The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.
Listening to Deuteronomy and Moses’ sermon there, his last words to Israel, is actually rather breathtaking, or simply profound and powerful. It is in some sense formative to the people of God for then, and for now. Although as Scot McKnight wrote to me, Jesus refashions the kingdom of God. It was Moses’ last words to Israel, the words of one who knew God face to face, who was so faithful both to God in terms of his covenant, and to Israel, the people of God.
But we need to understand God’s calling out of his people, Israel, and how he set them apart as his people through the Law of Moses, which is also called the Law of the Lord (LORD, or Yahweh). A large part of what this sermon is about.
I think a main point of that law was that God was setting apart a people for himself and for the world who would be his witnesses. And who by that law would make known his will, to be fulfilled in a kingdom which would be destined to rule over the earth. So it had both a present aspect for that time, as well as a looking forward to the prophet who like Moses would speak God’s words to them, and to whom they were to listen.
The period in which Moses lived was formative for the people of God. God was bringing them along, raising them up to be his holy nation, his kingdom and priesthood ultimately not just for themselves, but for the world.
It doesn’t matter whether or not we understand everything that is said, or is happening, according to this sermon. It is important for us that we read and listen to it, because like the rest of scripture, we need it to shape our thinking, to understand our roots as God’s people, where we’ve come from, how that unfolded, and how it was and is being fulfilled in King Jesus and God’s kingdom present in him through the church. As well as the future fulfillment of that, when justice at long last is realized, and all things are made new.
Without this great sermon, we lack something of an important aspect of understanding our underpinnings, and what Jesus fulfills. Of course in Jesus’ fulfillment, there are aspects of the law of Moses which are fulfilled by the Spirit, and certain aspects which are set aside. Whether or not we can explain that well theologically, it’s a fact we have to learn to live with. For example we can now eat all foods; nothing is unclean, or nonkosher for us as God’s people. That would seem to go along with the thought that God’s law is now impacting the nations and cultures of the world through the Spirit. So that only essential basics related to love are required and considered aspects of holiness. Such basics of love are internal, but they are also external, such as caring in practical ways for the poor, for those in need.
We need to keep reading and I would recommend listening to scripture being read. I love the way The Bible Experience does that.
And so we continue in God’s written word, from the mouth of the Lord through the mouth of Moses even for us, in and through Jesus by the Spirit for the world.