Devarim / Deuteronomy 11:26 - 16:17
For the week of August 22, 1998
30 Av 5758
No Other Gods
You must not worship the LORD your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the LORD hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods (Devarim / Deuteronomy 12:31).
Throughout the Torah we read of strong warnings against the following of other gods. Over and over again the Lord rejects any possibility of compromising his people's dedication to him alone. Should the people follow other gods and engage in moral or religious practices other than those prescribed by the Lord, harsh judgement would befall them.
But what is the big deal? What is it with God that he cannot tolerate the contrary actions of these people? What difference does it make to him?
Similarly, why is it so necessary to fulfill the New Covenant commission to tell the nations about Yeshua, calling all people to turn to God through him? Why does it matter?
There are two aspects that are often missed with regard to this. The first is that the need to follow God and his ways is not about getting in step with strict universal principles, that somehow, if we do the right things, we will be in harmony with the universe. The call of the Torah upon Israel and its fulfillment in the New Covenant for all peoples is about relationship with God himself.
God is not an impersonal force, but a personal being. We are his beloved creatures - more than that! - we are his children. But we are his estranged children. God wants us to return to him - to be with him. He wants to truly be our Father.
We cannot fully understand God's desires and motives. But he loves us and longs for us to be with him. He cannot tolerate our estrangement and wants us back. And for some reason, we need to be part of that process.
The other aspect is that these requirements are for our benefit. At least eight times in this book we are told to follow God and his ways, "so that it will go well with you" (Devarim / Deuteronomy 4:40; 5:16; 6:3, 18; 12:25, 28; 19:13; 22:7). All that God says to us is for our good.
Following God and his ways is not to appease him or to just propagate a cause. It is for the benefit of the entire human race.
Should he not then insist we come and follow him?
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