Skeptics, those looking for reasons to reject the Bible, often point to some strong words of God that appear in the Old Testament. The idea is that the God of the Old Testament was harsh, vindictive, and mean-spirited, especially in contrast to Jesus. This isn’t a new argument, but it´s as flawed now as it was when first promoted many centuries ago.
Over and over, the Old Testament presents the Lord as loving His ancient people Israel and wanting only what was best for them. And this love appears powerfully in the book of Deuteronomy.
Read Deuteronomy 10:1-15
. What is the immediate context of these verses, and what do they teach us about how God felt toward His people, even after their sin? What do they teach us, indeed, about grace?
God´s grace and love for Israel exudes from these texts. Notice, particularly, verses 12 and 13. They are really one long sentence, a question, and the question is simple: What am I, the Lord, asking you to do but the following ... walk in My ways, love Me, serve Me, and keep My statutes for your own good?
All through the Hebrew in this verse the words for “your”
are in singular. Though God certainly is speaking to the nation as a whole, what good will His words do if the people, each one individually, don´t obey them? The whole is only as good as the sum of the parts. The Lord was speaking one-to-one, individually, to Israel as a nation.
We can´t forget, either, the end of verse 13: keep these things letov lak, that is, “for your good.”
In other words, God is commanding the people to obey because it is in their best interest to do so. God made them, God sustains them, God knows what is best for them, and He wants what´s best for them. Obedience to His law, to His Ten Commandments, can work only to their benefit.
The law often has been compared to a hedge, a wall of protection, and by staying within that wall, His followers are protected from a raft of evils that otherwise would overtake and destroy them. In short, out of love for His people, God gave them His law, and obedience to His law would be “for your good.”