Beyond the Lectionary Text: Deuteronomy 30:11-20

by Bill Sytsma

Common Misperceptions

It is far too common for us to have images of God that don’t match the way He is described in the Bible. One of those misperceptions is picturing God as a sadistic overlord who watches diligently to make sure no one is violating His commandments. We might be prone to believe that He finds some kind of twisted pleasure in punishing humans for the slightest miscalculation for violating His rules.

When you read Jonathan Edwards’ sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” you will find that Edwards goes to great lengths to reassure that God’s finds pleasure in rescuing His children. However, it seems as though most of us are more likely to picture an “Angry God” as a rigid character who cannot tolerate any kind of infraction against his preferences.

There are two common misperceptions that we can have about God and His commandments. We can believe that God is angry, intolerant, and finds some kind of satisfaction in declaring harsh judgments against those who offend Him. When we do not understand the grace of God, we can easily hold on to this image.

The second misperception is about God’s commandments. It is possible to believe that God’s commandments are little more than rules that are designed to restrict our freedoms. We can argue that some of the Biblical Commandments are irrelevant

Deuteronomy 30 reshapes the image of God who is perceived as angry and intolerant. It helps us recognize that God’s commandments are not arbitrary whims of God that are intended to keep us from upsetting Him.

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