ďThe LORD Is God.† There Is No OtherĒ† †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† February 21, 2010
SI:† Weíre studying the book of Deuteronomy.
The name Deuteronomy means a second giving of the law.
The Israelites were standing on the brink of the Promised Land.
†† They were about to cross the Jordan River
†† and take possession of the land promised to Abraham.†
This was not the generation that had come out of Egypt.
†† They had all died in the wilderness because of their rebellion.
But God was still faithful to his promise and was about to give their children
†† the land.† So before the entered it, it gold Moses to give them the law a
†† second time, so that they would know how he wanted them to live.
Thatís that the law is.† Godís instructions to us about how he wants us to live,
†† so that we can show gratitude for his grace and enjoy a blessed life.
INTRO:† We were watching the winter Olympics this week and on several
†† occasions the cameras would zoom in on athletes right before their big event.
And you could tell by their body language exactly what they were doing.
†† They were visualizing the event.† Visualizing every turn, every move.
†† The perfect race, the perfect performance.†
And Iím sure that every one of them would say that if you donít do tható
†† if you donít discipline your mind as well as your body,
†† and train yourself to see with your mindís eye the perfection
†† you are trying to achieve, then you can never be an Olympian.†
If you donít focus on something great, then things around you will overwhelm you.
†† You will look down that steep mountain, youíll become preoccupied with the
†† dangers, distracted by the crowds, and never fling yourself into it
†† with your whole heart and go for the gold and the glory.†
Keep that picture in mind as we look at Mosesí words in this passage.
Heís nearing the end of his great sermonóthis introduction to Deuteronomy.
†† Heís preparing the people of Israel to hear the law of God a second time
†† before they cross the Jordan River and enter the Promised Land.
As we saw last Sunday, he warned them about idolatry.
He said, when you go into the Promised Land, the idols of the Canaanites
†† are going to be a huge temptation to you.†
They are going to offer you the desires of your heartsósecurity and success,
†† happiness and affirmation.† You are going to be drawn to them.
Donít worship them.† Donít trust them or you will become enslaved,
†† and you will suffer from the consequences of idolatry.
†† Worship and serve the Lord.† He is the true God, he alone can really bless you.
Donít let idols sit on the throne of your heart.
†† Worship the Lord.† Heís the true God.†
But Moses recognized that this is hard because idols are so concrete.†
†† You can see them.† They are present and visible in our lives.†
†† They are right there with us.
If you have a tendency towards idolizing money.
†† If you have a tendency to listen to moneyís promises of security or self-worth,
†† you have a difficult challenge.†
Because you open your checkbook and there it is in black and whiteóyour balance.
†† It says:† Look at me.† You know you need me.† Trust me.† Serve me.†
Other idols are the sameóIf itís beauty and appearance, if body image is your idol,
†† then there it is every time you look in the mirror.† Those standards of beauty
†† saying, Serve me!† And then either building you up or tearing you down.†
Or if itís your career or the right crowd or your children or marriage and romanceó
†† those idols are so visible, so concreteóbut God isnít.† Heís invisible.
How do you tear down the idols that are so visible and so present
†† and put the Lord on the throne of your heart when he is invisible?
How can the Lord become more real to you than the idols
†† that tempt you every day.† How do you rise to the challenge of living
†† the great life God has called you to live?
Moses knew that would be the challenge for the Israelites
†† and so he says to them, you have to focus.†
You have to be attentive and focus your attention on three thingsó
†† Godís word, Godís work, and Godís will.
When you face the challenges of faith.† When idols that seem so real say:†
†† Trust me.† Serve me.† When that happens, you have to focus.†
You have to focus on what God has said. †His word.† His revelation.†
†† How the voice of God spoke to you out of the fire at Sinai.
And you have to focus on what God has done.† His work.†
†† His great work of redemption.
†† How God brought you out of slavery in Egypt with miracles and mighty deeds.
And you have to focus on what God wants you to do.† His will.
†† His will he has revealed to you in his moral law.†
††† His commands that are full of love and blessing.†
And as you do, this is what will happenó
†† You will know that the Lord is God and besides him there is no other.
He will become so real to you, that your idols will be as nothing.
†† And you will fling yourself confidently into the life heís called you to live.
