Deuteronomy 4:1-9, as we saw, was a powerful expression of not merely the nation’s special status but of its missionary calling, as well. Woven all through those verses is the idea that they need to obey, to follow, to do what the Lord commanded them to do.
Read again Deuteronomy 4:6. What specifically does the Lord say is their “wisdom” and “understanding” in the eyes of these nations?
At first glance it might seem as if the statutes and judgments themselves were what contained the wisdom and understanding. But that’s not what the text says. The Lord had taught them statutes and judgments, yes; but their wisdom and understanding came from their keeping them, from their obeying them. Their obedience — that was their wisdom and understanding.
Israel could have had the most wonderful system of law and rules and regulations the world had ever seen (in fact, it did), but what good would it all be if Israel didn’t follow it? Instead, their wisdom, their understanding, came from the real-time manifestation of God’s laws in their lives. They were to live out the truths that the Lord had given them, and they could do that only by obeying them. All the light and all the truth wasn’t going to do them or the pagans around them any good if Israel didn’t live out that truth. Hence, over and over again they are called to obey, because their obedience to the statutes and judgments, not the statutes and judgments themselves, was what mattered, in terms of being a witness to the world.
“Their obedience to the law of God would make them marvels of prosperity before the nations of the world. He who could give them wisdom and skill in all cunning work would continue to be their teacher, and would ennoble and elevate them through obedience to His laws. If obedient, they would be preserved from the diseases that afflicted other nations and would be blessed with vigor of intellect. The glory of God, His majesty and power, were to be revealed in all their prosperity. They were to be a kingdom of priests and princes. God furnished them with every facility for becoming the greatest nation on the earth.” — Ellen G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 288.
Read Matthew 5:13-16. In these verses, what is Jesus saying to us that reflects the same thing He had said to ancient Israel? How, especially, should this apply to us as Seventh-day Adventists?