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.
Deuteronomy chapter 4. We begin in prayer. Father, at this point, we bring ourselves, our bodies, before You, literally. Our bodies are here. We're here. And we place them before You as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable, which is our reasonable service. It's the wisest, smartest thing we could do.
We've given You this time, Lord, because we have needs. We have a need to grow. We have a need to be reminded of truth. We're convinced it's why the writer of Hebrews told us to come together in an assembly frequently, often, especially as we see the day approaching.
And as the world seems to just, at every turn of our heads, take our breath away with some new low spot in their ability to conceive of wicked schemes, Lord, it's times like this that take us from being desensitized to it and give us a fresh sensitivity of what is Your will, what is Your desire, and what is wrong in this world and perhaps even in our own lives that need to be changed. So we bring ourselves before You as that living sacrifice.
We're asking, Lord, that You would use this time in the Old Testament to teach us, to instruct us, to inspire us. To motivate us, Lord, to go from this place fully equipped, knowing truth, and being able, Lord, then to sow-- like we sang-- sow our seeds, sow the harvest that we have reaped back out again in the lives of others. In Jesus's name, amen.
So in your minds, complete this sentence. I picture God as-- Not out loud. Just in your own minds. I picture God-- what is it you picture God as? I bring that up because so many people say that.
Well, I picture God as not a judge, but my God is a loving, kind of tolerant, smiling, absent-minded grandfather. Or I picture God not as a personal being that actually gets involved in this world, but a distant and aloof creature. Or I picture God as really a force. Or I picture God as not a He, but a She. Whatever it might be.
We live in a world that continually is creating God in their image, rather than responding as God's creation made in His image. So people come with a picture and idea. And they say, I picture God as.
Well, that's always a problem whenever you picture God as. Because usually the picture you have is inadequate. And it's for this very reason that God told them not to make an image of God, a statue of God, a representation of His being.
When people ask me, Skip, when you pray, when you close your eyes, how do you picture God? What is it that you picture of God? Absolutely nothing at all. I don't picture Him at all. I never have a picture in my mind. I don't think of a painting I once saw.
I have never found a painting of Jesus or of heaven that I think is fully adequate. It's sort of like the movie versus the book. The movie is never as good as the book. The way the words can paint a picture in a book just can't really be done justice, in my view, in a film, in a movie.
And people are very creative, and I appreciate the fine art of a film. But what the mind through words are able to convey are greater. So it is with the Word. God Himself in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
However, having said that, Israel had a problem throughout its history making images for a couple of reasons. Number one, peer pressure. The other nations all had visible representations of the gods that they worshiped and served. And so they could point to an image and say, well, that's our god. Where's yours? What is your visible representation?
And that is what the psalmist meant in Psalm 115. Let me just refresh your memory. The psalmist said, why should the Gentile say, so where is their god? But our God, said the psalmist, is in heaven. And He does whatever He wants.
Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men's hands. They have mouths, but they speak not. They have eyes, but they can't see. They have ears, but they hear not. They have noses, but they can't smell. They have feet, but they walk not. Neither do they mutter with their throats.
And those who make them are like them. And so is everyone who trusts in them. There's a principle. There's a lot of principles in there. That's a whole sermon in that psalm, the first eight verses.
And the principle is that you become like what you worship. If your god is false, you become increasingly more so. If your god is made up and a charade, that's how you will live your life. If your God is true and living, you become more alive and more true.
Our God, said the psalmist, is in heaven. He does whatever He pleases. Their idols are silver and gold, just the work of men's hands. But because of that, those people, the ones who had idols, the Gentiles-- as the psalmist said-- said, so where is their god? We have a visible representation.
So because of the polytheism and the henotheism of the nations around Israel, and the nations they found themselves embedded in, that kind of competition put pressure on them to have a visual representation of God. So they always battled with idolatry because of peer pressure, number one.
Number two, there's another reason that people are driven toward making a statue or an image. Not just peer pressure, but personal loss. Whenever you have an image that you need to worship God, it indicates something about you.
You have lost the awareness of the presence of God, so much so that you need a reminder. So that when you get up in the morning and you walk by your little statue, your mind goes, oh, that's right, there's a God. And that little statue reminded me of the presence of God.
When you make an image, it indicates that you have lost that awareness and that you are desperately trying to regain that awareness. You're doing something in order to bring you back into God consciousness. If you have a living, abiding relationship with the Lord, you don't need a reminder.
Some might say, God is dead. You say, no, He's not. I talked to Him this morning. He's just fine. He's not even sick. For you, He's true. He's living. He reveals Himself to you. You walk with Him. You experience Him.
