Deuteronomy 6:1-12 - Turn Key
You will enter the Promised Land by grace alone, just as God's people always have.
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Read Deuteronomy 6:1-12
These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, 2 so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. 3 Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your fathers, promised you.
4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
10 When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, 11 houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, 12 be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
Listen to passage & devotional:
Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 79
Q. Why then does Christ call
the bread his body
and the cup his blood,
or the new covenant in his blood?
(Paul uses the words,
a participation in Christ’s
body and blood.)
A. Christ has good reason for these words.
He wants to teach us that
as bread and wine nourish
our temporal life,
so too his crucified body
and poured-out blood
truly nourish our souls for eternal life.
But more important, he wants to assure us,
by this visible sign and pledge,
that we, through the Holy Spirit’s work,
share in his true body and blood
as surely as our mouths receive
these holy signs in his remembrance,
and that all of his suffering and obedience
are as definitely ours
as if we personally had suffered
and paid for our sins.
It's often easy to think that God's plan of salvation changed when Jesus arrived. In plan A, God entered into a covenant with Moses, giving His people a clear set of expectations for them to follow in order to gain a reward. Indeed we see language like that in this passage from Deuteronomy that every Israelite would have known so well: keep the commandments so that you may enjoy long life; be careful to obey so that it might go well with you; follow these rules so that you might increase.
Having given the Israelites plenty of time to get their act together, it might seem like God finally gave up on plan A for the grace-filled plan B that Jesus would inaugurate, in which His covenant people would now be saved by the fact that Jesus perfectly kept the law on our behalf.
But as we keep reading in Deuteronomy 6, it becomes clear that God has always had one plan of salvation for all people, and it has always been completely grace based.
God was bringing His people - then, and now - through their wilderness wanderings and into the Promised Land, which flowed with milk and honey. They would enjoy flourishing cities, nicely appointed houses, wells, vineyards and olive groves. All of this would be a gift: they would not need to build, provide, dig or plant. Another word for gift is grace.
Certainly they had a covenantal obligation to keep the law, an obligation they couldn't keep. What they didn't know then was that Christ would provide that covenant faithfulness for them, as He has for you.
So inhabiting the Promised Land was a pure gift; it was never an obligation God owed them. So the reminder God gives to Israel - the recipients of His grace then - is just as valid for us, the recipients of His grace now:
Be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery (v12).
The next time you see the bread broken and the wine poured out, remember that all you have - the good things here and now, and especially an eternity with Christ are all a gift of grace made possible because Jesus suffered vicariously on your behalf. As the Catechism puts it, "all of His suffering and obedience are as definitely ours as if we personally had suffered and paid for our sins."
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Start your prayer the way God's people have for millenia, by reciting the Shema: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one."
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that you will be careful to obey God's laws, to love God with all of your heart, soul and strength, and that you'll impress the gospel on the generations that follow you out of gratitude for the grace given to you.
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED:
Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - Luke 18