Rules for Life
When we were children, our parents probably gave us a lot of rules. Many of us probably did not like those rules, sometimes we may not have understood why there were those rules, and we may have thought that they were arbitrary. That is the nature of things when you are a child because you do not have the perspective to understand the bigger picture. The trouble with what I have described is that it can form in us a sense that most rules are arbitrary. The lawmakers and God just make rules to make rules.
This passage in Deuteronomy should quickly put that notion to rest. Moses tells the Israelites a couple of reasons for the Law which he is about to recite to them again. First, they are “that you may live and go in and take possession of the land” (4:1). In some way, these are rules to preserve and prolong life, and rules that will aid them in their conquest. Second, they are what the Israelites “should do…in the land” (4:5). In some ways, these are rules for societal governance. Finally, they are “your wisdom and your understanding” (4:6). This is a summation of the others, reinforcing that they are what will lead to good living.
We ought to view the New Testament instructions through a similar lens. As we have been discussing in Romans, it is not obedience to the Law which saves us, but righteousness in Jesus Christ which we come into through the waters of baptism. However, we have been given instructions on how to live in preparation for our sojourn into the Promised Land, our eternal life with God in heaven. God knows what life will be like in his kingdom, and so he has given us instructions for how to prepare for that life. If we do them, they surely will be our wisdom and understanding until that day when we come into our possession and live with God forever. -TL