But for those who don't, peer pressure, personal loss are the problems that Israel faced in the Old Testament. Truth be told, an idol is really anything that takes the place of God in your life. I bet you've heard that before, right?
An idol is anything that takes God's supreme place in your life. You can live in an idol. Could be your home. You can drive an idol. Could be your car. You can date an idol. Oh, my boyfriend. Give it time. You can raise idols. They can be your own children.
Anything that takes supreme place of God becomes an idol. That's why John, when he writes 1 John, the very last verse, you remember what he says? Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Don't let anything take the place of the supremacy of the reality of the presence of God.
So in chapter 4, in verse 15, picking up on that thought we ended off last week and picking up a few verses from that, verse 15. Take careful heed to yourselves. For you saw no form when the Lord spoke to you at Horeb-- that is that little promontory on Mount Sinai-- out of the midst of the fire. Lest you act corruptly and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of any figure the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, or the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the air, the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground.
Don't worship creeps. Or the likeness of any fish that is in the water beneath the earth. And take heed, lest you lift your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, you feel driven to worship them and serve them, which the Lord your God has given to all the peoples under the whole heaven as a heritage.
That's an interesting way to word it. You look up. You see the sun, the moon, the stars, the beauty of creation. And you feel driven to worship them. Now, that tells me something, because God is speaking this through His servant Moses.
All of mankind is driven to worship. We are hardwired to be worshipers. We are looking for the outlets to do so. Solomon put it this way. He, God, makes all things beautiful in its time. And He has set eternity in their hearts. He has wired you. He has downloaded the God circuitry so that you have a drive to worship.
And if you don't know the living and the true God, you start looking at what God has made. And you have a Romans 1 scenario. They worship and serve the created thing rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever more. But we all are driven to worship something.
In ancient times, it was a fascination. The heavens, the stars, were a fascination to ancient peoples. And they believed that the constellations of the stars, the sun and the moon, and the juxtaposition to the heavenly bodies, and their ability to comprehend them throughout the year influenced life upon the earth. And they would make decisions, make choices based upon the reading of the stars.
It's interesting. It's still a common practice, as people look at the horoscopes today. And there are some people who take it seriously. They'll read the horoscope and take it seriously. Then they'll turn to you as a Christian and go, you are so superstitious. You believe in what? Let me see what the horoscope says. Oh, wow, I better not go out today.
So in ancient times, people were driven because of the fascination and the influence they thought that the heavenly bodies exerted on life on earth. Now, I believe God can use that impulse and use that fascination. It's my belief He did that with the Magi.
The Magi originally were from the Babylonian courts. And Babylon really was the originator and the purveyor of the idea of the heavenly bodies controlling life on earth. They always looked to the stars to make decisions, to be guided by them.
The Magi came from the Babylonian court. They were a priestly caste of the Medes, according to the Greek historian Herodotus. And they exerted influence on the kings in ancient times. They were king makers.
So when they were chasing a star in Bethlehem, looking for the promised Messiah, I believe they were tipped off by Daniel the prophet and that they saw this luminary in the sky. And they followed it all the way to Bethlehem. And they were looking to the stars for direction. And God used that, interestingly, that pagan system with those pagan people to be drawn toward Bethlehem, to tip off Herod, and to alert the Jewish priests, who should have known. But you might be driven to worship them.
But the Lord, verse 20, has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be His people, an inheritance, as you are this day. Now, I can't stop. But stop.
Notice it says, the iron furnace. It refers to Egypt as the iron furnace. According to the rabbis, there's a reason for this. Of course, there's a reason for everything. Now, this is their reason.
The word iron furnace is different. It's not an oven to bake bread. It's an iron furnace especially for refining gold. And they say the reason God says, I took you out of Egypt and I'm calling it a refining furnace, an iron furnace, is because you are so precious to me as My people. You are precious just like gold goes into the furnace to be refined.
It simply shows that you are My precious people. And I use that experience to make you better, not bitter. To refine you, not to kill you. Not to end you. Not to crush you. But I knew that I could take the iron furnace of Egypt and make you a better people because of it. It's a very interesting way to look at it.
Furthermore, verse 21, the Lord was angry with me, Moses is saying, for your sakes and swore that I would not cross over the Jordan, that I would not enter the good land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance. But I must die in this land. I must not cross over the Jordan.
But you shall cross over and possess that good land. Take heed to yourselves, lest you forget the covenant of the Lord your God, which he made with you, and make for yourselves a carved image. There it is again. This whole theme is underscored several times in this section.
And make for yourselves a carved image in the form of anything which the Lord your God has forbidden you. OK, this brings up a question. God keeps saying, and we get the point-- no image, no image, no image, no representation, nothing you can make, nothing you can see can fully represent transcendent God. I get that.
