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, and to love him…
Every honest view we take of God's service brings to light fresh features of attractiveness. It is the only right course. It satisfies conscience, reason, affection, desire. Having right dispositions and purposes in life, all larger knowledge of God makes service pleasant; yea, true service ministers to our best life.
I. THE REASONABLENESS OF GOD'S SERVICE HAY RE DEDUCED FROM THE PERFECTION OF HIS CHARACTER.
1. His supremacy. He is "God of gods." He stands alone, the sole Creator, but himself uncreated. His claims upon his creatures are absolute, unlimited, and unconditioned.
2. His equity. If, at any time, men suspect any unrighteousness in God, it is because of some obliqueness of vision, or some defect in their mental instrument, or some deficiency of knowledge. No shadow of partiality has ever once been found in him. The favorites of God have been the most chastised.
3. His immense power. He is "mighty and terrible." A breath of God can create; a breath can destroy. "With the breath of his mouth he will slay the wicked."
4. His goodness and pity. His goodness is profuse, is distributed with royal generosity, without stint. But his special care is reserved for the helpless. Widows and orphans have exceptional protection and defense. He makes their case his own, and becomes their unseen Patron. Human monarchs lavish their favors upon those who can do them most service; God lavishes his kindness upon the most needy. Want is the passport to his storehouse. Infinite worth belongs to him.
II. THIS REASONABLENESS OF SERVING GOD IS SEEN IN HIS GRACIOUS TREATMENT OF MEN.
1. There was no need, so far as we can discover, that God should be served by men. The heaven was his, and all previous orders of intelligent beings. The earth also was his, and all its various contents. Here was large scope for the display of his perfections. If men were rebellions, he could readily crush the race, and sweep it from the face of the earth. And no other motive for his kindness to men can we discover, than that of generous and irrepressible love.
2. He has made covenant engagements with them. Moses never fails to remind Israel that the God of heaven was their God. With condescending grace, that excites our perpetual surprise, God had chosen them to be recipients of special blessing. He had found "delight in their fathers;" and for the fathers' sakes had loved the children. We, too, who believe in Christ, "are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." God regards renewed men as his treasure, his portion, his jewels. They are dear to him as "the apple of his eye." There is no service he will not render for them, "no gift will he withhold." He has redeemed them with life-blood, and esteems them as unspeakably precious. They are destined to share his society, his possessions, his throne, his image. God has bound himself to us by most solemn compacts, and all his vast resources are pledged to us. It is a covenant made in heaven, and "is ordered in all things and sure."
III. THIS REASONABLENESS IS SEEN IN THE SELF-ADVANTAGE OF SERVING GOD.
1. It is "for our good." Every command may not be pleasant to flesh and blood, nor always to appetite and inclination; but obedience is salutary to all the better parts of man's nature. "In keeping his commandments we have great reward." There is large present benefit, and there is larger prospective good.
2. It is a credit to us to serve such a God. "He is our praise." The statesmen and ambassadors and generals of England count it high honor to serve Britain's queen. How vastly greater the honor to serve the King of kings! We may suffer passing reproach from our attachment to Christ, but reproach is like the early hoar-frost, which the ascending sun will scatter. If men do not perceive the honor, it is because they are blind. "My soul shall make her boast in the Lord."
3. God's past goodness excites our largest hope. God had already done great things for Israel. He had multiplied them in Egypt a thousandfold. Nor had he reached the end of his power nor the end of his intentions. What he had done was only a sample of what he yet meant to do. A world of good is yet in store for each believer. We shall never touch the furthest limits of God's beneficence. "Eye hath not seen it." To his faithful servants the invitation is repeated a thousand times over, "Come up higher."
IV. THIS REASONABLENESS IS SEEN IN THE KIND OF SERVICE REQUIRED. Nothing more is demanded than our thoughtful reason and enlightened conscience approve.
1. Reverence. We have only to know God in order to yield him the reverence of our souls. If we could perceive his inherent majesty, his real excellence, and his unsullied purity, we should (if feeling were right) instinctively yield to him the profoundest reverence of our hearts. Were it not for the corrupting effects of sin, this would be natural.
2. Submission to his superior will. By virtue of his wisdom, he has a right to counsel. By virtue of his relation as Monarch, he has a right to command. By virtue of his supremacy as Creator, he has claims on every part of our nature and on every moment of our time. His will is excellent, benevolent, unerring. To take his will, not ours, for chart and compass is simplest duty, ay, is largest privilege. "Be no more stiffnecked." A pliable will alone makes a dutiful child.
3. Hearty love. That we can love at all is due to him. The power to cherish love, to receive love, is his gift. Hence, if we love at all, our love belongs to him. If we love in proportion to benefits received, or in proportion to the worth of the object, or in proportion to the love expended on us, then all our love will center in God.
4. Practical service. Genuine love will always seek some channel for its outflow, and service for love's object is a delight, and is only love in active exercise. It would be a restraint and a pain for love to be silent. She would justly count it bondage to be caged up within the heart. Having feet, it would be a restraint not to walk; how great the honor to be able to walk in God's paths, in the highways he himself doth take! True service for God is freedom, life, joy, heaven. If we love we must obey.
5. Such service makes us Godlike. God counts it a joy to serve us, though he is under no obligation of law or right so to do. To serve him means that we grow like him. We imitate him first in actions, then in disposition, then in purposes, then in character. Said Moses significantly to Israel, "God loveth the stranger Love ye therefore the stranger." Through every hour of every day we may be climbing heavenwards, becoming Godlike. Every duty may become to us an instrument actively molding us into the image of perfection. The obedience that springs from love is a pathway of flowery pleasantness, ascending gradually to the hills of frankincense, and to the presence of God. - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul,
WEB: Now, Israel, what does Yahweh your God require of you, but to fear Yahweh your God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve Yahweh your God with all your heart and with all your soul,