“See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?” Deuteronomy 4:4-8
What a beautiful description of the nation of Israel, the purpose God set before them in choosing Him, the light they were to be before the other nations and people here. In the Israelites’ keeping the commandments of the Lord, others would see the righteousness, wisdom, and understanding of the people of God, and they would see the nearness of the Lord and wonder at the relationship He maintains with His people.
This is our calling. “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3). When Jesus came, He emphasized to us that the law isn’t just a set of rules we are to follow with our actions; it is a life of faith that demonstrates trust in and love for our God and penetrates the depths of our heart. It isn’t simple changes of behavior. Our heart must be in it. We must be filled with the character of God, and that requires surrender to a God who wants to enter your life and change you from the inside-out. So we then exemplify the fruit of the Spirit, which is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23), and we strive to live in the wisdom from above, which is “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:17-18).
We are sowing “a harvest of righteousness.” We are drawing others to this God who is near to us, through our actions and our hearts that show compassion and sincerity, not a false display of piety but a true life of love for our God and for others. It is a high calling, but it is one that God Himself equips and empowers us for as He brings people to Himself.
And this God isn’t One who is weak. When Moses describes the moment at Mount Sinai, when God spoke to Israel and declared His statutes before them, he paints this picture: “And you came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, while the mountain burned with fire to the heart of heaven, wrapped in darkness, cloud, and gloom. Then the LORD spoke to you out of the midst of the fire” (Deuteronomy 4:11-12a). This God is all-powerful and strikes fear into the hearts of His enemies. He is holy and His greatness unfathomable. Yet it is this God who is near to us. It is this God who hears us and comes to the aid of His people. It is this God who bridged the impossible chasm between us, humbling and submitting Himself to death so that we could be saved, and then brought us into His family. This is the God who is on our side, who is for us in every moment. He has chosen us to be a witness to the people of the world; a witness who declares His greatness and His grace and makes known the way of His salvation; who demonstrates His righteousness, wisdom, and understanding; and who lives to keep His commandments and to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.