Deuteronomy 4:1–40 “And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the rules that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you. 2 You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you. 3 Your eyes have seen what the LORD did at Baal-peor, for the LORD your God destroyed from among you all the men who followed the Baal of Peor. 4 But you who held fast to the LORD your God are all alive today. 5 See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 6 Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ 7 For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? 8 And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?
9 “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children—10 how on the day that you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, the LORD said to me, ‘Gather the people to me, that I may let them hear my words, so that they may learn to fear me all the days that they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children so.’ 11 And you came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, while the mountain burned with fire to the heart of heaven, wrapped in darkness, cloud, and gloom. 12 Then the LORD spoke to you out of the midst of the fire. You heard the sound of words, but saw no form; there was only a voice. 13 And he declared to you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, that is, the Ten Commandments, and he wrote them on two tablets of stone. 14 And the LORD commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and rules, that you might do them in the land that you are going over to possess.
15 “Therefore watch yourselves very carefully. Since you saw no form on the day that the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, 16 beware lest you act corruptly by making a carved image for yourselves, in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female, 17 the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the air, 18 the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water under the earth. 19 And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven. 20 But the LORD has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be a people of his own inheritance, as you are this day. 21 Furthermore, the LORD was angry with me because of you, and he swore that I should not cross the Jordan, and that I should not enter the good land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance. 22 For I must die in this land; I must not go over the Jordan. But you shall go over and take possession of that good land. 23 Take care, lest you forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which he made with you, and make a carved image, the form of anything that the LORD your God has forbidden you. 24 For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
25 “When you father children and children’s children, and have grown old in the land, if you act corruptly by making a carved image in the form of anything, and by doing what is evil in the sight of the LORD your God, so as to provoke him to anger, 26 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that you will soon utterly perish from the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess. You will not live long in it, but will be utterly destroyed. 27 And the LORD will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the LORD will drive you. 28 And there you will serve gods of wood and stone, the work of human hands, that neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell. 29 But from there you will seek the LORD your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul. 30 When you are in tribulation, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, you will return to the LORD your God and obey his voice. 31 For the LORD your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers that he swore to them.
32 “For ask now of 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 such a great thing as this has ever happened or was ever heard of. 33 Did any people ever hear the voice of a god speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard, and still live? 34 Or has any god ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, and by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great deeds of terror, all of which the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? 35 To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD is God; there is no other besides him. 36 Out of heaven he let you hear his voice, that he might discipline you. And on earth he let you see his great fire, and you heard his words out of the midst of the fire. 37 And because he loved your fathers and chose their offspring after them and brought you out of Egypt with his own presence, by his great power, 38 driving out before you nations greater and mightier than you, to bring you in, to give you their land for an inheritance, as it is this day, 39 know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. 40 Therefore you shall keep his statutes and his commandments, which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land that the LORD your God is giving you for all time.”
Authority is foundational to civilization. Without authority, society will quickly fall into chaos. Within a family, there must be parents. Within a business there must be a boss. Within a government there must be law. Within a church, there must be pastors. Without these authorities, the competing interests within those groups would be at odds with one another, without anyone to determine what should be allowed, and disallowed; done, and not done.
We have been considering the doctrine of Scripture the last two weeks. Kyle showed us that God speaks with power through his Word. Pastor Mike showed us last week that he speaks sufficiently through his Word. It is my hope this morning, that we will see he speaks with authority in his Word. This is fundamental to our faith. For if God is not our final authority, something else is in the place of the God of the Bible.
One of the key things I want us to see this morning, is that God’s Word has all the answers to our world’s problems. It has the answers because this is God’s world, and he offers instruction about it in his Word. God is the creator; therefore, God is the ruler. Only God has ultimate authority.
In the last year and a half, we have witnessed the world around us descending into anarchy. There is a lawlessness at work in our world that we all instinctively find troublesome, for it has unleashed instability into what had previously seemed stable. More than forty years ago, theologian R.J. Rushdoony, wrote:
“Anarchy is the end product of the denial of God’s authority. Armed officers can and must quell revolutionary anarchy, but they cannot destroy the anarchy in the hearts of men. That inner anarchy, like a cancer, is destroying the life of Western civilization. Instead of declining, each year the forces of anarchism in church, state, school, business, society, and home are growing. They will not disappear until anarchy is replaced by God’s authority. Until men seek that remedy, the anarchy will increase, and will steadily strike closer to home. And when it strikes, it will not come knocking politely.” 1
This should not really surprise us, because as Christians we know the destructive nature of sin, and the consequences of trusting in an authority other than God. Yet, we are often surprised at these realities because we too easily forget that God’s world is ruled by his Word. We tend to trust man can continue to sin in this world, without consequences in this world. We tend to think that judgment only comes at the end, when one dies. The Bible repeatedly reminds us this is not the case.