Look at this passage, this magnificent sermon of Moses under three points,
†† three things Moses tells the people of Israel to do.
1.† You must focus on Godís word.
2.† You must focus on Godís work.†
3.† You must focus on Godís will.
MP#1† First, you must focus on Godís word.†
Thatís where Moses starts.† He says:†
ďHas any other people heard the voice of God speaking out of fire, as you have, and lived? . . . From heaven he made you hear his voice to discipline you.† On earth he showed you his great fire and you heard his words from out of the fire.Ē
The thing that is striking about this is that Moses doesnít emphasize the truth
†† of Godís word.† He doesnít say, Godís word is true and you should
†† believe it instead of the false promises of idols.†
Instead, the point that Moses makes is that Godís word is a miracle,
†† and you should be in awe of it.
You should be amazed at this most awesome thingóthat God has spoken.†
†† He has revealed himself to us through his word.
He says, look at all of human history.†
†† Has anything so great as this ever happened?†
†† Has anything like it ever been heard of?
†† Has any other people heard the voice of God speaking out of fire?
And the answer to all of those great rhetorical questions is no, no, no!
Heís saying:† Do you really see how awesome this is?
†† Itís unprecedented in all of human history.
†† God, the Creator, the one true God, the Lord has spoken and made self known.
Did you notice the way that Moses described Godís revelation?
†† He said that God spoke out of the fire.
†† He said that you heard his words from out of the fire.
Heís referring to Sinai when God came down and gave the Ten Commandments.
†† There was a great fire on the mountain and Godís voice came from it.
Thatís what heís referring to historically, the fire on Mt. Sinai,
† †but what does it mean?† Whatís the significance of God speaking out of fire?
Iím not sure I know entirely, and I think thatís the point.
†† Itís a mysterious image that is intended to fill us with awe.
Fire has a beauty and a power and a danger that is mesmerizing.
If youíve ever seen a big fire, ever seen a house on fire, you canít pull you eyes
†† away from it, can you?† You just want to watch it consume.
And at the same time that fire is dangerous, it is also life-givingóit warms.
†† Think of a cozy fireplace in winter or a campfire.
Moses says:† This is Godís word.† He speaks through fire.† His word is like fire.
It can bring life and warmth and comfort and judgment and death.
Moses says:† Thatís where you have to start.†
†† By gaining or regaining a sense of awe that God has spoken.
The only way that God is going to be more real to you than idols, is when his word
†† is alive to you.† When itís a fire.† When you hear and know that God is speaking.
A few weeks ago I was talking to a woman who has been raising her children
†† by herself since a divorce.† She was telling me that her son had decided to live
†† with his father.† She said:† Do you know what I worry about most?†
My mind raced ahead and answered the question. †I thought she was going to say:†
†† Iím worried about his education, that his dad wonít make him do his homework.
†† Or maybe:† Iím worried that his dad will say bad things about me.
But her eyes filled with tears and she said: Iím worried he wonít hear Godís word.
†† It struck me powerfully.† She was expressing this very thing Moses is speaking of.
She believed that God has spoken out of the fire and more than anything else
†† she wanted her son exposed to that fire.† God was real to her because his word
†† was real to her.† And we were able to talk about the promises in the Bible
†† that the Lord makes to us concerning our children, trust son to God and not worry.
How will the Lord be more real to you than the idols?
†† How will you know that the Lord is God and there is no other?†
†† Not just in your mind, but in your heart and experience?
It will happen when you are in awe of his Word.† When you hear the Scripture
†† and whisper to yourselfóthe Lord is speaking to me!
What that means specifically is that you must find those passages in Bible,
†† those verses, those promises that speak most clearly to you, challenge your idols.
Write them down, read them, memorize them and listen!
†† The living God is speaking to you.†
A Bible verse on the mirror in one of my girlís rooms that always makes me smile.†
†† ďCharm is deceitful and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord,
†† †she shall be praised.Ē† Itís from Proverbs 31.†
Thatís Godís word.† Heís speaking to his daughters out of the fire.
†† Donít be enslaved by the beauty idol.† Donít serve the popularity idol.
†† They are false gods.† They will deceive you and leave you.†
Serve me, and I will give you a beauty that will be praised for all time.†
†† The Bible is a miracle.† The God of all creation has spoken to his people.
