What Does God Require?
Dr. Joe Temple


Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 10. You will recall that in our last lesson, we went through verse 11 of chapter 10. We said that for this lesson, we would begin with verse 12 and continue through the last verse of chapter 11.

Before we get into our lesson, I think it would be wise for us to keep in mind exactly where we are in the book of Deuteronomy. This will be a review upon a review, but the Word of God tells us that the way we should teach the Word, the way God teaches, is line upon line and precept upon precept, so you will remember that the book of Deuteronomy is composed of three discourses which Moses delivered over a period of forty days while the children of Israel were camped outside the land of Canaan. In addition to the three discourses, there is one blessing which Moses pronounced for all of the people, and there was one obituary, which was his own. When we come to that, we will find that very interesting because not too many people write their own obituaries before they die, even to tell how they are going to be buried. They might tell how they want to be, but he told how he would be, and that will be interesting when we get to it.

The first discourse was presented to us in Deuteronomy, chapters 1-4, and we have already looked at that discourse. The second discourse we found is discussed for us in chapters 5-26, so we are right in the midst of this second discourse. We said that this second discourse was divided into three parts. Chapters 5-11 describe the moral law. We are more familiar with the moral law by the title the Ten Commandments . Chapters 5-11 represent Moses repeating the Ten Commandments, amplifying them, exhorting the people to obey them.

When we get into chapter 12, we will go all the way through to chapter 17, and we will discover that Moses is dealing with the ceremonial law, things that were related to cleanliness and uncleanliness as far as religion was concerned. Then we will begin with chapter 18 and go through chapter 26 and we will study what Moses had to say about the judicial law. So you see, this second speech which Moses made began with chapter 5 and went all the way through chapter 26. If you have been assimilating what I have said up to this point, you know that because I have asked you to turn to Deuteronomy, chapter 10, verse 12, we have come to the end of the first part of this second discourse.

You will remember that in chapters 5-6, Moses gave us the Ten Commandments—that is, he repeated them. God gave them to him as it is recorded in Exodus, chapter 20. He gave them to him on top of Mt. Sinai, so he repeated them here. He didn't change any of them because the moral law never changes. It is the same whether it is the first century or the twenty-first century. That is a good thing to keep in mind when you are hearing and reading so much about making the church relevant to the twenty-first century. The church doesn't need to be made relevant. The Word of God is the inspired Word of God, and it doesn't change. The moral law doesn't change, so in chapters 5-6, he emphasized the importance of keeping the law. Then in chapters 7-10:11, he talked to us about all of the problems which the Israelites would face in keeping the law, the way the Devil would try to prevent them from doing what God wanted them to do.

So when we come to this portion of the Word, we are getting back on the main track, so to speak, and that is indicated to us by the two words of verse 12. You will notice the first two words: “And now…” These words, when Moses uses them, indicates that he is drawing his immediate theme of discussion to a close. Whenever I look at these words, I am always reminded of the word finally which the Apostle Paul uses. You are familiar with Paul's epistles—his Ephesian letter, for example. When he was ready to wind up a certain line of thought, he would say, “Finally brethren.” In his letter to the Philippians, he said, “Finally brethren, rejoice…” That is exactly what Moses is doing here. He is saying, “And now..” What is he going to say? Let's look at verse 12:

Deuteronomy 10:

12And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul,

God's Expectations in Light of the Word

This verse introduces the theme of this portion at which we are going to look. Get the picture. Moses said, “I have given you the law. I have told you what it meant. I told you all about the things that will hinder your keeping the law, and now, what does God expect of you in the light of what I have told you?”

I have emphasized repeatedly in our study of the Old Testament that we are not interested in accumulating historical information. That will not be of any great value to us. We are studying the Old Testament in the light of I Corinthians, chapter 10: “These things were written as examples, as lessons, for you…” So what Moses said to the Israelites, in relation to the Ten Commandments: “What does God require of you?”, God is saying to us on a much broader scale, “What does God require of you in the light of the Word of God which you know?” That is what I want us to consider together: What does God require of you in the light of the Word of God, which you know?”

You will notice how I am saying that—“which you know”—because everybody has not had the same opportunity for the study of the Word of God. Everybody doesn't have the same access to the Word of God, and God holds us responsible only for that which we know or (notice this carefully) that which we ought to know. You see, there are some people just too lazy to find out what God wants. God is going to hold us responsible for that. But if there is somebody, and we usually think of folk in heathen countries—although I don't think we need to go outside the boundaries of America to make this statement true—and say, “Well, they never had a chance to know.” God takes that into consideration. So I want you to face the question individually: What does God require of you in the light of the Word of God to which you have had access?