What about art? Does that rule out any representation that you might have, any art that you have in your home? It's a fair question, right? And I think it deserves an answer.
If it does refer to art that a person would appreciate, then God has a problem. Because when He ordered the construction of the Tabernacle, He ordered a representation of angelic cherubim on the veil at the entrance to the holy place. He ordered the construction of angelic beings hovering over the mercy seat on the Ark of the Covenant.
He ordered the making of flowers and knobs on the candlestick, the menorah. The priestly garments that were outfitted with bells and pomegranates. You have all of this art and form and representation in the Tabernacle.
Ah. Since we brought that up, let's answer that. Yes, God did that. No, God didn't violate His command. And here's why. Those images were not used to remind people to worship God. They weren't representing God in any form at all.
And number two, the Tabernacle-- ready for this?-- was actually a model of heaven. I want that to sink in. And if you're going, where'd you get that? Go home-- not now-- but go home and read the book of Hebrews. And you will see how what was the earthly Tabernacle was a model of the heavenly.
And then go and read the Book of Revelation. You could have fun tonight reading two books before you go to bed. At least just the first five chapters of the Book of Revelation. Especially chapter 4 and 5.
And you will see an interesting corollary between what you read about in heaven, where you saw the Tabernacle and the courtyard and the sea, it was called, the laver of washing. And then you get to heaven, and you read about another sea. But this time it's hardened. It's a glass sea. And they're not depictions of angels. They're real angels in heaven.
But the corollary is fascinating. And the writer of Hebrews said, what was going on in the earthly Tabernacle is a model of what is going on in heaven. It was to remind them of heaven, not a reminder of God Himself or an aid to the worship of God. So the art was standing in the Tabernacle, and God did not violate His commandment.
However, got to add something. Got to add a PS to that. When something, even art, becomes an aid in your worship, it can become bad. Example. In the Old Testament, Moses hung up a bronze serpent on a pole, right?
And he told the children of Israel who were being plagued, just look at that bronze serpent and you will be healed. Just look at it. It's a look of faith. And you'll be healed of the plague. And they were.
But as years went on, evidently they kept that bronze serpent. And you read about it in 2 Kings chapter 18. Again, don't turn there now. We don't have time. But in 2 Kings 18, they had preserved this thing throughout Israel's history. And it had become an aid to their worship.
They were burning incense to that. It had become a relic. People will find a relic, go oh, that's a piece of the real cross. Or that's a bone of John the Baptist. Or that's a hair follicle of Saint Peter.
And they enshrine and encapsulate them. And people go on pilgrimages and worship them. And that's wrong. They were doing that in the Old Testament. They were burning incense to it.
So King Hezekiah comes along. And he breaks down all the images, all the groves, and all the high places. And it says he broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses put up in the wilderness because men had burned incense to it. And he called it Nehushtan, which just means a thing of brass. A thing of brass.
Now, I tell you what. It would be cool to have an old antique like that bronze serpent. But unfortunately, people take these things and they start ascribing value to them and using them to worship God with. And it can become a stumbling block.
I am so glad that when you go to Israel today, there are few places that are authentic. But most people scratch their heads and go, we're really not sure exactly where this took place. We don't know if it was here, or if it was here, or it may have been there, or it could have even been there. Because 2,000 years of civilizations and wars have buried a lot of stuff.
So we know the general area, but we don't always have the exact spot. Because once you have the exact spot, they erect a church on it. They charge money to get in. People make these crazy pilgrimages to the shrine that is created.
It's just a thing of brass, said Hezekiah. For the Lord, verse 24-- notice how he sums this up now. For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. What a great verse. I love this verse.
No, you don't have to apologize for this verse or get shy. A lot of people hate verses like this. Oh, no, that shows that the God of the Old Testament is this vengeful, angry God, as opposed to the God of the New Testament. You need to spend more time in your Bible if you think that.
Our God is a consuming fire. That's quoted in Hebrews chapter 12. He is a jealous God. The Hebrew word qǎnnā means to be red-faced, to get red in the face. And it describes somebody who stakes his claim of ownership over something to guard it. That's mine.
Jealous is a great word. It doesn't always have to be a sinful act. It can be a grand act, a faithful act. I worry about a husband who's not jealous for his wife. My husband's so jealous. Good. He ought to be.
Paul the apostle said, I'm jealous for you with a godly jealousy, for I have betrothed you to one husband that I might present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. Our God is a consuming fire. Now, don't look at that as something bad.
It's something wonderful, because everything that fire touches becomes like the fire, becomes consumed. Oh Lord, burn away the dross. Oh Lord, consume me totally. Let my life be bound up in your life. I love the idea the God is a consuming fire. Lord, consume more of us.
