Welcome to "Expound," our verse-by-verse study of God's word. Our goal is to expand your knowledge of the truth of God by explaining the word of God in a way that is interactive, enjoyable, and congregational.
All right, well, we're in chapter 4. And, as you can see by looking at chapter 4, it's lengthy. For that matter, the whole book is lengthy. There's 34 chapters in this book if Deuteronomy, which is interesting.
It's interesting because essentially it's Moses giving a long farewell. These are Moses's speeches. Why is that interesting? Because Moses was the guy, who when God said I'm using you, and I'm going to send you to the pharaoh, Moses said, me? Why, I can't talk. I'm not good at making speeches. I'm the last guy you want to send to Moses.
So it's interesting that here Moses seems to be, by this time, very articulate and able to just speak not once, not twice, but three times these a lengthy speeches on the plains of Moab at 120 years of age. I've listen to people who are over 100 speak. They usually don't speak as clear as I read Moses at 120.
And so don't send me because I can't speak-- not only does he speak, he speaks a lot in this book. And he just goes on, and on, and on. He's a man after my own heart, really. He just keeps talking. And Deuteronomy is essentially Moses telling the next generation what he and what a few, including not only himself but Joshua and Caleb, had seen the Lord do and heard from the Lord to pass on to that next Generation.
Why the next generation? Because everybody else from the previous generation had died in the wilderness. So they needed to be reminded of those things from the Lord first hand from Moses, because Moses wasn't going over into the Promised Land. He can only see it. He was able to view it, but he wasn't able to go in and enter the Promised Land because-- well, we've read why, so we're not going to review it.
When I was a kid, my parents would have little spiel, little speech, my dad especially. My mom was kind of good at reading us as teenagers. But my dad, you know, would say, well, you know, when I was a boy, we'd walk to school through 50 feet of snow for 400 miles, you know, all these crazy stories that parents tell.
And I just remember, as soon as he would get into one of those speeches, my eyes would roll around in my head. And I would think, oh man. I can finish what he's going to say. But there comes a time when the new generation needs to hear from the previous generation what God did.
And why is that important? Because it gives it to that younger generation an anticipation, not to just look back at what God did in your generation but hopefully to anticipate maybe God would do the same or greater in my generation. I want the work of the Lord to be first hand, first person. I want to see and I want to hear for myself. And so Moses is encouraging and stimulating those taste buds of the next generation.
Verse one, "Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I teach you to observe that you may live and go in and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers is giving to you." If you remember, and I hope you do, Deuteronomy is divided into three speeches. He gave three speeches. He's 120. He gives three speeches in about a month's time in mid-winter on the plains of Moab, the eastern side of the Jordan River.
Chapters 1, 2, and 3 is a review of the past. Chapters 4 all the way to chapter 26 are regulations for the present. And then the rest of the book, that last little speech, is readiness for the future. So can you see how it's divided? Past, that's what God did. Present, this is what God is doing and wants to do. And then future, this is what God said he will do. Past, present, future.
I think that that is a healthy model for our lives-- for your life and mine. We should have that aspect of we're looking back. We're reviewing. We're in touch with our testimony, what God did in that time that drew us to say yes to Jesus, to have that at hand and to be able to tell that story. That's our past. That's our story.
But then what is God doing now in your life? How are you at obeying and following the commands that God has given? Oh, yes, you fall, and you get back up, and fall and get back up. But you're moving further ahead, and you're getting closer to the Lord.
But then there's that prophetic element. Whatever the Lord did in your past and whatever the Lord is doing in your present really can't hold a candle to what he's going to do in your future. The best really is yet to be. And I think when we live that way, we're in touch with our past, we're living in the present, but our eye is also on the future, man, you can conquer anything. You can get through everything because you know who you are, where you've come from, who God made you to be, and where you're going. You've got your bearings. And essentially, that's how the book of Deuteronomy is outlined.
So he says, "You listened to these statutes that you may live. Go in and possess the land." Verse two-- "You shall not add to the word which I command you nor take anything from it that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you." Don't mess with my word. Don't mess with what I have revealed.
This is what I want to say. Here it is. You have it within the pages of your Bible. This is God's revelation, the older testament all the way to the Book of Revelation in the New Testament. God says don't add, don't subtract.
