Follow-up thoughts from our most recent podcast: A Great New Years Resolution
Last week Ryan and I recorded an episode on family worship. You can listen to that conversation here. In that conversation, we talked about some of the practical aspects of family worship.
I (Joey) wanted to circle back around and give a few more thoughts as it relates to this important discipline. And I want to do that by bringing us into the Old Testament.
The Greatest Commandment
6 “Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, 2 that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. 3 Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.
4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:1-9 ESV)
In the immediate context of this passage, we have Moses giving instructions to the Israelites on how God’s people live—particularly the contours and rhythms of their faith—of their worship.
And here, we have Moses giving instructions to God’s people on how to prepare to inherit the promised land (the land of Canaan). Now, this way of life wasn’t going to stop when they entered the land the Lord promised. It would continue. Moses was giving instructions for now and for the promised land. These were good, life-giving, God-focused habits that would remain. The Lord through Moses had the long view in mind—generation after generation (as evidenced by you, and your son, and your son’s son). This way of life should be the regular/normative rhythm of the home that remains in each generation of God’s elect.
And this rhythm pointed to something. It pointed toward the Greatest Commandment: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” (5). Where else have we heard this? Jesus quotes this very passage in Matthew 22:26-40 and connects it to the Moral Law of God.
According to Jesus, loving the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, and mind is a summary of the first four of the Ten Commandments (the reformers would have called this the First Table of the Law).
Jesus also mentions in Matthew 22, “love your neighbor as yourself”. This would have summarized the back six commandments of the Ten Commandments (the reformers would have called this the Second Table of the Law).
So, what is going on here? Moses to the Israelites and Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew is directing worship. The aim is for God’s people to orient their entire lives around the worship and glory of God.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism question 1 says: “What is the chief end of man?” and the answer is “to glorify God and enjoy him forever”.
There is joy, delight, and real eternal happiness found in spending your life glorifying God. And what is forever? Now and when we enter our promised land—the new heavens and the new earth. That is the land we will inherit not because of our doing, but solely based on the merits of Christ. There is this new world that is definitively on the way. And God’s people from every tribe, tongue, and nation will inhabit it. It is the land flowing with milk and honey. And our worship of the Triune God now is preparing us and reminding us of our eternal worship of Him when we finally enter His rest and glorify Him without the hindrance of sin and suffering.
So, how did Moses tell the Israelites to prepare for the promised land, and is it appropriate for us to heed his counsel as we await and long for the new heavens and the new earth?
6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates (6:6-9).
And yes, we should heed his counsel.
As we read this through the lens of the New Testament, we can deduce that the Gospel of God— this grand story of redemption should be obvious in our homes. As parents we should teach our children of God’s faithfulness to us in Christ, we should talk of God and His Word when we sit, walk, lie down, and rise. In other words, it should be the aroma of our homes.
And get this: this should be the natural outworking of a home captivated by Christ. This should be the joyful overflow of one whose sins are forgiven. This sort of household dedication should be natural. Think of it as natural despite it being admittedly rare. But the rareness of something like family worship does not make it unnatural.
It is our sin and our failure to prioritize what matters that makes this seem unnatural. Our worship of God both public and private is the most natural thing we can do. Don’t let your sinful nature tell you otherwise.
So, heed the words of Moses and start cultivating the gospel in your heart and in your home today.