Verse 25, when you beget children and grandchildren and have grown old in the land-- now it's a verse for me. When you beget children-- check. And grandchildren-- check. Have grown old-- check.
But I won't check the next part-- and act corruptly and make a carved image in the form of anything and do evil in the sight of the Lord your God to provoke Him to anger, I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day that you will soon utterly perish from the land which you cross over the Jordan to possess. And you will not prolong your days in it. But you will utterly be destroyed.
The words-- you see them?-- "grow old" literally mean grow stale. As you grow old, please make sure that you don't grow stale. Stay fresh. Let God refresh you and stay in enlivened.
If you're in the land and you grow old and you grow stale, you see, once you get into a land and you don't fight the battles anymore and your country settles down and your nation begins to prosper, that's the danger. That is always the danger. With this country.
I see it happening with Israel now that they've settled down and they're the prosperous economy in the Middle East. You start getting soft and sassy. You become settled. You become soft. And you become sassy.
And prosperity becomes a narcotic. It lulls us to sleep. All we want is more of it and more of it and more of it. And we don't really want to fight the right kind of battles any longer.
So when you're in the land, you settle down, and you start growing stale, and you start reverting to this kind of behavior, you won't prolong in this land but will be utterly destroyed. And the Lord will scatter you among the peoples. He did that.
And you will be left few in number-- that happened-- among the nations where the Lord will drive you. And there you will serve gods, the work of men's hands, wood and stone, which neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell. Did this happen? Did they turn away from God? Did God boot them out of the land?
Yes. When? Two dates. 722 BC was the first date. 586 BC the second date. The first date, 722 BC, the northern kingdom, the 10 tribes after Israel split into north and south, the 10 tribes in the north were taken captive by the Assyrians.
Much later, because Judah stayed relatively godly for a longer period of time, it wasn't until 586 BC that the Babylonians came in and deported them and took them away. So we're getting here the prediction of-- and we'll see it fleshed out later-- of what's called the sin cycle. And you'll see it in the Book of Judges over and over.
It's like a spin cycle. The sin cycle is like a spin cycle. They do the same thing over again. Then they do it over again. Then they do it over again. Next generation. They just keep doing it.
So goes like this. Apostasy, number one. They leave the Lord. They forsake the Lord. They get settled. They get soft. And they get sassy. So they start forgetting the Lord. The Lord isn't all that important anymore.
And then the Lord forsakes them and lets them go into the lands of people. If they start worshiping idols, God says-- it's like He says, you really like idols that much? You really want to worship idols? You're into that?
I'll take you to idol central. I'll take you to idol HQ. I'll go to the place where they manufacture them and invent new ways of worship. You can hang out in Assyria and Babylon.
So they go from apostasy to being expelled from the land. The third phase of the sin cycle, they realize their sin. And there's repentance. They cry out to God in repentance.
And then the fourth thing God does is send a deliverer or deliverance-- a judge, typically, during that bad period called the Judges-- and delivers them out. And then they're so happy. And they need settle down and get soft and get sassy again. And it goes all back through the sin cycle.
So God predicted it. And we get a little hint of that predicted here. But look at verse 29. But from there, that captivity, you will seek the Lord your God. And you will find Him if you see Him with all your heart and with all your soul.
We know somebody who did that. His name was Daniel. He's in captivity. He's reading the scroll of Jeremiah the prophet, who said, you're going to be in Babylon for 70 years.
Daniel runs to his calendar and says, wow, 70 years is up. Just about up. Gets down on his knees and prays, oh God, deliver us. You said it would happen. And God did deliver them.
Nehemiah also heard about-- we mentioned it Sunday-- the gates burned with fire, the forsakenness, the barrenness of the land. He prays, and a whole new contingent goes back. So if from there you seek the Lord, you'll find Him if you seek for Him with all your heart.
When you are in distress and all these things come upon you in the latter days, when you turn to the Lord your God and obey His voice, for the Lord your God is a merciful God, he will not forsake you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant of your fathers, which he swore to them. You need to understand what that just said. The covenant here is referring back to the covenant of the land.
The land covenant was given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It's a different covenant from the covenant they're under at this time, called the Mosaic covenant. Not Mosaic because they made mosaics, because they did crossword puzzles. But Mosaic in terms of Moses was the moderator of the covenant.
So the Abrahamic covenant, under Abraham, was for the land. It was an unconditional covenant. God says, I'm giving you the land not because of who you are, but because of who I am. For you and your children, for all time, as an everlasting covenant. It's a gift.
So it had no provisions. It was unconditional. But now we have a new covenant under Moses, the covenant of the law. It is a conditional covenant. The covenant is if you obey me, you'll stay in the land. If you disobey me, oops, you get out of the land.
