We had technical difficulties recording this sermon so there is no audio available. Our apologies. However, here are the sermon notes:
LOVE & OBEY
Sermon Summary: God desires that his people would love and fear him, which we fulfill by obeying him
The Purpose of the Law (1-3)
- The Unity of the Law (1)
- “Now this is the commandment” The law is spoken of as a singular whole (see also v. 31). It is not something to be taken piecemeal, with the more desirable aspects lifted up and championed and used as a means to puff oneself up and tear down others, while the less desirable parts are removed, ignored, or reinterpreted to the point of meaninglessness.
- The Author of the Law (1)
- Moses taught all that God commanded him, and only what God commanded him. All good preachers must do likewise.
- The Purpose of the Law (1-3)
- That you may do them in the land which you are going over to possess (1)
- This may come as a surprise to Israel, and maybe to some of you. But God gives his people commands, so that they will do them. A command is not a mission statement, a wish list God has for humanity, a simple statement of important principles and values. God through Moses gave his people commands so that they would do them.
- NOTE: You can read the commands Christ gives us and know, this is for me. Jesus said this for me too. He wants me to do this.
- That you may fear the LORD your God
- You, your sons, and your sons’ son by keeping all his statutes and commandments all the days of your life
- NOTE: We will speak on this topic more later. But for now I want to make an observation: God wants his people to fear him.
- ILLUSTRATION: When we are afraid of something we tend to have a fight or flight response. We run away or we try to get what we are afraid of to run from us. In either case, fear of something typically causes us to want separation from the thing feared. It is the opposite with God and his people. To fear God is not to desire separation from him but closer communion with him. Godly fear draws us nearer to God.
- How does this work? Two ways:
- Put negatively, to depart from God brings judgment. It is those who reject God, who disobey him, who remain in sin who are children of wrath and destined for judgment. Later we will see that if if Israel was to run off into idolatry, God in his jealous love for Israel and for his own name, would destroy them from the face of the earth (6:15)
- Jesus says something similar: And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).
- Put positively, we also obey God because it is good to be near him. He is so good, so delightful, so necessary to our joy, peace, and wellbeing, because his love is so tender that we dare not sin against him or offend him. He is too precious to us. Sin would threaten our closeness with him, would put a cloud between us, it would obscure our ability to sense him. And so we obey him to enjoy his blessings, the brightness of his smile upon us, and the joy of fellowship with him.
- In sum: to be far from God is death, and to be near to God is life. A God-fearer truly understands who he is and who God is and trembles. This is necessary for obedience.
- We see a specific application of this in the 5th commandment, an exhortation to honor your father and your mother, and as a result enjoy a long life in the land.
- NOTE: There is wisdom and blessing in God’s commandments. This is a reminder that God’s commandments don’t steal life or subtract from the enjoyment of life. God’s commandments when obeyed bring life and extend it.
- That it may go well with you (3)
- This essentially means that Israel would prosper by obeying the commands.
- NOTE: The world may have the idea that life is like a lottery, some get lucky and have a good life, others do not. That is not the picture we have for Israel. Certainly all history is in God’s hands and he gives blessings to those whom he wills in his great love, mercy, wisdom, and counsel. And yet the the means by which God blesses is the obedience to his word.
- Those who follow God’s commands, which are his wisdom revealed for our benefit, will generally have a better life than those who don’t. We will generally be at peace with our neighbors, be hardworking, of good reputation, better with money, devoted to our families, generous in our dealings, a benefit to our society, just in our business practices, morally upright, forgiving and kind to our enemies.
- Even an unbeliever who is restrained by the law will have a better life, than if he lives unrestrained to act on his passions.
- We see the wisdom of God in this.
- This does not mean that we won’t face hardship, pain, persecution, and the life. We live in a broken world, but those who obey God will make a better way of it by walking in God’s wise commands.
- That you may multiply greatly (3)
- As the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you in a land flowing with milk and honey
- Specific to the Covenant with Abraham was that his ancestors would multiply. To obey would result in the blessing of multiplying, to disobey would result in judgment and the diminishing of Israel’s numbers.
Moses has told Israel why he is giving them the Law from God, what God intends for them to do. God desires that his people would love and fear him, which we fulfill by obeying him. He isn’t just speaking the laws of God, he is making an appeal for them to be faithful to the LORD. He is preparing them and stirring them for obedience. We begin to look at that call now:
Love the LORD (4-9)
- “Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.” (4) READ
- ILLUSTRATION: Do any of you have more than one boss? Do you ever find yourself struggling to please all of your supervisors because they all want different tasks accomplished at the same time? Or they want contradictory things from you? How hard it is to please multiple masters. Kids, what about keeping both parents happy?
- Here Israel is given the first truth to believe in, not so much a statement of God’s unity (God is one) as it is a statement that there is only one God. One God who exists. One God for Israel to worship
- This should bring us joy, that God’s people don’t have a series of god’s to please, but one god.
- “Happy they [are] that have this one Lord for their God; for they have but one master to please, but one benefactor to seek to. It is better to have on fountain than a thousand cisterns, one all-sufficient God than a thousand insufficient ones.”
- QUOTE: Matthew Henry Commentary on this passage (Vol 1. Pg 586)
- With this in mind Moses issues the great commandment.
