Hear, O Christian, as Moses Addresses Vital Truths
O LORD God—You are my Creator, my Redeemer, and my Sanctifier. As I enter Your sanctuary today, bless me with Your power and with Your presence. Move me to sincere repentance, to vibrant praise, to active listening, and to constant faithfulness. As I seek to grow in my faith, increase my understanding and enable me to love as You have loved me. Amen.
God is love, and He has demonstrated His love for us by sending His Son to save us. God’s love removes any reason for us to fear, for His love casts out fear. That love then enables us to love others thereby demonstrating the validity of our faith.
Jesus here speaks of “a certain rich man” and “a certain beggar named Lazarus.” Both died, one in unbelief and the other in faith. Abraham, in response to his pleas to send Lazarus to warn his unbelieving brothers of what lay ahead of them, insisted that his brothers, as we, have the Bible. Let us always be prepared to listen to that inspired Word of God!
Text: Deuteronomy 6:4-13
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. So it shall be, when the Lord your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant—when you have eaten and are full—then beware, lest you forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. You shall fear the Lord your God and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name.
In Christ Jesus, our precious Savior and Lord, dear fellow redeemed:
If you were lying on your deathbed and surrounded by those whom you love, what would you choose to talk about? I suppose our answers would vary, yet in most cases my guess is that you would talk about vital matters—issues of importance to you and your loved ones. I doubt that many of us would be telling jokes or discussing the weather. We would want to impart to those we love during the time we had left important truths for their lives.
Such was the case for Moses after the LORD God informed him that he would not lead Israel into the promised land. Moses was soon to die (Deut. 3:23-26). He had sinned at Meribah, failing to honor the name of the LORD (Num. 20:12-13), and the consequence of that sin was that he would not be privileged to lead Israel into the Promised Land. That task had fallen to Joshua, his chosen successor. Moses’ remaining time in this world was therefore short. Consequently, he gathered Israel—those whom he loved most of all and among whom he had labored throughout the forty years of wandering in the wilderness and shared with them a series of addresses revealing the concerns that lay upon his heart. Those concerns touched on the vital issues of life—issues Moses knew Israel had to keep front and center in their minds and hearts, if they were to continue to enjoy the LORD’s blessings and experience genuine success moving forward. Those addresses make up our Old Testament book of Deuteronomy.
That these words are important also for us can be seen by the fact that Deuteronomy is the third most frequently quoted Old Testament book in our New Testaments and the second most frequently quoted book by Jesus in the four Gospels. While it is popular in our increasingly secular culture to downplay the importance of the Bible in general and of the Old Testament in particular, we confessional Christians know that the entire Bible, as God’s Word, is of great import for our lives. Therefore, I say to you today: HEAR, O CHRISTIAN, AS MOSES ADDRESSES VITAL TRUTHS concerning the LORD’s nature, the LORD’s will, and the LORD’s concerns!
Moses begins our text with the words: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!” That phrase is used in Jewish synagogues as an invocation for worship services in the same way that we begin our worship services “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.” The LORD of the Old Testament reveals Himself throughout Scripture to be the Triune God we worship. This phrase expresses three vital truths concerning His nature.
First of all, it expresses the truth that there is only one true God—the LORD, the God of the Bible. This vital truth stands in contrast to the thinking of a majority of people in our world. One billion people in our world today embrace Hinduism which believes in many gods. Another 1.6 billion people in our world today embrace Islam which denies the Trinity and embraces a belief in Allah, a false god of their own making. Still another 1.5 billion people in our world are secular, irreligious, or claim to be atheists denying the one, true God. Only 2.2 billion people of the estimated 7.25 billion people in the world profess a faith in the Triune God, yet even many of them erroneously believe that in the end all gods are the same. Isaiah describes the LORD as “the First and…the Last” and states emphatically that there is no other! He is the God who created this world, who governs the world, and who is the “Rock” upon which we can stand (Isaiah 44:6-8).
Secondly, Moses’ words express the truth that the LORD, who is the one true God, is a personal God. Moses says that He is “our” God. There are many who think of God as remote, detached from our lives, and unknowable. That simply is not true. In the very next chapter of Deuteronomy Moses informs his people: “You are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the fact of the earth” (Deut. 7:6). Compare those thoughts addressed to Old Testament Israel with the thoughts expressed by Peter with regard to you and me as members of Christ’s New Testament Church: “You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy” (1 Pet. 2:9-10). Our God is without question a personal God, who is close to us!
