Deut 4_32-40 The Lord is God
The Lord is God
He created history
The Word of God
Call to worship
The Lord is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one. Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them forever. AMEN (Ps 28:8-9)
Grace, mercy an peace to you from God our Father, Jesus Christ our Lord, and the Holy Spirit.
Doxology: “Come let us worship” (Mission Praise 96)
Prayer of Adoration, Invocation and Thanksgiving Lord’s Prayer
Hymn: “O Lord, God (How great Thou Art)”
Mission Praise 506
Prayer of Confession of sin
For the LORD your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your forefathers, which he confirmed to them by oath. (Deuteronomy 4:31 (NIV)
Scripture Reading Hebrew 12:14-29
Tithes, offering and dedication
While the offering is gathered, all remaining seated, sing:
Hymn No 609: “For the fruits of his creation”
Prayer for others
Scripture Reading Deuteronomy 4:32-40
Sermon The Lord is God: He created history
Dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
Israel were gathered at the eastern side of the Jordan, once again listening to the covenantal decrees and promises of God as preached to them by Moses, the man of God. In their sights they had the Promised Land with all its opportunities, the vineyards planted by others, cities built by others, wells which they have not dug out. What a time it must have been for them! Behind them were the 40 years of wandering through the wilderness, with a complete generation now passed away.
And now they were on the verge of taking possession of what God had promised to their forefathers. What a day! What a time! What a moment!
2006 is just a few days old. Ahead of us are 357 days of service in the Lord. We have many plans, not only as individuals, but also as a church. The danger of being occupied with our personal plans is that we might loose sight of our place within the Kingdom of God as part of the bigger landscape of God’s work for his church.
It is probably not out of step to ask, “What is your vision for St Andrews? Have you ever given consideration to things we should implement in this church to see the Kingdom of God come? And of course, how do you see yourself involved in this work?”
No doubt there will be days ahead of us that will test our faith, determination and faithfulness in the Lord. But what are the truths that will serve as an anchor we need to cling unto to see us through this journey, occupying our Promised Land, spiritually driving out the godless inhabitants of the land to plant the Kingdom of God under the Kingship of Jesus Christ? That is, after all, the commission of the Church: to disciple the nation under the headship of our Lord.
We find a few principles in Deuteronomy 4:32-40 to help us to be focussed in our task as a church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
History belongs to our God
In order for the Israelites to stay focussed in their task to occupy the Promised Land, to destroy the godless inhabitants and to establish God’s Kingdom there, they had to constantly remember their past.
Our salvation is anchored in history
My dear brother and sister in the Lord, our faith is not an idea or a philosophy or theory. An ideology is just a systematic range of concepts about human life; its a way thinking characteristic of an individual, group, or culture. To have an ideology, a group of people needs to sit down and agree on certain principles. They derive their principles not from any higher authority than themselves.
A philosophy is pursuit of wisdom; it is a search for a general understanding of values. What is used to achieve this understanding is mainly speculative rather than observational means; as such a philosophy is an analysis of the grounds of concepts expressing fundamental beliefs.
This is not the case with the Christian faith. Our faith is not an ideology, or a philosophy or a theory. Our faith built on the Word of God which is authoritative and faithful, and therefore final. There is no room for guesswork to turn it into something speculative. It is based in God’s historical acts of redemption.
God’s historical acts of redemption
God is the Creator. What He created is what you and can see and observe and research. He created time and space. We live in the space He created and we live each day according to His eternal plan. The days roll on because God wills it. What happened yesterday dovetails into the next. As such history and future are linked to come to one great final consummation.
God calls a nation as his own people
Moses reminded the people of their past. The conclusion of what he says about the past is: It belongs to God; He created it. “Ask about the former days, from the day God created man on earth. Has any other people heard the voice of God … has any other god ever tried to take for himself a nation?” And then: “You were shown these things so that you might know that the Lord is God, besides Him there is no other!”
These questions are real challenges for us in the 21 century. It challenges us to search out history books and then come up with answers. What a claim God has over history and his elect people!