Wholehearted Obedience Required

We are going to notice what He required of the Israelites and as we notice what He required of the Israelites, we will have an opportunity of seeing what He requires of us. So the first thing I want to suggest to you is that God required of the Israelites wholehearted obedience to His Word. Did you notice what I am saying? Not just obedience to His Word, but wholehearted obedience to His Word. Let's look through this section and see some of the reasons I say this. Notice again verse 12:

Deuteronomy 10:

12And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk notice in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul,

Notice the emphasis upon the wholeheartedness of this. First, you are to walk in all His ways—not just choose a particular area of truth and emphasize that, but walk in all the truth that is presented. Sometimes when we are studying God's Word, the Holy Spirit will reveal a certain truth, and it will make us uncomfortable. From any number of standpoints, we might have to revamp our way of living if we accept that truth. Or we might even have to restate our position—that is, we might have to say, “Well, you know I have always thought that was true, but I discovered this is true and so I have got to change my position.” That makes us uncomfortable, so what do we do? We just sort of push that into the backs of our minds. We just sort of ignore it. Or maybe we say, as some folk have said, “That is just your interpretation. There are a lot of interpretations. I don't have to accept yours if I don't want to.”

Actually, there are not a lot of interpretations. Scripture should be interpreted with Scripture and when you have interpreted the Word of God with the Word of God, in the Word of God, by the Word of God, there is only one interpretation. God said, through Moses, to the Israelites, “I want you to walk in all the ways”—wholehearted obedience. Then He said, “…with all thy heart and with all thy soul…”

The heart and the soul are difficult of interpretation because of the way we think about things. For example, we see the word heart and we automatically think about the pump that pumps the blood through our system. We are learning in our day that really that is not so important after all. They can take a heart from somebody else and put it into your body. The perfect thing by and by will be a mechanical heart which they are working on, which, if the Lord tarries, they will be able to cut you open and stick it into you like they put a new carburator in a car. You need to keep in mind that this word heart is not talking about the physical pump; it is talking about your whole emotional being. With all of your emotions, you are to serve the Lord. The word soul here could better be interpreted in the light of the word mind —not the brain, because they can even put certain electrical impulses that can signal the various members of your body to do certain things like your brain does. Oh, I don't mean they can put something into you to make you think, but you have had enough training to know that your brain sends impulses to the various members of your body and you react accordingly, so we are not talking about this instrument in our heads, in our craniums; we are thinking about the intellect, the thinking part of you. You see, not too many people have given any real thought to their obligations to God, but God said, “I want you to serve Me in everything I say in the Word of God with your whole emotional being and with all of your mental processes.”

Then, if you will look down at verse 20, he says:

Deuteronomy 10:

20Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name.

He doesn't want you to be—and I am going to use a phrase that theologians will quibble over, but it gets the point across—too far out of fellowship. The reason theologians will quibble over that is, you are either in fellowship or you are not in fellowship. But we know certain phrases that convey certain thoughts. We speak about people being close to God and far away from God. Technically, that isn't true. You are either cleaving to Him or you are not cleaving to Him, but the thought of this verse is that this obedience is to be so wholehearted that you cleave to the Lord. Did you notice in verse 20, “You swear by His name.” No, this isn't teaching you to use profanity, but it is indicating to you that He is so real that you swear by His very name.

The other day someone said something to me about someone, and I said, “I know you are mistaken about that. I would be willing to stake my life that what you are saying is not true. I know that person too well, I would be willing to stake my life that what you are saying is not true.” I meant that. Well, that is the thought of the verse here. God is so real to you. You are so absorbed in Him and with Him that He is the Person to whom you plea. He is the Person by whom you swear. Look down at verse 21.

Deuteronomy 10:

21He is thy praise, and he is thy God…

I would not want to suggest that you develop the habit that some people have developed of just using the phrase, “Praise the Lord,” in an empty fashion. You know, some folk praise the Lord thoughtlessly. They just think that it is expected of them, so it is, “Praise the Lord this,” and “Praise the Lord that.” I wouldn't suggest that to you, but I would suggest to you, that God be so much the center of your entire being that what the Scripture says here will be true: “He is thy praise.”

Look down at chapter 11, verse 1:

Deuteronomy 11:

1Therefore thou shalt love the Lord thy God, and keep his charge, and his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments,

Are you getting these alls ? You obey all His ways with all your soul, with all your mind, with all your heart, with all of you and you do it all the time, always.

