Devarim Eight: Relationship with God

The conditional relationship between God and the people is stated explicitly. “Every commandment that I command you this day you shall keep to do, that you may live and multiply, and come and possess the land that the Lord swore to your forefathers (Deuteronomy 8:1).” We have some classic give and take in this relationship. If the people do what they’re told, they get the rewards promised to their ancestors. The flip side of this is inherently also true: if the people don’t do as they are told, they will break the covenantal relationship, and will lose their rights to their inheritance.

“You shall know in your heart, that just as a man chastises his son, so does the Lord, your God, chastise you (Deuteronomy 8:5).” Is the relationship between God and man really like that of a parent and child? Parent/child is usually used as an example of an unconditional bond and type of love. How does that make sense in light of the regulations on the God/Israelite connection? Maybe it’s the love that’s the same, but the manifestation that’s different. Or maybe the honor and respect that children are supposed to give a parent is what is supposed to be mirrored in the relationship between God and the people.

“Beware that you do not forget the Lord, your God, by not keeping His commandments, His ordinances, and His statutes, which I command you this day, lest you eat and be sated, and build good houses and dwell therein, and your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold increase, and all that you have increases, and your heart grows haughty, and you forget the Lord, your God, Who has brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage (Deuteronomy 8:11-14).” The people must never take it for granted that they made it to the land, or think that they did it alone. Everything was done by God, and the honor goes to Him alone.

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