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.
Lord, thanks for allowing us and calling us to be your children. Choosing us, not just letting us. You chose us from before the foundations of the earth. And as we sit here tonight in what I've always seen as just a little bit bigger living room, where the families gather together, and in a simple, very unique, low-key kind of an atmosphere, where it's your spirit that is speaking through your word. Nobody's pumping anybody up. It is just your spirit, your word, your people. I believe you do your work, your greatest work, in hearts. We pray, Lord, that you would unlock things in our lives even from these ancient texts, and give us, Lord, ears to hear, and give us a desire to implement, to obey, to put into practice the principles, the timeless principles, of your word. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Well I want to begin by saying happy new year. Yeah, so, you go huh. In a few days, it is the Jewish new year. The Jews will celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the head of the year. That's what Rosh Hashanah means. And the Jewish new year will begin on the first day of the month of Tishri in the Jewish calendar, which equates to sundown on the 13th of this month, September 13th, Sunday evening, sundown. That's when the new year begins.
And when that begins, Rosh Hashanah begins. It is the beginning of what is called Yamim Noraim, the days of awe. And that first day leads up to a 10-day wait until the high holy day of Yom Kippur, the day of atonement. So all of that together from the new year, Rosh Hashanah, until Yom Kippur are the days of awe. The Yamim Noraim.
So happy new year. It is the Jewish new year coming up. Now why am I bringing that up? Simply because in our text tonight, we read a wonderful verse about how God looks at the land of Israel, the land he is giving to the Jewish people, and he said, the eyes of the Lord your God are on that land from the beginning of the year until the end of the year. So just keep that in mind, the care and supervision of God, that the eyes of the Lord are on it from the beginning of the year. And the beginning of the year is coming up.
What makes it a bit confusing-- and I won't elaborate too much on it, because I've touched on it in the past-- is that there's not one new year, but two new years in the Jewish calendar. There is the religious year, and there is the civic year. The one coming up is the civic new year, beginning on the first day of Tishri. But when God institutes the Passover, he has told the children of Israel that on the first day, or I'm sorry, on this month, shall be the beginning of months to you. And that is the month of Nissan. So there is the spiritual or religious year, but the civic year, even according to the biblical mandate, begins on the first day of Tishri.
Well Moses, at 120 years of age, is speaking to a new generation of Israelites, the children of Israel. In a few weeks, he will be dead. He will be buried in the mountain behind him, for he is facing the children of Israel, the Jordan River, and the land of Israel before him, a land he will only see but never enter. He is giving them a recap of the law, a review of their history, but a recap of their law. Hence, the word deuteronomy means the second law. Not a review as much as a recap of the highlights for the new generation of the things they are to uphold and keep.
Now the laws of God are laws for life. It's given by a loving God to a people to demonstrate his love to them. Sometimes people regard the laws of God as something God does to make people feel very restricted and keep them in line, and perhaps filled with guilt to correct their behavior, and he's trying to cramp my style.
But God's laws are not given to restrict you as much as to benefit you. If you have prescription medication for anything at all, there are instructions that come with it. It doesn't say hey, you know what, take one whenever you feel like it. Because you might feel like taking a whole bottle one day, or none at all the next. There are prescriptions for the prescription. There are regulations to keep. Why? To keep you alive. Not to restrict you, but so that that medication will make its full impact. So every medication has what are called indications and contraindications. Contraindication means don't take this medicine if you're taking that medicine or doing this behavior or experiencing these symptoms. Do take this medicine if this is the deal and it's prescribed.
So you would never go into your medicine cabinet and see different kinds of medicine and go oh, I love the green one. It's my favorite color. I'm going to have a few of those. That would be foolish. You want to follow the indications for the prescription, the laws for the administration of that medicine, to benefit you, to keep you alive longer. And that's how we need to see the laws of God, as laws of life. God gives them to benefit them.
And here's what God is trying to bring them to. He has mentioned it, and it will be mentioned even in the first verse of chapter 11. It's all about love. It's all about loving God and responding to God's love of us. It is a relationship of love.
A.W. Tozer said the essence of sin is the rebellion against divine authority. It's a good statement, and I believe it. The essence of sin is a rebellion against divine authority. However, I think it begins by a misplacing of divine priorities. Before you rebel against divine authority, there's a misplacing of divine priorities. And the priority is that of love. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, the Bible tells us. Jesus called that the greatest commandment.
Sometimes I think churches are guilty for telling people don't do this, don't do that, do that, do this, don't do that. Of course, there are certain things to stay away from. But again, it's all about relationship. Jesus said if you love me, you will keep my commandments. So it's all about falling in love with him, which, once you love him, once he has your heart, he has you. Once he has your heart, he has your obedience.
