Don’t we all want things to go well for us? We pray things will go well; we bid well for one another; we leave one another will well wishes. There is more to things going well than just hopes. Remaining within God’s will, appreciating that He is The LORD, and understanding who we are in Him lead to things going well. Israel had spent forty years in the wilderness learning the commandments, the will of God and now just before they entered The Promised Land, Moses reminded them of what they learned and exhorted them to be obedient to their discipline. Verses 1-3 read,
“Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, 2 that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son's son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. 3 Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.”
Obeying the commandment requires fearing the Lord, which is respecting Him and appreciating Him as Sovereign Lord, as I Am, as all of who He is. It means knowing Him as who He says and demonstrates Himself to be and not as who we make Him to be. It also means that we will live in a way that teaches our sons and their sons to know Him like that. Obedience to the commandment—the statutes and the rules— comes with a promise, that it may go well with you, that you may multiply greatly in a land of abundance. What is the commandment? What single commandment is the statutes and the rules? Verses 4-5 read,
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
God said it here in Deuteronomy before He said it to the scheming Pharisees in Matthew 22:34-40
But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Jesus said, loving your neighbor with equal concern you have for yourself is like loving God with your entirety. And it is on these two that all the Law and Prophets are hinged. He said it to Moses as well, the command to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and might covers all the laws. This is the commandment that He required be taught. This commandment is what the Ten Commandments spell out. This greatest commandment is the crux for all the Law and every word of God.
He wants us to know this greatest commandment to the point it is part of us, written on our hearts, before our eyes so that it is how we view the world, and on the foundations and entries of our lives and households. This commandment should define who we are as it defined Jesus Christ. Verses 6-9 read,
“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
At some point, many Israelites, those who considered themselves most pious and dedicated took this command which is The Word Himself and removed Him from it. They wrote the words of Deuteronomy 6:5 on tiny scrolls and wore them (and still do) on their hands and foreheads and place them on the doorposts of their homes. I have a Mezuzah on my door. There is nothing wrong with keeping a reminder of God’s Word with you, but how many of the Pharisees who decorated themselves in grand piety had the commandment truly on their hearts as well as on the foreheads and hands? How many who flaunted their religiousness knew the True God well enough to recognize Him when He walked among them? How many of them lived out the truth of the commandment?
And what about us? We put on ‘Christian’ T-shirts, place ‘Christian’ bumper stickers on our cars, and decorate online profiles with “Christian’ pictures, but then we curse at the driver who cut us off in traffic, we gossip about that poor girl who needs prayer, and we promise prayers that we never speak. How can we wear a banner that says “Jesus loves you” and not love people with all the humility, grace and mercy of The Lord?
What is it for things to go well? What does that mean? Does it mean no suffering? Does it mean no battles? The Hebrew word translated as well is טוֹב, towb. It means beautiful, pleasant to the senses, useable and appropriate for its purpose. It is the word used when God described creation in Genesis 1:4
And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.
Things go well for us when we become as we were created to be light separate from dark. That is why obedience to the commandment of verse 5 makes things go well for us. Loving God so completely with who we are, what we feel, what we do, and how we think expresses itself in loving one another the way Jesus loves us. That love shows the word who Jesus is and it continually disciples us to become more like Him. John 13:31-35 reads,
When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. 33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
The Promised Land was made for the promise that things would go well for Israel. In it they would rest in The Lord, depend on Him, and worship Him. He would prove their faith. Verses 10-15 read
“And when the Lord your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you—with great and good cities that you did not build, 11 and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant—and when you eat and are full, 12 then take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 13 It is the Lord your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. 14 You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you— 15 for the Lord your God in your midst is a jealous God—lest the anger of the Lord your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth.”
When things go well, we have no need to look anywhere but to The Lord Our God. Taking our eyes off of Him, not crediting Him for His abundant provision and chasing good fortune rather than God kindles His anger so that He can bring us back to towb again. Keeping faith in God alone allows us to abide in towb. Verses 16-19 read,
“You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah. 17 You shall diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God, and his testimonies and his statutes, which he has commanded you. 18 And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord, that it may go well with you, and that you may go in and take possession of the good land that the Lord swore to give to your fathers 19 by thrusting out all your enemies from before you, as the Lord has promised.”
At Massah, Israel complained about being thirsty. They disregarded everything He had done for them, their deliverance from Egypt, their lives, the riches He let them carry, everything. They whined that they would die of thirst. By their lack of faith they said, “Is the Lord among us or not?” God gave them water out of a rock. (Exodus 17:1-7). He doesn’t require a river or a spring. He can make a rock into a spring. He can make a spring out of thin air. He can move a mountain from here to there. He reminded them who He was in a generous and gracious way even though they had no faith. But now forty years later, they had learned and it was time to stand on what they had learned and not forget again God was with them.
Obedience shows our faith, obedience proves our faith, and obedience grows our faith. Did the people of Israel really think God had saved them from Pharaoh only to let them die of thirst? Or did they just need to complain and flaunt their suffering? They could just as easily trusted Him to provide. Do you think The Lord delivered you from the prince of the world to leave you as you are? Don’t you trust Him enough to know that He is carrying you through the wilderness for the purpose of making things go well with you, for making you the light of the world.
However you live your life, whether as a testimony to Christ or as a testimony to yourself, your children will ask what it means. They will want to know why you live in faith, why you obey the Lord, why you love Him and why you love people. The answer you give is the Gospel! It is the Truth which will enable things to go well for them too. Verses 20-25 read,
“When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the Lord our God has commanded you?’ 21 then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh's slaves in Egypt. And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. 22 And the Lord showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes.23 And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give to our fathers. 24 And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day. 25 And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us.’
Living in faithful obedience, enjoying the abundance of God’s promise will make your children and your fellow man ask how and why. You can be ready to give a reason for your hope. You can say, “Because the Lord delivered me from slavery to sin and gave me eternal life. My Lord impels me to love as He loves and trust that He always has my good in mind. He keeps me safe in Him so I can enjoy eternity with Him.”
I hope and pray that things go well for you. I pray that we will live in faithful obedience to love the Lord with everything we feel, all our trust, all we do, and all we think by loving others as He loves us. You, believer are the light of the world, separated from the darkness. Obey this great command and shine the good light of Christ into the darkness of the world.