Week 19: Deuteronomy

Deuteronomy’s stage is set with the people standing on the edge of their Promised Land and Moses as the patriarch saying farewell to his children, reminding them who they are and reiterating core truths that bind them together. The generation of people who had been enslaved in Egypt was buried in the wilderness, and now a new generation of nomads is poised to enter into the land, to accept the challenges of growing into the life God has called them to.

Moses’ warnings/curses caution against doing anything that damages covenant—the covenant God made with Israel that claimed them as God’s own people, but also the covenant of relationship that connected them together as a community.

The sanctions and catalog of consequences we read here can sound severe, but it’s not so much God dishing out a list of arbitrary rules and expecting people to obey unquestioningly “just because I said so.” It’s more like the cosmic wisdom that says “actions have consequences.”

Here in Deuteronomy, Israel is called to remember that—in pure grace—God called them into relationship, God was calling them to God’s own purposes. Deuteronomy gives witness to the faithfulness of the Lord their God and the people stand amazed that they have been incorporated into such mercy.

And so—even in Exile as Israel remembered these stories again—Israel dares to hope that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will continue to keep covenant even when they did not. They hold on to hope that Yahweh will turn to them in mercy and that their own hearts will turn back to the One Who Rescues . . .

Earlier we read Deuteronomy’s charge to “love God with heart and soul and strength.” We heard Luke’s reminder that “loving our neighbor as ourselves” is not just a feeling but must function as a proactive verb.

Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you is not too hard for you. It is not in heaven . . . neither is it beyond the sea . . . No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth, it is in your heart . . . If you obey the commandments . . . that I am commanding you, loving the Lord your God and walking in his ways . . . then you shall live.

Both Deuteronomy and Luke demonstrate what happens whenever we sin against love. Deuteronomy and Luke remind us what can happen whenever we actually practice active loving.

Deuteronomy and Luke both teach us that love is more powerful than hate.

Read more at Charlotte Vaughan Coyle. Living in The Story: A Year to Read the Bible and Ponder God’s Story of Love and Grace (pp. 234-241). Resource Publications. Kindle Edition.

Readings for Living in The Story Week 19

Deuteronomy 17-34

Psalm 4

Psalm 15

Psalm 144

2 John

3 John

Luke 11-13

Author: Charlotte Vaughan Coyle

Charlotte lives and blogs in Paris TX. She is ordained within the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and developed Living in The Story while doing doctoral work at Brite Divinity School in Ft. Worth. Charlotte also blogs about intersections of faith, politics, and culture at CharlotteVaughanCoyle.com.

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