Sometimes people will say, well, I like that part of the Bible. I like when it says that. But this verse, this text this chapter, I don't like that so much. I don't really hold to a God who says that. But I like these parts.
So you have made God's revelation a smorgasbord. You know, it's sort of like you're going to a buffet line, and you pick and you choose whatever you want on your plate. And that's your religion. You've picked it. You've created god in your image.
So God says, I know what I want to say. Don't put words in my mouth. Don't take words away from my mouth. Even Jesus said, "I didn't come to destroy the law. I came to fulfill the law"-- fulfill it.
And then in reading what we just read in Deuteronomy, what does that make you think of? What verse scripture? Do you remember it? Revelation chapter 22, the very end of the Bible.
The end of Revelation, God says, "Whoever adds to the words of the prophecy of this book, I will add to him the plagues that are written in this book. And whoever takes away from the words of the prophecy of this book, I will take away from him his name in the Book of Life"-- some translations say Tree of Life-- "and his place in the holy city and what is written in this book."
So here's God saying, I can stand on my own two feet. Don't put words in my mouth. Don't take words from my mouth. Here is my revelation.
And that is why I believe one of the healthiest things we could ever do together, of all the activities in the week, is what we're doing right here, right now, going through larger chunks of the Bible so you know what the Bible says. You know where it's written. You can make a mental note or a literal note in your Bible. You can get back to it. Because then it all makes sense and you're aware of what it says, and where it says it, and why. You get the flow, the natural flow, the progression of revelation.
Look at verse three-- "Your eyes have seen what the Lord did at Baal Peor. For the Lord your God has destroyed from among you all the men who followed Baal of Peor"-- 24,000 of them to be exact. "But you who held fast to the Lord your God are alive today, every one of you."
Do you see what Moses saying? He says, hey, here's the commands of God. Listen to them. Do them that you may live.
And then he gives an example. He goes, let's go back to the Book of Numbers. Well, he doesn't say Numbers because it really wasn't written at the time as such. But Baal of Peor was a judgment of God upon the people of Israel because they were worshiping Baal of Peor.
Now, let me just explain something, and here's why I feel like I need to explain it. Because we go through these names and we don't really quite understand the reference. Baal was simply a word that meant lord or master, ruler. It was sometimes use in a human sense. Most often in the Bible it's used in a deity. It means lord or master.
And then you'll have a word sometimes after baal, sometimes it's just left alone as the lord. That's just many or one of many of the deities that were worshipped by a polytheistic culture at that time. But Baal of Peor, Peor was a mountain, east of the Jordan River in Moab. And so he was the local lord deity over Peor. Or he was the lord of Peor. He was the master of Peor, baal, ba'al, Peor.
The Moabites had a problem. The problem is the children of Israel were on their wagon trains, and they were headed to the land that God promised them. And they see all of these people camped in their plains. And the head of the Moabites, the King, was named Balak the son of Zippor.
And he looks down at all those people and he goes, uh-oh, we have trouble on our hands. I need to send for a magician who can curse these people. And then they won't succeed, then I will succeed. They won't take over my land.
So he sends an email-- I'm embellishing just a tad. He sends word to Mesopotamia, much further east for some pretty well-known. I mean, he was on the circuit of false prophets. And his name was Balaam the son of Beor, which sounds a lot like Peor, but it's just his dad's name.
Everybody knew of this guy. And so he says, Balaam, come over and curse these people. So Balaam comes, tries to curse them. Instead, he looks over and blesses the children of Israel. And Balak gets all un-glued and says, man, I'm paying you big bucks to curse them, and here you are giving them a blessing that God's going to advance them. I don't want this.
So he says, maybe I'll take you to another vantage point. You could look at them there, and then you'll come up with a good curse. And he couldn't do it.
So Balaam goes back to his boss, Balak, the son of Zippor. And he goes, Balak, I am unable to do this. I know you paid me. I know you called for me. I got the email. I'm here. I can't curse the people God has blessed. It's impossible. I've tried it.
However, you could do something that would get God so mad at them that he'll curse them. You can't do it. I can't do it. But they themselves can do something that will so tick the Lord off that they'll bring a curse on themselves.
