Sermon – July 9, 2017
Given how the last several chapters of Deuteronomy have gone, it may be assumed that Moses’ pessimism about the people’s ability to maintain the law borders on anger and his desire for the righteous judgment of God to fall on them. But this is far from the truth: Moses finishes all of his words to Israel by blessing them (Deut 33)! Moses doesn’t want their destruction, but he knows very well that it is only by remembering the instruction he has provided the Israelites that they can keep God’s law. Therefore, in the final chapters of Deuteronomy, the Lord provides for their remembrance in four distinct ways:
1. God provides leadership
While Moses is going the way of all the earth, God sanctifies and commissions Joshua to continue the ministry of Moses, leading the people in battle and righteousness. Joshua has seen the great acts of the Lord through Moses, and so he can push Israel forward in obedience, for experience has taught him the faithfulness of God, and in Joshua that remembrance lives on.
2. God provides repetition
Further, God provides for the continual reading of the law. While the people are to have the words of the commands in their hearts at all times (Deut 6:4-9), God provides for the law to be read before the people, in full, every seven years. Repetition is often frowned upon in our culture, but it is one of the best ways to make us remember something. We were created that way, and God uses that for our own good.
3. God provides song
God also provides for his people a song. This song, given to us in Deuteronomy 32, details who God is, what he has done for Israel, the blessings of loving him with all their heart, and the curses of turning aside from him. Our songs should be both instruments of teaching and memorable. They should be able to warn us from moving away from the Lord, while also encouraging us toward faithfulness and love.
4. God provides his word
Of course, that only matters as long as God’s word is written down for us, that we might now how to pursue that which is good! Moses was commissioned not only to recite the law to the people, but to write it down. We do not have to rely upon oral tradition alone, but God has provided his word publicly to his people; it is there to be read and memorized.
Psalm 119:11 famously states, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Christians, let us seek the same. Store up God’s word in your heart, by reading his word, singing his word, and demanding that your leaders feed you the word. By doing so, we hold fast to the gospel, and keep our way pure.