When Scripture is your authority, you will live life differently than one who has rejected God’s authority. Your hope will be in God, and not in his creation. In our passage this morning, we find the Israelites on their way toward the Promised Land. The first generation had perished because they had forsaken God’s authority for created authority: worshipping idols and fearing God’s enemies rather than God. This new generation was being warned to fear God alone, and find hope in his Word and his promises. Chapter four is a kind of introduction to the rest of the book of Deuteronomy. “Deuteronomy” means “second law” or “repetition of the law.” Most of the book is a retelling of the history of Israel, offered to the second generation of Israelites before they enter the land promised to their fathers.
There is a covenantal structure to chapter four that is then developed through the rest of the book of Deuteronomy. The chapter, is in fact, the whole book in miniature form.
The chapter begins with Moses speaking, but not his own words. Moses is clear that the words he is speaking are the LORD’s. In verse two, Moses states that the commandments he speaks, are the LORD’s. Notice in verse two, “the commandments” they are to keep, that Moses is commanding, are “of the LORD your God.”
Moses spoke with the authority of God—words given him by God. In delivering these words, the people were forbidden to alter the Word of God. They could add nothing to it. They could take nothing from it. To alter God’s Word is to sit in authority over God.
The Word of God is to be established generation to generation. In verse 9 Israel is commanded to “Make them known to [their] children and [their] children’s children.” They are commanded thus because God had spoken authoritatively.
God, the Creator, spoke. As we remember from the creation account in Genesis, God spoke creation into existence. “God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” (Gen. 1:1) But because of the fall of Adam, man began to fear God, for man had become unholy, while God remained holy. Any interaction with God became fearsome. We see this in Genesis 3, where “the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden” caused Adam and Eve to be afraid.
In our passage this morning, we find an even more intimidating scene being described. Look at verse eleven. As the people of Israel “came near and stood at the foot of the mountain” Moses reminds the people that the “mountain burned with fire to the heart of heaven…” was “wrapped in darkness, cloud, and gloom.” This was the scene, where God then spoke. He “spoke…out of the midst of the fire.” There was “no form; there was only a voice.” (v.12)
The people of Israel could see and sense that God is holy and unlike them. He stood in great power apart from them and there was great wrath between them. Because of Adam’s sin, all men, including God’s covenant people, were under a curse, with God’s wrath between them—as visualized by fire, darkness, cloud, and gloom. These images are used in the New Testament as images of hell. In Matthew 8 Jesus describes hell as “the outer darkness.” In Matthew 13, he describes it as a “fiery furnace.” In Matthew 3, Jesus describes the judgment of hell as a place where the damned are burned “with unquenchable fire.” In Matthew 18 he speaks of “the eternal fire” of hell.
I could go on, as Jesus spoke frequently of the torments of hell. The point is, though, that Israel was to understand their position before God as precarious, dangerous; they stood under his wrath and his judgment was near. God’s great power and authority were on display, and the people were to fear.
Yet, the words God spoke did not bear the same message of wrath and fear as the despairing scene communicated. For “he declared” to them “his covenant.” What is a covenant, and what does it have to do with God’s holiness, and the unholiness of men, you may be wondering? Well, the one thing it is not, is God’s wrath and judgment poured out. It is not what the people deserved. They deserved God’s wrath and judgment, that much is clear from the fiery, fearful presence of God.
A covenant is an agreement between two or more persons. It is a kind of contract, or legal arrangement. The most common kind of covenant we make today, is to enter into the covenant of marriage. A man proposes to a woman, asking her to enter into marriage with him. The man initiates the covenant, and the woman either accepts it, or not. The covenant is then formalized and becomes legally established.
God was offering something to Israel that he had not offered to any other people. We are familiar with many of the names of nations and people groups in the same region as Israel. They had fled out of Egypt and into the surrounding nations such as Edom, Moab, Ammon, and more. God was offering his covenant to one people—Israel, and no other nation. This was unique, and gracious. Israel had only one thing that the other nations did not. They were the covenant heirs of the offspring of Abraham, to whom God had promised to bless them and multiply them. God was going to prove his faithfulness to that promise, as only he could.
We get a glimpse of what the covenant would mean for Israel in the following verses. In verse thirteen we see that Israel was “commanded…to perform” this covenant. Perform what? In verse thirteen we see it is the Ten Commandments. God commanded Moses to teach his “statues and rules” to Israel that they “might do them in the land” they “are going over to possess.”
