Sermon – March 19, 2017
Today we begin to look in earnest at the explanation of the law given by Moses in Deuteronomy. The major sermon of the book, spanning from chapters 6-26, seems to be difficult to outline, switching between groups of related laws and miscellaneous laws without much hint about their connection. Today, we will begin to outline how these chapters explain the law (the 10 commandments) by looking at the first commandment: You shall have no other gods beside me.
1. Love the Lord God
To have no other gods besides the Lord doesn’t just mean to serve him alone, or to have him at the top of your favorites list. It means to love him with every fiber of your being, at all times, and to place on him alone all your fear. This is the greatest commandment – and all the law and the prophets hang on these words.
2. Destroy the Lord’s enemies
If genocide isn’t good in the sight of the Lord, why do we see here the Lord asking for Israel to wipe out the foreign nations in the land? While there are good reasons for this (see Deut 9:5), it is suggested that God does this to other nations, and not Israel, solely because God loves Israel. The idolatrous people around Israel were a catalyst for their sin. Yet, Israel’s greatest enemy was itself, not the foreign people. Today we still attempt to destroy the enemy of the Lord, but we now know that this greatest enemy is sin, not the people it infects. So we seek to purify the church and keep her holy, while awaiting Christ’s return and the destruction of those not written in the Lamb’s book of life.
3. Trust the Lord’s provision
We are not to live on bread alone is not simple a command, but a truth that is given to us. We must trust for the provision of God. Just as the people were taken to a land that could not support them, and found themselves supported by the miracles of God, so today we are never to turn to a physical understanding of life alone. It is God who gives us food and air, water and shelter. It is in pride that we neglect God’s provision, and turn to other sources for our help.
The great promise of Scripture is both that we do not, indeed cannot, love the Lord as we ought, but that the Lord will give us the heart that we lack. Therefore, we can now, through the blood of Christ, love God truly, because in Christ we are given a new creation, with new hearts. We can offer forgiveness to those who are the hardest of unrepentant sinners, while keeping ourselves pure and holy before God. We can fully trust in God’s provision for us, for he has given us that which we needed most: hearts that beat for him, and that allow no other gods beside him!