So it is all about that priority. And it's that priority of loving God with all of your heart. That's why I've always said that relationship must always supersede regulations and rituals. It's not about regulations, it's not about rituals. You can keep all the laws you want, that won't make one iota of getting you closer to God. He wants you, and once he has your heart, once he has your love, your devotion, it's like any relationship. When a young couple dates, he's thinking of ways to please her. He's attracted to her. He wants to win her over, win her heart. And he just loves and relishes the thought of doing things that would please her, and vice versa. It's a relationship of love.
So it is with God. What would God want me to do today. What a great way to live. What a freeing way to live.
So notice verse one of chapter 11. Therefore, you shall love the Lord your God. Now any time you see a therefore, I hope this doesn't get old for some of you, some of you already know what I'm going to say-- I know what I'm going to say, but that's nothing new. But you already know what I'm going to say, but some of you need to just hear this. Whenever there's a therefore like here at the beginning of a chapter, that's not an appropriate beginning of a thought.
You say well why did God start chapter 11 here? He didn't. Chapters were brought in much later after the biblical text was written. Somebody came along and said I'm going to put chapter right here, and started numbering verses. That was done much later. So whenever there's a therefore, you want to find out what it's there for.
And so he's referring to what he has done for them, how he has loved them, how he has kept them, how he has treated them specially in their past. And because that is true, because he has done that, therefore, or because of that, as a response to his love, you shall love the Lord your God and keep his charge, his statutes, his judgments, his commandments, always.
Those are the instructions on the bottle of medication. These are given to keep you healthy. These are given to get you out of trouble. They're given because I love you. Now follow those instructions, and show that you love me.
Know today, Moses says to this group, know today that I do not speak with your children. Can you picture the crowd? It's enormous. There are adults who, at one time, were children when the events of the exodus took place. They have grown up. They have with them their children. And Moses, this old man, is saying I'm not talking to your kids. That's your job. That's what you're going to do. You're going to train your children. That's not my job. I'm not talking to them.
I do not speak with your children, who have not known and who have not seen the chastening of the Lord your God. His greatness, his mighty hand, his outstretched arm, his signs and his acts, which he did in the midst of Egypt to Pharaoh, the King of Egypt, and to all his land. What he did to the army of Egypt, to their horses, and their chariots. How he made the waters of the Red Sea overflow them as they pursued you, and how the Lord has destroyed them to this day, or literally once and for all.
What he did for you in the wilderness until you came to this place. What he did to Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, the son of Reuben, and how the earth opened up its mouth and swallowed them up and their households, their tents, and all the substance that was in their possession in the midst of all Israel. But your eyes have seen every great act of the Lord which he did.
Now I'm going to go back and comment on a few things. But I wanted to read all of that for you to see the flow of the message Moses is giving. He's saying now I'm talking to you, not your kids, because you've seen things your kids haven't seen. You were there when the Red Sea opened up. You were there when some of these miracles happened. You were kids. It made an impression on you. Some of you will never forget that. You probably dropped your jaws. You've seen it, and I'm talking to you.
It's a fun and important principle, because as adults, sometimes when we hear truth, we hear sermons, we hear messages, we are apt to say oh, my kids need to hear this. My daughter, my son, they need to be here. I need to get them this message. They need to hear this. Yes, perhaps. But God is speaking to you, and then God will use you to speak to them by your lifestyle, as well as by precept. By your example as well as by the exhortation. So I'm not talking to your kids right now. I know you want this message to go to your kids, but this is for you. I'm addressing the adults now.
You have seen these mighty things. His signs, verse three, which he did in the midst of Egypt to Pharaoh, et cetera, what he did to the army of Egypt, to their horses and their chariots. That's what happened in the Red Sea.
And look at verse six. What he did to Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, the son of Reuben, how the earth opened up its mouth and swallowed them up and their households, their tents, all their substance that was in their possession in the midst of Israel. Your eyes have seen every great act which the Lord did.
Now this generation, grown-up adults, they would have been children and remembered the day that there was a rebellion that happened in the tents of Israel. And let me tell you about it. It's in Numbers chapter 16. But they would have remembered it.
In Numbers 16, a guy-- and he's not mentioned here, I'm going to take a stab at why he's not mentioned. There was a guy named Korah. Korah was a Levite from the tribe of Levi. But he was a very particular type of Levite. He was a Kohathite, he was from the priestly tribe. He was a very, very upper class priestly tribe, or priestly family of the tribe of Levi.
