|Episcopal Church in Minnesota|
Environmental Stewardship Commission
Year A, Easter 5, Old Testament Lesson
Deuteronomy 6: 20-25
Moses said: "When your children ask you in time to come, 'What is the meaning of the decrees and the statutes and the ordinances that the LORD our God has commanded you?' then you shall say to your children, 'We were Pharaoh's slaves in Egypt, but the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. The LORD displayed before our eyes great and awesome signs and wonders against Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his household. He brought us out from there in order to bring us in, to give us the land that he promised on oath to our ancestors. Then the LORD commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our lasting good, so as to keep us alive, as is now the case. If we diligently observe this entire commandment before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us, we will be in the right.'"
Reflection on Deuteronomy 6:
by John Gibbs, Ph D
“Becoming People Who Are Safe for the World” (The Way to Greater Works)
Here is the famous Charter of Education for ancient Israel, and now also for all God’s People. It tries to answer children’s quest for the “meaning” of Israelite Law (v. 20).
The answer is a recital of “great and awesome signs and wonders” that God accomplished “with a mighty hand” in the exodus from Egypt and in the entry into the promised land. All this that God did was “for our lasting good, so as to keep us alive, as is now the case” (v. 24). This recital of God’s gracious deeds is commentary on the preceding Shema (“Hear, O Israel…,” vv. 4-9). Law is rooted in God’s powerful acts of Grace.
Here as in Psalm 66 God’s power and grace are not contending forces, for they carry out one consistent purpose: “so as to keep us alive,” or to keep us “among the living.” Nothing explicit is stated about ecology. But the implication is clear that the People who keep the commandments of such a God are the kind of people who are safe for the world.
That implication is in fact made explicit elsewhere, for God claims
that “the land is mine” (Lev. 25:23). For that reason “the sabbath was
the original ‘earth day’” [Daniel C. Maguire, The Moral Core of Judaism
and Christianity (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1993), p. 269.] “The land
shall keep a Sabbath of sacred rest” (Lev. 25:3). People must respect that,
and not work the ground to death.
c/o C. Morello
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