Sermon – March 26, 2017
The second command seems far from us today. We are unlikely to make graven images in the form of God, so that we might bow down to them and worship them. But thinking this way shows a fundamental misconception about the nature of the commandments, and the importance of loving God above all else. Israel’s worship of idols was more than just a breaking of a commandment, it demonstrated first and foremost their lack of love for the Lord. Moses provides a solution for their idolatry, and ours:
Moses pleads for Israel before God. His intercession, however, was distinctly one sided: focused on the majesty and glory of God’s name. Moses did not just plead that God be kind, merciful, gracious. But rather, that his own name was on the line, his own reputation would be fouled by his destruction of his people, whom he elected. What mercy we should find in election! Election does not make God a hard, merciless God, but rather frees him to be unlimited in his mercy and kindness.
God not only relents from killing the people of Israel, but he graciously remakes the covenant with them. God’s kindness is found often, not in giving us what we want, but in keeping from us what we deserve. The people broke the covenant, God remade it. The people had forfeited the land, God told them to go take it anyway. Mercy is not an avenue to get away with more sin, but rather to provide an opportunity for repentance.
3. New Hearts
Deut 10:12 sounds much like the explanation of the first commandment, as indeed this is upon which all of the law and the prophets depend. But, given that the people are stubborn and prone to faithlessness, how will they ever love God this way? Moses prescription is for a new heart. Circumcision was a mark that you were set aside in the covenant for God, and a circumcised heart implies the same. The great promise of Deuteronomy is that God himself will eventually do this for his people (Deut 30:6), a promise that has come true in Christ!
We are crushed by God’s law, not because God is hard, but because we are weak. The fall has ruined our ability to love God as we ought, so we turn and make gods that resemble our own sinful hearts. Therefore, God has remade us with a new and better Adam, Jesus Christ. This does not mean that there are no more idols in our lives, or that we live perfectly before him, but we now have an anchor that always pulls us back to God in repentance and faith.