But Kohath evidently was not very pleased with his own position, and thought that he should have a higher position. He started a rebellion against the leadership of Moses and Aaron. And he got a whole bunch of people buying into this rebellion. 250 other pretty stout leaders, including Dathan and Abiram from another tribe.
And Korah came to Moses one day, and Aaron said, Moses, you take too much upon yourself making yourself the leader of this vast nation of Israel. You take too much upon yourself. And then he said, the whole nation of Israel is holy. Not just you. It's not just you and Aaron. The whole nation of Israel is holy.
And Moses responded and he said actually, Korah, you take too much upon yourself. Tell you what. Let's have a showdown. Let's have a contest. I'll meet you tomorrow here at the tabernacle. You bring your little censers, I'll bring my censer, Aaron will bring his, meet you hear tomorrow. So it was like the showdown at the Yahweh Corral.
So the next day, they got there. Korah showed up, his buddies. Dathan and Abiram said they weren't going to come. And then the Lord instructed Moses hey, announce to the children of Israel, tell them to get away from the tents of Korah and Dathan and Abiram, 'cause I'm gonna do a new thing. I'm gonna do something they're gonna talk about for generations. Just tell everybody to get away from 'em.
So then Moses said, tell you what, people of Israel. If these men, Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and the 250 rebels, if they die a natural death, then they're right. I take too much upon myself, and the Lord hasn't spoken through me. But if the Lord opens up the earth and swallows them alive, then indeed God has chosen me and Aaron, and is using me as his spokesperson.
And you know the story. The earth opened up and swallowed them alive. They were trying to create a division among the nation of Israel, so God divided them from the people and took them out.
And now Moses is saying, you were kids when that happened, but you remember that. Your eyes saw that. We don't know why the rebellion happened. But if you listen to the words of Korah and crew, Moses, you take too much upon yourself. Everybody's holy. There shouldn't be this upper class kind of I'm a leader and, but everybody's the same.
I'm guessing that, though he was a Levite and a Kohathite, that Korah believed he should have more prominence. He sort of probably looked at the way people treated Aaron and gave respect to him and spoke to him and Moses and asked for advice and counsel and looked up to them, and he probably thought they don't do that to me very much. I think I'm as leadership quality as that person is. So he challenged him. It was all based on jealousy. And so the Lord showed the difference.
Now this isn't the only time a rebellion happens like this. The son of David named Absalom did the same thing when he parked himself in front of the gates of Jerusalem as people were coming in and out. And one day, somebody was coming in and Absalom engaged a conversation. And the guy said yeah, things are really bad, I've got this case I need to talk to the king about and take this to court. And Absalom just goes oh boy, you have such a valid case. And oh, if I were only a judge in Israel, I would make sure that your case is heard and that you get justice. And he started winning over the hearts of the people to steal them away from David.
Korah, Dathan, Abiram, these are what you call posers. You know what a poser is, right? Somebody who pretends to be something he's not. We used call all those people who put surf stickers on their car and tried to talk the lingo and stuff but never really got on a board and went out in the ocean, those were posers. And you could just tell. Just you engage a little bit of conversation and go, OK, whatever.
These guys were posers. They thought they wanted a position of notoriety and adulation that some of the others enjoyed. Now unfortunately, this can even happen today in the church. The church is called the body of Christ. But in the body of Christ, there are some parts of the body that think that they should have a more visible role, because there are parts of the human body that are visible, right? I mean eyes and mouth, they're seen when you go up to a person. You don't notice certain other parts of their body that are covered, you know.
But then Paul says, if the foot should say, because I'm not a hand, I'm not of the body, is it therefore not of the body. And his point is all of the parts are important. They serve a role to get the job done. And so the picture Paul paints is that Jesus Christ, he's the head of the body of the church. He's the one calling the shots. And everybody has a vital role.
Korah had a vital role. He was a Kohathite. And Moses even said, don't you understand that your calling and your gifting and your position in among the people of Israel is a high and holy and important calling? But can you imagine, since the metaphor Paul uses is that of the body of Christ, what if certain parts of your body thought they wanted more exposure. What if they had a mind of their own.
What if all of a sudden your lungs said you know, I hate being unseen. I want more exposure. I want people to notice me and see me. Well first of all, it would be gross to like check out a dude's lung. But also if your lungs got exposed, you die. So all of the parts are necessary. Jesus is the head. He had chosen Moses, and he had chosen Aaron. And he had chosen Dathan and Abiram and Korah, but for different tasks altogether. But they elevated themselves.
