5 See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the Lord my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. 6 Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” 7 What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him? 8 And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today? (Deuteronomy 4:5-8 NIV)
Moses tells them to follow carefully what he has taught them so that the nations will see in them wisdom and understanding (something they see later in Solomon but not in the entire people).
Moses connects their wisdom and understanding – shown in obeying God’s laws – and the nearness of God to them when they pray.
The nation of Israel is great because they do as they were instructed and because God is near to them.
Obedience to God is for God’s purposes. Not sure how much I think about that. Especially for us as Christians, who believe that we are saved by grace through faith obedience is sometimes a tricky business. Why obey when we have grace? Why seek holiness when we are righteous through Christ?
The answer in part lies here. We obey to show God’s greatness and wonder to others. We obey so others will see and say “Wow. Something different there… what is it?” The answer is God – God is who near (vs. 7). Israel’s entire call to holiness so painstakingly outlined is a tool for God’s use. God cannot use our uncleanness or our lack of holiness but can use us when we are cleansed and holy. When our life in him shows that life as different – as a life filled with wisdom and understanding.
O God, if I am great it is because you are great. If I am wise and understanding it is because you are so. May I show in my life your wisdom as I live it in my life, your greatness as I seek to live a great life for you. May my life point to the one who gave it to me, who made me all that is good and great because you are so good and so great. Amen.