Deuteronomy: A Surprising Focus
Well open your Bibles if you would to Deuteronomy. I'm preaching through each book of the Bible in one sermon. And we are now on Deuteronomy.
The word, “Deuteronomy,” means a reiteration of the law. But the title of the message is not that. The title of the message is: “A Surprising Focus.” Because I think even in the reiteration of the law, that is specifically: Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers (although it includes themes from Genesis). Even though it's going over those passages, it has a focus that those other books do not.
In one sense, Deuteronomy doesn't give anything new, they stories are the same. The people and the events are the same. Yet in another sense, it brings us profound, foundational truth, that was only underlying the first four books of the Old Testament. And it's now made explicit, in Deuteronomy. And of course, like every teacher always said, if you miss this point, you're going to miss everything. Well, that's true again. If you miss this point, you're not only going to miss what the Old Testament and the covenants are for and the motivation for them, you're going to apply those and use them wrong in life.
Do you want a hint as to what it is? Yeah. All right, well, look in your Bibles. You knew that was coming. Deuteronomy, chapter one. I can't give it away, or you’d know, right away what I was talking about. So you'll have to wait a little bit into the message for that.
But I want to just look at verse five [Deuteronomy 1:5], “Beyond the Jordan, in the land of Moab, Moses undertook to explain this law…”
Right, so his whole goal in Deuteronomy is to explain the law. And you'll find out why as we go through this. But that's an overarching theme. And you can look in your Bible outline journal there at some of the themes, a little bit of the chapter overview, how the chapters are broken down. There's a couple different ways to do that. I think the way I've given you there is pretty common and helpful, and that the first four chapters are kind of a historical overview of how they got to where they are. And then 5 to 26 is kind of a, a practical reiteration of certain laws.
There's an expanded section on the Ten Commandments there as well. Some wonderful truths that he covers. And then kind of a prophetic review, if you would, we get to specifically, chapter 28. And it's this long chapter on the blessings and curses that will follow; blessings if you obey and curses if you disobey. And this will be your future. So I guess we could call that, a prophetic review in those chapters.
But as we try and figure out what the focus of Deuteronomy is, I think sometimes we look at word themes, or I do in my studies, and I try and think since every word is inspired, you can see a lot by just how words are repeated and what themes are mentioned. We think Old Testament, we think there's lots of fear. There's lots of killing, right? There's sacrifices constantly, and there's just law. Well, those words specifically law, fear, even fire, kill, sacrifice, show up 20 times or less in Deuteronomy. Now there's over 28,000 words in Deuteronomy. So you can see, well, that's probably not the focus. The word, “children,” that's often used as the grand theme of Deuteronomy, that's 34 times and only three times specifically mentioned, to teach your children so while that is extremely important, it's probably not the major theme of Deuteronomy.
You think, is Moses or Aaron? Well, Aaron's only mentioned four times and… but if you look at how many times it mentions, “Yahweh,” in the Old Testament, L-O-R-D. It’s over 500 times in these chapters! And this is exciting to me, so that's why it's hopefully exciting to you. But we're going to get a huge dose of who God is by simply reading through Deuteronomy or understanding what Deuteronomy is about. If you add the word, “God,” to that, so, LORD, that's Yahweh. If you add “God” to that, now you've got over 900 times in just 34 chapters. So the major theme, surprisingly, of the biblical book, is “God.” But there's a specific aspect about God that Deuteronomy draws out. Right? So if you're ever listening to a sermon, and the hero of the sermon is not Jesus or God, they've missed the point. And yet here the specific focus is a grand motivation of God that is underlying the first four books but it's not mentioned. The Bible thankfully doesn't assume that we rightly know God on our own. So Moses, as you saw there, undertook to explain the law in verse five.