And so he's recounting that the earth swallowed up Dathan, Abiram, son of Eliab, son of Reuben. Why doesn't he mention Korah? I don't know. My guess perhaps, some say well that maybe Korah was spared and the earth swallowed up Dathan and Abiram. I don't think so. I'm guessing because there were some descendants, some relatives, of Korah in the crowd. And so not to offend them, to show mercy and grace, he recalls the story without bringing up the chief rebel himself, who was Korah. But he mentions the others.
But your eyes have seen-- verse seven-- every great act which he did. Therefore, you shall keep every commandment which I command you. What have your eyes seen? What have you experienced? It's a fair question. I think it's a good question for me to ask you. What have you seen the Lord do in your life? That's your testimony, it's no one else's.
What in terms of the work of God in your lifetime have you seen? Have you looked at things that-- or been a part of something and you go that was a move of God. Then you have that to tell. That's your story. That's part of your testimony. But I do believe every one of us needs to personally experience God, just like they saw certain things that the next generation didn't see. And that generation has to tell those kids that and reinforce that, because they're going to see things their parents didn't see. And they're going to build on that narrative, build on that story. But it's important that you have not just a secondhand experience, but a firsthand encounter with the living God.
I love how John writes in first John chapter 1. He says that which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes and our hands have handled, concerning the word of life, we heard things, we saw things, we gazed at things that no one has ever experienced. This is our testimony. And now I'm testifying to you. Firsthand experience. When Peter writes, second Peter chapter one, for we have not followed cunningly devised fables when we made known unto you the coming and the power of the Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
What was it like for Peter to wake up, John to wake up, one day and realize I've been hanging out with God in a human body. I've been looking at him. I've been wondering about him, been marveling at him. And now I realize who this is. Just the sheer amazement that would come over you. When you see Jesus feeding the crowd, you're seeing God caring for the needs of people. When you see Jesus weeping over a city, you're seeing God having a broken heart over the rebellion and rejection that people have toward him. You're seeing the response and the emotion of God.
Well in like manner, there were certain things from the past exodus narrative that they had seen. They were there. They were witnesses. They were kids. They were impressionable. But it was part of the story, their story.
Therefore you shall keep every commandment which I command you today that you may be strong. Notice the relationship between obeying and being strong. You want to be stronger? Then obey. Obey in the little things. It's like lifting a weight. It's like going to the gym. You grab a promise of God, you hold onto a promise, and you just put it into practice and your faith muscle gets built. And you do it again and you do it again, and pretty soon you're strong. You're able to fight battles you've never fought before, go through things you've never gone through before. You're invincible. Obedience brings strength.
And go in and possess the land which you go to cross over. And that you may prolong your days in the land which the Lord swore to give to your fathers, to them and their descendants, a land flowing with milk and honey. For the land which you go to possess is not like the land of Egypt from which you have come, where you sowed your seed and watered it by foot as a vegetable garden. But the land which you cross over to possess is a land of hills and valleys which drinks in the water from the rain of heaven. A land for which the Lord your God cares. The eyes of the Lord your God are always on it from the beginning of the year to the very end of the year.
These verses of scriptures are the first go-to versus I like to read when we do a tour to Israel. When people get off the long plane flight in Tel Aviv and we put them on a bus, and they're tired from the jet lag, but they're driving from the airport to the hotel, and they're looking out at the land, and they're driving through a valley and there's hills on every side, we love to pull out this verse and welcome them to the land. And here is Moses welcoming them to the land. He won't go in, but they will.
It's a land of hills and valleys. Now I have tried to ride a bicycle through that land. The valleys are great. The hills will kill you. Because if you wanted to ride, say, from Jericho up to Jerusalem, it's only about-- well, it's a few miles away. I don't know exactly because of the city limits now. But you will go from the Dead Sea area, which is about 1,290 feet below sea level, to 2,500 feet above sea level in a very short period of time. It's an incline-- it's so steep, it's like, carry the bike or put your thumb out. Get a bus to pick you up. It is crazy the hills and the valleys.
Now there are some principles I want you to acknowledge and I want you to discover. The land which you're going to possess, God says, is different from the land of Egypt. When you were in Egypt, you had to get your water by foot. Now that's an odd thing, isn't it, to say? Did you notice that in the verse? You sowed your seed-- verse 10-- and watered it by foot. How do you water something by foot? Do you like grab the hose with your foot, lift it up or lift the pail of water with your toes?
One of two things, and the second one is what I believe it means. One, you can pick up a pail of water and, by foot, carry it from one place to another. Now you're watering it by walking, or by foot. That's one way. But what I believe he means is this. The land of Egypt has the delta Nile that floods typically every year. And when the river floods, when the Nile floods, they divert it into canals much like we have in the Rio Grande Valley. We put it into little canals to water farms and houses that have those water rights, those drainage dishes.
