Sunday School 06 24 2012

 

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“Love God, Love People”

Lesson Text: Deuteronomy 10:12-22; 16:18-20

Background Scripture: Deuteronomy 10:1-22; 16:18-20

Devotional Reading: Micah 6:1-8

 

Deuteronomy 10:12-22; 16:18-20 (KJV)

12And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul,

13To keep the commandments of the Lord, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?

14Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord’s thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is.

15Only the Lord had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day.

16Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.

17For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward:

18He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment.

19Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.

20Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name.

21He is thy praise, and he is thy God, that hath done for thee these great and terrible things, which thine eyes have seen.

22Thy fathers went down into Egypt with threescore and ten persons; and now the Lord thy God hath made thee as the stars of heaven for multitude.

Deuteronomy 16:18-20

18Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates, which the Lord thy God giveth thee, throughout thy tribes: and they shall judge the people with just judgment.

19Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous.

20That which is altogether just shalt thou follow, that thou mayest live, and inherit the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

 

OBJECTIVES

To understand that God requires His "chosen people" to obey His commands. This includes: faithfully walking in His ways; loving and serving Him with all our heart and soul.

To show that the love of God includes loving others outside our circles, and the promotion of "justice to all."

To always pray for God’s leading before you interact with others to address unjust situations: in the family, at church, at work, or in the community. 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Different Love

    Those who do not know the God of Scripture may be confused about the nature of godly love. In a people-to-people sense, love often refers to a deep appreciation for another that encourages one to give sacrificially of self. The term love is also routinely applied to inanimate objects such as ice cream, television shows, etc. In such cases, love means something like “preference for.”

    In light of this wide range of applications, some people may not be sure what to make of the biblical invitation to love God. Loving the unseen God is necessarily different from loving people, whom we can see and touch. We can express love for people by meeting their needs. God, by contrast, lacks nothing(Psalm 50:9-12). He has no needs that we can meet. Thus it is important for those who strive to love God to pay careful attention to the Scriptures, such as today's writing, which teach us how to love God.

LESSON BACKGROUND

Time: 1407 B.C.

Author:Moses

Place:Plains of Moab

Recipients: Israel

 

HOW TO SAY IT

Deuteronomy Due-ter-ahn-uh-me.

    The word Deuteronomy, derived from the Greek word Deuteronomion, literally means “second law.” This points to the fact that this book recounts how Moses gave God’s laws to the Israelites a second time. He had to do so because the first generation, which had been taught the law at Mount Sinai, had been forbidden to enter the promised land. That generation lacked the faith to follow God’s lead into Canaanite territory. They wished instead to return to Egypt (Numbers 14:1-4) God therefore decided that it would be the following generation to enter the land instead.

    This fifth book of Moses, brings together much of the legal material in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, but presents it more like a sermon and less like legal code. We see in Deuteronomy that God’s love and His just requirements of obedience and respect for Him pertaining to holy living have not changed. But since the people and times have changed, the requirements have been repackaged in such a way as to address the unique needs of the next generation. Moses' primary concern was that the Israelites should respond to God with genuine love. This was the only way in which they could enjoy God's favor and blessing, which included justice and righteousness which would permeate their daily lives as their love was extended to their fellow men.

    Beginning in Deuteronomy 9:4 and continuing though 10:11; Moses stressed to these younger Israelites that there was nothing special about their nation that God should have set it apart for its unique mission. He chose the Israelites by grace.     Moses then recounted how God nearly destroyed their parents’ generation altogether. Yet because of Moses’ plea to spare them, God relented.

    After this reality check, Moses set forth God’s requirements in concise form. Our passage for today is an overview of the life to which God had called His people. It is important to note here that as Jesus taught His disciples, He quoted the book of Deuteronomy more than any other Old Testament book.

 

The Lord’s Requirements (Deuteronomy 10:12-16)

1. What behaviors or attitudes should be evident in one who claims to love God? Should there be differences in the expectations for Christians today, as opposed to the expectations of the children of Israel as taught by Moses (vs. 12,13)?

    Moses reminds the people why they should obey the Lord their God. Hisuse of the following five imperatives: fear, walk, love, serve, and keep are as relevant for Christians in Biblical times and today as they were for the children of Israel in Old Testament times.

    God’s requirements for Israel (fear, walk, love, serve, and keep) was not a new topic but it was an important topic, and Moses wanted them to get the message and not forget it: loving obedience to the Lord is the key to every blessing. Jesus often repeated truths He had already shared, and Paul wrote to the Philippians, "For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe" (Phil. 3:1, nkjv). Not everybody listening gets the message the first time, and some who do might forget it. The Jewish people didn't carry pocket Bibles and had to depend on their memory, so repetition was important.

