Motivated by Love | EIKEV – WEEK 45
By Teri Furr
Eikev [And if you] obey [these rules]
And if you do obey these rules and observe them carefully, the Eternal your God will maintain faithfully for you the covenant made on oath with your fathers.
The commandments are the central theme of the book of Deuteronomy, especially as it relates to our capitulation of them. Throughout the book, we are faced with the question of what our core motivation should be in observing the precepts of God. Do we adhere to them in order to get a reward … or to avoid punishment … or out of love for God?
The Shema (the prayer and creed of Judaism) offers us a treasure of wisdom for answering these questions. It is composed of two parts: “Shema Yisrael” (found in Deuteronomy 6) and “V’haya Im Shamoa” (which appears in Deuteronomy 11 and is contained in our portion this week). These two important passages appear in every mezuzah, in all tefillin, and in every morning prayer offered by religious Jews. They reveal to us that both reward and punishment are tied to our response to the commandments. They also reveal that loving God should be our priority.
The first part of the prayer, Shema Yisrael, speaks of the singularity of God, and of the love of God, and of the necessity for the people of God to pass on the teachings of the Torah to the next generation. But above all, it is an invitation to behold the beauty of God as well a call to love Him preeminently.
The second part (found in our portion) is a little more onerous to digest. This section makes it clear that there are consequences to both our obedience and our disobedience. It can be summarized this way—
If you follow my commandments, things will be well with you …
You will have rain for your fields, you will have grass for your cattle, you will eat and be satisfied, and you will prosper.
However, if you are unfaithful to my ways … my anger will be against you.
You will have no rain, you will not yield produce, and you will quickly perish from the land.
So … was Moses calling them to works? Or was he calling them to love?
The people of God were being prepared for a new land in their place of promise. Moses was instructing them that their new society (the Promised Land) must be built on goodness. Moses understood obedience must be contained in the foundation of this new country, and he also understood this would prevent them from collapsing it by their own cruelty. This is clearly stated in our portion, but it is crucial that we consider it in the context of the first part of the Shema (which is a call to the heart)—
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.
Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
While reward is connected to obedience (and punishment is connected to disobedience), our love for God must be paramount. The verses above describe the response of the ‘Lovesick Bride’ to the commandments of the Bridegroom King. Jesus is returning for a people who carry God’s desires on their hearts—talking about them day and night and making them their identity wherever they go. His desire is for a holy people and it is His delight to bring us to our reward. But the reward alone is not the object of our desire. When we are wholehearted in our love for God, He becomes the object of our desire.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Our journey of obedience is a paradox. God expects us to meet His requirements, but He desires for love to be our impetus. The reward of our submission will be most fully enjoyed in the presence of God. This is why every righteous act yields treasure stored for us in heaven. We will only be fully satisfied when we are able to experience our reward in the presence of the ONE we labored in love for (and we will experience that when we are with Him in heaven).
Psalm 46:10 says, “Cease striving and know that I am God.” The Lord is not looking for us to toil (in our own strength) to perfectly follow the law. He wants us to know Him in the fullness of His splendor. To know Him is to love Him, and the result of that love will always be obedience. Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will obey my commandments.”
In conclusion, let’s recall one of the most well known phrases from Eikev (and from the book of Deuteronomy as a whole), and connect it to these ideas. It is found in 8:3—“A human being does not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” Jesus quoted this verse when being tempted in the wilderness (in Matthew 4). The devil requested that Jesus turn the stones to bread (as a validation of His position with God). Yet, Jesus’ core motivation was not an external display of the power of God—instead it was His love for the Father and the words that proceed from His mouth. Our God is wholehearted in His love for us, and He deserves a people who are wholehearted in our love for Him. May we walk in accordance to His will, motivated by that place of love in our hearts and in our souls and with all of our strength.
Click HERE to be directed to our Portions Podcast.
About the Author
Teri Furr is a wife, mom, and minister of the gospel. She is an executive pastor at The Refuge church and has been traveling, preaching, and teaching for over 20 years as a part of the great duet for her life (King Solomon wrote over 1,000 songs, but the one he called the ‘Song Of All Songs’ was a duet between the Bridegroom King and His beloved). She believes the Lord’s favorite song is the one that we join in with Him to release a sound into the earth. You can learn more about her ministry on www.TeriFurr.com
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