So what they would have is these little doors that would open and close. And they had these foot pumps like a bicycle. Is was like a wheel with slats on it, sometimes with buckets on it, and a place to put your foot. And you could turn it, and it would divert the water and pump the water. You were pumping the water from one place to another. It was a foot pump. You watered it by foot.
You see Egypt gets as its annual rainfall less than one inch per year. That's just staggering, isn't it? 0.79 inches per year is the rainfall of the land of Egypt. I don't know if you've ever seen Egypt, but outside of the Nile delta, you will think the moon is lush when you look at the land of Egypt. There's just nothing. No rainfall. Nothing grows. But the Nile can provide sustenance, but you have to work hard. You have to pump it by foot.
So God is saying welcome to the land of Israel. You're not going to pump your water by foot like you did back then. And children of Israel, they were slaves, so who did most of the pumping? They did, right? They had to work hard in Egypt to get water and to grow crops.
But this land, God says, is different. There's hills and valleys. And it really drinks in water from heaven. So let me just help you understand how unique the land of Israel is.
First of all geographically, topographically, there are some features to it. The land of Israel is part of the longest rift valley on the planet Earth. 3,700 miles long. The Syro-African Rift Valley starts in the Ural Mountains of Russia, goes all the way down to the Zambezi region of Africa. In the middle there is that land of Israel, and the bodies of water, the Sea of Galilee, Jordan River, Dead Sea, are all below sea level. So it's in a basin, a rift basin.
What makes that unique is that 70% of all of the water springs, [INAUDIBLE], rivers, et cetera, don't empty into the ocean like most places. They empty into the rift valley. They empty into the Sea of Galilee and into the Jordan. And that goes into the Dead Sea, which has no outlet. It just evaporates by the air. It's very, very unique. So just the way it is set up, they depend, even to this day, on rainfall for everything.
And so I'm bringing you to a place of total dependence upon me. You thought it was tough going through the wilderness, you're now in a land that drinks in the water from heaven. And later on, this is significant, because God will say hey, you know what, if you show your love to me by obedience, I'll show my love to you by blessing you with a lot of rainfall. If you want to be hardened and stiffened and recalcitrant and go the other direction, I'll just not let it rain.
But what a deal this is. When you were in Egypt, you had to pump, work hard, to get your water. Now you're in a land where I'm going to pour the water out of heaven to you. How would you rather live? Would you rather live your life having to pump it up, or have it poured out? I'd want it poured out. And I believe that that's just not only for the land of Israel and for the new land that they were going into, as opposed to Egypt and just for life in general, but I think church life is like that.
Sometimes I'll see movements or I'll see churches, and it's all about pumping you up, pumping you up, pumping you up. But instead of being pumped up, I'd rather be poured on by the Lord. A legitimate Lord just you bring the refreshment. You bring the rain. You bring the water.
So God says, it will rain upon you. It will drink in the water from heaven. A land for which the Lord your God cares, the eyes of the Lord-- now you know what that is called? The eyes of the Lord is called, if you're a Bible student, what is that term called? The eyes of the Lord is called a-- anthropomorphism. You say I didn't come to church to hear that word. Well you just heard it. Anthropomorphism. Why not learn it. Why not learn a new word.
Anthro is a word that means man, like anthropology. A pomorphism is a statement. It is a statement, a word, that describes God in human language, anthropos language. Anthropomorphism. Because God is transcendent, because God is other than I am, for me to grasp God and the concepts of how God works, and to have a relationship with him, I need sometimes to try to understand God at a human level, because that's the only level with which I can converse and get along and understand someone else.
So you see a lot of these in the Bible. The eyes of the Lord go to and fro throughout the earth. The eyes of the Lord are on it from beginning to end. The ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord it says in Proverbs. The Bible speaks about gathering under the wings of God, under my wings. That doesn't mean God has eyeballs, eyelids, eyebrows, or that he has wings like a bird. It is simply colorful language, anthropomorphism, so that you can get through the poetry given, the poetic description, an idea of what God is like. Most people would understand that. And I know you do.
So the eyes of the Lord are on it. In other words, God is always aware. God is always caring. And by the way, this is the best feature of the land. There's a geographical, topographical feature of the land, and that is what I just described. But the best feature of the land is the spiritual feature of the land. And that is this. I care for this land. My eyes are always on this land. Not that God's eyes aren't on every land, but he has a special care for that piece of real estate. He has a special care for that piece of real estate.
