As Moses prepared Israel to enter the promised land, he wrote a book called Deuteronomy in which he reviewed their history up to that time. He also recounted the law that God had delivered to him on Sinai. Amid the details of this law Moses included a summary statement of what Israel must do to please God. In Deut. 10:12-13 he said, “Now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all our soul, and to keep the Lord’s commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good?”
As we consider this statement we see that God required four things of His people. First, He required that they fear Him. In this case, fear means to revere and to respect. This is an attitude of submission to higher authority. If Israel feared God, they would subjugate their will to His will. Even the Son of God practiced this kind of submission. In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed, “yet, not as I will, but as You will” (Mt. 26:39). If we fear God today, we will do no less than the Son of God did in this regard.
Second, God required Israel to walk in all His ways and to love Him. This denotes a way of life that is governed by God’s will. Walking in God’s ways and loving Him are essentially the same thing. In the scriptures, to love God means to obey Him. In Jn. 14:15 the Lord said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” Thus, if we love God we will obey Him. We cannot love God and walk our own way.
Third, God required Israel to serve Him with all their heart and soul. This is how God separates true disciples from fake ones. Our Lord made this distinction in many of His confrontations with the scribes and Pharisees. These men were considered the best keepers of the Law of Moses, but the Lord said their hearts were far from God (Mt. 15:8-9). They were insincere in their worship and often set aside God’s law in favor of their man-made traditions. God requires sincere worship, and true disciples will not fail to serve Him with all their heart and soul.
Fourth, God required that Israel keep His commandments and statutes. In a word, this is obedience, and it is the foundation of being acceptable to God. In fact, each of the preceding requirements is also based upon obedience. The bottom line is that God requires all who come to Him to obey Him. There is no wiggle room in this requirement. We either obey God, or we don’t. It is each person’s choice, of course, but God will not suspend His commandments if we choose to ignore them.
The final element of Moses’ statement is crucial. At the end of Deut. 10:13 Moses said that the things God commanded Israel were for their good. Later in Deuteronomy Moses spoke in detail of all the good things that would come to Israel if they obeyed God’s law. He also warned them of the evil that would befall them if they disobeyed. Knowing that God’s laws were for their good should have motivated them to faithfully keep it. It should also motivate us to keep God’s will today, for Paul said that godliness holds promise for the present life and for the life to come as well (1 Tim. 4:8).
What the Lord requires of us is not complicated. It is a simple matter of each of us deciding to put His will first in our lives. If we do so, good things will come to us in life, and at the end of time we will receive a home in heaven for eternity. With such a reward in view, it just makes sense to do all the Lord requires.