    The sequence of these five imperatives is also significant: fear, walk, love, serve, and keep. The fear of the Lord is that reverential awe that we owe Him simply because He is the Lord. Both in the Old Testament and the New, the life of faith is compared to a walk (Eph. 4:1, 17; 5:2, 8, 15). It starts with a step of faith in trusting Christ and yielding ourselves to Him, but this leads to a daily fellowship with Him as we walk together in the way that He has planned. The Christian walk implies progress, and it also implies balance: faith and works, character and conduct, worship and service, solitude and fellowship, separation from the world and ministry and witness to the world. Obeying Him is "for our own good" (Deut. 10:13), for when we obey Him (keep His commandments), we share His fellowship, enjoy His blessings, and avoid the sad consequences of disobedience.

    The central element in these five imperatives is love, a word that Moses uses six times in this section (Deut. 10:12, 15, 19; 11:1, 13, 22). Is it possible both to fear and love the Lord at the same time? Yes, it is, for the reverence we show Him is a loving respect that comes from the heart.

2. What did Moses say about God's selection of the Israelites as His chosen people (vs. 14-16)?

    As we look at creation, we can easily see that there is a God who is powerful, wise, and loving. Moses reminds the Israelites of their special place in God’s heart. The God of the entire universe chose the Israelite forefathers and their descendants to be uniquely His. He could have chosen a nation that was already fully established in its land. He could have chosen a nation with a powerful army to subdue His enemies. He could have chosen a nation with a massive trade network to disseminate His decrees. But He didn’t. He chose the Israelites instead.

    God delights in the Israelites despite the fact that there is nothing inherently good or beautiful in them that is not also in other peoples of the earth. Moses reminds this second generation that they should not take God’s favor for granted. 

   Moses drives his point home with a circumcision analogy (v. 16). The practice of physical circumcision started over 600 years previously with Abraham (Genesis 17:10-14). It is a covenant sign between God and His people. But a mark of the flesh is not enough. Witness the fact that their circumcised fathers could not enter the promised land due to disobedience. If this generation is to do better, it must go beyond a mark of the flesh to allow God’s mark on their inmost being.

    Unfortunately, this same spiritual blindness is with us today, for many people believe that baptism, confirmation, church membership, or participation in the Lord's Supper automatically guarantees their salvation. As meaningful as those things are, the Christian's assurance and seal of salvation isn't a physical ceremony but a spiritual work of the Holy Spirit in the heart (Philippians 3:1-10; Colossians 2:9-12).

 

The Lord’s Nature (Deuteronomy 10:17-19)

3. Describe God's nature as characterized in Deuteronomy 10:17-19?

    The God we worship and serve is also holy and just. "God is light and in him is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5). After they had crossed the Red Sea, the Israelites sang, "Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?" (Ex. 15:11; and see Ps. 22:3 and Isa. 6:3) The love of God is so emphasized today that we tend to forget that it is a holy love and that "our God is a consuming fire" (Heb. 12:29). Because God is holy, all that He does is just, for it is impossible for God to sin. People may accuse God of being unjust because circumstances didn't work out as they expected, but a holy God cannot do anything unjust. He is impartial in His dealings and cannot be bribed by our promises or our good works. God has a special concern for the helpless, especially the widows, the orphans, and the homeless aliens (Deut. 27:19; Ex. 22:21-24; 23:9; Lev. 19:33; Ps. 94:6; Isa. 10:2). God cared for the Jews when they were aliens in Egypt, and He expected them to care for other aliens when Israel was settled in their own land.

What Do You Think?

    Who are the disenfranchised today? How can we express love to them?

Talking Points for your Discussion

-In our local community

-In our wider culture

-In the world

 

Fearing and Serving God (Deuteronomy 10:20-22)

4. Why does Moses again emphasize the necessity of God's people cleaving to Him exclusively (vs. 20-22)?

    In the next few verses, Moses echoes much of what he has said above, with an emphasis on exclusivity. Though the Israelites must be hospitable to strangers, they are to remain firm in their rejection of rival gods and rival masters.

    It has now been 40 years since the exodus from Egyptian slavery (Deuteronomy 1:20. Some who are listening to Moses are eyewitnesses to the miracles of that deliverance, since the penalty of death against the first generation applied only to those age 20 and older (Numbers14:29-32; Joshua 5:6). The survivors are not to forget that God alone is the one who has done marvelous things before their very eyes!

    God is the one who has multiplied the Israelites from 70 persons (Genesis 46:27 Exodus 1:5) to a number akin to the stars of heaven (see Genesis 15:5 22:17 26:4). God promised to multiply Abraham’s seed, bless his offspring, bring them to the promised land, and use them to bless all nations. God is keeping this promise. The people are numerous (compare Numbers 26), they are blessed, and they now stand directly before the promised land. But their cohesion as God’s people will not be permanent unless they accept God’s plan.

 

Gods Commands Concerning Justice (Deuteronomy 16:18-20)

5. Why did God require His chosen people to use “judges and officers” in their new organized system of justice (Deuteronomy 16:18)?

