If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: Deuteronomy 31, Psalm 119:97–120, Isaiah 58, Matthew 6. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can't do all the readings today, read Deuteronomy 31.
God had made extraordinary promises to his people and he had given them the complex gift of his law. I call his law “complex” because it should have been a blessing to Israel but it was, in fact, a curse. It should have been a blessing; if they had followed his laws, they would have been blessed in every way—spiritually, militarily, financially, and more. However, without a new nature, sinful people trying to live by God’s laws were destined to fail. And, fail they did! Not only did they never enjoy all the land God promised to them, they never had the financial prosperity or the spiritual power and joy that God promised to them.
One reason why they failed to keep God’s law is that they did not know God’s law. Verses 12-13 describe the need for all the people to hear the law of God. This passage mandates that God’s law be read to his people, aloud, every seven years at the Feast of Tabernacles (v. 10). The purpose of this reading was not only so that they would know God’s law but so that they would “learn to fear the Lord your God…” (v. 12b). Likewise, their children would hear it and “learn to fear the Lord your God…” (v. 13b). Fearing God is an Old Testament way of expressing true belief in God; it is similar to the concept of the new birth (or regeneration) in the New Testament. A person who feared God was one who heard the law not just as a way to regulate behavior but rather as an expression of the character of the living God. He would hear all that God required of him and would be convicted of all the ways he had failed to live up to God’s laws already. He would also be struck with his own inability to keep these laws in the days ahead of his life. Knowing what God required of him and also how weak and sinful his own heart was, he would fall before the Lord looking for mercy for his past sins and grace to walk with God in the days ahead. If Israel had treasured God’s laws for the revelation that they were, God would have done great spiritual work within them and among them for “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom 10:17). But there is little evidence that God’s people even read God’s word once every seven years as this passage commanded them. The ignorance of his revelation is one of the main reasons why they never became the nation God promised them they could become.
This should remind us to treasure God’s word—read it, hear it, and obey it in our lives. You’re off to a good start today by reading these passages and this devotional. Now prepare your heart by asking God to help you learn to hear and obey his word as we come together to worship this morning.
Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we'll talk scripture again tomorrow.