Here's all you have to do. Take your young women, the Moabite women, the pretty young gals, the prostitutes of your cult here at Peor, and send them into the camp of the Israelites. And bring the little statues out, the little idols, and entice, seduce with their beautiful figures and all of the lines that they would use to bring these virile young men into these prostitutes that you'll send in. And then enact a worship service. Bring those idols out.
And effectively, to them, that's idolatry. It's sexual immorality. It's idolatry. And God himself will pronounce a curse on them.
Now, I'm elaborating on this because you need to know it. Otherwise, you'll read the Book of Revelation and you'll have no clue what it means when Jesus writes a letter to the Church of Pergamum. And he says, "I know your works. I know that you have a man who's faithful, a martyr named Antipas there. I know that you hold fast to following me. You've been faithful.
However, I have something against you. You have those among you who hold to the doctrine of Balaam, who taught the children of Israel to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit sexual immorality." That is, right there in the church, they were allowing people within their ranks with these false doctrines and worship of false gods. And they were tolerating it to the extent that the same thing could happen. God would judge them. They're inviting the judgment of God, the doctrine the Balaam.
So Moses saying, here's the commandments. Obey God. You'll live. You won't die.
Let me give you the example, the classic example. What happened at Peor, on that day when God judged the people, and on that single day, 24,000 people keeled over and died right there, is a good enough reason obey the Lord. You know, he's pulling out the dramatic examples from their own history. But notice what he says. Verse four-- "But you who held fast to the Lord your God are alive today, every one of you."
And you know, that's true on more levels than just the physical level. You who love the Lord, you who are passionate about the things of God, you're alive. You're alive.
There's a certain kind of life that sets you apart from other people. They see that spark, that passion. What sets this person apart? Why are they so different? There's a life in them. They're alive.
Some people are just barely getting by. Ah, but you, you've got that life. You pursue him. And you're alive this day.
"Surely I have taught you the statutes and judgments just as the Lord my God commanded me that you should act according to them in the land you go to possess." So for us in the New Testament, keeping in mind what Moses is saying on the plains of Moab, the example he is going back to in Numbers 21 or 22, 23, 24, 25, that section, from 22 to 25 with Balaam and Balak, and then thinking of Revelation, that even a church can have those who they bring in among them who are loose and fast with morality and it's known and tolerated. And you can be inviting a curse upon God's people.
You know, Satan, I believe, has a strategy. Well, I think he has many strategies. But think of it this way-- for thousands of years now, he has studied human nature. He knows everything about human beings. He knows what makes them fall. He knows what would drive them away from God. He knows what's in their senses, and what's important to them, and he knows how to craft a temptation specifically for you.
It's kind of frightening to think about it, isn't it, that Satan actually studies you. God said to Satan, have you considered my servant Job? The literal Hebrew is, you have been studying Job lately, haven't you, Satan? Jesus said to Peter, Satan has asked for you by name. He wants to sift you like wheat. Boy, that would be frightening for me to hear, if Jesus told me that. What? Yes, he's been asking for you lately. Well, what'd you tell him?
And I think he has a motto. The motto goes like this, if you can't beat him, join him. Go in among them. Be part of them. Be one of them.
Jesus was betrayed not by a Roman soldier but one of his own associates. Rome as a city, as a nation, is often pointed out fell from within. That's sort of a common historical saying. What is meant by that is that several factors happened that brought Rome down while the barbarian hordes were attacking them. They became weak from within-- corrupt leadership, in fighting, civil war for generations.
Did you know that the first 100 years of the Roman Empire, they had eight emperors. The second 100 years, they have 29 emperors. There was corruption. They didn't last. The infrastructure that should hold them together became very, very weakened. And so the enemy was able to get in and among them. And they were very distracted. If you can't beat them, join them.
Hey, I can't curse the children of Israel. But have your gals come in there and just join with them. And effectively, you're joining their god with Baal of Peor. And their god will be very angry. And he'll curse those people himself. So he's reminding them of that.
"Therefore," verse six-- I'm glad there's a "therefore." He's very, very logical, putting his thoughts together. "Therefore be careful to observe them, for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of all the peoples who will hear of all these things and say, 'Surely, this great nation is a wise and understanding people.'
