“So now, Israel, give heed to the statutes and ordinances that I am teaching you to observe, so that you may live to enter and occupy the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you.”
This text is taken from the lectionary that we used this past week and comes from the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy (chapter 4, verse 1). This verse is written as Moses calls together the Israelites, repeating the commandments that had been given to the people and recorded in the earlier book of Exodus. Moses is reminding them of the commandments, and he repeats those same words that were found in the book of Exodus. We have come to call these “statutes and ordinances” the Ten Commandments.
It is sometimes easy for us to view these “statutes and ordinances” as words coming from a stern, harsh and demanding God. We use them to demand that others be good enough to merit love from God, using this “do this, don’t do that” mind set. Our God is not a stern, harsh and demanding God. Rather, our God is a God of love and relationships. What we have come to know as the Ten Commandments is how God shows us to be in relationship with him and with our neighbor.
We have a God who loves us so much that he has given us the basics of how to live faithfully in relationship with him and with those we share creation with. Jesus summed up the commandments when he said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and with all your mind…and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The commandments show us that we fail to love God and love our neighbor in the ways that the law - the statutes and ordinances - asks us to. Christ has taken our sin of failure to keep the law: taking our sin upon himself, freeing us from the consequences of sin, freeing us to confess our sinfulness, making us new on a daily basis, and thus freeing us to do for others, freeing us to be in relationship with our neighbor. We have a God who loves us so much that he gives us the ways to be in relationship!
God Bless You.
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