Sabbath School Lesson for October 16-22, 2021

There are two other short articles by Teresa Thompson on Deuteronomy this quarter, if you haven’t seen them… and the latest

Overview of Lesson 4

A major objective of Moses was to share the love of God and motivate the Israelites to love Him in return. Features of this love include:

  • loving God above everything else (Sunday)
  • fearing God means to love Him (Monday)
  • we love Him because He first loved us (Tuesday)
  • loving God leads to keeping the commandments (Wednesday)
  • Jesus recognized that loving God and our neighbor is the embodiment of the law (Thursday)

Moses understood that love would make the difference in how they moved forward, as they approached Canaan. He mentioned their special covenant relationship with God many times, but also repeatedly came back to theme of love.

They must obey God, but only after loving Him. Love and obedience would both be necessary for their successful settlement in the land promised to their fathers. Moses emphasized this love throughout the book of Deuteronomy.

Memory Text: ” ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.’ ” Deuteronomy 6:5 NKJV

This verse and the one before it are included in the Jewish confession of faith, called Shema (Hebrew: “Hear”). The recitation of Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 1:13-21 and Numbers 15:37-41 is part of the evening and morning services in Jewish synagogues even today. These words of the Shema are repeated prayerfully, with eyes covered to keep out distractions and help them focus on the meaning of the words.

Deuteronomy 6:4–“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!”–was part of the first speech that Moses delivered as they were about to enter the Promised Land. This monotheistic declaration of only one god would separate them from the religions practiced by those occupying Canaan at the time. Their love for God would certainly be different from their neighbors’ religions as well.

The Hebrews were to love God with their whole person. Something we must always remember to do in our secular world today, with all its attractive distractions to take our eyes off loving Him.

Sunday: To Love God

The only way to love God is to do it supremely, with our whole being (Deuteronomy 6:5). Love for God must exceed our love for everything and everyone else in our lives.

This kind of love must take place on an individual level. We may be part of a larger body of believers, but we are personally accountable for our own love and faithfulness to God. Loving God may be supported by our faith community, but it can only be experienced and practiced by individuals, touched first by God’s love.

In the middle of sharing the law and the covenant obligations, we are constantly brought back to the love of God that started, sustains, and perpetuates our journey of faith. Returning that love is paramount to our reconciliation with God now and our eternal future with Him someday.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Deuteronomy 6:1-3

  • What did Moses use here as incentive for them to be obedient to the commandments, statutes, and judgments of God?

Deuteronomy 6:4, 5

  • How were they to achieve God’s purposes for them?
  • Why were these two assertions so important to their successful occupation of Canaan?
  • Why are they important to us today?

Monday: To Fear God

Due to language translations and cultural differences, we sometimes find it difficult to understand how we can fear God and love Him at the same time.

Fear in our modern minds is most often seen as the negative emotion of trembling and dread, because we are scared of something or someone. But used in the ancient context of the Old Testament, fear of God refers to the sense of awe and respect that we should naturally have for such a Supreme Being as God. our Creator and Redeemer.

When we fully understand all that God has done for us, when we see how He came to earth as a man in order to save us from eternal death, it should lead to our loving Him. To fear Him then goes hand in hand with loving Him.

Deuteronomy 10:12 states this principle of fearing and loving God at the same time. We must fear (respect) Him, walk in His ways (practice our faith), love and serve Him. And all of this with our total being–“with all your heart and with all your soul”.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Deuteronomy 10:12, 13 and Micah 6:8

  • Why are love, justice, and humility important in our relationship with God?

Deuteronomy 5:15 and Revelation 14:6, 7

  • What are two good reasons for worshiping God?

Ephesians 2:1-3, 10

  • Why do we fear (respect) God?
  • What has He done for you personally?

Tuesday: He First Loved Us

Nowhere in the Old Testament is love spoken of as much as in the books of Deuteronomy and the Song of Solomon. Moses emphasized love repeatedly in these final speeches to the Hebrew children. And Deuteronomy is quoted or mentioned almost one hundred times in the New Testament.