For what a great nation is there that has God so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, for whatever reasons we may call upon him? And what great nation is there that has such statutes and righteous judgments as are in all this law, which I set before you this day? Only take heed to yourself and diligently keep yourself lest you forget"-- that's one of the themes of this book. Remember. Don't forget. "Lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, unless they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and to your grandchildren."
God is about to make a point. I just want to tie what we just read and the point he was going to make together. God reveals himself to these people. But they never saw him. They never saw a form. They never saw God. But they did see with their own eyes the work of God, the evidence of God at work among the people. They saw that with their own eyes.
And so Moses is saying, now, I'm an old man. I'm 120, can't go in the land. I don't want you ever to forget this. I want you to remember, first of all. Number two, I want you to retell the story to your children and to your grandchildren.
I loved raising my son and telling them Bible stories. I loved the nights we would play. We would dress up. Because I figured if you become the character, you remember the character. So we would always put on these stupid costumes, but we would play the parts.
And I loved how much you retained. I marvel at my son's Bible retention to this day. God gave them a good mind. And now I can't wait to do it with my grandchildren. I want to remember what God has done in my life, and then I want to retell to my children and children's children.
Because you see, the scripture tells us in Psalm 127, "Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord. The fruit of the womb is a reward." It's a heritage. I'm going to pass it on to them.
And then the most famous, probably, the one at least most parents know and quote so often is Proverbs 22:6, I believe, "Train up a child in the way that he should go. And when he is old"-- finish it off--
"He will not--"
"He will not depart from it." "Train up a child in the way he should go." Ah, but that word "train" is a beautiful word. If you don't know what it means, you need to know what it means. "Train" literally means to stimulate the taste buds. The Hebrew word is "chanak." And it means to put something into the mouth, to feed, to put something into the mouth of another.
And there is a similar word in Arabic of a custom of taking date honey on the tip of your little finger, date honey, and touching it to a newborn's lips. It's very, very sweet. Date honey is fabulous. It's sweeter than bee's honey. And they put the date honey. And what that does is it starts the sucking reflex so they can breastfeed. So they'll touch the date honey to the lips. And the little baby will pucker up. And what they believe they're doing is stimulating the taste buds.
That's what the word means. Train up a child-- stimulate your children by godly example and by giving them the precepts that you know, and that you've heard, and that you've seen. Train up a child that way. Stimulate them to godly living, because their heritage from the Lord.
So remember, retell, and something else-- radiate. Radiate. Do you know that God is saying here, other nations are going to be checking you out. They're going to be looking at you, and they're going to go, man, these people have like incredible wisdom, and understanding, and laws. And God is near to them. They believe God walks among them.
You see, in antiquity, these religions of Canaan, the Hittite religions, believed that the most supreme deities never care about people on earth, never. You can't approach them. You can't talk to them. You can't even deal with them. It's like, here, leave a message and my secretary will get it, one of those kind of deals.
Only under rare occasions would the supreme baal or deity have anything to do with humanity. But your god is different than our god. And these people are different than our people.
In the book of Isaiah, God said, "I have created Israel to be a light to the Gentiles," to radiate my principles to other nations. And I love the fact that you love God's word, and you come in the middle of your week to spend an hour listening to a guy who is old like Moses go on and on and on, and that you have a taste for that, a taste for scripture.
And why is that important? Because it causes you to remember what God has done in your life. It hopefully gives you ammunition to retell that to your children and grandchildren and then to radiate that when you go out into the community and people check you out and listen to what you have to say and see you're different. Your God really is close to you. They may make fun of you, ah, but they're taking note.
"Take heed yourself." First 10, "Especially concerning the day that you stood before the Lord your God in Horeb" Horeb is that little mound next to Mount Sinai. "When the Lord said to me, 'Gather the people to me and I will let them hear my words that they may learn to fear me all the days that they live on the earth, that they may teach their children.'
Then you came and you stood near the foot of the mountain. And the mountain burned with fire to the midst of heaven with darkness, cloud, and thick darkness." so in Exodus chapter 19, they come with Moses. They approach the mountain. There's all of these crazy things happening-- meteorological wonders of fire that goes from the mountain all the way up to heaven and back. And they're seeing this, and it's quaking.