Why is that? Well it's because it's his land. Leviticus 25, for the land is mine, God says. And that's important, because today there's a dispute. Well who owns the land of Israel, and are the Jews bringing in apartheid and innocent-- you know, did the Palestinians say they have a right and the Jews say they have the right, God would step in and go you're all wrong. It's mine. It's my land.
Now wouldn't you agree that, if it is God's land, that he can do whatever he wants to with it? That's his prerogative. If you own something, you can do whatever you want with it. If you give it away or if you lend it to somebody, it's your prerogative. Certainly we would afford God the prerogative we would afford anybody else. So God said, it's my land. And he happened to give that land to Abraham. Genesis chapter 12, I'm giving you this land to you and your descendants.
Well Abraham had a lot of descendants. He had Ishmael and then he had Isaac. He didn't give it to Ishmael. He did give it to Isaac. But Isaac had descendants. Isaac had Esau and Jacob. God gave it to Jacob. He didn't give it to Esau. So he gave it to the descendants, according to scripture, to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, and the 12 tribes which comprise the people of Israel.
That's not saying God didn't love the other guys. He promised them land as well, and promised to bless them with more real estate. And that shows just on a map of the Middle East how much real estate he has given the other team. But sadly, the other team thinks that that land that Israel occupies ought to be theirs also, and that Israel ought to be eliminated off the face of the earth completely, that the Jewish presence is a scourge to their existence as a religion and as a people. But God says it's mine. And the great feature of it is God says my eyes are on it from the beginning to the end.
And it shall be that you shall earnestly obey my commandments, which I command you to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul. Then I will give you the rain for your land in its season. The early rain, and the latter rain that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil.
Now something needs to be addressed based on what I just said, because some questions will pop up. And I notice that they're popping up in theological circles, and maybe you've been exposed to them. God says I'm giving you the land, but then God tells them to obey God. Keep my commandments. And so somebody will say well that is the kicker.
Because the history of Israel shows that they continually did not obey God, so they don't have a right to the land. The church now is the new Israel. And nobody really owns the land of Israel geographically today, and so the Arabs, the Muslims, the Palestinians, they all have a point. It's their land.
Jimmy Carter is in that ilk. He's written a book about this. If Israel disobeyed God, they don't have the right to the land. Ah. Glad you brought that up.
Paul addresses it by saying this. Romans chapter 11, let me just read it to you. Not the chapter, the verse. Verse one. I say then, after Israel has disobeyed, I say then, has God cast away his people? God forbid, or certainly not, for I am also an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away the people whom he also foreknew. I say, then-- this is verse 11 of Romans 9-- that have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not. But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. Now if their fall is the riches for the world and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness?
Because here's what I want you to realize. And from tonight onward, you're gonna promise to be Biblically astute and educated in this conversation about who owns the land. Right? You are.
There are two covenants that settle the issue. The first covenant is God's covenant to Abraham, predating Moses, all the way back to Abraham. God made a promise to Abraham, and to Isaac and to Jacob. And it was-- listen-- an unconditional covenant. There are no conditions. You can mess up, you can deny me, it doesn't matter. My thing is I am giving this to you and your descendants, period. That's my deal. It's called an unconditional covenant. The Abrahamic covenant for the land is an unconditional covenant.
OK, now we have a problem. And that brings up the conversation and the debate today. God brings in another covenant later on through Moses called the Mosaic covenant, giving of the law, obeying the law, the sacrifices, et cetera that we've been reading about. Ah. The Mosaic covenant is a conditional covenant. Not an unconditional, it's conditional. So God says Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, I'm giving you and your descendants this land forever. Moses, you tell the children of Israel they better obey me. If they obey me, they'll stay in the land and I'll bless them in the land and I'll pour rain on the land. If they disobey me, I'll withhold my blessing, and I will kick them out.
I'm giving it a pause because I'm hoping that settles in and you see a conflict between the two. Because I want to resolve the conflict, because you've got an unconditional covenant and a conditional covenant. So how does God give it to the Jews unconditionally and yet gives them a conditional covenant? I'm glad you asked.
From Abraham all the way down to the future, God has given that piece of real estate-- and by the way, much more than that. Much more than that. He given them Iraq, all the way to the Euphrates River, to the Jews. They'll occupy it one day. Another story.
But he's given it unconditionally, yet their tenure in the land, their ability to stay and enjoy the land, is conditional, which means this. They will disobey. And when they disobey, God will kick them out, send them into a captivity. They have to leave the whole land. They go to Babylon and to Assyria.
