I’m sure there must be other places where God speaks with such longing, but I can’t think of any right now. And, it occurs to me, my first thoughts of God tend not to be of what He passionately desires but more often of what He has powerfully done. I don’t tend to think of God as sighing with a certain angst, but usually of Him speaking with an unmatched authority. My God speaks things into being. Not often do I consider Him yearning for something to become a reality.
I’m thinking that’s why this verse in Deuteronomy has caused me to pause and reflect this morning on the heart of God.
“Oh that they had such a mind as this always, to fear me and to keep all my commandments, that it might go well with them and with their descendants forever!'”
(Deuteronomy 5:29 ESV)
Moses is making his final appeal for obedience. Soon the people will go up to take the land promised to them. He’s explaining to a generation that has grown up in the wilderness the law they received at the foot of Sinai when they were but children (Deut. 1:5).
In my reading today, again and again Moses appeals to the people of God to listen to the “statutes and rules” he is teaching them and to “do them, that you may live” (4:1). He warns them to “take care, and keep your soul diligently , lest your forget” (4:9). He reminds them of the ten commandments given that day when they drew near to the base of mountain and “heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, while the mountain was burning with fire” (5:23).
What’s more, he reminds them of their response to such an encounter of the divine kind.
“And you said, ‘Behold, the LORD our God has shown us His glory and greatness, and we have heard His voice out of the midst of the fire. . . . Now therefore why should we die? . . . . If we hear the voice of the LORD our God any more, we shall die. For who is there of all flesh, that has heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of fire as we have, and has still lived?'”
(Deuteronomy 5:24-26 ESV)
And so they ask Moses to go and receive the full revelation and then to come and teach it to them. Then, they declare, “We will hear and do it” (5:27).
That’s the heart God longed for. The heart that knew holy fear and responded with a desire to obey. A heart that was bowed by His presence and was determined to live by His promises.
“Oh,” says the LORD, “that they had such a mind as this always . . . “
But that isn’t the way of the natural mind. It’s not the inclination of the natural heart. At best, the spirit might be willing, but the flesh is weak. And so, while the heart of God greatly desires a people who would always fear Him and keep His commandments, the heart of man, in and of itself, is unable to do so.
And thus, God provides the means for a new heart and a way for a heart transplant. For people to receive the heart of God through the finished work of Christ. To be awakened to the holiness of God and enabled to walk in the power to obey. To fulfill the desire of God by accepting, by faith, the provision of God.
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes and be careful to obey My rules.
(Ezekiel 36:26-27 ESV)
What God desires, God enables. The heart of God is that His people would walk in holy fear and obedience. And the heart of God, received by faith and unleashed through the Spirit within us, can know such abiding awe and desire to delight.
Oh that His great desire for us would be our great desire for Him.
By His grace. For His glory.