Look in verse three, Deuteronomy, chapter one, verse three [Deuteronomy 1:3] says, “…Moses spoke to the people of Israel according to all that the LORD had given him in commandment to them.” And this is important, these verses are not just, “yeah I knew that,” their instructive. Where did Moses get the law from? He got it from God. So you can't say that the Bible is made up of just stories that men came up with. They themselves, don't claim that truth, that they came up with it. They claim it's actually the very words of God, that what is written is from God, himself. And then who did Moses give the law to? Well, he gave it to the people of Israel, and to their children. And there's even a verse that says into the children's, children, right? So grandparents, you're all free to instruct the grandkids? And did Moses simply, just give it? No, in verse five, he explained it. That means he made plain the meaning. He spoke it clearly. You could say he exposited the Word. I think it's fair to say Moses was an expository preacher.
Deuteronomy, chapter 27, verse eight, even talks about this as well, probably not a familiar story to you. But they were told at one point to, to make this composite material and plaster it all over the rocks, and then write every word of this law on those rocks plainly, that's not talking about the Ten Commandments. That's this massive structure where all of the law is supposed to be written down. And Moses, God tells Moses in Deuteronomy 27:8 says, “And you shall write on the stones all the words of this law very plainly.” That's the word in verse five, for “explain.” So, the idea is that we understand what God is saying. You find yourselves at times going, “I don't know what the Bible is saying.” Well, God's design, and how he has communicated it to us, it's written, but he wants it to be plainly understood. So the context here is important. Moses is not talking at this point to the first generation, those who left Exodus with them. Right? He is talking, now they've gone through the wilderness, he's talking to their children, all those people fell in the wilderness. So now he's talking to their children and their children's, children and they're actually in Moab, and they're going to go up opposite the Jordan very shortly, and look across to the Promise Land. But Moses is explaining to the new generation, the young people who were children under 20, 38 years ago, when their parents were judged, and they had to go through the wilderness. They've all grown up, the ones who've survived. And now they, with Caleb and Joshua, are about to enter the Promise Land. And Moses wants them to know exactly what the law says, and exactly how to know God. He’s talking about where they came from and how they grew up and who was this God that your parents heard when he spoke from Mount Sinai.
Right, God says, “Bring the people to me that they may hear my voice.” And they're so petrified they go away later saying, “God’s scary, you listen to him, and then just tell us what he says.” So there's this history of it. That's why we taught through church history in the Grace Equip class. 13 lessons just on our church history. How did we get here? It's important to know how we got here. So the people, 38 years ago, Moses takes them back. And he says, 38 years ago, your parents were standing on the edge, looking over into the Promised Land. And I think what's interesting is, is that they asked Moses, in chapter one, verse 22, it’s recounted there say, “Let us send people into the Promise Land, let us send people to spy out the land, so that we may know the way which we should go.”
So the people are the ones who asked Moses to go spy out the land, that wasn't Moses’s idea, that wasn't God's idea. The people came up with that. And then Moses is like, fine. So they took people, one from the head of each tribe, and sent them in for 40 days, and they came back. And as you know, only two said we should take the land. In other words, only two believed in God's promise that if they took the land, God would be with them and conquer the people ahead of them. The rest of the leaders of the people said, No, the task is too hard. We're going to die. They're going to take our women and children and we're going to be slaves again. So they started to complain, and murmur. They were judged by God. As I said this morning in class, after they were judged, they're like, “Ah, you're right God.” And they tried to go in and take the land by themselves. But God wasn't with them. Moses said, “Don't do it. God's not with you.” They ignored him again. And so, they were defeated. In the Promise Land that was given to them, on the land, their feet walked on the land that God gave them and that's where they died. Because they ignored the specificity. They ignored the requirements that God had given them, they didn’t trust him fully.
