Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” (Deuteronomy 4:6 ESV)
It is sometimes easy to forget that Israel was not set apart merely for themselves, especially as we consider the conquest of the peoples of Canaan. It almost seems that God intends to wipe out every other people. But that was not the case. The nations of Canaan that were to be destroyed were marked out from among all of the peoples of the earth because of their sin. (Their window for turning to God was past in a dramatic picture of what will come on the day of judgment when Christ returns to usher his people into the new heavens and the new earth.) But for the rest of the world, God had in mind all along that Israel would serve in a priestly function for the world. They were to point to the goodness of God as they live according to His commandments and thus show, to the world, what wisdom looks like. They were to be the light of the world in this regard.
In the New Testament Jesus reiterates this in the sermon on the mount when he says, “you are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.” This comes in the midst of his exposition of God’s law, explaining what it meant. He explains that “do not murder” means more than just physical murder. It means don’t be angry with your brother, nor insult him, for doing so is murdering him in your heart. He explains that “do not commit adultery” extends to looking and lusting of a women. In essence, he shows how the law of God shows what it means to love God and love others. In so doing, God’s people will show the world a better way to live, a way full of wisdom, as it produces a prosperous, gracious, and civil society.
Lord, because you have given us your Spirit, cause us to be a light to the world, by enabling us to live as only gospel-renewed people can.