We see that it is God alone who has the authority to judge sin. He alone, too, has the power to reconcile sinners to himself through covenant promises. Man can only receive, he has no power to initiate, for he is fallen and alienated from God.
We begin to see that the covenant that God was initiating with the people of Israel would require obedience to his commandments. But what was to be the purpose of these commandments? Let’s consider this and look at what the text tells us.
Remember and Take Care
Having established the authority of the covenant making God who speaks, Moses urges Israel to remember what God had commanded them and to take care and do it. In verse three, Moses cautioned Israel, “Your eyes have seen what the LORD did at Baal-Peor, for the LORD your God destroyed from among you all the men who followed the Baal of Peor. But you who held fast to the LORD your God are all alive today.” Baal was a false god worshipped by the people of the region—specifically of Peor, a mountain peak in Moab. Moses was reminding Israel what their fathers had done in Numbers chapter 25. They had worshipped Baal there and kindled the anger of the LORD, and there, the worshippers of Baal were put to death.
Moses was reminding Israel of the consequences of false worship, of abandoning worship of the one true God. He reminds them that idol worshippers among them were “destroyed from among” them. But those who had “held fast to the LORD…are alive today.” Here we begin to see what is at stake in the covenant relationship: life or death.
Moses reminds Israel to remember their history—remember what God had commanded. In verse six he commands Israel to keep God’s commandments, “Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding…” Scripture would be, and is today, among other things, a reminder of what God has commanded, and what he has done.
In verse five, Moses reminds Israel of the “statues and rules” he had taught them. The LORD had commanded Moses that they were to do the commandments “in the land that [they were] entering to take possession of it.”
In verse nine he again says, “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life.” They were to “Make them known to [their] children and [their] children’s children.” This hearing was a privilege, that God may let the Israelites hear his words, so that they may learn to fear him all the days that they live on the earth.”
Verses 15-19 echo these same warnings. Verse 15: “watch yourselves very carefully.” Verse 16: “beware lest you act corruptly…” Verse 19, “beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and…be drawn away.” The warnings in these five verses are concerning idolatry. God was warning them that their primary temptation was to surrender to a different authority—namely created things, rather than the creator.
They are warned of “carved images”—that is to say man-made idols. They would be tempted to put form to the formless God. Remember in verse 12, when God spoke, the people heard his words, but “saw no form.” They were going to be tempted to give shape to God—earthly shapes that would put him on the level of creation, not as the Creator. See the list Moses gives, “likeness of male or female”, and the “likeness of any animal that is on the earth”. Moses even gets specific to the creaturely forms. Notice how the list parallels the creation account, of the different types of species that God had made. The list intentionally reminds Israel that God is the Creator, not a creature. God is authoritative over his creation and may not be portrayed as a creature, like man or anything else.
Nor is God to be worshipped as “the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven.” (v. 19) As Genesis 1 states, these lights were given the authority to “rule the day” and “rule the night” but they were created, and it is God alone that reigns supreme, even over these “authorities.”
God was telling Israel that if they were to worship creation, rather than the Creator, they would be rejecting God’s authority, and submitting to a god of their own imagining—essentially placing themselves in the seat of authority.
Some of you are guilty of this. You will not be ruled by God, and have given yourself to a different authority. You have probably not really thought through the consequences of your rebellion. You think no one knows your sin. You think you can get away with it. But God will not forever overlook your sin. A time of reckoning will come. You will reap what you have sown. Your sin will be revealed, and like Adam and Eve, you will feel naked and ashamed before the God of heaven.
God knew, that like all the other nations on earth, Israel too, would be tempted to worship the creation, rather than the Creator. But Israel was to be different. They were different. As he reminds them in verse 20, the LORD had “taken [them] and brought [them] out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be a people of his own inheritance.” And here we get closer to what the covenant that God was making with Israel was to be.
Israel was to be a unique people. They were to be holy, set apart from all the other nations. Possessing the law of God would make Israel a witness to the nations, that God reigns and he alone is to be worshipped. Moses’s rhetorical question in verse 8 reminds Israel of their unique relationship with God. He asks, “And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?” This is the basis for his command to “take care, and keep your soul diligently.”
Blessings and Curses
Israel had something unique—a covenant with God, that would either bring bountiful blessings, or terrible covenant curses. This is the third aspect of the covenant—the blessings of obedience and the curses for disobedience. Beginning in verse 25, he lists the consequences for “acting corruptly” and “doing what is evil in the sight of the LORD your God.” These will provoke God to anger—remember the manner in which God spoke the covenant to Israel—through fire, darkness, cloud, and gloom—God’s wrath was close, and terrible.