So you've got Joshua and Caleb, they're listening now, 38 years later to all this, probably brought back a flood of emotions. But even Moses and Aaron were banished from entering the promised land, they were kind of a duo. The focus there is on Moses. So Moses, shows his humility, and demonstrates how God even punished him and is not going to let him to go into the land. Moses is a huge example of leadership, of godly biblical leadership. What do I do when people complain against me? That's Moses. And when he finally fell, he recounts it for them in Deuteronomy 32:51, that's the best place that explains exactly why Moses couldn't go in and he tells them this. Deuteronomy 32:51, God reminds him says, “[You're not going to enter the land] because you broke faith with me in the midst of the people of Israel, at the waters of Meribah-kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin, and because you did not treat me as holy in the midst of the people of Israel.” So many commentators have so many ideas of why he didn't get to enter. It’s because he struck the rock twice, and he was just supposed to speak it, or he did this or that. But remember, God is interested in your heart. “In your heart, you broke faith with me. You did not treat me as holy.” If the most humble man on earth, was told you broke faith with me and you didn't treat me as holy, what hope is there for us, right? You and I are not as faithful and holy as Moses.
Our hope is in God. Our hope is in the faithfulness of God. Our hope is in who God is and what he's asked us to do, that as we follow him, he will bless us.
Are you tempted at times to break faith with God? What does that mean? It's not like the Israelites who fell and worshipped goat demons. It says, right? They actually worshipped other gods, Moses didn't do that. To break faith with God means that we understand what he requires, and we still turn from him.
If you've ever thought, I'll just sin and then God will forgive me. You're breaking faith with God. Let the witness of the 38 years right, the longest funeral march in history. Let the witness of that funeral march dissuade you from sinning, knowing if you're saved that God in his abundant grace will forgive you and will still shower you with this complete righteousness of God. God is not compelled, or obliged to remove the consequences of our sin. Yes, there's “now therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” right? You are not going to be punished in Hell forever for your sin, if you know God and you have been saved and cleansed through Jesus Christ. But the Israelites had to learn the hard way that consequences follow. Sexual sin can bring disease. You can be forgiven of any sin but God is not obliged to miraculously remove the consequences, the disease that came from that sin. God is not obliged when he forgives the Israelites, as Moses asked. And says, “OK, I'm not going to wipe them out.” He's not obliged to then remove his plan of making them go through the wilderness and live out the consequences of their sin before God. And you say, “I don't understand that.” I think that's because we don't truly understand the holiness of God. See, ultimately Moses didn't treat God as holy before the people.
When we follow God with a bad attitude or a bitter heart, we treat God as unholy. If a parent asked their child to clean the room and the child cleans it up, have they obeyed? Well, it depends on their heart. If they’re grumbling and complaining the whole time of course not. So if you outwardly obey God while cursing him on the inside, “I don't like this food, I don't like this man, I don't like where we are, this desert.” All the while he says your clothes never wore out and you never lacked anything. We have treated him as unholy and need to repent.
And friends, the holiness of God, it's seen better days in our churches. We need to know that God is asking us to follow the law so that we can have relationship with him, not just so that we can have a bunch of things to do. When we skip the hard parts of Scripture and do an overview without talking about why these things were given, we say, real holiness isn't that important.
So in Deuteronomy 4:5 again, Moses tells them, “See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the LORD my God commanded me…” Now he was a man on a mission from the LORD God, to deliver the message completely. So that was his focus. That's a huge focus of Deuteronomy. God told Moses, Moses told the people, but there's more to it than that.
The second focus you can see there in Deuteronomy 4:9-10. This is, “teaching others the Word,” that's a huge focus of Deuteronomy, verse nine, “Make them known to your children and to your children's children – how on the day that you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, the LORD said to me, ‘Gather the people to me, [this is God's saying this] that I may let them hear my words, so that they may learn to fear me all the days that they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children so.’ ”
In other words, the goal is not just to teach your children, the goal is for you and I to live this out, to live it out before our friends, to live it out before our neighbors, so that they can see that we roll to the beat of a different drum. Your children should be taught to be disciple makers, not just disciples. Right? Go and make disciples is a repetitive thing we're supposed to do, right? Go into all the world and make disciples. Teach them to observe everything I've commanded you. And I will be with you. These great grand promises and commands of God. It's not just to teach the children, but to teach them how to teach others.