You go, wait a minute. That just broke the Abrahamic covenant. No, it didn't, because God knew once they're out of the land, they'll cry out. And they'll come back in the land.
So God will let them go through these conditional cycles of sin and repentance over and over again till they finally wake up. And one day the cycle will end. But they will eternally enjoy that provision.
And the culmination of that, by the way, has not yet been realized. It is not modern-day Israel. That is only a part fulfillment. The real fulfillment of that land promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is in the millennial kingdom. That's what it's all about.
The 1,000-year reign of Christ on the earth. It's a perpetual covenant given to the Jews, fully realized in the kingdom age. When Messiah is ruling from Jerusalem, the nations gather there for a few of the feasts.
And there is rule over all the earth, Christ's rule with an iron rod, a rod of iron. And you and I ruling and reigning with him for 1,000 years. And I mean that not figuratively, but literally. That will be the fulfillment of the land covenant. So all of that to explain that verse.
Verse 32. For ask now concerning the days that are past, which were before you since the day that God created man on the earth. And ask from one end of heaven to the other whether any great thing like this has happened or anything like it has been heard. Did any people ever hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard, and live?
The reference is clearly to Mount Sinai, where there were thunderings and lightnings. And they heard the thundering of God's voice, though they didn't perceive the articulations of His voice. But they heard it. And they lived through it. They survived that experience.
In contrast to every other nation and every other worship system, which has a false god, God never spoke in any other means to any other nation at any other time. The only time God spoke in the Old Testament was to Israel in giving His law to them on Mount Sinai. God spoke. They witnessed it. They survived it. It was genuine.
Or did God ever try to go and take for Himself a nation from the midst of another nation by trials, by signs, by wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? To you it was shown that you might know that the Lord Himself is God. There is none other besides Him.
Out of heaven, He let you hear his voice that he might instruct you on earth. He showed you His great fire. And you heard His words out of the midst of the fire. And because he loved your fathers, therefore He chose their descendants after them. And He brought you out of Egypt with His presence and His mighty power.
So please make note of this, that in the same chapter that says, our God is a consuming fire-- and people want to say, see, that's the God of the Old Testament. In that same chapter that represents God as such, we are told that God loves you. God loved your fathers and made a covenant with his descendants.
The overarching theme of both the Old and the New Testament is that God loves you. No matter who you are, no matter where you live, no matter what language you speak, God loves you. God loved them. God loved their forefathers.
The problem with the love of God is not the love of God. It is our perception of the love of God, our experience of the love of God. God loves you, but we don't always experience it, right?
Did any of you get wet today? You got wet. Did you have an umbrella, Nick? Ah, you didn't have an umbrella. If you had an umbrella in the rain, you would have been able-- as you know; this is obvious-- to be sheltered from it, not get wet.
You can carry an umbrella so that you're not experiencing the love of God. You're sort of protected from it. You're in your own little bubble, your own little shelter of your bad things and the stuff going on in your life.
I'm not saying you do that, Nick. You just did that with the rain. You forgot your umbrella. You experienced the rain in all of its fullness.
So God loves you. But you don't always experience it because you can cover the effect of it in your life. That is why Jude-- remember that little book in the New Testament? One chapter. Jude verse 20 says, keep yourselves in the love of God.
Did you get that? He doesn't say keep yourself lovable before God. You can't do that. But keep ourselves in the love of God, in a place where God's love is reaching you and blessing you, one translation says. Where you're experiencing it.
He loves you, but do you know it? Do you feel it? Do you experience it? Do you walk in it? Or is it just an ethereal concept, abstract? He loves you.
He loved your forefathers. Driving out from before you nations greater and mightier than you to bring you in, to give you their land as an inheritance, as it is this day. Therefore, 120-year-old Moses says, therefore, know this day and consider it in your heart that the Lord Himself is God in heaven above and on earth beneath. There is no other.
It is this verse that the rabbis believe show a principle, that God worded this in such a way to display this principle. Therefore, know this day. Their idea is that God should be discovered every day afresh.
You may have had a great experience with the Lord yesterday or last week. What about today? Have you discovered today, this morning, when you opened your Bible, when you spoke to the Lord, when you had fellowship with Him, have you discovered today that the Lord is God? God is to be discovered and experienced afresh every single day.
You shall therefore keep His statutes and His commandments, which I command you today, that it may go well with you. You, and with your children after you. And that you may prolong your days in the land which the Lord your God is giving you for all time. There's that covenant.
Then Moses set apart three cities on this side of the Jordan toward the rising of the sun, that the manslayer might flee there who kills his neighbor unintentionally, without having hated him in times past. And that by fleeing to one of these cities, he might live. Bezer in the wilderness on the plateau for the Reubenites, Ramoth in Gilead for the Gadites, Golan in Bashan for the Manassites.
