When reading through the “second law” that is Deuteronomy it becomes evident that God required that His people be distinctly different than other people. God’s call to holiness was not a mere state of mind rather the call was a call for action. The call of God for holiness meant that His people were to separate themselves from every aspect of life that would pull away from the standard God set down through his servant Moses. God did not want even the stench of other gods on His people so the requirement to serve Him and Him alone was a cry from God to His people to leave paganism, among other heretical teachings, alone for the godless.
One promise God consistently made to the Israelites was that if they kept His Word the adherents of His Word would enjoy long life. Deuteronomy 6:1-2 clearly shows this with the words, “Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the Lord your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it: That thou mightest fear the Lord thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged.” The commands of God indeed are multifaceted yet extremely simplistic in nature. God’s law requires absolute dedication to Him and that dedication becomes evident through worship. It is the worship of God by His people that separate the people of God from all others.
Deuteronomy 6:5 reads, “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” Note that this text is not a suggestion that the people of God love Him rather it is an absolute demand made clear with the words “thou shalt”. There are no choices provide in this context. The children of God are to love God without exception and that love is best shown in worship. While much can be said in respect to the term “worship” one cannot leave out the idea of exceptional devotion by the renunciation of anything that stands against that dedication. It is for this reason that God required the Israelites to have no other gods before Him (Deuteronomy 5:7). God knew that if His people worshipped and served false gods then it would be impossible for them to worship Him with whole hearts.
Taken a bit further, if one is dedicated to God by worshipping Him and Him alone the love for Him would become evident. This love means that nothing will become more important to God’s children than that love. Furthermore, this requirement is not simply because God seeks to thrive on the accolades of His subjects rather God sought and continues to seek “an enduring relationship, regularly renewed in successive generations. The covenant into which Israel had entered was not simply the legal acquiescence to a detailed contract, but rather a living relationship that required the loving commitment of both parties.” Because this is a mutual relationship it becomes evident that the dedication God requires of His people He wholly employs to the extent that God gave His Son so that none would have to perish by reason of sin (John 3:16).
With this worship becomes a way of life. Worship becomes an intricate part of the followers of God to the extent that there is no other mind but to love God. Deuteronomy 13:4 becomes not just words to the former people of God rather the words burn themselves on the hearts of those that truly love God. Those words, “Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him” present the ideal way to worship God. In obeying these simple words one is pulled from the false gods and is found in the arms of the true and living God. This practice of worship sets the stage for holiness.
Hebrews 12:14 shows holiness as being a prerequisite to seeing God. The holiness discussed in Hebrews is the same holiness God required in Deuteronomy. The juxtaposition of holiness and worship are not accidental in that the two work in conjunction one with the other. One cannot be holy while serving false gods nor can one worship false gods while serving the true and living God. The law dictated absolutely dedication. Grace requires unfailing love. Both lead to worship and holiness which leads to eternal life.
 Tremper Longman III and Raymond B. Dillard. An Introduction to the Old Testament. (Grand Rapids, Zondervan 2006), 114
5 thoughts on “Deuteronomy: Holiness Through Worship”
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Excellent. Biblical thinking leads to biblical behavior leads to holiness.
Yes it does. Thank you.
AMEN! We worship God out of reverence for Him and obedience to His commandments, with clean hands and a pure heart, which is pleasing to Him. \o/
Which is really what worship is; pleasing God.