Moses invokes a great curse upon Israel if they disobey the LORD. He called upon “heaven and earth to witness against [them]…that [they would] soon utterly perish from the land” that they were going to possess. Heaven and earth—the totality of creation—would turn against Israel. They would be scattered “among the peoples”, “left few in number among the nations where the LORD will drive [them].” While in exile and under the curse, they would “serve gods of wood and stone.” A more complete list of covenant curses is given toward the end of Deuteronomy, in chapter 28.
Indeed, God’s wrath and his judgment was near, and would come swiftly if the people were to serve false gods. But this covenant was graciously given, and its blessings were to be real and unparalleled at the time.
Again, in verse 31, God asked the people to remember “the days that are past” had any such thing ever happened or was ever heard of? “Did any people ever hear the voice of a god speaking out of the midst of the fire as [they] heard, and still live? Or has any god ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation?” Had any done so in the miraculous and powerful way that God had shone with them?
Israel had a special, never-before-known relationship with God. God had revealed his power and authority that they “might know that the LORD is God; there is no other besides him.” Israel was privileged to have “heard his voice” out of heaven, that he might discipline them. No other nation was so blessed.
God was “driving out before [them] nations greater and mightier than [they], to bring [them] in, and give [them] their land for an inheritance.” (v.38) But as we’ve seen already, they had to remember, and do. As Moses says in verse 39, “know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.”
God alone rules, and God alone can command. This is why Moses then says, “Therefore you shall keep his statutes and his commandments…that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land.”
This is God’s world, and only those keeping his commandments will find the path of blessing. What is this path of blessing? It is remaining in covenant with God and retaining his covenant blessings. For Israel it meant staying in the land the Lord had promised to them, their children, and their children’s. As Moses elaborates in Deuteronomy 28, there would be worldly blessings aplenty, if they were to remain in the land, for the land was where God would dwell with his people. (Deut. 23:16)
Thus far we have seen that God had made a covenant with his people Israel. This covenant was initiated by the God who speaks, the God who spoke creation into existence. There is no other such God, Yahweh, the covenant God is alone God. God charged his people to remember and watch themselves, to obey God’s commandments, because God alone has the authority to command his creatures, bless those who obey, and curse those who do not.
The Covenant Keeper
But even if Israel failed, God would protect his covenant. He would require obedience of Israel, but as we saw in verse 31, he would not leave them, not destroy them, not forget his covenant with their fathers. For God had sworn by his own name, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that he would bless and multiply their offspring.
So it is God that would be faithful to his covenant. He had already brought Israel out of Egypt, creating “a people of his own inheritance.” He was bringing Israel into the land that he had promised to their fathers. As Paul writes in Romans, “Let God be true though every one were a liar.” (Romans 3:4) God will be true.
This brings us to what we must consider for ourselves, as heirs of the new covenant. In Hebrews we’re told that “In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete.” So we must not look to the covenant God had made with ethnic Israel without understanding that it is now obsolete; yet it is for our instruction, as we read in 2 Timothy 3, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
God had set out, with Israel, to make a nation for himself that would live out obedience to God alone. God had given his law-word to Israel, that they might become acquainted with who God was, and what he required of men. He was establishing a testimony on the earth, a people, out of which, would come the promised Messiah. This Messiah would restore the fortunes, not just of Israel, but of all who would call upon the name of this Messiah, the Son of God. This Son of God, Jesus Christ, was the very Word of God.
“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth…For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” (John 1:14,16-17)
The God Israel had heard at the mountain, full of fire, who had no form, took on the form of a man, a real man. The Word of God took on form, that all might know God, not through wrath, but through grace. For Jesus bore the wrath of God, upon the cross, that those that call upon his name could “with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb. 4:16)
God alone has ultimate authority, and God’s Word alone speaks authoritatively today. None can add to, or take away from the Word of God. We must take great care to understand and declare God’s Word in such a way that we are not putting ourselves or any other in a position to alter God’s Word in any way.
It was no coincidence that when tempting Eve, Satan’s strategy was to attack the word of God. The serpent asked Eve, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?” That is not what God had said. The very question itself was posed in such a way as to corrupt and deceive. So it should not surprise us to see the greatest threat to the New Testament church was false teachers. These false teachers would creep into the church and corrupt the teachings of Jesus and his disciples, and thereby corrupt, and lead astray those within the church. Should we expect any different today? I think not.
