What does it say?

The second discourse of Deuteronomy begins as Moses restates the covenant made by God through him in Horeb, the Mosaic Covenant (Deu 5). What follows updates the Ten Commandments given to the new generation poised to enter the land. Moses put the Law in historical context (5:22-33) and challenges this generation to obedience.

Next is the explanation of the first commandment (Deu 6) and contains what is called the Shema (6:4-5), Israel’s core confession of that that is repeated twice daily by pious Jews to this day. Moses exhorts the people to remember these covenant principles, teach them to their children and obey them.

As a natural next step, Moses unpacks the second commandment (Deu 7). To prevent the temptations of idolatry, the people are to eradicate the land of the idolatrous tribes occupying it. Again, God promises to bless Israel above measure if they will obey him.  

What does it mean?

Getting lost in the details and circumstances of the Law is easy. But, as we are learning that the Bible is but one story, it is essential to focus on how the core truth is able to condense everything into a small package like the Shema.  This one confession of faith eliminates the option of multiple gods (polytheism) or believing in one god without denying the existence of other gods (henotheism). This is the basis for saying, as did Jesus and other rabbis, that all the Law can be summarized in one Great Commandment to love God with all heart, soul and might.

God’s promise of blessing is consistent, but idolatry keeps the promise from being realized. God is insistent that Israel keeps free from the idolatrous tendencies of the surrounding tribes. We are also blessed of God, but that blessing is often nullified in practice by our idolatrous tendencies. Idolatry is more than gods of wood, stone and precious metals. Idolatry is anything that we elevate in our lives to a position above God. That violates both the first and second commandments.

How will I respond?

Through the centuries the church has often formulated confessions of faith to summarize and remember the essential basics of the faith. How would I summarize the essentials of our mission? Here’s an example: Why do we exist? To glorify God. How do we behave? In a Christ-like manner. What do we do? We fulfill the Great Commission by living the Great Commandment? How will we succeed? By making disciples: intentionally sharing our faith in culturally relevant ways, grounding people in the scriptures and challenging them to engage in the mission by making disciples themselves.

What idols do I have in my life that I need to destroy today?