I’ve been reading Deuteronomy as part of my daily Bible reading. Yesterday, January 1st, this verse jumped out at me:

‘And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?’ (Deuteronomy 10:12-13 NIV)

It’s in the context of Moses recounting how God gave the Israelites the ’10 Commandments’ on the mountain … but the verse doesn’t start by demanding obedience to the Commandments – obedience is only fifth on the list of the five live-giving instructions …

to fear God
to walk in his ways
to love him
to serve him
and only then
to obey his commands.

And that started me thinking that perhaps we often have these things in the wrong order? And if the order is of any significance, is the first instruction the most important? To fear God … ? Fear of God isn’t something we encourage Christians to consider at all, in our modern ‘God is close, friendly, loving and everything will be all right’ Christian culture.

What does it mean to ‘fear God’? Think for a moment about something that frightens you … when we are afraid we may push that fear to the back of our minds in order to go about our daily business, but fear keeps popping back to the front of our consciousness; it is our first thought at the beginning of the day, it’s there in our dreams, it sneaks up on us unexpectedly at the most inconvenient time … it constantly shapes our actions and reactions and priorities.

So I need to ask myself, to what extent does (my relationship with) God shape my actions and reactions and priorities? Is He my first thought, in my dreams, always part of my thought processes? And if not … how then can I walk in his ways, love and serve him, and willingly obey his commands?

I may have some more work to do with this thought … but it’s an interesting start to the year!