If I were reading through the Bible for the first time, this passage in Deuteronomy 4 would probably be my favorite passage up to this point:
5 Look, I have taught you statutes and ordinances as the Lord my God has commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to possess. 6 Carefully follow [them], for this will [show] your wisdom and understanding in the eyes of the peoples. When they hear about all these statutes, they will say, ‘This great nation is indeed a wise and understanding people.’ 7 For what great nation is there that has a god near to it as the Lord our God is [to us] whenever we call to Him? 8 And what great nation has righteous statutes and ordinances like this entire law I set before you today? 9 Only be on your guard and diligently watch yourselves, so that you don’t forget the things your eyes have seen and so that they don’t slip from your mind as long as you live. Teach them to your children and your grandchildren.
The Law is described here as a beautiful thing, something that displays the wisdom and understanding of God and His people to the nations in a way nothing else has or does. I don’t think I’ve ever quite read the Law described in this light. Taking this journey alongside the Israelites becomes especially fascinating when I can manage to forget the verses and texts typically associated with subjects such as the Law, immerse myself in the text, and simply experience on the canvas of my mind what I am reading in the Bible (or hearing, in my case). The truth that then emerges from this text is fantastic – the Law shows the wisdom and understanding of God to the nations. And if the Israelites follow God’s Law, it shows them to be wise and understanding in the eyes of the nations as well! When was the last time you heard the words ‘wise’ and ‘understanding’ associated with the Torah?
What makes me even more excited about this passage, though, is verse 7: For what great nation is there that has a god near to it as the Lord our God is [to us] whenever we call to Him? This verse shouts out, “how great is our God! He is close to us when we call on Him! He answers our prayers and is not far off but near!” Don’t forget that this is before the cross, before the veil was torn, before it was written that we can come boldly to the throne of grace. When God’s Law was still written on tablets of stone, these words were written, showing God to be a God unlike any other god on the earth. Now, this beautiful, righteous, perfect Law has been written on our hearts through the Holy Spirit. Now, God is showing His perfect wisdom and understanding by the cross through the Church to this world – and we are a part of that! How great is our God!