Remember the warning that “even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14) What may at first glance seem good and true, unless grounded in God’s Word, is false and will lead to destruction. Test all things against Scripture, for this is where God has spoken authoritatively.
Satan himself quoted Scripture, taken out of context, to corrupt and deceive even Jesus himself. Unbelievers too, know this tactic, and use it frequently, often to great effect. They will use verses like Matthew 7:1, “Judge not, that you be not judged” to prevent us from calling sin, sin. They will use verses like Matthew 19:19, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” to persuade us to compromise our Christian convictions. And they mock God’s law by observing that in the Old Testament, Israelites were forbidden to “wear a garment of cloth made of two kinds of material.” (Leviticus 19:19)
I commend you: know God’s Word well, that you may, like Jesus, be able to reprove those who would use God’s Word to accomplish evil. Do not be persuaded by their deceptive use of Scripture. It is not their weapon to wield. Disarm them by wielding “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” yourself. (Ephesians 6:17) For Christians are to “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)
If you lack wisdom, “ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5) You may also, of course, approach the elders. We are here to help protect against deception.
The covenantal structure of this passage drives us to see that it is God alone, who has authority to command, to come to man and offer a means of reconciliation to him. God has provided this in his Son, Jesus Christ. While we are not bound to the specific covenant terms of the Mosaic covenant, we are bound to the terms of the new covenant and the principles established in the old covenant. As in the Old Covenant, there are blessings and curses in the New Covenant. And of course, God will always show himself faithful to his covenant. He has already accomplished this in Christ, and throughout our lives, by depending upon God he is always found to be faithful.
In the spirit of Moses’s calls to remember, and take care, I want to remind us, this morning, of what God has called us to, today. We begin with remembering.
First, “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David.” (2 Timothy 2:8) We do this weekly when we are offered the assurance of pardon. We are reminded of the gospel and our constant need for the gospel to be worked out in us every day. We remember Christ, too, every time we share in the Lord’s table. We eat and drink in remembrance of him, who freely offered his body, as a ransom for us.
Second, remember who you once were. “Remember that you were…alienated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenant of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:12-13)
Next , like Moses told Israel, “Take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life.” (v.9) Yes, and amen to that. But when Jesus ascended into heaven and sent his Spirit, he offered more to us than a command. He offers the help we need to fulfill his commands.
Paul helps us see the difference between old and new covenant, in Romans 7 and 8. He writes, “For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.” (Romans 7:5-6)
He continues, “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:11)
So when Paul tells us “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God,” (Colossians 3:16) we can believe this possible. For we are filled by “the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead.” We have the Spirit of God in us, and he is working all things together for our good.
I exhort you this morning to let no other word dwell within you. This world is filled with lies that are meant to deceive. Do not be ashamed of God or of his Word. It is foolishness “to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18) It has always been this way, and always will be until the Lord returns. I encourage you to join us tonight, for Generation to Generation, our family discipleship ministry. We are reading a book together on Biblical Worldview, that together we would intentionally think through the implications of submitting all of life to the lordship of Jesus Christ. I also encourage you to join and attend a discipleship group.
This new covenant, sealed by the blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is a “better covenant” than the one offered to Israel at the mountain. (Hebrews 7:22) It is better in many ways, which we do not have time to enumerate this morning. But as we have already seen, it is better in that we are offered the Spirit who helps us in our weakness. But it is also better because of the reward we’re offered.
Israel was offered the land of Canaan, where God would dwell with them in his temple in Jerusalem. But we are offered something much better. We see in Revelation that God is to dwell with man, but there’s more. In Revelation 21 we read “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4) And this cannot be taken away from us, as it was taken away from Israel. This is an “inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:4-5)
God’s Word is clear. “Lay it to your heart, that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.” “God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.” (Hebrews 1:1-2)
If Scripture is your authority, you will live life differently than those who have rejected God’s authority. Your hope will be in God, and not in his creation. For the Christian the promises of God is where all your hope lies. You have no hope in your bank account, your career, your family, your government, your safety, your retirement account, or anything else. It isn’t that these are bad things, or that they are evil in themselves. It is that they are part of creation, and all of creation has been subjected to futility because of sin. Our hope must lie outside of creation—it must rest in God alone.
God has been speaking from the beginning, speaking the world into existence, and sending the Incarnate Word to redeem fallen man. God’s Word is powerful, sufficient, and authoritative over all of life. Joyfully submit to him through it, that you may live, that God would be with you now, and forevermore.
1 R.J. Rushdoony, “The Roots of Reconstruction”, p. 604-605