving for. In Deuteronomy 10:12–22, Moses’s beautiful speech presents the scope of the gospel. He reminds his people of God’s requirements, of the call to follow Him we find in Jesus (Deuteronomy 10:12; Matthew 4:19). We see precursors of Paul’s instruction for believers to put off their old selves in Moses’s command for the Israelites to no longer be stiff-necked (Deuteronomy 10:16; Ephesians 4). And Peter’s explanation of how God made a people who were once not a people is a parallel to Moses’s reminder that “Your ancestors went down to Egypt, seventy people in all, and now the LORD your God has made you numerous, like the stars of the sky” (Deuteronomy 10:22; 1 Peter 2:10).
Moses’s zeal for the Lord, and earnest prayers born out of knowing the goodness of the Lord offered the Israelites a picture of what it meant for God to renew His covenant with them. Jesus is this God incarnate, who came to earth to write a new covenant and call us to follow after Him. Follow Him, and the sweetness of kingdom life is ours.