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In the Gates

Study to Learn

Learn the Law, lay hold on the promises.

The Rule of Law: First Things (24)

Click here to watch a brief video introducing this week’s study. This week’s video is the same as for lesson 2.

“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.” 
Deuteronomy 6.6-8

For the people of God to know the Lord and long for His promises, as He desired for them, they must apply themselves diligently to learning the Law of God. The Law marks the pathway into the promises of God. Thus, the better God’s people knew the Law, the more they could expect to dwell in all His precious and magnificent promises.

The Law was to become like frontlets before their eyes, a constant presence to guide all their thinking and actions. Parents were to teach the Law “diligently” to their children. The Law was to be topic and framework for all the conversations of the people. I doubt God intended the people to actually place Scripture verses on their foreheads somehow; rather, His intention appears to be that they should always have the Law before their minds and in their paths.

God also intended that His people should learn the Law by watching as it was put to use. By instructing the elders and judges of each community to meet in the gates of the city, God ensured that people could listen in on their deliberations and follow their conversations as they sought to determine the proper application of His Law to particular situations (cf. Ruth 4).

Every seven years all the people were to be assembled in order to hear the reading of the Law of God in its entirety (Deut. 31.9-13). Since there would be few written copies of the Law available, this was a way of ensuring that all the people were instructed in all the Law (perhaps just the book of Deuteronomy), at least once every seven years. Parents, Levites, and priests, teaching at the local level, might also be reminded during these readings of areas where their own instruction of the people in their charge might need some shoring-up or balance.

God was determined that His Law, in all its complex details, should be embedded in the minds of His people, for  by this Law they would know Him, be reminded of His promises, and receive the instruction they required in order to love God and their neighbors as He intended. Once settled in the land, the people would be reminded of the high and central significance of the Law of God by observing their king as he wrote out his own copy of the Law, read from it daily, and ruled by it assiduously (Deut.17.18-20).

The Law of God thus comprised a body of instruction, a curriculum for covenant life, in which all the people of God were to be instructed. Holiness, righteousness, goodness, justice, and love would obtain in Israel as long as the people knew their God, sought His promises, and walked in His ways.

Imprinting the Law of God on their minds was crucial to realizing each of these objectives. It remains so for us today (cf. Rom. 8.5-9).

T. M. Moore

The Law of God is the soil which, fertilized by the rest of God’s Word and watered by His Spirit, brings forth the fruit of the Christian life. If you’d like to understand this process better, and how to make best use of the Law in your walk with and work for the Lord, order the book, The Ground for Christian Ethics, from our online store.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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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