Deuteronomy 6:18–19 (HCSB)
18 Do what is right and good in the Lord’s sight, so that you may prosper and so that you may enter and possess the good land the Lord your God swore to give your fathers, 19 by driving out all your enemies before you, as the Lord has said.
This passage is all about the Israelites being obedient to, and remembering, God. Moses starts with a heavy dose of pointing out all the God has done for His people: cities they did not build, full houses they did not fill, wells they did not dig, and vineyards they did not plant. And Moses rightly conveys the warning that when the Israelites have full bellies, have been satisfied on all that God has provided, that they be careful not to forget it was God that had brought them to that point. How true it is that as our desires are satisfied the less we focus on God. Instead, the Israelites should be different, unlike the peoples surrounding them with their false gods, and unlike the world satisfied with themselves, and instead, following God and His commands.
I like Deut 6:18-19, because it feels like it is the response to what Moses just laid out, and also establishes the foundation for the remainder of the passage. The deal is, as Moses has been outlining for some time now, that God’s children, in order to receive the full blessing from God, must obey and follow God. And this should not be thought of as us earning something, but instead it should be seen as a response to the grace, mercy, and love of God. It is not our judgement of what is “right and good”, but God’s. It is not our righteousness that secures our prosperity, but God’s oath. It is not our power and strength that drives out our enemies, but God’s word.
This passage ends with Moses giving a glimpse into the future. Again, the risk of forgetting God is addressed, this time concerning the next generation. And just as we challenge tradition and doctrines today, Moses foretold of the same happening then. All the commands that were to be observed would be challenged, and the Israelites were to be ready to defend them, and explain why they are important and must be followed. The final verse is key though, “Righteousness will be ours if we are careful to follow every one of these commands before the Lord our God, as He has commanded us.” We must be careful not to equate man’s traditions, those he creates, no matter how God-honoring they may be, with God’s commands. But we must ready to defend the observance of the commands God has given us.
Lord, thank You for leading us, through Your commands. Help us to never equate man’s rules with Your righteous commands. Help us to always observe and defend Your commands. Help us to stand fast on your Word in a culture that seems to continuously try to erode Your authority. Amen.