Exploring Deuteronomy Week 13: Repentance and Walking in God’s Way
This past Sunday, we took a look at Deuteronomy 30 and the idea of repenting. You can watch or listen to Pastor Dan’s sermon right here.
All I could think as I listened to the sermon yesterday is, “What an amazing God we have!” He is so compassionate, so forgiving, so loving. He does not treat us as our sins deserve! Pastor Dan talked beautifully about repentance yesterday. God walks with us when we repent and He rejoices when we return. It is clear that He longs to show us compassion.
Deuteronomy 30 is part of God’s covenant renewal with the Israelites before they finally enter into the land God has promised them. God reminds them of all He has done for them — how He rescued them from slavery in Egypt and kept them safe as they wandered in the desert. In Deuteronomy 30, God basically promises to show mercy to these people when they turn away from Him. He knows that they will — they already have a record. But He says that when they turn toward Him again, He will restore them. He will bring them back to the land and make them more prosperous than before. He asks them to choose life, to follow in His way because it is the very best way to live.
I have been thinking a lot about this concept of living in God’s way lately. Pastor Dan pointed out that God gave His instructions and did not consider them too difficult for people to follow. God has asked us to follow His instructions, and He’s made it possible for us, especially through the strength of His Holy Spirit in our lives.
Like Pastor Dan mentioned, it is sometimes easy for us to look at the Bible and wonder if it’s useful or important to follow its instructions today. After all, our culture is so different from the culture of the Bible. Things have changed and people think differently now.
As I studied the Old Testament, I realized how God both worked within culture and called His people to be different from it. For example, the fact that God gives the Israelites a law code to follow is not something revolutionary. The nations around Israel would have had laws and instructions for sacrifices and lots of things that are similar to the structure we see in the Old Testament law. God understood the culture the Israelites were used to, and He gave them His instructions in a way they would have been familiar with and understood. Culturally, Israel would have seemed similar to the nations around it; the people would have dressed similarly, their law code was written out in a standard fashion — they would have been recognizable to the nations around them.
But God also does some things that are radically different from the nations around Israel. His law code asks His people to treat women and servants much more kindly than the surrounding nations. God asks the Israelites to be kind to the foreigner, to leave the edges of their fields for the poor. God asks them to worship Him alone, not a multitude of gods like so many other nations did. Many of the ways God talks about treating people and valuing life are quite liberal for the time period.
And the point of this wasn’t just for Israel to be different for the fun of it. If Israel lived this out — if the people followed God’s law — there would be unique differences about them that stood out. And the Bible says that the purpose of this is to draw other nations to God. The way Israel lived and walked in God’s way was to cause curiosity. Other nations would notice the lives of the Israelites and want to know more about this Yahweh God whom they worshipped. They would see His character demonstrated through the lives of the Israelites, and they would be drawn to God.
The same would be true of us as Christians today. As we live in the world, we are recognizable to our friends and neighbours. But there should be slight differences in our lifestyle choices, in our attitudes, in the things we do or don’t do, that should make people curiously compelled to know more about our God.
But ultimately, I think that if we are thinking well, our decision to walk in God’s way is because we trust His character and we have a relationship with Him. As we learn about the Lord through the Bible, His Spirit and Christians around us, we begin to know more about who He is and what He is like. We understand that He is gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in love. We trust that His way is best. We know that He loves us. And if we truly believe these things, then we choose to follow God’s way because we trust Him. We believe that He’s not just up there laying down rules because He has nothing better to do. We actually believe that, even if we don’t always understand the details of why, His way is best because we know Him well enough to trust what He says.
I do not follow God’s way perfectly. (Ask anyone who has ever met me.) Sometimes I even deliberately step off of His path. But I know my God. I know that He is good, that He is full of love and that His way is right, true and best. I want to follow Him. And when I decide not to, when I walk off and disobey, I know that He will seek me out and call me to turn around, and then He’ll walk home with me.
It’s so beautiful and incredible and gracious. Let’s choose life with this amazing God!