“And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the rules that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the Lord , the God of your fathers, is giving you.
Deuteronomy 4:1 ESV
This verse seems fair enough at first glance. But when we consider that Israel didn’t listen to the law of God or do it, we might wonder whether it was an empty promise. Israel got to possess the land of Canaan regardless of their disobedience, so why should they bother obeying God?
Let me put it in new testament terms. When people asked Jesus how they could inherit eternal life, He quoted the law of God and said “do this, and live”. The problem is, we don’t do it, and we all face death, unless Jesus returns first to judge us.
There’s a clue in Deuteronomy as to how we are to understand law and grace. Moses, “Mr Law” as it were, never got to enter the promised land. By the law we can never be justified before God because we’re sinners.
But Moses’ successor was Joshua, whose name in Greek is “Jesus”- “the Lord saves”. It’s not by our works but by the Lord’s salvation that we get to inherit the promised land of the new creation. But having been saved, out of gratitude we should seek to obey the Lord, to love Him, and others, and no longer to live sinfully and selfishly.
“Father God, having been saved by You, for which we give You thanks, we pray that You would empower us to obey You and not to live for self. For the honour of Christ, amen”