Of course, teach your children is incredible. But it's only in Deuteronomy 4:9-10, Deuteronomy 6:7, Deuteronomy 11:19, and then repeated again in Deuteronomy 32:46. That's it. Most of the time when it’s speaking of children in Deuteronomy, it’s talking about the blessings that they will receive from their parents obeying. See parents, we should love Deuteronomy four and Deuteronomy six and Deuteronomy seven, because it's so instructive for us. And as they see the example in us, then they too, can live it out and receive the blessings of following God. And for 38 years they learned this. We didn't follow God. So here we are. Why are we in the desert? How many times do you think the kids brought that up? Do we have to stay here tomorrow? Right? And in the afternoon, are we done being in the desert? And then at night, can we go to some better place now? And that's just day one. Right? And you've got three plus million people, with lots of kids running all over the place. I'm tired of desert sand games. I'm tired of the sand being in between my toes and my fingers and under my fingernails, and you know, you get the idea. This is like the never-ending road trip with no rest stops. They knew what it meant to be blessed because they were following God. And all those children who had gone through that experience. They had a laser focus on knowing and understanding what God required. He who has ears, let them hear.
Turn to Deuteronomy 6:4. This is of course repeated over and over and over again. The Great Shema. “Shema” is, “hear,” in Hebrew. The Great Shema, “Hear, O Israel…” He didn't just see like, how loud would he have to shout this? For three plus million people to hear him? “Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one.” Right? Know the Lord! If you don't get that right, the rest of it is also not going to be right.
So God spoke to Moses, Moses spoke to all the people, the leaders, and the leaders and the people spoke to their children. But of course, you know, there's something missing in all this. There's something that was only a thread that ran through the first four books but is not explicitly stated. And of course, what we've missed so far is “love.” Love, it's all throughout Deuteronomy. Specifically, God's love. When the first four books talk about love. It's mentioned about 38 times (okay, or so) in the first four books. And it's mostly talking about people's love. So love between one person and another person, right, a father to his son, a husband to his wife. Those kinds of relationships are mostly what it's talking about. While the previous books certainly speak of love and prove God's love for Israel. Deuteronomy emphasizes this theme as never before. As one commentator said, “The word ‘heart’ is also important because the love has to be in your heart, to motivate you to right living.”
The word must be in their hearts that's Deuteronomy 5:29 and 6:6. Sin begins in the heart, Deuteronomy 7:17 and Deuteronomy 8:11-20. And we must love God from the heart. That's Deuteronomy 10:12. In other words, Moses makes it clear that blessings come when the heart is right. When the heart is right. How quickly to our hearts go astray? In order for the people to possess and enjoy the land, their hearts had to be filled with love for God and his Word.
Deuteronomy talks about God's love five times more than the first books, first four books combined. It's not that God's love was absent. Some say that about the Old Testament, “God's just this, you know, big mean ogre, and his people are judging people and killing them, or he's killing them and the earth is swallowing people.” But think about this. Where is God's love seen in Genesis? Where do you see it? You see it in giving the earth to man, that is a big gift. Cultivate it, work it, you have dominion over everything I've created. There was nothing put above man in the order of creation, God gave it all to him. To cultivate, have dominion and multiply in the land. It's also of course, shown in the great promises to his people through Abraham.
What about Exodus? Is that just, you know, freedom from oppression? I mean, they went there as 70 people, right? 400 years before they left the Exodus before God brought his people out. No, the idea was to not only just free them from that, but so that they could go into the desert, learn about God, at Mount Sinai away from everyone else, and then go into this new land and own this new land that other people made, that other people built houses in and made vineyards in. God was going to remove all those people and give it to the Israelites. They grew from 70 to millions.
How about Leviticus, you say there's some interesting things in Leviticus, right? Yes, especially the most important thing, which is atonement, right? Not rules about skin and all that kind of stuff. But atonement, right? God says, I love you so much, I'm going to explicitly give you a way to have your sin set aside to be atoned for. You're going to take this thing, this animal, and you're going to shed its blood and the priest is going to take the blood of that animal, sprinkle it on the mercy seat, the covering of the Ark of the Covenant, sprinkle it on the mercy seat. And through that, I'm going to forgive you, to set it aside. That is love. How do you relate to a holy God who is holy and your sinful? This is how you do it.
