What the Lord Requires of Thee

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Iron Dramatist
Something I posted on my blog:

This morning as the morning dawned I meditated on Deuteronomy 10, and found the following paragraph particularly striking:

12 “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good? 14 Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. 15 Yet the Lord set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. 16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn. 17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. 18 He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. 19 Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. 20 You shall fear the Lord your God. You shall serve him and hold fast to him, and by his name you shall swear. 21 He is your praise. He is your God, who has done for you these great and terrifying things that your eyes have seen. 22 Your fathers went down to Egypt seventy persons, and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars of heaven. (Deut. 10:10-22, ESV)

Upon reading the first words of this passage, my mind was drawn to a contemporary song with which you might be familiar (I think entitled "Micah 6:8" after the Scriptural reference)

He has shown thee (echo),
O man (echo),
What is good, and what the Lord requires of thee;

But to do justly (echo),
And to love mercy (echo),
And to walk humbly with thy God.

Often we hear the command of Micah 6:8 repeated to us as though somehow the exhortation to "mercy" (or alternatively kindness) and "justly" trumps all else; meaning our chief end is somehow to walk before others, judging nothing, tolerating all and just "being nice". When we take these two passages together there is no way that this interpretation can be arrived at without denigration of the words of Deuteronomy (and indeed even of Micah 6:8).

How are we to walk? What does God require? God has indeed shown us in these two places (and more):

1) to fear the Lord your God,
2) to walk in all his ways,
3) to love him,
4) to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul
5) to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord
6) to do justly
7) to love mercy
8) to walk humbly with thy God

One might group these into:

a) to fear the Lord your God and walk humbly before Him - to love Him and His mercy and to serve Him with all our hearts
b) to walk in all His ways, keeping His commandments, and doing justly.

But quite honestly, these seem to me to be all of one piece of cloth. David penned a beautiful homage to this idea in Psalm 119. What is it to love God and His mercy without having a love for His commandments and precepts? Can we serve Him without obeying what He commanded? Can we demonstrate a true and proper fear of the Lord without reference to His ways, justice and commandments? Can mercy be understood as if it were in some vacuum and not set quite obviously beside justice and righteousness? Can we do justice without reference to the foundation of our ideas about justice? (Is "justice" some kind of wax nose to be twisted into whatever form we desire, or is convenient, or politically correct? Heavens no!)

I don't write as one who perfectly (or even, at times, well) exemplifies these verses - not at all! The Lord knows my failures and so do most of the people who live with me. But the culture around us seems to have utterly missed the confluence of these passages, and lost what it means to walk before God in a manner he has prescribed. Indeed, what seems most common is to desire to walk before God in whatever manner we deem convenient or least difficult in the doing.

God has given us direction - the Sermon on the Mount quite clearly shows us our Lord's understanding of what it means to follow the precepts both of Deuteronomy 10 and Micah 6:8...and it does not mean setting aside the standards that our gracious God has set before us. Rather, it means they must be taken to heart and lived out in a manner that displays our love for God, for mercy and for true justice. All this requires a humility that is anathema to the world, for in it, we fear the Sovereign and kiss His Son, making nothing of ourselves and shining all upon Him, His grace and His precepts.
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