Be mindful next time when you hear God’s word: “that you may learn them and observe them carefully” (v. 1). This is because there are many careless hearing and hearers. When there is lack of reverence and fear for God, there is lack of reverence and fear for his word. When God speaks, it is almost always instructional or didactic in nature, so that listeners would learn. Hence, preaching must be instructional. Also, it must be forceful for listeners to apply. That means such preaching is persuasive with strong and sound arguments. The nature of preaching is such that it is liken to “standing between” God and people, to declare the word of the Lord (v. 5). The type of reverence and fear is liken to what is described in verse 24: “God speaks with man, yet he lives.” Such preaching declares God’s glory and his greatness. Such preaching makes much about God, his glory, and his greatness!
God’s commands are not grievous, nor are they burdensome. His commands always include purpose and benefits: “Now this is the commandment…that you might do them” (v. 1)… “so that you and your son… might fear the LORD” (v. 2)… “that it may be well with you…” (v. 3). As before, God’s commands are always based on who he is and what he did (e.g., vv. 4-9).
One interesting note: Yahweh reminds what the people did not do, in contrast to what Yahweh did (vv. 10-15). All that to say, the people have nothing to boast of, but that Yahweh alone receives the glory and that he should be feared. In fact, fearing God is one of the central themes in the chapter (vv. 2, 13, 24).
The first half of the chapter reads like Ephesians 1. It is primarily theocentric, not only in terms of who he is and what he did, but also soteriology focused. The text clearly states that salvation is not based on what people did (obviously the previous chapter already established they have nothing to boast – e.g., 6:10-15), but who and what God did, namely God sovereignly chose them (v. 6), not because they are great in number (v. 7), but because of his sovereign election (vv. 6, 8). Hence, as a result of this grace and truth, the recipients of God’s redeeming covenant must keep his commands (v. 11). That is to say, sanctification is evidence that redeeming grace (justification) has occurred. Hence, both justification and sanctification go together.
If the previous chapter reads like Ephesians 1 or soteriology, then this chapter reads like sanctification or living as the recipients of God’s sovereign grace. First, all commands are for his redeemed people to do (v. 1a) so that they may live (v. 1b). Second, testings in life are given and God-ordained means to humble his people (v. 2). Third, trials/testings reveal what’s in the heart of man (v. 2). Fourth, so that man would ultimately live by God’s word than mere physical things. Fifth, sanctification requires obedience and reverence (v. 6). Six, giving back to God is part of sanctification, which reveals justification took place (v. 10).
And then the second half of the chapter exhorts the redeemed community not to forget who God is and what he did (v. 11), which implies that people do forget. In fact, the text explicitly states so (vv. 11-19). It is better to receive little and live God-dependent than to have much and be self-sufficient and independent from God, which many are prone to do. The warning is also especially to the have’s and well-off folks. Although this is written so long ago, it speaks as if it was written today!