†† Focus on Godís word and you will know the Lord is God and there is no other.
MP#2† Second, you must focus on Godís work.†
His work of redemption.† His work of salvation.† Moses says:†
†† ďHas any god ever tried to take for himself one nation out of another nation, by testings, by miraculous signs and wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, or by great and awesome deeds, like all the things the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes? . . . Because he loved your forefathers and chose their descendants after them, he brought you out of Egypt by his Presence and his great strength, to drive out before you nations greater and stronger than you and to bring you into their land and give it to you for your inheritance, as it is today.Ē
He told the Israelites to focus on Godís work of salvationó
†† to remember it and contemplate it.† Think about what God has done to save you.
Think about the beauty of salvation in all of its complexity.
The Exodus from Egypt is the most complete picture of salvation in the OT.
These signs and wonders Moses mentions, these great and awesome deeds
†† and outstretched arm.† The defeat of Pharaoh and the gods of Egypt, the death of
†† the firstborn, the blood of the Passover lambóall of these foreshadowed Christ.
We see in the Exodus Christís victory over sin and death and Satan.
And when you think about Godís great work of salvation on your behalfó
†† when you worship him for itóthen you will know that the Lord is God
†† and there is no other.† Your idols will shrink to nothing.
I read a biography last month called Godís Samurai.† About Mitsuo Fuchida.†
He was the lead pilot in the attack on Pearl Harbor.†
†† In addition to Pearl Harbor, he was in the Battle of Midway where wounded.
He was stationed in Hiroshima near the end of the war and was called away
†† on an assignment the day before the bomb was dropped on that city.
After the bomb he was in a group of 70 military investigators who surveyed
†† damage he was one of only a few who did not die from radiation poisoning.†
So his life was preserved throughout the war by a series of remarkable providences.
†† But he didnít believe in God.† He was a Shintoist and an atheist.†
†† His god was his Confucian ethics and his warrior code.
So he was troubled and humiliated by Japanís loss and the devastation of war.
He was angered by the war crimes trials so he set out to prove
† †that the Americans had committed atrocities against Japanese POWs.†
He decided to interview Japanese soldiers who had been captured and taken to
†† prison camps in America.† The first one he interviewed told a remarkable story.
Told him that he was taken to a POW camp in Colorado.† While he was there,
†† an American girl, a teenager named Peggy Covell started coming to the camp.† Would bring little gifts to Japanese soldiers.† They were touched by her kindness.
†† Finally one of them asked, Why are you doing these things for us?
†† Shocked by her answer.† She said:† Because Japanese soldiers killed my parents.
Turned out her parents were missionaries in the Philippines.† Occupying Japanese
†† accused them of being spies and executed them.†
Peggy was living in the US, and when she found out, she was filled with hatred.
†† But then she forgave and extended kindness to her enemies.
Fuchida had never heard anything like this.† He forgot his project and started doing
†† everything he could to find out about Peggy Covellís parents.†
†† He found out that just before they were beheaded, they knelt to pray.†
When Fuchida heard this story he was puzzled.†
†† He fervently believed in the principle of revenge.† It was part of his warrior code.
But he had also seen the devastating effects of war and the failure of revenge.
†† Here was a story in which the cycle of revenge had been broken.
The question that haunted himóWhat did the Covellís pray at moment of death?.† He somehow knew that the answer to that question would change his life.
†† He called it his long, long wondering.† He wondered for two years.†
Then, someone gave him a New Testament and this is what happened:†
ďOne day early in September 1949 Fuchida came upon the Gospel of St. Luke, chapter 23.† For the first time he read the story of the crucifixion.† He knew in a vague way that Jesus had been nailed to a cross, but he didnít know the details.† The Calvary scene pierced Fuchidaís spirit.† It all came alive in St. Lukeís starkly beautiful prose.† In the midst of the horror Christ said, ďFather, forgive them, for they know not what they do.† It came to Fuchida that, as they knelt to die, Peggyís parents had prayed just such words.† Tears spring to Fuchidaís eyes; he had reached the end of his long, long wondering.Ē
Not only did this lead to his salvation and put an end to his idolatry of his
†† warrior code.† The forgiveness of Christ motivated and carried him for the next 30
†† years of his life, which he spent as an evangelist.
