Deuteronomy 5:29

“O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!”

The book of Deuteronomy is a recounting by Moses of the things that happened to the Israelites, and what they were taught and commanded by the LORD, from when they left Egypt until their arrival at the Promised Land. Moses was not going to go with them over Jordan, his death is told at the end of the book. So, he takes up this historical review; Moses’ last testament to them of God’s glorious works on their behalf.

In Deuteronomy 5 Moses reviews with them the awe-inspiring day, first recorded in Exodus 19 and 20, when the Israelites saw God, and heard His voice. It was at Mount Horeb when the LORD spoke to them the Ten Commandments. Moses repeated those commandments in Deuteronomy 5, and then went on to relate something else that happened that day.

Exodus 20 tells that afterward the Israelites asked Moses that they be kept from hearing and seeing God. The sight was so terrible that they knew they couldn’t bear to hear His voice any more. They wanted Moses to talk with the LORD, and then tell them what He said. They promised to do whatever the LORD commanded them to do. In Deuteronomy 5 Moses tells of his conversation with the LORD concerning that request.

In the verse prior to the one above, the LORD commends the people for their request. And then came verse 29. There is something in this verse that is not seen in too many other places in God’s Word. It is as if you can hear the LORD’s heart, “O that there were such an heart in them…” They had promised that they would obey Him, but He knew better. He spoke of what He wanted for His people, Israel, “…that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always…” even knowing that they would turn their back on Him. Not long after, they were worshipping a golden calf, directly violating the very first commandment they ever heard God speak. “O that there were such an heart in them…” This was not a desperate lament. God was not wringing His hands and wondering what He would do next. He wasn’t at a loss. In fact, He had a plan that was in place even before He created the earth.

In 2 Samuel 14 an interesting story is told. King David was estranged from his son Absalom because Absalom tried to take the kingdom from his father. Through a series of events a woman went to King David to appeal for Absalom. She said to David, in part, “For we must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again; neither doth God respect any person: yet doth he devise means, that his banished be not expelled from him.” Her point was that God does not favor one person over another, yet He put in place a plan by which (as the Hebrew expresses it) those that are cast out of His presence are not cast out of His presence. She encouraged David to do the same.

This incredible insight concerning God goes with God’s words in Deuteronomy 5. It tells of a plan devised by God to fulfill His desire for His people. Though Israel, and, in fact, all of mankind, turned their back on God, and were thus banished from His presence, yet He devised a way for all of us to be accepted in His presence, through the sacrifice of the LORD Jesus Christ. He reconciled mankind with God. Jesus executed the plan by which sinners are allowed into God’s presence. Those who take His sacrifice for themselves are declared righteous before God, and though at one point were banished from His presence because of their sin, they are not expelled from Him forever. And, thereby have a heart to fear God and obey His commandments always.

Romans 8:3,4 puts it this way, “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and the working of the Spirit in a believer’s life, God’s heart cry in Deuteronomy 5 is fulfilled in us. Our hearts are right with Him, we fear Him, we obey His law, and we will be eternally well.

I saw the cross of Jesus,
When burdened with my sin;
I sought the cross of Jesus
To give me peace within;
I brought my sins to Jesus,
He cleansed me by His blood;
And in the cross of Jesus
I found my peace with God.

I love the cross of Jesus,
It tells me what I am—
A vile and guilty creature
Saved only thro’ the Lamb;
No righteousness or merit,
No beauty can I plead;
Yet in the cross of Jesus
My title there I read.

I clasp the cross of Jesus
In every trying hour,
My sure and certain refuge,
My never failing tower;
In every fear and conflict,
I more than conqu’ror am;
Living, I’m safe—or dying—
Thro’ Christ the risen Lamb. (George Mueller)

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