Look down at verse 13:

Deuteronomy 11:

13And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the Lord your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul,

Deuteronomy 11:

22For if ye shall diligently keep allthese commandments which I command you, to do them, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, and to cleave unto him;

Do you see how much he is repeating it, how often he is saying it again? What is it God wants? He wants your wholehearted obedience to the truth. What did we begin this discussion with? The question is: “In the light of the Word of God you have received, what does God require of you?” The answer is: “Your wholehearted obedience to the truth.”

Reasons for Demanding Obedience

We are children of God if we know the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, and you know what our children sometimes do when we say to them, “I want you to do something.” Of course, it all depends on who it is and where it is, and sometimes the question comes, “Why do you want me to do that?” I think if your children are trained the way they ought to be, they won't question your decisions about things, but decisions are questioned. Sometimes children will say to their parents, “What right do you have to tell me to do that?” Sometimes when they don't say it, they may think it. “What right do you have to tell me that?” That is the question we are going to answer next because men do say, “Why should God expect me to give Him wholehearted obedience? What right does He have to expect me to give Him wholehearted obedience?” The Israelites asked that. So God gives them the answer, and we want to notice some of the things that God gives as reasons that God has a right to demand wholehearted obedience to His revealed will. Go back to chapter 10, and notice verse 14:

Deuteronomy 10:

14Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord's thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is.

Why does God have a right to require wholehearted obedience from you, from me? This verse of Scripture tells us that He does by virtue of His sovereignty. He is sovereign God. What does this verse of Scripture say? It says that He owns the heavens. That is where all the stars are. He owns the heaven above the heavens. That is where His throne is. He owns the earth and everything that is in the earth. You belong to Him. That is the reason He has the right to tell you what to do.

The Apostle Paul takes the same truth and amplifies it beautifully in his letter to the Corinthians. You remember what he said in chapter 6, verses 19-20?

I Corinthians 6:

19What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
20For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

That is the answer. What right does God have to tell us to do what He wants us to do? He has a sovereign right in that we belong to Him by virtue of creation and by virtue of redemption. That is all we are going to take time to say about that because we must hurry on to these other things, but you meditate on that this week and see what it means to you when you get a real glimpse of God's ownership of you. You will stop questioning a lot of things when you realize He has a right to do with you as He will.

There is another reason He demanded this of Israel. Look down at Deuteronomy, chapter 10, verse 15, where we read:

Deuteronomy 10:

15Only the Lord had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day.

This is not a happy translation because it doesn't get the point of the original text like it should. The way it should read is: “The Lord had a delight only in your fathers…” Then he explained what he meant about that: “…above all the people on the earth.” Of course, we have already learned when God chose Israel as a source through whom He was going to work, He did not choose them because they were better than anybody else; He chose them because of His love, His mercy, and His grace.

What God did for Israel He has done for you. If you are a believer, you are a born-again person and God has chosen you and singly blessed you above many, many people. So the reason God has the right to tell you what to do is because He is sovereign and He has blessed you so tremendously. You owe Him something. You ought to serve Him out of the gratitude of your heart if for no other reason.

Let's notice in verse 21 what He said to Israel:

Deuteronomy 10:

21He is thy praise, and he is thy God, that hath done for thee these great and terrible things, which thine eyes have seen.
22Thy fathers went down into Egypt with threescore and ten persons; and now the Lord thy God hath made thee as the stars of heaven for multitude.

Do you get the picture? When they went down into Egypt, there were seventy of them. As He has brought them out of Egypt, through the wilderness and onto the very doorstep of the Promised Land, instead of seventy, there were millions. He described them, “as many as the stars in the heaven.” It is not important for us to know the exact number. The idea is that God did abundantly above all that anybody could possibly imagine, and God said to Israel, “You want to know why I demand these things of you. Look how I have blessed you.” He says the same thing to us. “You want to know why I want your wholehearted obedience? After all, look what I have done for you.” Is there anybody who could complain of God's treatment of them? Is there anybody who would dare to say that God has not been good to them?

There is another reason God demanded obedience. Look at verse 17:

Deuteronomy 10:

17For the Lord your God is God of Gods, and Lord of Lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward:
18He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment.
19Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.

The third suggestion I would make is that God demands this obedience because of His strength, His sovereignty, His special blessing. Sometimes children might tend to see whether their parents mean what they say. If father says to son, “Now, I want you to do that,” he might try his wings, so to speak, and say, “Do you think you are big enough to make me?” Well, if the father backs down then, the battle is lost. I say this reverently, but it is true: There are some of God's children who want to try their wings and God says something to them about what He wishes them to do and they say to God, either by their actions or by their words, “Do you think you are big enough to make me do that, God?” That is a dangerous thing to do, but some people do it. It takes its form in rebellion. When you see people going opposite to what they know God wants them to do, it is their way of saying to God, “Do You think You are big enough to make me do it?”

