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Called to God's Obedience

(Deuteronomy 29:2-15)

Lesson 4 -- fourth quarter 2004
September 26, 2004

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2004, Christian Light Publications

Probing Your Own Heart

Do you insist on obedience from those under your authority?

Do you know of any law or rule -- civil, church, or divine -- that you are not honoring with your obedience?

Building on Some Foundational Concepts

Experience is intended to lead to obedience.

Moses reminded the Israelites that they had seen the works God did before them in Egypt and in the wilderness -- in liberating them, in providing for them, in defending them, in leading them. He reviewed these events with them in order to lead them to this point: "Keep therefore the words of this covenant, and do them" (Deuteronomy 29:9). The experiences of our lives are either designed by God or used by God to draw us into relationship with Him. Unless our life experiences effect in us obedience to God, our lives will develop into a testament of vanity and waste.

Discernment is only God's to give.

Though those people saw and experienced the awesome works of God, they did not set their hearts to pursue the awesome God. So God, not willing to cast His pearls before swine, did not put in their hearts His wisdom from above (Deuteronomy 29:4). But that was those people, right? Yes, it was. And it will be equally true of us if we also neglect to turn our hearts and lives toward God. We too shall lack discernment, wisdom, and understanding.

God wants a covenant because He wants a people.

God, Who alone is Lord of all, reveals His will to us, not to lord it over us, but to draws us to Himself and make us His own. Without a covenant -- which includes both laws and promises, requirements and blessings -- there can be no intimate relationship between God and mankind. That puts His laws in a different perspective. So enter into and be faithful to His covenant (Deuteronomy 29:12,13).

Questions and Responses

Obedience causes people to prosper?

Absolutely! That's what God says -- could it possibly not be true?!

"Keep therefore the words of this covenant, and do them, that ye may prosper in all that ye do" (Deuteronomy 29:9).

"Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest" (Joshua 1:7).

"And keep the charge of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself" (1 Kings 2:3).

Of course God doesn't mean this as a guarantee of material wealth and well-being to anyone and everyone who faithfully follows Him and keeps His covenant. Rather, it is a guarantee of spiritual and moral wealth and well-being. The word translated prosper in these verses means "to be prudent, be circumspect, wisely understand, prosper." In fact, this same word is also translated make wise (Genesis 3:6), understood (Deuteronomy 32:29), behaved wisely (1 Samuel 18:5), be wise (Psalm 2:10), prudent (Proverbs 19:14), and skilful (Daniel 1:4).

Since God didn't give them a heart to perceive, could He condemn them for faithlessness and disobedience?

The question comes because of this verse: "Yet the LORD hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day" (Deuteronomy 29:4).

The answer to that question is "Yes!" as well. As the All-Wise Sovereign God of the universe, He can do whatever He wishes to do and it will be absolutely right and just. On what grounds shall any creature challenge Him?

Having affirmed that, I suggest you consider this issue in light of the previous one in this section. Since obedience causes people to prosper (that is, be wise, understanding, and prudent), how shall God plant perception (that is, wisdom, understanding, and prudence) in a heart which is not set toward obedience? No bitter fountain will produce sweet water.

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