Now, we are going to cover that more in detail. So I'm just going to skip over that now. These are cities of refuge. There were six, three on the east side, three on the west side. What were they?
They were sanctuary cities. For someone who unintentionally killed, they could be taken there until they could be brought to a fair trial. And one law, one law, for the resident and the foreigner was in place. You would be brought to justice. But you would be kept there until you could get all the facts for the trial.
Now, beginning in verse 44, we're getting into the heart of the book. What we have read so far is a review of the past. Now the second speech Moses gives are regulations in the present. It is the heart and the core of the book of Deuteronomy. It is Moses's longest speech. Fortunately, you won't have to hear me give it all in one fell swoop.
Now this is the law which Moses set before the children of Israel. These are the testimonies, statutes, and judgments which Moses spoke to the children of Israel after they came out of Egypt on this side of the Jordan, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, in the land of Sihon, the king of the Amorites, who dwelt at Heshbon, who Moses and the children of Israel defeated after they came out of Egypt. And they took possession of his land and the land of Og, the king of Bashan, two kings of the Amorites, who were on this side of the Jordan, that is east toward the rising of the sun, from Aroer, which is on the bank of the river Arnon, even to Mount Sion (that is, Hermon). That's way up north.
When you come to Israel with us-- notice my faith-- when you come to Israel with us on a tour and you're driving toward the northern parts of the land, it's unmistakable. Even in the dead of summer, you see Mount Hermon or Hermon, as it should be called, 10,000 feet. It's like seeing Sandia, like the Rockies. 10,000 feet jutting up. It's the highest peak in the land of Israel. And it has snow on it year-round.
There's even a ski area. I've always wanted to go skiing or snowboarding on top of there. And this last trip, I met the owner of that mountain and that ski area. Didn't get to go snowboarding.
And all the plane that is on the east side of the Jordan, as far as the sea of the Arabah-- that is the Dead Sea down south-- below the slopes of Pisgah. And Moses called all of Israel and said to them, hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your hearing today, that you may learn them and be careful to observe them. The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The Lord did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us.
That is our fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, our patriarchal forefathers. Those who are with us today, all of us who are alive, the Lord talked with you face to face on the mountain from the midst of the fire. I stood between the Lord and you at that time to declare to you the Word of the Lord, for which you were afraid because of the fire. And you did not go up to the mountain, he said. He said.
Now, you'll notice what follows. What follows? Look at it briefly. The Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments, God's top 10 list. Please notice there are 10, not 5, not 19. Just 10.
Now, the Jew will say, no, there are 10 big commandments. But there are 613 total commandments in the Torah, in the law of Moses. 613. 248 of them are positive. And guess what? 365 of them are negative. 613, but these are the top 10.
God just gave 10 that sum up all of life. The first four of them are God word. The second six of them are man word. Basically, bottom line, God is saying, I want you to honor Me supremely. And I want you to respect man affectionately. So I want you to love Me completely, totally, with all your mind, heart, soul, and strength. And I want you to love your neighbor as yourself.
That's how Jesus summed it all up. He said the greatest commandment is you shall love the Lord your God with all your mind, heart, soul, strength. The second is like unto it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. In this is summed up or hangs all the law and the prophets.
So with that in mind, we take the Ten Commandments, a decade of words, called in the Hebrew. Aseret ha-D'bharim, they call it. A decade of words. The 10 words.
Verse six, first commandment. By the way, don't look at it. If you were to be given a test right now, do you know them all? Harper's Magazine did an interesting survey and said less than 40% of Americans can name more than four commandments.
Be that as it may, let's go through it. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me. Notice, God speaks His name. I am the Lord. Can you see it in your Bible, how it's spelled?
Notice, it's capital L, capital O, capital R, capital D. Do you see that? Whenever you see all capitals, that's a special designation. When you see capital L, small O-R-D, it's a different Hebrew word. Whenever you see this construction, you are dealing with what we call the tetragrammaton. Have you heard that word?
The tetragrammaton. We would say YHWH. We don't know how it's pronounced. The pronunciation has been lost throughout history because the Jews thought the name of God so holy, it should not be recorded.
So we only have the Hebrew consonants. So it's either Yahweh or Jehovah. There's a few different ways to spin it. But it's called the ineffable, unpronounceable, holy name, covenant name of God. I Am that I Am.
So the commandments begin with God giving us His name and then staking His claim based upon His name. I am the Lord, Yahweh, your God. I love God. He's so practical. So practical.