Or Numbers, that God's love is shown in protecting the people from foreign armies, giving them a Promise Land and upholding justice, real justice, when they turn from him. God did not get rid of his promise to his people. Even though they turned, he still kept that promise through their children to bring them into this land. And he later tells Moses, they will follow Joshua, we see that in Deuteronomy, they will follow him.
But in Deuteronomy, Moses explains the vital role of love in our lives. Let's look at some of these and see how this changes our view of God. Look in Deuteronomy 4:37. Why did God choose the Israelites? We’ll read this a couple times this morning, Deuteronomy 4:37-40, “…because he loved your fathers and chose their offspring after them and brought you out of Egypt with his own presence, by his great power, driving out before you nations greater and mightier than you, to bring you in, to give you their land for an inheritance, as it is this day, know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. Therefore you shall keep his statutes and his commandments, which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land that the LORD your God is giving you for all time.” God chose their parents, because of his own love for them. And he's encouraging them to lay it to your heart, put this knowledge of the love of God in your hearts. That's why you obey the commands and the statutes. It's out of a love for God. There is no law without love. God chose them out of his own perfect love so that we might know a loving God.
Further, he gives demonstrations of His love in Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy seven, verse seven, turn there, if you would, please, to Deuteronomy 7:7. Again, why God chose the Israelites, “It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you are the fewest of all peoples.” There's nothing grand about the Israelites. Verse eight [Deuteronomy 7:8], “but it is because the LORD loves you…” Well, why does he love you? Because he does. Because in his nature, he has chosen to place that love on a specific people. And he's “keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers,” in verse eight, “that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” God chose the Israelites to demonstrate His love, that he is the motivation of his own love.
The greatest people were the Egyptians, not the Israelites. The Israelites were their slaves. They were the ones probably building pyramids for them. Right? They had to gather their own straw, their own hay. And when they complained about it and Moses came, and I'm the leader now, they had to do it even more. And they were actually fine with that, they'd rather be in slavery, than follow God in the wilderness. Than to see God and to hear God, they had something better. So it wasn't that they were the most special people on the earth. But it was that God in his own love placed that love on them because of who he was. Verse nine, Deuteronomy 7:9, we learn that God’s faithfulness is tied to his love, “Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.”
Why does God love us? Why does God continue to love us? It's not because of how good you were this week. It's not because you only took one doughnut this morning and not two or three, I see you. It's not because of how much you smiled. When I told a bad joke and you all wanted to make me feel good. God continues to love us because of his faithfulness. Friend, when you when you have a rotten week, you should run to God, not cower in the corner. You should have friends around you that know of the faithfulness of God and encourage you to run to God. Not just say, “Ah, well, that's just who they are. And that that person, they're just always going to be like that.” That's a huge lie from Satan. That any sin should have dominion over you when Jesus Christ is the one who broke the power of sin and death, and he removed it. For those who know and love God, there is no power of sin over you. Yeah, but I’m going to sin. Yeah, but don't make that your excuse that you're not fully glorified yet. God is so faithful to keep his covenant and steadfast love, with who? With those who love him, from the heart, from the heart of faith. Not just the rule followers, right? We learned that Micah 6:6, he doesn't desire these sacrifices without the heart being in it. He wants to see us follow because we love God so much from our hearts.
And in verses 13 to 14 of Deuteronomy seven, we learned that when God blesses us, it's because of his love. Verse 13 [Deuteronomy 7:13-14], “He will love you, bless you, and multiply you. He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your wine and your oil, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock, in the land that he swore to your fathers to give you. You shall be blessed above all peoples. There shall not be male or female barren among you or among your livestock.”