It was love that made God desire to create us, and His love once again that made Him want to save us. Moses gave ample evidence and examples of God’s love by recounting the many miracles that sustained them on their 40-year wilderness journey. These miracles were the work of the Son of God. They saw His love in the manna that fed them, just as they saw Jesus later perform a miracle by feeding a multitude with five loaves of bread and two fish.

Recognizing the love and mercy of God is essential to our Christian journey. Only with that recognition and appreciation will we be able to return love to God. Fear and respect, without love, makes our service to Him empty and dry. There is no need to feel deprived of spiritual food or drink, when we daily keep God’s mercy alive in our hearts.

Philippians 2:8 says that Jesus humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death. Our humility will enable us to obey and sacrificially serve Him out of love and respect. That’s the only kind of obedience that is fulfilling to us and that pleases God. Keeping love flowing, keeps the relationship growing.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Deuteronomy 4:37, 7:7, 8, 13, 10:15, 23:5, 33:3

  • Why did Moses mention God’s love so many times?

Wednesday: “If You Love Me, Keep My Commandments”

It may seem odd to talk so often about loving God, and then to focus on obeying Him. But it must be done in that order, just as Jesus prescribed (John 14:15). Obedience looks and feels totally different when it’s the by-product of loving someone.

The Ten Commandments are themselves evidence of God’s love. They spell out those things that show us how to love and will bring us happiness in life, in a language that we can easily understand.

Just as God has shown us His love so many times, we, too, are called to show our love for Him by following His instructions and using them to become more like our loving Savior. Keeping the commandments should not be a subject we avoid. Moses felt that keeping the Ten Commandments was just as important as experiencing God’s love. Feeling His love is not enough. We must have a way to express it.

When our obedience falls short of this expression of love, it’s called legalism. Legalism is an empty, formal observance that will never bring us closer to God. In the end, it may even repel us from His presence.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Deuteronomy 5:10, 7:9, 11:1, 19:9

  • Why are loving God and obeying Him both important?

1 John 5:3 and John 14:15

  • How do these verses show that the Ten Commandments, God’s moral law, are still in effect for believers today?
  • Why is love mentioned first? Is it more important than obedience?

Thursday: The First Commandment

Both Matthew and Mark record a lawyer, or scribe, coming to Jesus, asking Him what is the first, or great, commandment. Jesus’ reply leads us to believe the lawyer had in mind the Decalogue, given to Moses on Mt. Sinai.

Jesus told him in a way that sounds like two commandments: to love God and to love our neighbor. But love is the key word here. To be like God, we must love everyone, even our enemies (Matthew 5:44). For as John tells us in 1 John 4:8, God is love. And Paul affirms this in 1 Corinthians 13:13, when he says “the greatest of these is love”. Therefore, love is the first and great commandment.

The first four commandments of the Decalogue give us insight into how to love God, and of course, the last six describes ways we are to love others. Keeping these basic principles in mind will enable us to grow our love and become closer to God, because we will become more like Him.

Perhaps you have missed it in the past, but part of the answer Jesus gave in this story was a direct quote from Deuteronomy 6:4, 5. It’s found in the Shema prayer that Jews recite daily, even today.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Mark 12:28-30 and Matthew 22:34-40

  • What was the underlying purpose for questioning Jesus?
  • Why was Jesus safe in quoting Deuteronomy?

Luke 25:25-30

  • Why was the parable of the good Samaritan so fitting here, after their second question?
  • Who is our neighbor today, and how are we loving them?

Friday: Final Thoughts

The Old Testament not only explains the types and prophetic symbols we find in the New Testament. We get a broader picture of God’s love and justice when we study books like Deuteronomy. They provide us with the context and background for understanding much of the New Testament.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 was initially taken to heart by the Jews. They even later took it literally by their tradition of using phylacteries to bind the words of this text on their hands and foreheads.

Revelation 14:9 talks about people in the last days receiving the mark of the beast in their forehead or hand. This is seen symbolically as in our thoughts or actions. His saints, however, will have the faith of Jesus (in their hearts and minds), but also will be actively obedient by keeping His commandments (Revelation 14:12). For Christians, it’s not an either/or situation, the hand or the forehead. our thoughts or our actions. We must have both. Because love in action is our primary tool for spreading the gospel to the world (John 13:35).

Next Week: The Stranger in Your Gates

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