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In the Gates

Hear the Word of the Lord

The Worldview of God’s Law: Spiritual Discipline (2)

Active engagement with spiritual disciplines begins with the Word of God.


Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law…” Deuteronomy 31.12

The disciplining of our souls, outlined in the Law of God, begins with our learning to fear and love Him in our hearts. We must actively pursue the nurture of these affections, for everything about our covenant relationship with God depends on them. The Lord teaches us that the proper way to nurture fear of Him – the starting-point, as we have seen, for loving Him – is in hearing His Word as often as we can.

Every seven years God called the people to assemble as one, during the Feast of Booths. At that time they were to hear the entire reading of the Law of God. Whether this was all the Torah or just the Book of Deuteronomy is not clear. Certainly this reading entailed more than just the Ten Commandments. We must remember that copies of the Law in writing were not available to all the people. Undoubtedly, scrolls had been made for each community, for the elders, priests, and Levites to use in carrying out their duties. But it is not likely that complete copies of the Law were the possession of every home, as is common in our day.

Assembling to hear reading of the Law every seven years would at least make sure that all the counsel of God was proclaimed in the hearing of all His people, to renew them in the knowledge of the Lord and to remind them of their covenant duties toward Him. However, since parents, as we know, were expected to speak of the Law to their children, and elders and judges discussed the Law in the open air of the city gates, there must have been present in Israel, to some extent, copies of at least the Ten Commandments, if not more, for people to read, ponder, and hear discussed, taught, and proclaimed.

The people of God must not neglect the hearing of His Word. To the fullest extent available to us, we must turn to the Law, and to the Prophets, Writings, Gospels, Acts, Epistles, and Apocalypse, so that we may grow in fearing and loving the Lord and understanding our calling and duties as His people. A life of active spiritual disciplines begins in hearing the Lord in His Word. Without this we cannot expect to make progress in the life of faith, in knowing the Lord and laying hold on His promises.

For a more complete exposition of the promises of God, order a copy of T. M.’s book, I Will Be Your God, from our online store. How do Jesus and the Law relate? To learn more about the disciplines related to God’s Word, read T. M.’s article, “Hearing? Or Listening?”

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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