But because God made a promise to Abraham, he's going to honor that, and he'll bring 'em back. You see, in taking them out and fulfilling the conditional covenant by kicking them out like he said he would, that'll cause them to repent. That'll cause them to get really humble. And as soon as they get humble and repent, God says OK, I'm bringing you back. In Isaiah chapter 11 verse 11, it says when they return the second time, they will permanently dwell in that land. So they're not going anywhere.
You can look at the map of Israel. They're not going anywhere. I know the Ayatollah Khomeini has threatened obliteration, that Israel-- he said today on the news within 10 years there will be no Israel. There will be no-- we will annihilate it. They've said that today.
And yet I'm taking a tour to Israel in a few months. Because the word of the Ayatollah makes much far less matter to me than what God has promised to Abraham, Isaac, and to Jacob. So they're in that land, and they've been brought back a second time, and they're gonna occupy that permanently. They're gonna have ups and downs. They're gonna have ins and outs. They're gonna have persecution, and they're gonna have tragedy, even, the Bible predicts.
But since it's God's land, he's given it to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, and to the 12 tribes of Israel. It's unconditional, but their tenure is conditional. And if they get kicked out, he'll still keep bringing 'em back. And that cycle has happened throughout their history. And now they're in it. Now they're in it. And that's God's prerogative to do it, and I think that answers the whole idea of the whose land it is and the argument there. OK. I don't want to dwell too long on that. I'd like to finish this chapter if at all possible.
Verse 15. And I will send grass in your fields for your livestock that you may eat and be filled. Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them. Lest the Lord's anger be aroused against you and he shut up the heavens so that there be no rain and the land yield no produce and you perish quickly from the good land which the Lord your God has given you.
Have you noticed this repeated theme throughout the law and the second giving of the law where he says now don't follow other gods. Don't be tempted to follow other gods. Don't turn to their worships, why? Why is it that there's this frequent exhortation to not follow other gods?
One of the reasons is because of the attraction there would be in the Land of Canaan to the false religious systems. You know what I mean by that, attraction? The worship system of the Canaanites was sensual. It was sexual. It aroused the passions. It was unlike the purity of worshipping Yahweh. It was you go to a temple and adjoin yourself to a female prostitute or a male prostitute, and you worship Baal and Ashtoreth. These are the gods of the sky, the sea, the storm god, the goddess of war and fertility, that's Ashtoreth.
And the idea was that in employing the sensuality, well, first of all, it would interest a whole lot of people. Young men would go oh, that's a church I'd like to attend. Really? And here was the idea.
They believed that since fertility came from Baal and Ashtoreth, this male and female counterpart in the pantheon of gods, that during the act of sexual intercourse it was stated in some form of prayer, even as fertility is taking place at this moment, may my crops, my flocks and my herds also be blessed and become fertile and produce, et cetera. The idea is that an act that would lend itself toward fertility, that spoke of fertility, was a way to honor these gods, god and goddess, Baal and Ashtoreth. And so that would be very attractive to many of them, because it involved the base sexual impulses.
So there's that constant warning. Lest the Lord's anger be aroused, et cetera, and there be no rain. The land will yield no produce.
Verse 18. Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand. And they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. We discussed the phylacteries, the pouches that became the boxes that is still, if you go to Israel today, Jerusalem, or New York City for that matter, and you see the Orthodox Jews, you will see these phylacteries. They take this very literally.
I don't necessarily believe that God meant them to put boxes on their heads and put little verses of scripture in them, though they say we'll put them on our hand and our head because of this. I think the idea of this is pretty simple. Because he begins with, you do with your heart and your soul. Then as frontlets in your eye. In other words, the truth of God should govern how you think, and it should govern what you do. It should govern your work, it should govern your thought processes, your speech, et cetera. Everything should be governed by the word, the truth, of the living God. That's really the idea of it.
So you can put boxes on your heads all day long, but not really love God or keep those commandments, but just think check out my box, is that cool or what. And in Jesus days, he said they make broad their phylacteries, so they're putting like big old trunks on there and stuff, and sorry I hit you with my phylactery. I'll watch out next time. How would you put a bicycle helmet on with that thing, I don't know.
You will teach them, verse 19, to your children, speaking to them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. Parents, look for every opportunity as a teaching lesson. Don't see your kids as an inconvenience, but as an opportunity. Oh, this is a perfect lesson to teach them something because of this. You write them on the door post of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land which the Lord swore to their fathers to give them like the days the heavens-- like the days of the heavens above the earth.
