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D'varim/Deuteronomy 10:12 And now, Israel, what is Adonai your G-d asking of you?
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The verb , of which here is a Qal participle, has quite a wide range of meanings: ask, inquire, interrogate, demand, request, petition, to ask as a loan, borrow or lend. How, then, should we translate it in this context? As this is G-d speaking to His covenant people, as part of a series of commands, we might feel that a word like 'demand' or 'require' would be the most appropriate, but as the following verses speak of G-d's love for His people, it seems more natural to go for the softer 'ask'.Rashi comments: "Even though you have done all this," and Rashi has in view Israel's sin of the Golden Calf recounted in the previous verses, "His compassion and His affection are still upon you - and out of all that you have sinned before Him, He does not ask of you but to fear Him." It is from this text that Rabbi Chanina taught that "everything is in the hands of Heaven except for the fear of Heaven" (b. Berachot 33b) - every aspect of a person's nature and situation in life is in G-d's hand, but whether he will be G-d-fearing or not is given to man himself. So what is HaShem's request of His people? That we should fear Him - that is, hold Him in awe rather than being afraid of Him - walk in His ways, and serve Him wholeheartedly so as to keep His commandments for our own benefit.
A very similar question is asked by the prophet Micah: - and what does Adonai require from you? This time the verb has switched to which, again, has a range of meanings: seek or search for, ask, inquire, demand, require. While they overlap with , these are perhaps a little more formal as might fit the context of the prophet's rhetorical enquiry and the answer he gives: "to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your G-d" (Micah 6:8, NASB). This has echoes of Micah's contemporary Isaiah: "Thus says the L-rd, 'Preserve justice and do righteousness, for My salvation is about to come and My righteousness to be revealed" (Isaiah 56:1, NASB). These seem like all-encompassing megaliths - justice and righteousness - but the key is to realise that G-d's list of requirements from man is actually very short, focused upon only a few concepts, and entirely dependent upon relationship with Him. As another prophet said, "For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, and in the knowledge of G-d rather than burnt offerings" (Hosea 6:6, NASB), our relationship with G-d is paramount; this is not a shallow band loyalty - trying to buy Heinz beans where possible - but a deep inner loyalty that is committed to always seeking G-d, asking for and following His advice in all situations, standing up for and defending His name and reputation against attack, holding on to and clinging to Him in the face of opposition, refusing to accept or to believe lies or propaganda about Him.
Recognising our position before G-d is critical. We are dearly and deeply beloved in Messiah Yeshua; we are made in the image of G-d and gifted by Him with skills and abilities that He wants us to use, offered back to Him in service; each one of us is precious and valuable to Him, so that Yeshua's parable of the Lost Sheep applies to every believer. To balance that, G-d reminds us: "For thus says the high and exalted One who lives for ever, whose name is Holy, 'I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite" (Isaiah 57:15, NASB). This is not worm theology, neither is it refusing G-d's evaluation of and relationship with us by saying, "I am nothing but an unworthy sinner", but it is keeping our hearts soft towards Him and acknowledging our dependence on Him. One of Yeshua's most quoted sayings is, "Come to Me, all of you who are struggling and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30, CJB). We are fit to plough, we can carry loads, when correctly harnessed with Yeshua!
Attitude remains the most important component in our working relationship with Yeshua. What does He require of us? In one sense, nothing - He has done everything; in another sense, everything - for He is G-d and we are His people. The parables of the Kingdom make this clear: "The Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for fine pearls. On finding one very valuable pearl he went away, sold everything he owned and bought it" (Matthew 13:45-46, CJB). But it is the humble who can receive and acknowledge what G-d is doing; "He has performed mighty deeds with His arm, routed the secretly proud, brought down rulers from their thrones, raised up the humble, filled the hungry with good things, but sent the rich away empty" (Luke 1:51-53, CJB). Here Miryam has an insight into the way the kingdom works. It is not that G-d has a problem with wealth; He has a problem with those who have wealth for themselves, arrange their own affairs, are proud about their position and authority, refusing to recognise Him. It is the humble that G-d chooses - "G-d chose what the world considers weak in order to shame the strong" (1 Corinthians 1:27, CJB).
One day - at least - people were bringing their children to Yeshua to ask Him to bless them, to put His hands on them and impart a blessing. His disciples thought this was either a waste of the Master's time, an encroachment on the Master's space, or perhaps even a presumption upon His status, so they tried to stop the parents coming. When Yeshua noticed, He would have none of it and used the opportunity to teach the talmidim something very important: "Let the children come to Me and stop hindering them, because the Kingdom of G-d belongs to such as these. Yes! I tell you that whoever does not receive the Kingdom of G-d like a little child will not enter it at all!" (Luke 18:16-17, CJB). We need to learn that lesson too; we need to come to Yeshua as a child and gratefully accept what He has done for us.
Further Study: Isaiah 66:1-2; Matthew 5:3-6
Application: Why not ask yourself that question today. What does the L-rd your G-d require of you? Have you accepted what He has done for in Messiah Yeshua? Are you walking in the giftings and calling that He has given you, or are you still trying to plough your own furrow on the other side of the field?
© Jonathan Allen, 2008
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