    As Moses continued to prepare the new generation for life in the Promised Land, he not only instructed them about their past history and their obligations in worship, but he also explained to them the kind of government God wanted them to organize. When their ancestors were in Egypt, the Jews had minimal organization involving only elders (Ex. 3:18; 4:29-31); and during the wilderness journey, Moses had tribal officers who assisted him in solving the problems the people brought them (18:13). Each tribe in Israel also had a leader (Num. 1:5-16; 7:10-83), and there were seventy elders who assisted Moses in the spiritual oversight of the nation (11:10).

    This basic organization was adequate to govern a nomadic people following a gifted leader, but it wouldn't suffice once the nation moved into the Promised Land. For one thing, Moses would no longer be with them to give them messages directly from the mouth of God. Furthermore, each of the twelve tribes would be living in its own assigned territory, and Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh would be located on the other side of the Jordan River. How would they deal with tribal differences? Who would protect the people and enforce God's laws? God in His grace gave them the kind of government that would meet their needs.

6. By which standards would God hold Israel’s judges accountable (v. 19)?

    This verse identifies certain obstacles to justice. Judges may be tempted to render verdicts according to personal preference; this can come about by showing partiality. Judges also will be tempted to accept bribes; sadly, some will succumb to the temptation (1 Samuel 8:3; Isaiah 1:23; etc.).

    The standards to which God holds judges are God’s personal standards. As we have seen above in Deuteronomy 10:17, God does not show partiality and cannot be manipulated by gifts. God cannot be influenced by the amount of money placed in the offering plate. No number of sacrifices can coax Him into turning a blind eye to justice. Since judges are presiding on God’s behalf, they must preside according to His just standards.

7. What was God’s ultimate purpose in giving the Israelites this promised land (v. 20)?

    Moses now wraps up this summary of God’s law. The first part of this verse literally reads, “Justice, justice, you shall pursue.” It is a passionate plea that reflects a sense of urgency. The reason is clear in the second half of the verse: the people’s very lives and presence in the promised land are riding on it.

    Put simply, if God’s people do not live according to God’s commandments, He will drive them out of the land just as He will do to the unjust Canaanites who currently inhabit the area. God does not give His people the land as an end unto itself, as if He arbitrarily wants them to have it and not the Canaanites. He gives the Israelites the land because He intends to form them into a just people who will showcase His justice to the nations. To forsake justice is therefore to forsake God’s calling and mission. This is their reason for being.

    The phrase that thou mayest live can have an additional meaning in referring to quality of life. To live according to God’s justice is to “really live.” There is no point to living in the promised land if the quality of life there is no different from life in Egypt. Living a life of justice is to live a life worthy of God’s mission in God’s land.

 

CONCLUSION

Loving a God of Justice

     Loving the God of justice is different from loving food, from loving forms of entertainment, and from loving people. To love God is to embrace His character, to seek His will, and to obey His commands. This core teaching of Deuteronomy is central to New Testament faith. Jesus makes this clear several times (see John 14:15, 21; 15:10, 12). Loving God cannot be separated from loving Jesus, which cannot be separated from keeping God’s commands, which cannot be separated from loving one another (1 John 3:16,17). How unique is our God! How unique and wonderful are His love and His justice! Let us love God by demonstrating His justice for the sake of His mission in this world.

POINTS TO PONDER

1.In being obedient to Gods Commands, God's people must exemplify that they reverently fear Him, daily walk with Him, love Him, serve Him, and keep His commandments. (Deuteronomy 10:12,13).

2. God created the heavens, and the earth, and delights in His children. (vs. 14,15).

3.Our God is also holy and just, and expects the same of us(vs. 16-19).

4.God is indeed worthy of our praise. For who He is, and the things He has done (vs. 20-22).

5.Our blessings come when we are completely devoted to following God’s ways of justice (Deuteronomy 16:18-20).

 

CONCLUSION

    Loving the God of justice is different from loving food, from loving forms of entertainment, and from loving people. To love God is to embrace His character, to seek His will, and to obey His commands. This core teaching of Deuteronomy is central to New Testament faith. Jesus makes this clear several times (see John 14:15,21; 15:10,12). Loving God cannot be separated from loving Jesus, which cannot be separated from keeping God’s commands, which cannot be separated from loving one another (1 John 16:17). How unique is our God! How unique and wonderful are His love and His justice! Let us love God by demonstrating His justice for the sake of His mission in this world.

PRAYER

    Lord God, teach us to love You in ways that are appropriate to Your holiness and Your majesty. Teach us Your justice and empower us to be faithful to Your requirements. We are humbled to be Your people. Thank You for entrusting us with a task as important as Your mission in this world. In Jesus’ name, amen.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER

    True justice cannot be separated from loving God and loving people.

 


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