Chapter five of Deuteronomy begins with a recitation of the Ten Commandments and then we read this: “These are the commandments the LORD proclaimed in a loud voice to your whole assembly there on the mountain from out of the fire, the cloud and the deep darkness; and he added nothing more.” (Deuteronomy 5:22)
If you have been following along in the reading plan, your response is probably “Yeah, right! Nothing more?!” Leviticus alone is chock full of laws and regulations on sacrifices, offerings, holy days, food, cleansing and purification just to name a few. But, to the Jews, all of those laws and regulations were just the practical outworking of how these Ten Commandments applied in their context. (The remainder of the book of Deuteronomy too will be an elaboration of the same.) While completely foreign to us, the Jews understood all these extra regulations as being each of the Ten played out in everyday life.
Jesus was doing the same thing Moses was doing when he said,
“’Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” — Matthew 22:37-40
Just as all the rules and regulations could be boiled down to the Ten Commandments; those same commandments could be boiled down to this greatest commandment by Jesus. And while there is beauty in such simplicity, it can be too simplistic if we try to use one phrase as the guiding mantra of our lives. Obviously God feels the same way, otherwise our Bible would be just the four verses cited above rather than the substantial book that it is.
So we, like the Jews, have been given God-inspired Scripture to better obey, follow and love God.
So we, like the Jews, have been given leaders and teachers anointed by God that we may sit under them as they unpack how that Scripture applies to our lives—and then model such a life for us.
So we, like the Jews, do not live out these Scripture-guided lives best in isolation but rather in a community of believers who can hold us accountable.
1. Do you think it would be easier to follow a Christian mantra like “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” rather than the whole instruction of the Bible? Why or why not? Why do you think God chose to communicate to us through the Bible rather than just a short, pithy saying?
2. Scripture, leadership and community all act as mirrors into our lives as to how well we are applying the word of God. Can you think of a time when each of these mirrors has shown you something in your life that you needed to change? Be as specific as possible.
3. The five books we have read for this challenge (ending in Deuteronomy) are the Jewish Law and Jesus said “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commands”. Can you think of any examples? Any points where you might disagree?