And so this is what they do. They go, um, Moses, you go and listen to what God has to say. We'll just stay right here and watch. We've got a good view. So you go and listen and hear, and then you bring back God's word to us. And listen to what they say. "And everything God tells you to tell us, we will do." It's quite a boast. "Everything God tells you to tell us to do, we'll do."
Now, keep that in your head because next week, when we get to chapter 5, God is going to bring this up. And Moses is going to say, you know what? You told me, everything God tells me to tell you, I'll tell you and you do it. So I went, and I brought it back.
But you know what the Lord told me? Moses will say. God said, when I said, God, they said they'll obey. God said, oh, that they had such a heart within them to be able to do that. You see, God recognized I'm giving my law, but they're unable to keep it. They're unable to fully do it all. No one, no generation, will be able to do it.
Now, why am I bringing this up? Here's what you need to know. The law was given for a couple reasons-- to reveal who God is, to reveal God's character, God's perfect holy, righteous character, but also to reveal your weakness, our weakness, mankind's weakness.
We're not able to keep the law. Any time somebody says, all of these I have kept from my youth-- remember the guy who said that to Jesus? He said, you know the commandments. Do this. Don't do that. All of these I've kept from my youth.
Now Jesus knew that he wasn't telling the truth. He was just resting in a few things he had kept. So Jesus tested him. He wanted to see if he's kept the first commandment. You shall have no gods before me. He said, OK, sell everything you have. Give it all to the poor, and then come and follow me.
It says the man went away sorrowful because he had great wealth, many riches. So he hadn't kept all of the commandments. Goodness, he couldn't even keep the first commandment. Wealth is what he worshipped, his status, his position. That was before God was. He's not going to give rid of that and follow Jesus.
When Jesus put discipleship on those terms, Jesus revealed that the law reveals your flawed character. You're unable to keep. Listen to what Paul writes. This is Romans chapter 3. "Now we know"-- this is Romans 3 verse 19, if you're taking notes. "We know that whatever the law says it says to those who are under the law that every mouth may be stopped and the world may become guilty before God. Therefore, by the deeds of the law, no flesh will be justified in his sight. For by the law is the knowledge of sin."
The law served a purpose. God's commandments and statutes and law cemented the nation together, formed the nation. They looked to God. They trusted God. They didn't fully keep it, but it served a purpose. It revealed their sinfulness, the flawed nature, flawed character, and it pressed them forward. It made them look forward to the solution to that, which was in Jesus Christ.
This is what Paul meant in Galatians 3 when he said that the law was a schoolmaster, a tutor, paidagogos. Paidagogos was, in a Roman household, a household slave who superintended kids, superintended children. He would dress the child, bathe the child, make sure that the child has taken care of and learns certain disciplines. And when the child grows up and is old enough, that paidagogos would take that child and deliver him off to a tutor, another tutor, a school. Now you graduate from the tutor, the schoolmaster, the paidagogos, us to a more formal training.
So the law was that paidagogos. It pointed the way. But once Jesus Christ came, you don't need that slave anymore. You don't need that tutor anymore, that schoolmaster. The law served its purpose. It set the standard. It showed our flaws. It drove us to Christ. Once you come to Christ, don't try to go back under the law.
I meet Christians all the time, and they'll read the Bible, they'll read the Old Testament, and they start getting under the Old Covenant again. Instead of the freedom in Christ, they feel like they have to keep all the feasts, all the festivals, and oh, it's Sabbath! I better get home because it's going to get dark soon. Oh, stop it.
That's fulfilled in Christ. You're free. The paidagogos served its purpose. Let it go. Experience the freedom in Christ.
OK, well, I got off on a little tangent there.
But back in Deuteronomy 4, and we are going at a snail's pace, but it doesn't matter because we'll just pick up next time where we left off. Then, verse 11, "You came near, stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire in the midst of heaven with darkness, cloud, and thick darkness. And the Lord spoke to you out of the midst of the fire. You heard the sound of the words, but you saw no form"-- similitude, likeness. You didn't see an image. You saw no form.
"You only heard a voice. So he declared to you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, that is the, Ten Commandments, and he wrote them on two tablets of stone, and the Lord commanded me at that time to teach you the statutes, the judgments, that you might observe them in the land which you cross over to possess. Take careful heed to yourselves, for you saw no form when the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, lest you act corruptly and make for yourself a carved image in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any beast that is on the earth or the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the air."
