Read This Week’s Passage: Deuteronomy 5:1–15
Love Is the Foundation
After reviewing the history of Israel’s relationship with God and all that He has done for them in the past, Moses moves to the next section of the covenant. God has saved the people, and as a result of them giving their hearts to Him, He will cause them to follow in His ways. The Decalogue is a delineation of what that will look like in their lives. Interestingly, the Hebrew of these Ten Words (never called “commandments” in the Old Testament) are grammatically not commands. While they could be construed as categorical moral imperatives, they do not have the imperative form, but instead a form in Hebrew that can imply certain promises for what will happen in the future. So, rather than “you must do this,” the phrasing is more like, “[I promise] you shall do this,” because I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt (v. 6). God saves the people and gains their heart trust, and as a result, they will naturally want to follow Him.
If you love someone, this leads you to naturally change your behavior to bring them joy and pleasure. For instance, you may now enjoy rock climbing even though you hadn’t done it before, because it makes them happy when you go together. Or perhaps you are much more organized now than you used to be, because it helps your partner to be less stressed. Hopefully, you did not make these changes because you had to but because you love the person and want to make them happy. They likely have made similar changes in their lives because of their love for you. Deuteronomy 5 portrays a similar picture of love as the foundation, which leads to obedience out of gratitude for salvation. This covenant structure is key to understanding God’s character and desires for us.
The people, however, were afraid to meet with God, because they did not yet understand His love and grace toward them.