If you’ve ever taken it upon yourself to read through your Bible and made it to the book of Deuteronomy,
- Congratulations on making it through Leviticus, and
- The words of Deuteronomy should have sounded familiar to you, like you’d already read them earlier in the Bible.
That’s because Deuteronomy is essentially Moses’ re-telling of God’s Law to the people of Israel. After 40 years of herding sheep in the wilderness of Midian, God used Moses to deliver Israel from Egyptian slavery and oppression. Then Moses returned to the wilderness for another 40 years, this time leading the people of Israel toward the Promised Land. Moses, however, would not be permitted to enter the new land as a result of his sin (Numbers 20:1-13)—because Moses failed to trust and obey God’s word, he did not experience the life that awaited God’s people in the Promised Land.
So when we arrive at Deuteronomy 5, we find Moses making his final plea with the people of Israel before turning the reigns over to Joshua. His parting words remind the people of the importance of walking in obedience to God’s word. Speaking as man who knows well the consequences of disobedience, Moses implores God’s people to “walk in all the way that the Lord [their] God has commanded [them], that [they] may live, and that it may go well with [them], and that [they] may live long in the land that [they] shall possess” (v. 33). In other words, Moses wanted the people to know that God’s words lead to life.
Moses knew what we need to know—that God’s commands are for our good. His commands are not restrictive, as though God were withholding something good from his children. No, God’s commands are for our protection, our joy, and our flourishing. Reflecting on God speaking to Moses, the Israelites were astonished that they had seen God speak with man and man still live (v. 24)—and yet what Moses (and Jesus) knew was that it’s actually only when God speaks to man that man lives (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4).