I found an interesting description of a historian about the ancient Jewish people. Listen to what he called them. He referred to the ancient Jewish people, these people, as ear people rather than eye people.
Now today, our culture, we're eye people. I mean, I can't drive down the street without seeing somebody texting or checking the Instagram. Or they're glued to a screen, and music now is watched. It's seen.
The art of listening without seeing is lost in my opinion, in this generation. We are an eye people. They were an ear people, which is very, very fascinating because the Bible says faith comes by hearing not by seeing but by hearing and hearing by the word of God.
So God is making the point, you didn't see a form. You didn't see a likeness. There was no similitude. Don't make anything. That's part of the second commandment, right? Don't make any image, any likeness, you would use in your worship.
So they came to the mountain. It was an incredible event, shaking, lightning, thundering. It wasn't a beautiful event. It was a dreadful event. It was meant to display the awesomeness of God, sort of like the Wizard of Oz when the wizard starts going, I am the great Oz! And the cowardly lion goes, [SHIVERS] and starts running away. Remember that?
That was the intended effect. It was the intended effect. This is a covenant God is making. God is revealing himself to human beings through statutes and commandments, and there's a mediator of the covenant. That's Moses. He's going to come back and tell these people.
They're going to hear. They heard, but they didn't see. And so he is again rehearsing these statutes for them in their hearing.
Now, we're coming toward a close, but I want to make these points. We have to make a distinction, and we have to understand the difference between the church and the synagogue-- the church, the assembly of believers in Jesus Christ, that Jesus is the Son of God, that he is God in human flesh, that he died on a cross for our sins, rose from the dead. People who believe that comprise the church. They're under the New Covenant, the covenant of grace.
The synagogue comprised of Jewish people who believed in the revelation of God through the Torah, the first five books of Moses, the Pentateuch, the Tanakh, the Old Testament scriptures. They believe, they hold to, the covenant that God gave through Moses at Sinai, Horeb, to the children of Israel. To them, that's all they need. That's complete. It's an eternal covenant. The law is eternal. You don't need another covenant.
This is where the church and the synagogue differ. We say, well, actually, Moses did a great job, and God used him. And we believe in that covenant, and that's part of our scripture as well. In fact, that pointed to a better covenant, that Jeremiah even pointed to. "Behold I'll give you a new covenant, not like the old covenant, but a new covenant to the children of Israel." So all of that was predicted.
So that was good. God revealed himself but not completely. Now he has given us a better covenant, M covenant of grace. That's the point of John in his prologue of his gospel. "For the law came by Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ."
So Mount Sinai is great. Mount Calvary is better because now it's all done. It's paid for. It's finished. It's mopped up. You don't have to have a sacrifice every day, every morning, every evening, every year. It's done. It's over. It's over.
So the writer of Hebrews-- that's a Jewish book, right-- begins his book, writing to his Jewish audience. Taking this into consideration, he says, "God"-- this is chapter 1, verse one, "God, who at various times and in various ways spoke to our fathers"-- the Jewish fathers-- "through the prophets has endured these last days spoken to us once"-- and the idea is once and for all-- "through his son, Jesus Christ, whom he made heir of all things."
So the covenant served a purpose. It was the law. It was the paidagogos. It pointed the way. It finds its fulfillment in Christ. It's done its job. It is the completed covenant.
Moses is going through the Ten Commandment covenant with them. But verse 15-- "Take careful heed" means listen very closely to this. Give me your full attention, Moses would say. If they were checking their texts at that point, he would say, turn off your phone. Put that away. Listen carefully.
"For you saw no form when the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, lest you act corruptly and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of any figure, likeness of male, female, beast on the earth, likeness of any winged bird, that flies in the air, the likeness of anything the creeps on the ground, or the likeness of any fish that is in the water beneath the earth."
This is the second commandment. First commandment, "I'm the Lord your God. You will have no other gods besides me or before me." Second command, don't make an image that represents me. You heard a voice. You didn't see a form.
The first commandment forbids them to engage in false worship or to worship a false god, a false deity. The second commandment forbids false worship of the true God that. You get the difference? It's one thing to, well, we just worship God. We all worship the same god. Ah, but the Bible also says not only worship God exclusively. The Bible commands them in the 10 Commandments, worship God correctly. He forbids worshipping a false God, but he also forbids worshipping the true God in a false or wrong way.