God manifests His strength in these two passages of Scripture in two ways. It is manifested in verse 17 in His might: “For the Lord your God is God of Gods, a mighty and a terrible…” That means He has real strength. He can do it. Puny little man that you are, He could take His finger, figuratively speaking, from off your heart for one fraction of a second and you would go crashing out into eternity. Who do you think you are? God is strong enough, but I like what is suggested in verse 18. He shows His strength not only in relation to His might, but in relation to His love. Did you notice what He said in verse 18? Notice:

Deuteronomy 10:

18He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment.

The orphans and the widows—they always have a hard time, but they had a particularly hard time in Old Testament days. What do we read here? God takes care of them. He proves His might by doing it, and He loves the stranger. By virtue of the fact that He loves the stranger, you and I should love the stranger as well and follow the example God has set for us.

God's Right from Man's Standpoint

We have been looking at the question of why God requires us to give Him wholehearted obedience. We have been looking at the answer to that question from God's standpoint. God has a sovereign right to. He has especially blessed us and He has the strength to back up His demands, but let's look at it for a moment from man's standpoint. Why does God have a right to require this obedience from Israel from us?

Look at chapter 11, verse 2:

Deuteronomy 11:

2And know ye this day: for I speak not with your children which have not known, and which have not seen the chastisement of the Lord your God, his greatness, his mighty hand, and his stretched out arm,

Now, notice down in verse 7:

Deuteronomy 11:

7But your eyes have seen all the great acts of the Lord which he did.

Between those two verses, He describes all these things. You see what God is saying to Israel through Moses. He said to the people who were standing on the borders of the Promised Land ready to go in, “Now, what I am demanding, I am demanding of you people who know. I am not talking about your children. Your children didn't see what you saw. Your children don't know what you know, and I am making these demands upon you because of the knowledge you have.” That is the reason I said to you a bit earlier that God makes His demands on the basis of the knowledge that is ours.

I hope you won't misunderstand what I am about to say. I have to say this because I believe it. If it were not true, then I am at fault, but I believe that people who fellowship regularly at Abilene Bible Church should know more of the Word of God than people who fellowship anywhere else in this area. That may sound like I am bragging. I don't mean it that way. What I mean is this: This place has been dedicated to the ministry of God's Word, and I have dedicated my life to teaching the Word of God verse by verse and chapter by chapter. People who fellowship here regularly ought to know more of the Word of God than people who attend a church where the preacher takes a text and departs from it. I don't mean any of this critically. I am making a point. I say to you that God expects more of the people who fellowship here at Abilene Bible Church than He does of people in other places because the knowledge of the Word of God is presented and God says to you, “I am not talking about this man who lives out here at Podunk who never hears the Word of God. I am talking about you who sit in Abilene Bible Church Sunday after Sunday.”

Knowledge brings responsibility and that is why I carry a burden for my own ministry here and I carry a burden for you. God is going to hold you responsible not only for what you know, but for what you have had an opportunity to know. That is the reason it concerns me when I see people disinterested in a service. I am not concerned because they are not listening to me. Who am I? I am concerned about the fact that one day believers are going to have to give an account to God for what they should have known.

Let me draw an imaginary picture for you. Suppose that you were to stand before the judgment seat of Christ where you are going to give an account for the deeds done in the body whether they be good or bad. You see, many folk think that the judgment seat of Christ is just a grand and glorious Christmas tree where God is going to reach up and grab a present off the tree and say, “Here, don't you want this?” It is not going to be like that. Thank God there is encouragement in the Word for us to believe and to know that every man shall receive praise of God. I am glad for that. But the same Scripture emphasizes that our works are going to be judged. If they are of wood and hay and stubble, they will be devoured by the fire; and if they are gold and silver and precious stones, they will be preserved.

