This chapter tells about two opposing lifestyles for Israel and for the child of God, obedience and disobedience. First the Lord gives two statutes that exemplify a relationship with Him. Verses 1-2 read,
“You shall not make idols for yourselves or erect an image or pillar, and you shall not set up a figured stone in your land to bow down to it, for I am the Lord your God. 2 You shall keep my Sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord.”
We know looking at Israel’s history that they couldn’t and wouldn’t stop worshipping false gods. They made idols every chance they got. Even at Mt. Sinai they made a golden calf. Even then when The Lord was so obviously present with them and doing miracles for their redemption. We also know that Israel turned the Sabbath from a celebration of rest and peace with God into a ritualistic job. They put a huge amount of effort into keeping His rest. That was never the intention of the Sabbath.
Both of those laws were about keeping the Lord first in their hearts, communing with the Almighty in love and fellowship. But they missed the boat. How many of us missed it?
Next The Lord told them how obedience would lead to blessings. He is referring to Israel and today to Believers. He doesn’t expect the gentile or the lost to obey Him, because they don’t know Him or His proclamations. Verses 3-5 read,
“If you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them, 4 then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. 5 Your threshing shall last to the time of the grape harvest, and the grape harvest shall last to the time for sowing. And you shall eat your bread to the full and dwell in your land securely.”
He gives His obedient children everything we need and more. He makes sure we have plenty. He gives His compliant children peace and security. We let Him deal with those who would hurt us and with the enemy. That isn’t our concern. Our enemy will be afraid of us because The Lord of Angel Armies fights for us. Verses 6-8 say it this way,
“I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid. And I will remove harmful beasts from the land, and the sword shall not go through your land. 7 You shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. 8 Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall chase ten thousand, and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.”
His security goes beyond fighting the enemy for us. It is in the fruit of our wombs, the fruit of the land, and the fruit of The Spirit. Obedience is possible because of faith and faith is fortified by obedience. Obedience, faith, and peace form an unending circle as each strengthens each. The Lord gave us freedom, not so we could be enslaved by the law, but so we could freely worship and adore Him and so we could unreservedly fellowship with Him. Verses 9-13 read,
“I will turn to you and make you fruitful and multiply you and will confirm my covenant with you. 10 You shall eat old store long kept, and you shall clear out the old to make way for the new. 11 I will make my dwelling among you, and my soul shall not abhor you. 12 And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people. 13 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that you should not be their slaves. And I have broken the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect.”
Believer, is your relationship with the Lord like that? He wants you to know Him intimately. If your faith is too small to let you obey Him, is your fear is too great to let you give yourself wholly to Him, He will do what He must to bring you into that complete and lovely dependence on Him. His discipline is for your benefit. Verses 14-17 describe it like this,
“But if you will not listen to me and will not do all these commandments, 15 if you spurn my statutes, and if your soul abhors my rules, so that you will not do all my commandments, but break my covenant, 16 then I will do this to you: I will visit you with panic, with wasting disease and fever that consume the eyes and make the heart ache. And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. 17 I will set my face against you, and you shall be struck down before your enemies. Those who hate you shall rule over you, and you shall flee when none pursues you.”
With each disciplinary action He allows, He gives the opportunity for us to turn to Him and repent. And each time we refuse to give up our pride and submit to Him the correction becomes more severe. If we choose not to trust in His provision and instead toil away for ourselves, He allows it. But without Him our laboring comes up empty. If we choose to fight our enemy ourselves, He permits it, but without Him our fight is futile and our hearts are filled with fear.
If we keep walking against Him, He will allow others to come in and fight us, harm us, and dominate us. How many times was Israel sent into captivity when they disobeyed? He will do what He must to restore us into a relationship with Him. Verses 21-22 read,
“Then if you walk contrary to me and will not listen to me, I will continue striking you, sevenfold for your sins. 22 And I will let loose the wild beasts against you, which shall bereave you of your children and destroy your livestock and make you few in number, so that your roads shall be deserted.”
If we choose to walk without Him, He will let us go the road alone sweating and striving to meet our needs and fighting our own battles. Not because He doesn’t love us, but because He does and He will not force Himself on us. He takes His hands off our lives in those desperate times so we will turn back to Him. But He never spurns us, He never forsakes us. Verses 27-28 say,
“But if in spite of this you will not listen to me, but walk contrary to me, 28 then I will walk contrary to you in fury, and I myself will discipline you sevenfold for your sins.”
God doesn’t send discipline to us for no reason. He loves us deeply. He wants a friendship with us. He wants a union with us that is so profound that we have His nature and His heart and that we bear His image. All we ever have to do is turn to Him with repentant submissive hearts and He restores us to His intimacy. He prefers to be our tender loving Father instead of our wrathful God. Verses 40-42 read,
“But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers in their treachery that they committed against me, and also in walking contrary to me, 41 so that I walked contrary to them and brought them into the land of their enemies—if then their uncircumcised heart is humbled and they make amends for their iniquity, 42 then I will remember my covenant with Jacob, and I will remember my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land.”
Verses 45-46 read,
“But I will for their sake remember the covenant with their forefathers, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God: I am the Lord.”
46 These are the statutes and rules and laws that the Lord made between himself and the people of Israel through Moses on Mount Sinai.”
Are you being disciplined? Is the Lord calling back to obedience? Examine your heart. Is it beginning to harden against your adoring Father? Is your neck too stiff to turn to your loving Lord? Let His discipline break your pride. Find your faith and use it to bow to The Lord God Almighty.