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In the Gates

Right Attitudes

Abiding Principles from the Ceremonial Laws: Introduction (4)


Faithful keeping of the ceremonial laws is a matter of the heart.

And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and all your soul.” Deuteronomy 10.12

As careful as the Lord was to emphasize that obedience to His Law had to come from the heart, He knew that Israel did not have a heart for Him and that therefore their obedience would be, at best, perfunctory, if at all (Deut. 5.29). By the time of the Temple the people had come to believe that mere outward conformity to the institutions and means of covenant renewal was all God required. But, as God Himself made clear (Ps. 50, Is. 1), obedience must come from heart if is to be truly faithful and renewing before the Lord.

Thus God repeatedly emphasized the need make sure His people were right with Him in their hearts and minds. God requires fear, love, gratitude, wonder, hope, and rejoicing as the kind of heart attitudes that find favor with Him. The ceremonial laws – with their drama of sacrifice, death, revitalization, and glory – were meant to kindle those attitudes and to encourage the people to nurture them at all times.

God hates the offerings of His people that do not come from grateful hearts. Mere external conformity was never the intention in the giving of the ceremonial laws. The laws were simply a means for expressing what was on the hearts of the people, as well as for assisting them in cultivating and maintaining those attitudes through the normal course of their everyday lives. It is good for us today to be reminded that God looks on the heart, and that none of our activities or efforts, entered into in His Name, will be of any benefit unless the attitude of our heart is pleasing to Him.

We must love God from the heart before we seek to love Him with our lives. Works done in Jesus’ Name, be they ever so sacrificial, but that spring from anything other than fear and love for God, may be merely self-serving and, therefore, not pleasing to God at all. God does not want thousands of bulls; He seeks our obedience, from the heart.

Pastors, we’re getting ready to start the next season of The Pastors’ Fellowship. Write to me today at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for information about how you join in these online discussions. Our theme for the coming series is “The Worldview of God’s Law.” There is no charge for participation, but you must reserve a place for these monthly gatherings. Subscribe to Crosfigell, the devotional newsletter of The Fellowship of Ailbe.

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.
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