As Israel gathered across the Jordan River from the Promised Land, Moses put a question to the people: “Now Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you?” In the same breath, Moses answered: “To fear the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good” (Deuteronomy 10:12–13).
God’s covenant faithfulness toward His people came with an expectation of reverence, love, and obedience. Yet, these things God asked for were designed for the people’s own good.
The concept of fearing God is best understood as reverence and awe. In the original Hebrew, the word translated as “fear” means “to regard with feelings of respect; consider holy and exalted, be in awe of.” Fearing the Lord involves a keen awareness of what God hates, namely, sin and wickedness (Deuteronomy 12:31; 16:22; Psalm 5:4–6; Proverbs 6:16–19). It includes understanding God’s holiness (Joshua 24:19; Psalm 99:9), His judgment on sin (Isaiah 26:21; Psalm 99:8), and His discipline of believers who sin (Hebrews 12:5–11).
The apostle Paul described fearing the Lord as hating what is evil and clinging to what is good (Romans 12:9). God wants us to avoid His discipline and live our lives in a way that is pleasing to Him.
Walk in Obedience to Him
The word walk in Deuteronomy 10:12 speaks of how we live and behave. The phrase walk in obedience to him carries the idea of walking “in all his ways” (ESV) and living “in a way that pleases him” (NLT). God wants us to follow His example in every way—in holiness, love, and service. Jesus explained, “Since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you” (John 13:14–15, NLT; see also Matthew 10:38).
The apostle John taught, “Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6, NLT). Paul suggested, “You should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1, NLT).
God requires our love. Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment” (Matthew 22:37–38). All other requirements and commands flow out of our love for God.
Scripture says God set His loyal love on Israel (Deuteronomy 7:7–8). He always makes the first move but invites our loving response in return (1 John 4:19). Jesus calls us to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). Our love for God is not half-hearted; rather, we yearn for Him like a wild deer pants for streams of water (Psalm 42:1).
Serve Him Wholeheartedly
Genuine love for God expresses itself through service (1 Corinthians 13:1–13). Jesus Christ, our example, was the ultimate servant (Matthew 20:28). Serving God is not a forced obligation but a free, natural, and joy-filled response to the love God has lavished on us (1 John 4:9–11). Love serves, not as a servant, but as someone who is in love.
Observe His Commands
When we observe the Lord’s commands, we prove our love for Him (John 14:15; 1 John 5:2–3) and show our faithfulness to Him (1 John 2:3–5). Moreover, the Lord asks us to obey His commands for our benefit: “The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes” (Psalm 19:8; see also John 13:17).
The question of Deuteronomy 10:12, “What does the Lord your God require of you?” is very much like the one in Micah 6:8: “And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Both passages seek to show that a profession of faith that does not come from a heart of genuine love and devotion to God is not faith at all.
In summary, what God requires of us is our whole hearts. But since we owe God our very lives, what He desires from us seems minor, especially since His requirements are all designed with our best interests in mind.