Sermon – March 5, 2010
The Promise of God and Israel’s History (mp3)
We find ourselves in a similar position to the Israelites: hearing the promise of God about a kingdom, waiting on the precipice for it to come. Therefore, we understand the words of Deuteronomy, here primarily concerning the promise of God, to be a word for us as well. Moses relates Israel’s history, not simply to set a context for the Israelites, but to remind them of God’s already fulfilled promises, and to encourage them that they can be sure of his faithfulness as they move forward.
1. Remember the kept promises of God
Moses first reminds the Israelites that the kindness of God in keeping his promises is already manifested among them. He has made them numerous, taken them out of Egypt. The implication is that Gen 15 is being fulfilled already, and that the land is next to be taken. Remember that God has proven his trustworthiness to us, most assuredly by raising Jesus from the dead!
2. Remember the righteous command of God
While the promise of God is sure, that never means that we are not working for it. God accomplishes his word through us, never instead of us. The people needed to trust that God would perform his mighty work, giving them assurance of their victory. God’s gracious, sovereign promise never excuses our laziness, but gives assurance to our work.
3. Remember the gracious discipline of God
At times, it is easy to think that God’s judgment of sin ends up hurting others that did not deserve such difficulty, as is clearly the case with the younger generation who did not fail at Kardesh-barnea, yet nevertheless had to cycle through the wilderness while the older generation died. But what God gave for punishment to some, he used as encouragement to others. Sometimes, the difficulties of this life are not meant to act as punishments, but to strengthen us for the good work that God has in store.
4. Remember the unifying purpose of God
After the defeat of Sihon and Og, Rueben, Gad, and Manasseh took their possession of the land. But the promise was not just for them, but for all Israel. Likewise, the promise of God is not just for you, individually, but for all those whom God has called. Work, therefore, to make disciples of all nations until the work is complete!
We are not unlike the Israelites. The promise that came to them is the same that comes to us, but that which they could not do, we will do through Jesus Christ. What they needed to accomplish the feat is what we need as well – faith in the word of the promise-keeping God. The Israelites failed, for Moses could only give them the law; but Christ has made us anew! Therefore, let us work all the more, knowing the assurance which is ours in Jesus Christ our Lord!