For if you will carefully keep all these commandments which I command you to do, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to hold fast to him, then the Lord will drive out all these nations from before you and will dispossess greater and mightier nations then yourselves. Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours. Notice the borders. From the wilderness and Lebanon-- Lebanon is a nation above Israel, the mountains of Lebanon are in that country-- from the river, the river Euphrates that is now Iraq. I was there a few months back. So you have to take the borders and expand it past the Jordan River, past the nation of Jordan, into the nation of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon. To the western sea, that is the Mediterranean Sea, shall be your territory.
I don't think if the Jews proposed this in the national marketplace, international marketplace, that Iraq and the other nations would go along with this, do you? No, I don't think so either. But I do believe that one day they will occupy this land, and I believe it will be in the millennial kingdom, the kingdom age when Jesus Christ rules and reigns geopolitically from these borders the land of Israel, the world, for a thousand years. It will happen. It will happen. And it says as much in the rest of scripture. Don't have time to unpack all that.
No man shall be able to stand against you. The Lord your God will put the dread of you and the fear of you upon all the land where you tread just as he said to you. Well this happened, didn't it? They didn't think it was possible 38 years before, those 10 spies came back and said man, they're so big and we're so small, and we're afraid of them. They'll never be afraid of us. When in fact, it was the exact opposite. Because God had gone before them. When Joshua in a few weeks' time sends two spies out into Jericho and they meet with the harlot named Rahab, you know what she says to these two spies? She goes oh man, I know that the Lord has given you our land, because the dread and terror of you has fallen on us. All the inhabitants of this land are in fear of you. And I'm sure the two spies went wha-- what? Wish we had have known that 38 stinking years ago.
They should have known that. Joshua and Caleb said God will go before us. They didn't believe it, so they languished in the wilderness for almost 40 years. But that's true. God said I'm going before you, so he's reiterating that. As I said to you, that's the deal.
Behold verse 26, I set before you a blessing and a curse. The blessing if you obey the commandment the Lord your God which I command you today, and a curse if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you today to go after other gods which you have not known. Now it shall be when the Lord your God has brought you into the land which you go to possess that you shall put the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal. Are they not on the other side of the Jordan, toward the setting of the sun, in the land of the Canaanites who dwell in the plain opposite Gilgal, beside the terebinth trees of Moreh? It's a question mark, so the answer is yeah.
For you will cross over the Jordan and go in and possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you and will possess it and dwell in it, and you shall be careful to observe all the statutes and the judgments which I set before you today. Cool. So here's the deal.
Once they get into the land, there's a ritual they have to perform. In the middle section of the land, known as Samaria, there's an ancient city called Shechem. You remember that from Abraham and his travels. Shechem, modern-day Nablus in Israel. On either side of that town, there are two mountains. To the south, there's Mount Gerizim. To the north, there's Mount Ebal.
Tribes were to split up. Six tribes on one mountain, six on the other. The priests would stand at the base of the hill, and the priest would shout out from Mount Gerizim. The blessings, and on Mount Ebal the curses. It was to be a visual ritual thing they do as they enter the land.
An interesting thing about these two mountains. If you look at Mount Gerizim, it's gentler in its slope. It's greener. There's more agriculture on it. It's more fruitful. Mount Ebal is more barren, more precipitous, more rocky. Less is growing on it. It's as if you can see visually-- and that was probably the idea-- the difference between the blessed life and the cursed life, the obedient life and the disobedient life, the life that is fruitful, the life that is barren, just by looking at those two hills. So it's a-- it was to be a visual reminder of all that Moses spoke to this generation.
So God sets up these reminders for them to cement his truth in their heart, just as rather than going to the mountains and doing that we meet week by week and we cover the scriptures. And I love, I need, the constant exposure of God's word to my life and my heart. I do. I read it every day, and I love coming together and doing it. And I believe I need it, we need it, we need to be reminded of it. Because we so soon forget it. And the Lord uses it to cement that deep in our foundation.
Father, I do pray for that. I thank you for a hungry people. I thank you for those, Lord, who they live normal lives like everybody else in the secular world with jobs, interacting in conversation with a variety of people that have differing ideas. And they're called to stand up for their beliefs and to discuss their beliefs.
So Lord, we dwell in a land much like the children of Israel dwelled in a land with many competing interests, many different temptations. Lord, preserve us. Keep us. I pray what Jesus prayed for his 12. Don't take us out of the world, but keep us, preserve us, while we're in the world making an impact. Strengthen us, Lord. As we hear your word and obey it, may our muscles of faith grow firmer and stronger. Give us a good workout, Lord, this week, even as pressure comes our way and we grab a promise. And by keeping it, we're made stronger. Make us men and women of strength and faith. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
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