- The Greatest Commandment (5)
- Jesus calls it the most important command (Mk 12:29); he also calls it the first and great command (Mt 22:38)
- What makes it so great?
- The Greatest Being
- There is none higher than God. He is the ultimate authority
- He is our God and there is no other.
- He gives this is the first and primary response to him:
- The Greatest Call –To love him with:
- The Greatest Being
All commandments concerning our duty to God are related to this fundamental call to Love God. What kind of of love is it?
- A Sincere love
- not just lip-service. But with our full hearts
- An intelligent love
- Jesus notes that we love him with our minds. It isn’t purely emotion. Our thinking. Read the Bible. Read Theology.
- A Strong love
- Not wishy-washy love. It is love we fight to maintain because we tend to love other things in place of God. It is a manly thing to love God, for we must dedicate ourselves to him wholly and work hard to keep ourselves from loving the creation more than the Creator.
- An unique love
- Everyone else we love, we have to love mixed with mercy, recognizing their imperfections and overlooking them. We love them and attempt to improve them or bless them with our love. There is nothing like that in God. No imperfections. No flaws. We don’t improve or help God by loving him. We are the ones who benefit by it.
- No one fully loves who does not love God. No other perfect object we can love. And so any who do not love God are settling for lesser loves.
- An entire love
- We love him with all that we are. All our hearts, all our minds, all our will, all our strength, with all our bodies, for all our lives. Not one part of us can love anyone or anything else more than God. He demands a complete love.
- An exclusive love
- Quote from Matthew Henry (Ibid)
- “We must love God above any creature whatsoever, and love nothing beside him but what we love for him and in subordination in him.”
- This is the first and greatest commandment.
While this is the first and greatest commandment, it is not the only commandment, and Moses wants the people to remember all the commands of the Lord and live by them. He prescribes that the people of God fill their life with the word of God.
- A life shaped by the Word of God (6-9)
- Love it – shall be on your heart
- Teach it to your children
- Talk about it in everyday conversation
- Read it
- Post it on your homes and gates
- NOTE: We see that our faith is to be both private (in hearts and homes) and public (on our foreheads and gates). Not only one or the other but both.
- We spend so much time meditating on lesser things. We let the world preach at us all day long. Should we not instead fill our minds with greater things. Instead ,be Transformed by the renewing of your mind
- We must not only love God but fear him.
Fear the LORD (10-15)
- What does it mean to fear the Lord?
- ILLUSTRATION: Reading Luther’s Small Catechism on the explanation of the Ten commandments. For each command the question is asked: what does this mean? The answer always beings: We should fear and love God… this confused me as a child. I understood that we should love God. But fear God? Even children see love as a good thing but fear is something that we avoid. Right?
- Fear is the appropriate response to a holy God. (Isaiah 6)
- Something can be beautiful and terrifying at the same time, such as the vastness of the ocean or outer space.
- We are at his mercy. We exist at his good pleasure. He is not to be trifled with.
- It is the privilege of a believer to be called children of God and a friend of God. but let us not let our friendship with God make us be presumptuous. We are not equal with God. He is not our buddy that we hang out with. He is our God, great and glorious, and he is to be feared, as well as loved.
- Love and fear are not contrary to one another. They are both proper and complementary responses to God.
- We love him, so we want to please him
- We fear him, so we don’t want to displease him
- Those who do not fear God forget him, and forsake him.
- Israel (and we) must beware of such things
- We must not forget the gifts of grace (10-11)
- We must not forget the giver of the gifts (12)
- We must not forsake him for other gods (13-16)
- If you don’t fear God you are going forget that you have one master to love and obey. And you will spend your days loving what is imperfect and fearing what can harm your body but not your soul.
Obey the LORD (16-19)
- If you love God and fear God. Then you must also obey God.
- What is Love?
- We err when we let the world preach to us about what love is rather than what God has declared to us in his word what it is. From what I commonly see described as love in our culture, it could be defined as thinking nice thoughts towards someone. It is something that you can fall into and out of.
- Love is more than affections. It is not less than affections, but it doesn’t end there.Love is action. It is a verb. Active, not passive.
- Aren’t you glad that God’s love for you isn’t simple affection. Aren’t you glad that God’s love for you didn’t end with warm feelings and well-wishing.
- God saw your brokenness, your shame, you guilt, that your body is dying, your thinking was all mixed up, that your heart was corrupt, that your desires were wicked, and he didn’t sit in heaven and say: “I feel for your. I’m thinking warm thoughts toward you. I really like you.” No. God took action. He set his love on us. It wasn’t because we were lovely. We were anything but lovely. Yet God sent his Son Jesus to die for us. God’s love was a sacrificial action. 1 John tells us that we wouldn’t even know what love really if not for the cross of Christ (3:16)
- In the same way, God’s call for us to love him is a call to action. It is a call to obedience. It was true for Israel and it is true for us. “If you love me, you will keep my commands.” ~ John 14:15
- Jesus has accomplished the work that saves, and now he calls his people to do the work of the saved.
- Do what the Lord has commanded you. Be diligent in it. Do what is right in his eyes.
The Meaning of the Law (20-25)
- In response to God’s salvation (21-23)
- Because God issues the commands (24)
- Because he issues them for our good (24)
- It will be righteousness for them (25)
- Not that it will save them, but it is the right response to the covenant the LORD is making with them.