He basically says, look, I'm God. You're not. This is an important theological principle. We Christians, we believe that God is separate and distinct and transcendent from His creation. If we didn't believe that, we could be, say, pantheists. We believe that there's God, but he and his creation are one and inseparable. They're one in the same.
No, no, no. We believe that God is God, and we are not. And all thing comes from God. And God is separate and distinct and transcendent of His creation. Make sense?
So God begins this way. I am God, and you're not. That's why I like what Corrie Ten Boom, the Nazi survivor, used to say. She said, don't bother coming to God with instructions. Just show up for duty. In other words, you're God, and I'm not. I get that. What do you want me to do?
That's really the idea. I am the Lord your God. You will have no other gods besides Me. So it's forbidding the worship of false gods. There's only one God, one true and living God. And He is it.
Verse 8, second commandment. You shall not make for yourselves a carved image, any likeness of anything that is in heavens above or is on earth beneath or is in the water under the sea. You shall not bow down to them, nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands to those who love Me and who keep My commandments.
The second commandment, a little bit different from the first. We touched on it last week, and a little bit this week. If the first commandment is God is to be worshipped exclusively, then the second commandment is that God is to be worshipped correctly.
The first commandment says you can't worship a false god. Second commandments says you can't worship the true God in your own way, in a made-up or false or nonprescribed manner. No images. No representation.
Let me sum this up for you. I think this should be helpful. There are basically only two sources for information about God. Two sources of revelation.
One is revelation. God reveals Himself. He discloses Himself. He tells you through His prophets, through the law, through the New Testament, through the biblical record, through the presence of the Holy Spirit, God reveals Himself.
The second source is imagination. If it doesn't come from God, then it's made up. All other books, all other sources, all other religions are squarely in that second category. If it's not revelation, it's imagination. Somebody made it up. It's a legend. It got passed down.
It's a false prophet, a false angel that gave glasses to Joseph Smith, or whatever. It's made up. It's fictitious. There's only one God and one source of authority, and that's His revelation. Keep it simple.
Third commandment, verse 11. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. For the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain. The Hebrew word for vain is the word shav. Shav means to empty something of its content or meaning.
You shall not speak God's name in a frivolous, lighthearted or empty manner. This might bother some of us as we hear it. I personally have a problem when somebody says, oh my God. I cringe at that. Or even OMG. It's like oh, no. Don't reduce God to a little text like that.
His name is holy. He is a living and true. And His name should be spoken and held in reverence. Not taken lightly on your lips, one translation says. That's the third commandment.
The fourth commandment is the Sabbath commandment. Observe the Sabbath day to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath of the Lord your God.
In it, you shall do no work. You, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. That your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you.
90 times the Old Testament speaks of the Sabbath. 55 times the New Testament speaks of the Sabbath, because it's not as important. It was a covenant made with one group of people only, and that is the Jewish people. The Hebrew. The genetic Hebrew nation. It was made with them.
People say, do you keep the Sabbath? Christ is the Sabbath. He has fulfilled the commandment. And people will accuse us, oh, you Christians don't keep the Sabbath.
And then some believers will say, well, we do keep the Sabbath. That's Sunday. No, that's the first day of the week. Saturday is the Sabbath. That's the seventh day of the week.
Do you want to keep the Sabbath? You're free to do so. Do you, as Gentile people, New Testament believers, not want to keep the Sabbath? Do you know that's an option to you in the New Testament?
Now, you can ask questions. If you want to talk to me about this later, I'd be happy to flesh that out for you. But I've only got five minutes to hurry this up.
So all of the Ten Commandments are restated, reiterated, reapplied in the New Testament, except this one, for the New Testament church. New Testament church is never told to keep Saturday holy as the Sabbath day, the seventh day, like Jewish nation. That was an outward covenant for a people, a genetic Jewish nation, under the covenant of Moses, which is no longer, in our view, in place because the covenant in grace supersedes it.
So Paul puts it the best. He said, one man esteems one day of the week over all the rest. Another one esteems another day above all the rest. Let each one be persuaded in his own mind.
So some of you might feel the great conviction to keep Saturday holy. Have at it. Have fun. Great. If you want to do sundown-- it has to be sundown Friday, by the way, all the way to sundown Saturday. Then you're free to do what you want. That's the Sabbath.
And by the way, we have a Saturday night Sabbath service at church. If you want to come Sabbath eve and celebrate with us, we welcome you. But the problem is, in the wintertime, the sun has already gone down. So technically, it's already the next day. So you've blown it in the winter. But the summers, at least, you can keep the Sabbath at our church.
However, if you're not hung up on that and you think, no, the first day of the week, they celebrated that because of the Resurrection. I'm good with that. That's sort of historic. I'm going to do that. Then you're free to do that, according to Paul.