Now, what's the big deal of an image? Well, here's the big deal. There's no image you could ever create, there's no picture you could ever paint, that represents God, that captures the essence of his complete character and nature. Oh, it might be a part of it. It might remind you of something. But because God is so transcendent, so other than anything we know on this earth, God just says don't even make an image.
Now, it's interesting, the Jews, the strict Jews, take this to heart. There are no images at all. Even if you go into an art gallery in Old Jerusalem, some of the best painters, very, very expensive work, will show scenes of the Old Testament but always paint people from the back. You'll never see the face. And if they show the face, there's no feature at all. It's just this amorphous tan spot. It's very beautiful, but they take it to heart that there's no art. There's no image at all in the worship of God.
Now, in the time remaining, I thought you'd want to know this. Do you know that this commandment and this belief led at least, indirectly, to the crucifixion of Christ? Did I get your attention? Second Commandment and the strict interpretation of it led indirectly to the crucifixion of Christ.
Allow me to explain. The governor of Judea. At the time of Jesus was whom? Pilate, Pontius Pilate. He'd been the governor of Judea for five years. He was Spanish. He got the job because of marriage. I've gone into that before, don't need to explain.
Anyway, he's in Judea. And during his governorship for five years, he makes a couple of mistakes that puts him on thin ice by the time of the crucifixion. You see, as soon as he gets to be in charge as the governor of Judea, he makes these banners, these ensigns with an image of Caesar on them and parades them through Jerusalem.
When the Jew sees a parade with an image of Caesar, he becomes unglued. Well, Pilate parades these through the streets of Jerusalem, but he goes to his home. His home isn't in Jerusalem. He's got an ocean in Caesarea. He was smart. I live in Caesarea, live on the ocean. I can surf there. It's cool. So that was his headquarters in Caesarea, from the muck and the mire and stuff going on in Jerusalem, so he's in Caesarea.
A contingent of Jews leave Jerusalem, go to him all the way in Caesarea by the sea, protest the ensigns, the banners in Jerusalem, saying, I demand we demand that you remove them. He says, no. You can't make any demand than me. I am the Roman Empire. I represent the Roman Empire. Who are you? I can take your head right off your neck now. That's what he said.
They were all hoarded into the amphitheater or I think it was the hippodrome, actually, where horses are in-- who cares-- Caesarea. It's my mind does that to me. And he threatened to kill them.
As soon as he said that, they all lay on the ground, pulled their tunics down, and exposed their neck. In other words, take our heads off. Go ahead, take our heads off. If that's your threat, kill us. Take our heads off our bodies because we will not break this commandment.
Suddenly, Pilate knew who he's dealing with. These people are willing to die for that? So he recanted. He relented. He pulled back the sword, sent them home, took the ensigns away.
That's strike one. Strike two came a few years later. He wanted to honor Caesar Tiberius, and to honor Caesar Tiberius, he had shields made for his Praetorian guards, his soldiers, special Secret Service guys. And the shields bore an emblem of Tiberius Caesar just on the shields. And he placed them away from the public in the Antonia fortress in his headquarters in Jerusalem in this big palace in Jerusalem where just he could see it and his soldiers could see it.
But the Jews found out about it, demanded that he removed them. He's not going to do it. So they send a contingent, get this, to Rome and tell Tiberius Caesar what's happening. Caesar sends Pilate an email and says, I demand you remove the shields from the Antonia fortress. You're going to have a revolt on your hands. It's going to be bigger than you can imagine.
That's strike two. By the time Jesus stands before Pontius Pilate and he says, this man is innocent. I wash my hands-- I'm going to get him flogged and let him go. Do you remember what they said to him? In the Gospel of John, they said, if you let this man go, you are not the friend of Caesar. That was a threat.
You have two strikes, and Caesar likes baseball. If you let this man, go you are not Caesar's friend. In other words, the threat was, we're going to let him know that you're about to create a riot unless you kill him.
So he finally, because of that, gave in. And it says the voices of the people prevailed. One of the saddest verses in the gospel of Luke-- "The voices of the people prevailed." The pressure, the peer pressure, was too much. He caved. He folded. He knew it was right. Jesus was innocent. He had him crucified. But it's based on that second commandment.