This verse also refers to the way in which God brought this nation out of slavery and now give to them their Land of Promise. The words “testings”, miraculous signs”, “wonders”, “wars”, “a mighty and outstretched arm”, and “great and awesome deeds” are used. These words are employed right through the redemptive history as it is recorded in the Scripture to indicate God’s mighty acts of redemption. These are covenantal terms: it describes what God did in order to bring about what He promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Ultimately these acts of redemption find their fulfillment in the life, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
A continuous reading of the first five books of the Bible helps us to understand these statements made in verses 32-33. Remember what God did in Egypt.
Now, Egypt is a real place. The Pharaoh was real historical figure. The Nile is real. Moses and Aaron were real people living in the time of the pharaoh. The land of Goshen was real. So was the slavery of the Israelites. But the promise of God to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was also real too; God had called them also because God is real. He is not an idea; and what we believe about Him is not an ideology. And He promised to them a land for the descendants. So He rescued them.
The water of Nile really turned into blood. There were gnats, and boils and frogs – and then there was the death of the first born. Then God placed Moses and Aaron as leaders over a group of people, about 2,000,000+ (there were 600,000 men only). There was the Red Sea, and there were the quails, the water out of the rock, the manna, the journey into the wilderness, the forty years of God’s provision. There was the disobedience and rebellion against God, there was God’s punishment on them by killing thousands of them on single days. But there was also real mercy and grace upon them each time as they begged for forgiveness.
There is but only one God!
Has any God ever done such things? Has there ever been a god who would have is own son nailed to a cross to save the world from their sins and to provide them with a righteousness so that they can become the people of God?
Yes, there was a Friday in Israel when they took Jesus Christ who was born in Bethlehem during the reign of Caesar Augustus, who grew up in Nazareth in his father’s carpenters shop, who preached the Good News of God’s mercy and called people to repentance, and who was judged by governor Pilate – they took this Son of God and nailed Him to the cross.
Salvation in Jesus Christ is a historical fact
Has any other God done that to purchase a nation for Himself? Has any other God opened the grave so that the Crucified could walk out and have victory over sin and hell and satan?
As God act in history to purchase a nation for Himself, so He did in his Son Jesus Christ. His death and resurrection, the promise of the Holy Spirit and the return of our Lord are God’s act of purchasing a nation of priests whom He appointed to conquer the world, our Canaan.
Jesus Christ conquered death and appeared to his disciples. The New Testament interpretation of the command to God’s people of the Old Testament to conquer the Promised Land and drive out the godless nation, is the words and commission of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
The disciples in the first century understood it this way, and the church, although at times extremely unfaithful to her mission, understood it this way. Now the task is not to strike with the sword those who do not believe; the task is now to implement the sword of the Spirit, the Bible to conquer nations and establish the Kingdom of God.
Now my dear brother and sister, at the dawn of 2006 with the Promised Land to be possessed, remember this: you are not going to make a difference if what you believe in about the Lord God and his Son is merely a theory or a philosophy or and ideology. Your faith must be a living faith in the God of history. As history is real, so God is real. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ who became our righteousness before God, who became our Joshua who leads us into battle under the banner of the cross to claim territory for the Lord, must be a living faith that obeys, the trusts and that follows – even if the task appears to be difficult at times.
One other important point to remember: although faith expresses a personal relationship with God, it hardly implies an individual battle in the Name of Christ. We need to develop a mindset of the church as a body. When Israel were gathered on the eastern bank of the Jordan and Moses spoke to them, He addressed them as a nation, not individuals, not even individual tribes. God speaks to each one personally today, but He wants his church to move into battle, knowing He is Lord of history.
To conclude with: What is your vision for St Andrews? Have you as a member of the bigger body of the Lord ever given consideration to things we should implement in this church to see the Kingdom of God come, or are you satisfied with your own, personal and comfortable attending of a worship service, without having a vision for the commission God has given us? And of course, how do you see yourself involved in this work?
By the grace of God we will continue with this sermon to look at other aspects God has given us to make it possible to become successful conquerors under the banner of the Lord Jesus Christ. We will look at:
Power belongs to our God
Salvation belongs to our God
Future belongs to our God
May God be with us. AMEN.
Hymn 105: “O praise the Lord”
Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! (Ephesians 3:20-21)