This is a huge blessing to the people of Israel. You can take that all and say, well, I guess I should go and invest in oil and wine. We should, you know, turn Northern Loudoun County into wine country. (I wonder if that’s why they're doing that?) No, this is to the people of Israel. But the principle is, is that you will be more blessed as you follow God than if you turn from him. In here, specifically, he lays out what their specific blessings are. To be received in the Promise Land. Your herds are going to multiply, that's money for them. That's food for them. That's clothes for them. That's even shelter for them. Right? It takes care of all those things. And he lays it out, line by line. So that they know, God will love them.
So you can't just say, well, it's all about me following the rules, because Deuteronomy doesn't allow that understanding of God and the Old Testament. His love is what motivated him to have these righteous rules, even makes the argument in Deuteronomy, just try and find another God who's as loving as me with all these righteous rules for your benefit. And because of this love, look back a couple verses, Deuteronomy 7:11-12. “You shall therefore be careful to do the commandment and the statutes and the rules that I command you today. And because you listen to these rules and keep and do them, the LORD your God will keep with you the covenant and the steadfast love that he swore to your fathers.”
It's only when we take love away from God's plan, that God's plan seems unloving. It's only when we take love away from God's plan, that God's plan seems unloving. Be careful to do these commands. We'll talk about this more tonight. How are we to be careful? Over and over again, we see that phrase, but you and I intrinsically know, we're careful with the things that we love, right? Parents, right? You have a baby. What kind of love does that baby give you? It gives you lots of gifts, right? Lots of presents that you have to deal with. Screaming. The baby sleeps, when the baby wants to sleep. Every parent eventually learns that. The baby cries when the baby wants to cry. Every parent learns that. But why do you show the baby love? Why do the grandparents show the baby love? Because of themselves, not because of the baby. Yeah, the baby's cute. And all your babies are the cutest babies ever, of course, right? And the chubby little cheeks and they squeak. And they're fun to be around. But tell that to the mom whose baby sleeps during the day for the first six months. Right? Tell that to the mom whose baby is colicky and cries incessantly over and over again. Never did a half hour trip to the grocery store seem so long. Or that weekend getaway that you want to take? But we're careful with the baby. We don't go, “oh, another one and toss it over.” Right? No, you take the baby over and you set the precious baby down. Because of your love that you place on that child.
That is the same kind of demonstration of love that God has for us. It's not necessarily because of us, it's because of the love he has, that he places on us and he loves us so much, because why? We’re his children, we’re his chosen people. Chosen in the New Testament is a representation of God choosing us to follow him. Here chosen is a representation of his people. And you see, as we learned this morning again and talked about here, that the Israelites didn't get to go in because of their lack of faith. Moses didn't get to go in because he didn't have faith in God in every instance and didn't treat him as holy. And so God judged him and didn't allow him to enter the Promise Land, which is called the Sabbath rest, in Hebrews three and four.
But you know, the greatest gift the parent can give, pales in comparison to God's gift to us, right. Romans 5:6, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” Jesus Christ gave his life for us. It's a portrait of atonement, explicit in Leviticus 16. It’s a portrait of forgiveness, in the Ark that the Israelites had to carry around. It's a complete atonement and forgiveness that doesn't just set it aside, but permanently puts it aside. Through the Great High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ. Right. And we learn he's from this order of Melchizedek. And you look in the Old Testament, who is that guy? Well, he's a guy with no beginning or end. He's the Eternal One who came to set aside the need for the sacrifices and the requirements, because he gave his perfect life. For us! That's love! “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son.” [John 3:16] Right? That is the demonstration of his love, over and over and over again. And Moses, as these now adults are going to go into the Promise Land, he doesn't want them to miss the greatest point, that it was all a demonstration of God's love for them.
1 Corinthians 15:3-4, describes it like this, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” You can trust the Scriptures. How does this relate to the law and to love? He just did a jump to the New Testament. Galatians explains this for us Galatians 2:19-21 turn there, if you would. Paul writes in verse 19, “For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.”