I apologize. I didn't get through much of the chapter. Again, I intended-- I'm ready to go for a couple of chapters. But we'll pick it next time.
Father, we thank you for the covenants you have given to mankind throughout history. Thank you for the covenant of the law, which reveals your righteous, perfect, holy, impeccable nature and character, and it reveals our flawed, imperfect nature. That was your sentiment-- "oh that they had such a heart within them."
But Lord, no one is able to keep the law. It was meant, it was engineered, it was designed to point mankind toward the one who would fulfill the law. And our simple trust in Jesus is enough to take us from earth to heaven. We place our faith in Jesus in him alone-- not in our goodness, not in church membership, not in our righteousness, but in the precious blood of Jesus Christ.
As we're about to close this service, I'm wondering if anyone hasn't done that yet, if anyone a struggled like we all struggle. But in your struggle, the struggle's been winning. The thought has taken you captive. The struggle has taken you prisoner. You're in bondage. You're not free. You're not walking and experiencing the forgiveness of Christ. You need to come to Jesus Christ. You can't hide any longer in your religious background, or your parents' belief, or a religion you grew up with, or your sincerity any longer.
The Bible reveals that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. The law tells us that. But Jesus says, it's fulfilled in me. And if you believe in me, I took your sins on my body, and I died. And then I rose again conquering death. And if you believe in me, you can live forever with me in heaven. It's that simple. And that's why it's the best covenant.
Have you done that? Are you sure if you were to die tonight that you'd be in heaven? If not, now is the perfect time to make sure. If you want to give your life to Christ or you need to come back home because you've wandered away, as our heads are bowed, I want you just raise your hand up for a moment. Just raise it. Say, yes, Jesus. Yes, save me. I'm giving you my life. I'm giving you my heart.
God bless you and you right up here to my right in the front. Anyone else? On my left, God bless you and you and you. In the back, God bless you guys. I see a couple of your hands on my left. Anyone else?
Raise it up-- thank you, God bless you-- so I can see. And you and you, several of you.
Thank you, Father, for these. And I pray for them. We pray for them. Lord, they're about to step into newness of life. And just like [INAUDIBLE] had her own transformation, we've had our own transformations. Lord, you can make all things new and give us the best life on our way to heaven.
Strengthen these and the decision they're making. In Jesus' name. Amen.
I'm going to ask you to stand to your feet. And if you raise your hand, I'm going to give you an opportunity to put feed on your faith, so to speak. Jesus called people many times publicly. And I want to give you an opportunity, if you raise your hand, I want you now to find the nearest aisle as we sing this song. And just stand right up here in the front. And I'm going to pray with you as you give your life to Jesus Christ.
We do this every week. Don't be ashamed. Don't be afraid. It's just us, just us. And it's you and God. And it's you giving your life.
Come and stand here. Come and stand here.
[MUSIC - "COME AS YOU ARE"]
That's it. Come as you are. You don't have to clean your act up or get cleaned up. You just come as you are. Anybody else? God's been trying to get a hold of you for a long time, and you're not here by accident. If God's dealing with your heart, just say yes to him. And just come on up here. Just say excuse me to the person next to you and come on up here. We'll wait just another moment. Then we're going to pray with these people.
Those of you who have walked forward, I'm going to lead you in a prayer. I'm going to ask you to say this prayer out loud after me. Say this from your heart, from the bottom of your heart. You're giving your life to Jesus.
So, it's probably hard, but try to just tune all of us out for a moment. And it's just you and God. You're saying this to God as you give him your life. And say these words after me.
Say, Lord I give you my life.
Lord I give you my life.
I know that I'm a sinner.
I know that I'm a sinner.
I believe in Jesus.
I believe in Jesus.
That he died on a cross.
He died on a cross.
And shed his blood for my sin.
He shed him blood for my sin.
And rose again from the grave.
And rose again from the grave.
I turn from my sin.
I turn from my sin.
I turn from my past.
I turn from my past.
And I turn my life over to Jesus.
And I turn my life over to Jesus.
To live for him.
To live for him.
All the days of my life.
All the days of my life.
In Jesus' name.
In Jesus' name.
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