God and the Concept of Patterns

by Doy Moyer

The nature of typology shows that God is a God of patterns. Without even going through a process of trying to “establish” authority, God shows through His overall record that He is a God of patterns. This is evident right from the beginning when God made a pattern for creation that He later replicated in the workweek of Israel. The Sabbath was a pattern that they were to follow (Exodus 20:11).

The Law was clear enough. God’s people were to follow it, not turn from it to the right or left, and diligently obey it. Passage after passage shows this.

Deuteronomy 6 makes it clear that the people were to diligently keep the commands “that it may be well with you.” They were to “listen and be careful” (Deuteronomy 6:1-3). Yet, notice that it is in this very same context where the greatest commandment of all is given: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart…” (Deuteronomy 6:5-6).

A significant principle can be derived from this: there is no inherent contradiction between loving God with all the heart and diligently being careful to obey. In fact, the two are so intertwined that one cannot love God without being careful to obey. Even Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Those who find a contradiction in this have misunderstood either what obedience to God is about, or what it means to love Him, or both.

I’ve seen arguments that pit careful adherence to obedience over against loving God. Arguing as if the Old Covenant was about strict obedience while loving God with all the heart is what living for Jesus is all about, some fail to connect the fact that such strict obedience under the Old Covenant was closely tied to their need to love God. Never has there been a time when God did not want or expect His people to love Him with all their hearts. Never has God accepted cold, rote rituals in lieu of loving Him. God has always wanted people to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with Him (Micah 6:8), and never has any of this contradicted the need to be careful in diligently obeying Him. Christ did not come to free us from patterns or obedience. He came to free us from sin. He didn’t change the context or the concepts inherently involved in loving God with all the heart. He strengthened them.

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