But listen to what he said. Here's the summation verse. Let everyone be persuaded in his own mind. So be persuaded. But then don't try to run around and persuade everybody else of your persuasion.
We ought to keep the Sabbath. Be quiet. You be persuaded in your own mind. He or she may not be persuaded in their own mind. Let them have their persuasion.
According to Paul, it's all good. It's all good. This is one of those commandments that is not restated, reinforced, reiterated under the new covenant. I'll get off my soapbox.
By the time the New Testament rolls around, the Sabbath became a burden. This is the funny part about it, honestly. It's sad, but it's laughable. Because Sabbath means to cease. It means to rest.
This is what it means. Ahhhhh. That's what it means. Oh, it's a ahhhh Sabbath. But you come to the New Testament, and it's turned into-- it's gone from ahhhh to errrrrr. It's become a burden. It's hard to keep it.
Jesus said to the Pharisees, you lay burdens too heavy to bear on men's shoulders. And you can't even carry them yourselves. One of the burdens was the Sabbath.
There was a list of regulations added to the law by the Jewish commentators as years went by. 39 regulations of what you could and couldn't do on the Sabbath day in the Talmud, the commentary on the Old Testament law. In the Jewish Talmud, 24-- get this-- 24 chapters were devoted to understanding what a burden was that you would bear on a Sabbath.
Is it OK to lift a lamp in the Sabbath? I don't know. What do 50 rabbis say? No, you can't. Yeah, you can. OK.
Can you lift a child on the Sabbath? Yes or no? Deliberation about that. Can you wear a brooch in your hair as a woman to keep it up in a bun? Well, that's a burden technically. You're bearing something.
Can you-- this is part of the Talmud-- can you wear false teeth? Well, you're bearing. You're carrying something around. All of that nonsense was discussed. So it went from ahhhh to errrrr. It became a burden instead of a rest. No wonder Jesus took them to school.
Fifth commandment, verse 16. Fifth commandment is the commandment every parent loves to quote and every child hates to hear. Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days may be long and that it may be well with you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
Sixth commandment. You shall not murder. Wish I had an hour to talk about the recent Planned Parenthood videos and how our nation has completely lost its consciousness. Conscience and consciousness. So it's like they're brain dead.
Completely desensitized to human life, when they start talking about the crunching parts of a procedure. And here you have a fetal-- it's just a fetus. And so to society, it's worthless. Oh, but it has value if you sell it in parts.
But you know what? If you don't believe you are a special creation from God, then you are given to believe not the revelation, but the imagination. The revelation says you're a special creation from God.
The imagination says, no, you're not. You're a fortuitous occurrence of accidental circumstance. You're here by accident. Just happened. Therefore, life is negotiable, dispensable, disposable. And even the church has become sadly desensitized to this grievous ill. And I'm just glad for this-- hopefully, these videos will bring a stirring of consciousness back to America with this.
Seventh commandment. You shall not commit adultery. God putting a fence around the relationship of marriage.
Eighth commandment. You shall not steal. Interesting. Every society seems to believe this standard across the board. You shall not steal.
Ninth commandment, verse 20. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. Remember Proverbs 6? There are seven things that God hates. A lying tongue and a false witness who spreads lies. God hates it.
10th commandment, verse 21. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife. You shall not desire your neighbor's house, his field, his male servant, his female manservant, his ox, his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's. Interesting. And we'll close here.
Interesting thing about this commandment. This last commandment is in a different category than all of the other previous nine commandments. Yes, the first four are God word. The second six commandments are man word. One deals with our worship of God. The other deals with our relationship with man.
But this 10th commandment is different. Unique, in a wholly different category. Set apart from all of the others. And next week, I'll tell you why as we pick up here, finish the chapter, and enjoy Communion together, the Lord's Supper. As we meditate on how Jesus fulfilled the law, and how it all pointed to Him at the cross, and enjoy the Lord's Supper together. I can't wait.
Father, thank you for tonight and for our meditation upon your Word and the ability that we have to gather and verse by verse, chapter by chapter, go through and consider the teaching of Holy Writ, Holy Scripture. Thank you, Lord, that you water our soul. I pray it would never get old. I pray we would crave more.
You said through your prophet, my people perish for lack of knowledge. I pray, Lord, that there would not be a famine for the Word of God among us. But that we would be like a well-watered garden, fruitful, in all that we do, fruitful in our relationships.
I pray, Lord, that you would go and bless your people as they go. As they go from this place, they would feel loved by you, nurtured by you, loved by us. And, Father, they would have the strength for the rest of this week because of the principals spoken tonight, to lift them out of whatever pit they might find themselves in, and find the strength through your grace to be victorious. In Jesus's name, amen.
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