Thirdly, Moses’ words identify the name of God as “the LORD.” This personal name of God could also be translated as “Jehovah” or “Yahweh.” When you see that name, think GRACE! The LORD is the God who created you to be you, giving you all of your gifts and abilities, your traits and characteristics. It is the LORD who gave you the abilities to play a piano, to paint a picture, to craft an engine or some other piece of machinery. It is the LORD who has loved you in spite of your rebellion, redeemed your soul from sin and from death, and who claims you as His own. It is the LORD whose Spirit has instilled faith within your heart, who seals that heart, and promises to preserve that faith until your end! (cf. Eph. 1:13-14) Therefore,HEAR, O CHRISTIAN, AS MOSES ADDRESSES VITAL TRUTHS concerning the LORD’s nature!
Yes, HEAR AS MOSES ADDRESSES VITAL TRUTHS also concerning the LORD’s will! Moses here offers each of us two evangelical admonitions—one addressed to each of us as individuals, and then a second addressed to each of us as members of families and in particular as parents.
Moses first says: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” You will notice, I am sure, that this is what Jesus later calls “the first and greatest commandment” (cf. Mt. 22:37-38). Why is it the “first” commandment? Because it echoes the first of the Ten Commandments: “You shall have no other gods before Me” (cf. Ex. 20:3). Why is it the “greatest” commandment? It is the greatest commandment, for if we could manage to keep it—truly love the LORD with all our hearts, souls, and strength, then we would have managed to keep all the other commandments, for we would have fulfilled all of God’s will!
Moses then turns to the family and urges us: “These words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Dear friends, does Moses’ admonition sound a bit extreme...perhaps a bit of an overdose on Jesus and the Bible? If so, that is evidence of how far we have fallen spiritually. Being a Christian family and living a Christian life is not merely a matter of having a few religious decorations on our walls at home, nor is it a matter of saying a prayer before some or even most of our meals, or even of reading the Bible upon occasion as a devotion! Moses—no, God through Moses would have us immerse ourselves and our children in the truths He has revealed by means of His Son and through His Word for the salvation of our souls and the blessings of our lives. We need to talk about God’s truths and their applications regularly in many and varied settings, because our children need to know that God is not a “Sunday morning only” God, but that He is the Lord of every aspect of our lives. He is the God who gives us rain and causes the plants to grow. He is the God who governs the nations and who will and does judge the rebellious. He is the God who has made us the stewards of everything we possess for the glory of His name and the blessing of those around us. Yes, HEAR, O CHRISTIAN, AS MOSES ADDRESSES VITAL TRUTHS concerning the LORD’s will!
Finally, HEAR AS MOSES ADDRESSES VITAL TRUTHS concerning the LORD’s concerns! Moses was standing on the eastern edge of the Promised Land. He had been present 39 years earlier when Israel had refused to enter the land because the Canaanites had appeared too formidable. Their rebellion had cost them a generation. Now, however, the people were confident. The LORD had enabled them to defeat numerous kings and their armies in the lands east of the Jordan River. Moses’ concern now was the tendency of people to forget about God in the midst of success. So he told Israel: “So it shall be, when the Lord your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant—when you have eaten and are full—then beware, lest you forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.”
Israel’s conquest of the Promised Land was not like the development of our American West where pioneers entered undeveloped lands. Israel conquered established civilizations—taking over cities and farms that had existed for centuries. After wandering as nomads for 40 years, they would soon be living in what would have been considered the lap of luxury. How would they react? Moses feared that they would credit themselves and forget God—something not uncommon in history and repeated all too often by unbelievers and believers alike. We, too, need to remember that it is God who creates wealth and generates all success. It is with humble gratitude that we are to receive such blessings and to thank and praise our Savior God.
To that end Moses concludes our text with a final admonition: “You shall fear the Lord your God and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name.” Not only are we to love the LORD as we heard earlier, but we are also to “fear” Him, that is, to stand in awe of Him, recognizing Him as our Lord and responding to Him with action. We are to serve, as we have been served—actively seeking to help those in need around us. Interestingly, Moses mentions taking oaths in the LORD’s name—a seeming contradiction to Jesus’ exhortation in His Sermon on the Mount to “let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.” (cf. Mt. 5:37). It is not, however, a contradiction, for Jesus was talking about false and frivolous oaths, while Moses is urging us to take the truth and His name seriously as we establish and deal in truth. HEAR, O CHRISTIAN, AS MOSES ADDRESSES VITAL TRUTHS concerning the LORD’s nature, the LORD’s will, and the LORD’s concerns! Yes, hear and embrace those truths in faith and with faithfulness. Amen.