We see that God loves us, we see that we live by faith in this passage, we see that we died to the law. In other words, the law allowed us to see the righteous requirements and when we failed, it's like we died because of the law. And we also died to the law that we might live to God, how do we do that? In Christ! It's Christ who lives in me. So you don't have to build a parapet around the roof of your home, a fence, it’s required in the law. You don't have to do that anymore. Do not come to church with a bull. I don't know what to do with it. Or a lamb, unless it's cooked, and then we'll eat. All those things are set aside because of what Christ has done. And you know this, that’s why you're here, you want to hear of the faithfulness of God, you want to hear of the love of God, you want to hear about these things. How does that relate to this law?
Notice, in Galatians 2:20 here, that Paul says, “… the Son of God, who loved me…” Paul says, God's love was a personal love to him, specifically. If Christ lives in you, God's love is specific, to you. It’s the whole idea, he chose the Israelites, not everyone. His love on believers, his children, is a particular grand love. Yes, he shows love to all people in calling all to repentance. But here there's this, this kind of love that he actually gave himself up, for me. And that is the grace of God. You say, how do we put this all together? Is there just anything from Deuteronomy for us? Are there any principles we can learn from God and his Word and his love that we should put into practice today? Well, I'm glad you asked. Turn back to Deuteronomy chapter 10.
And we'll kind of close with this. These are timeless principles, that God wants us to follow. And they're just couched in these amazing verses of loving God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, which is repeated a few times in Deuteronomy. And here in chapter 10, verse 12 it says [Deuteronomy 10:12-13], “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you…?” Isn't that what we all want to know? What does he require of us? “… but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, [and listen to this] to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD, which I am commanding you today for your good?”
Now Christ fulfilled the requirements of the law for us. But we see that God is asking his people here, to do these four things: to fear the LORD, to walk in his ways, to love Him, and to serve the LORD with all their heart. We're not just called to love God with all of our heart. Ask someone who's in full time ministry, serving in Christian settings. And intrinsically this is what they do, if they're joyful, after a few years, if they're not going around just bitter. This is it, they serve the Lord with all their heart. They give it everything. They give it their all.
Friends, you and I are called to do that as well. To serve God, with all that you are, if you want to know what your purpose is today and this week, that's it. To love God and to serve him with all that you are. To fear the Lord. You say, “that sounds terrifying.” Well, he did speak out of a raging fire on top of a mountain with lightning. So, I think “fear” does mean “fear,” appropriately before a benevolent, loving, almighty, kind God. We don't need to tame that word down. Right? We need to follow God, that is to walk in his ways, as the Scriptures say, carefully. Are we being careful with the Word? Paul warns us to not get into long, lengthy arguments about specific words that don't lead us to following God. So it's not talking about that. He's talking about being careful to follow God from the heart. As much as you're careful to drive on the right side of the road over here, and the left side over in Europe. You need to be more careful with God's Word, because eternity is at stake.
Do you love God? Do you put nothing in front of your love for God? Not your work. Not your children. Not your friends. Not your money. Nothing in front of you and God! Can others see that about you? Do they go, “that lady loves Jesus. She cultivates her love for God. She knows God. Not just knowing a bunch about God.” The Israelites who died in the wilderness knew a lot about God. But do we carve out the time in our lives to truly cultivate this, this wonderful, loving heart after God?
There's nothing greater in life than that. Nothing at all. I just want to call all of us this morning, to give ourselves fully to God. And just to see how truly loving he really is.
Father, I know we didn't cover every verse in Deuteronomy. We pray this was glorifying to you, Lord. We pray that you would work in our hearts to make us loving, to cultivate this, this following of you. Father, we're all at different places and yet we all need each other, to follow you in the body, to love you. Yet most of what we need, Lord, is Jesus, just a huge dose of our Lord. Father, I pray that would help us to pursue you with all abandon, let nothing stand in our way. Pray you'd make that happen. Today, Father.
Let's just take a moment right now. Just between you and God, talk to God and ask him to help you to follow him from your heart.
Lord God, we love you. We thank you that in Christ, we can do these things for your glory Lord, and our good. In your precious Holy Name. Amen.
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