Now, my question to you is this:† Are you focusing on Godís great work of
†† salvation in Christ?† Is the cross foremost in your mind.†
†† Do tears ever spring to your eyes as you think about what Christ has done?
You must focus on Godís great work of salvation for the Lord to be more real
†† to you than your idols.†
MP#3† You must focus on Godís will.
You must focus on the life he wants you to live.† Moses says:
†† ďAcknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below.† There is no other.† Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the LORD your God gives you for all time.Ē
What is Godís will for your life?† There are two answers to that question.
One answer you canít know before hand.† You have to discover as you go.
†† You discover the Lordís will for your life as he opens some doors, shuts others.
You discover his will in the talents and opportunities he gives you,
†† and what you make of those things.†
You discover his will in the joys and sorrows and surprises of life,
†† in the good providences and hard providences.
In other words, you discover his will for your life as you see it unfold.
†† We call that his sovereign will, or his secret will.
†† Itís a secret until he brings it to pass.
When most Christians talk about Godís will for their life, this is what they mean.
†† The personal plan he has for my life which he reveals to me in his timing.
But there is another answer to the question:† What is Godís will for your life?
And Moses explains it here:
†† Godís will for your life is that you keep his decrees and commands which he has
†† given you, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that
†† you may live long in the land the LORD your God gives you for all time.
In other words, Godís will for your life is simply that you obey his moral law.
We call this Godís revealed will.† Itís not a secret.† Itís not hidden.
†† You donít have to wait or wonder what the Lord wants for you life.
In Paulís first letter to the Thessalonian church he writes:
†† ďIt is Godís will that you should be sanctified, that you should avoid sexual immorality . . .
†† for God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.Ē
Thatís exactly what Moses is saying to the Hebrew church.
†† Godís will is that they be sanctified and keep his moral law.
You canít help noticing the order of Mosesí points.
†† Itís an order that weíve seen over and over in these first four chapters
†† as he prepares this second generation to hear the law again.
The order is grace first, a relationship first, and then the call to obedience.
Moses starts by sayingóThe Lord has spoken to you.
†† He came to you on Mt. Sinai.† He initiated contact.† He made himself known.
Then, the Lord saved you.† He brought you out of Egypt by his mighty hand.
†† And in revealing himself to you and redeeming you,
†† you have seen that the Lord is God and there is no other.
Now, Moses says, based on what the Lord has done for you,
†† and based on who you know he is, the one true Godóhe has a life for you to live.
†† Keep his decrees and commandments.
And even this is full of grace.† Because the Lord says that heís giving you
†† these so things will go well with you and your children and so that you will
†† live long in the land he is giving you.
That promise does not mean that believers step into a magic circle with no troubles.
†† It means there never has been a man or woman who followed Godís law and
†† regretted it.† Who comes to the end of life and says, I wish I hadnít obeyed God.†
†† My life would have been better if I had gone my own way.
Just the opposite.† No matter the struggle.† No matter the sins and idols
†† that Iíve struggled to put away.† Not one regret that I sought to obey him.
In keeping his commands, I have seen that the Lord is God, and there is no other.
This was proved in Mitsuo Fuchidaís life in a painful yet powerful way.
†† When he was born again that day in 1949 when he read the Gospel of Luke,
†† he had no idea what Godís commands and decrees were.† He knew he had
†† been forgiven his sins, but he didnít even know what those sins were.
But as he began to grow in Christ, as he began to read the Bible and discover
† the life God was calling him to live, he realized that he was faced with a decision.
For years he had had a mistress, even had a child with her.†
†† Realized that Godís will was that he be exclusively faithful to his wife.
And as hard as it was, that is what he did.† He provided for his child, but put his
†† mistress away.† And the Lord blessed him.† His wife, Haruko, who was a devout
†† Buddhist, professed faith in Christ, as did their two children, son and daughter.
In that, Fuchida saw once again that the Lord is God and there is no other.
What commands and decrees of the Lord is he calling you to obey this day?
†† What sins is he calling you to put aside to follow his will and live a holy life?
Focus on Godís will for your life.† Itís good.† Itís the path to blessing.
†† As you follow it, he will become more real to you and your idols will crumble.