When someone mentions the commands of God, or the law of God, what comes to your mind? The book of Leviticus? The Ten Commandments? Hell fire and brimstone?
As we’ve discussed before, the Ten Commandments can be found in Exodus 20. In the midst of the do’s and don’ts, there is something interesting. Look at verses 4-6, paying particular attention to verse six
4.“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5.You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6.but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
Do you see it?
but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Ex 20:6)
We know that God expects obedience to His commands, but did you realize He wants us to love Him?
Moses didn’t miss it. The book of Deuteronomy is Moses’ farewell to the Israelites. He recounts their journey together from the time they left Egypt, repeats much of the law, and admonishes them to be faithful and obedient to God. Nine different times, he mentions loving God.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. (Deut 6:5)
And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, (Deut 10:12)
Love the Lord your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always. (Deut 11:1)
So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul— (Deut 11:13)
If you carefully observe all these commands I am giving you to follow—to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him and to hold fast to him— (Deut 11:22)
you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deut 13:3)
because you carefully follow all these laws I command you today—to love the Lord your God and to walk always in obedience to him—then you are to set aside three more cities. (Deut 19:9)
The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live. (Deut 30:6)
For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. (Deut 30:16)
and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (Deut 30:20)
When Moses died, Joshua took his place. He thought loving God was important too.
But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you: to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to keep his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Joshua 22:5)
So be very careful to love the Lord your God. (23:11)
There are 57 other verses that mention loving God. That isn’t much when you consider there word love is found over 600 times in the Bible. Many times it refers to God’s love for us, not our love for Him. So how does one go about loving God? Well, read the verses above again. You’ll notice that love and obedience are often mentioned together. Ten of those 57 verses were written by David in the Psalms, and he specifically says that he loves the actual commands of God. Most of the time however, loving God is mentioned before obedience to Him. Does obedience flow naturally from a love relationship? What happens when there is no love in obedience?
The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught. (Is 29:13)
Sadly, scriptures are full of examples of people who obeyed the law, but did not appear to love God. More sadly, the church is full of examples too. Why is that? Could it be that people are taught human rules about religion instead of being lead to a love relationship with God? God demands our obedience, but He would rather it come from a heart full of love than a heart full of fear and resentment. That isn’t the kind of relationship He wants with us. Did you only obey your parents because you feared punishment?
More about that next week.