In this imaginary picture, suppose you were standing before the judgment seat of Christ and God said, “Jimmy, I would like to know why you didn't do this particular thing? Why didn't you pursue that? If you had pursued that, your reward would have been so great. Why didn't you pursue that?” Jimmy might say, “I'm sorry, God. I didn't know anything about that.” Oh, you didn't know anything about that?” “No, I didn't know anything about that, God. I didn't know I was supposed to do that.” “Let me see. I believe that on such and such a night Joe Temple, in Abilene Bible Church, preached along that line. He didn't do a very good job of it, but nevertheless enough of the truth got through. Weren't you there that night? I believe you were.” Jimmy might say, “Well, yes God, I was there.” “Well, why do you tell Me that you don't know?” What do you think Jimmy is going to have to do? He can't lie to God, you know. All lying is done by that time. All the four-flushing is over. You don't try to fool anybody then. You know what Jimmy is going to have to do? He is going to have to say, “Well God, I am just going to have to be truthful with You. He wasn't making it very interesting and so I just got to counting the boards in the top of the ceiling and I didn't hear what he said.” Then God is going to say, “He might ought to have made it more interesting, and I will have to deal with him about that, but I have to deal with you right now because you had the opportunity to get it and you didn't get it.”

That is the reason I don't like to see children sit on the back row of any auditorium. There is too much temptation for them not to listen, and they form a habit of not listening and then when they get old enough to where they really can grasp something, they can't listen. They haven't developed the right kind of habit. This is not going to cost you anything extra. I am just going to throw this in. That is the reason that I think parents ought to know where their children are in the auditorium, sancuary, chapel—whatever you want to call it. It is not enough to just know that they are in church. You need to know where they are. You need to know whether they are sitting on the back row punching each other in the ribs and slapping each other over the head. You ought to know whether you are seeing the same thing I see from the pulpit sometimes when children are not sitting with their parents.

Once again, whether they are listening to the preacher or not is beside the point. The point is what it is doing to them. That is what is so serious. I haven't gotten off the subject because, you see, what I am talking about is that you and I are going to be held responsible not only for what we know, but for what we have the opportunity of knowing; and as long as we have the responsible of our children, we need to be sure that they are not just being exposed to it, but that they are getting it, too.

Obedience is Channel Through Which God Blesses

Look at verse 13. From man's standpoint, why does God require this obedience? Because of their knowledge. If you will look down at verse 13, you will notice another reason, and that is in order that God may continue to bless them. A while ago I said that God demanded this obedience and had a right to because He had blessed them so especially, but now God demands this obedience because obedience is the channel through which God is able to bless. Sometimes we forget that, you know. Sometimes we think, “Well I am a Christian, so I can do any old thing I want to do and I will still go to Heaven.” You may go to Heaven, but you may miss a whole lot on the way. You see, there is a big difference. You see, I am not interested in my salvation primarily because it is going to get me to Heaven. I know I am going to Heaven, but I am living better since I have been saved than I ever lived before right here on this earth. I don't want to miss anything here that God has for me, and so the importance of doing everything that God demands is that God might continue to bless. There is a lovely illustration here in the paragraph which begins with verse 13 in chapter 11:

Deuteronomy 11:

13And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the Lord your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul,
14That I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil.
15And I will send grass in thy fields for thy cattle, that thou mayest eat and be full.
16Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them;
17And then the Lord's wrath be kindled against you, shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit; and lest ye perish quickly from off the good land which the Lord giveth you.

He is saying, “If you obey me, if you give complete obedience to My Word, when you get inside the land, I will give you the rain when you need it. I will make it come in March when you need it, and I will make it come in August when you need it, and nothing can close the heavens. But if you don't do what I ask you to do, then there will be nothing left for Me but to shut up the heavens.” Why does God want your complete obedience? Because it is the only way of blessing.

Obedience Only Source of Strength

One other reason God wants obedience is that it is the only source of strength. Let me put it this way: You will be no stronger than your obedience to God. Let me suggest what I mean by that. Look at verse 8:

Deuteronomy 11:

8Therefore shall ye keep all the commandments which I command you this day, that ye may be strong, and go in and possess the land, whither ye go to possess it;
9And that ye may prolong your days in the land, which the Lord sware unto your fathers to give unto them and to their seed, a land that floweth with milk and honey.

Then look down at verse 21:

Deuteronomy 11:

21That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth.
22For if ye shall diligently keep all these commandments which I command you, to do them, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, and to cleave unto him;
23Then notice now will the Lord drive out all these nations from before you, and ye shall possess greater nations and mightier than yourselves.
24Every place whereon the soles of your feet shall tread shall be yours: from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates, even unto the uttermost sea that is, the Mediterranian Sea shall your coast be.
25There shall no man be able to stand before you: for the Lord your God shall lay the fear of you and the dread of you upon all the land that ye shall tread upon, as he hath said unto you.

What are these verses saying? “You obey Me. Give Me wholehearted obedience, and you will never know defeat. The strength will be there.”


I close with this parallel. Read, when you have time, I Corinthians, chapter 11, and you will be reminded that what was true in the Old Testament is true in the New, that when men disobey God, they are weak, they are sickly, and some even die.

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