Surely I have taught you statutes and judgments … Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” (Deuteronomy 4:5-6)
As he had already done so many times before, Moses reminds the people that keeping the commands and instructions delivered to them by God is what will distinguish Israel from all the other nations. More than wealth and might, living according to God’s principles would allow a band of slaves to rise to prominence among the nations. Through them, God would establish a sound and moral society among the peoples of the world unlike anything that had come before — something that was bound to attract the world’s attention.
It would be so pervasive and so persuasive that the nations — including those considered to be enemies and antagonists — would be forced to acknowledge that the nation of Israel possessed wisdom and understanding above all others. Once again, it wouldn’t be due to anything that the people could take credit for; it would be because no other nation would have laws that promoted righteousness and justice such as those given to Israel. The end result, then, would be that Israel would actively advance the purpose they were called to perform — to be a light in the midst of darkness.
When you consider where Israel was positioned geographically speaking — actually surrounded by enemies — they would be, in a literal sense, the lamp on the lamp stand and the city on the hill, that is, if they were obedient to God’s commands. In so doing, they would be in position to draw others out of the darkness and into the light and fulfill God’s purpose. In short, being set apart is how God’s people impact this world and how we inspire others to come into the light. And so we’ll close with this thought: we can’t be a light to the world if we are acting like the world. We must be a holy and set apart people.
Blessings and Shalom,