Series: Possession: Claiming God's Promise - Part Two
Pastor Stephen Muncherian
February 12, 2012
This morning we are going on in our look at Deuteronomy chapters 4 to 6. In a moment we’re going to be coming to chapter 4 - starting at verse 32. If you want to turn there in your Bibles. Also, in your bulletin there are Message Notes that will be helpful to you.
To help us get into Deuteronomy 4 and where Moses and God’s people are at we have short video clip we’d like to show you. How many of you have seen “Facing The Giant’s”? Great movie. If you haven’t seen it you need to see it.
The scene we’re about see takes place the locker room just before the Shiloh Eagles football team - all 32 of them - are about to take on Bobby Lee Duke and the Richland Giants - all 85 of them - for the Georgia State Championship. The classic David verses Goliath match up. This scene is Coach Taylor’s motivational speech.
(DVD - Facing The Giants)
Great speech? “You are about to play the biggest team you’ve ever faced. They’re strong, fast, and undefeated… so far. But I want you to remember where God has brought us…. If there is anything in you that says this is a loosing effort throw it out. Because as I stand here I believe that as long as we honor God nothing is impossible… nothing…. Now, who will go fight the Giants with me?”
In Deuteronomy that’s Moses before God’s people.
Deuteronomy is a pivotal moment in the history of God’s people. This is a new generation. After 40 years of God’s people wandering in the wilderness this is a different generation than the generation that were slaves and came out of Egypt. It is a different generation than the one that came up to the Promised Land the first time and decided they couldn’t trust God. Remember that? The spies that came back. The land is filled with really strong people, fortified cities, and giants, oh my.
Ever face “giants” in your life? Issues - circumstances - that are huge. We’ve all been there. If I go out there I’m gonna get dead - slaughtered. There is no way to overcome this.
Deuteronomy is a new a generation. This is a pivotal moment. Things are about to change - significantly change - for God’s people. They’re done with wandering in the wilderness. God’s people are camped out just east of the Jordan River - just across the river from Jericho. They’re poised - ready to enter the Promised Land - ready to enter into all that God has promised them.
Deuteronomy for the most part is a collection of three speeches that Moses gave to God’s people just before he died. Think Moses the Motivator. Moses - not only encouraging God’s people to step forward trusting God. But giving them reasons as to why they should step forward trusting God.
We need to hear what Moses said for ourselves. When we face giants we need more than generic religious sounding answers. You just gotta have more faith. Read your Bible. Pray. Jesus. Which is true.
But why? Why trust God and step forward - trusting that He’ll be there with us - when we come up against those life changing moments that stun us and rock us and shake us to the core of who we are? When God calls us to step forward in faith and it seems so much safer to hang back and trust ourselves?
Last Sunday - if you were with us - we looked at 4:1 - and Moses’ history lesson in chapters 1 to 3. All of which is Moses’ reason number one for “why” trust God. Moses the Motivator reminding God’s people where they’d come from and how - despite themselves - God got them to where they are. God’s incredible faithfulness to His people. God’s undeserved presence and provision and protection of His people.
In all the changes of their lives the only constant in that change has been? God. A huge reason to trust God. The only constant in life is change. The only constant in change is God.
What God has done - is doing - in our lives is a huge answer to the question of why should we trust God.
Coming to Deuteronomy 4 - starting at verse 32 - we’re coming to Moses’ reason number two of why we should trust God.
Deuteronomy 4 - starting at verse 32: For ask now of the days that are past, which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, and ask from one end of heaven to the other, whether such a great thing as this has ever happened or was ever heard of. Did any people ever hear the voice of a god speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard, and still live? Or has any god ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, and by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great deeds of terror, all of which the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?
Let’s pause there. Moses is asking three mind popping question. Do you see them?
Verse 32 - question number one: “Have you ever heard of anything so great as this ever happening before?”
Before you were born. Go back farther - back to Adam and Eve. Or, even farther - creation. God creating heaven and earth and angels and stuff. If you could go back and ask the angels in heaven - angels who’ve been around longer than man: “Angels, have you ever heard of anything so amazing as this?” - what God has done for His people. Their answer will be, “No! Never!”
Our God - the Creator of creation - creator of mankind - of the nations - has become personally involved with us. He calls us His people. Reveals Himself to us as the awesome Lord of our history and Mount Sinai and the Exodus. Nothing like that has ever happened before or since.
Verse 33 - question number two: “Has any other people heard the voice of God speaking out of fire - as you have - and lived?” Remember God’s people standing before God at the foot of Mount Sinai and God giving them His law?
Exodus 19 - starting at verse 16 - says this: “On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightening and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the Lord had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly. And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder.” (Exodus 19:16-19)
Moses is saying here in Deuteronomy - not only did you come before God’s presence at Mount Sinai - in trembling before His awesomeness - but you heard Him speak - and you lived to tell about it. No other people has ever had that kind of experience - that kind of relationship - with God.
Verse 34 - question number three: “Has any god ever attempted to take for himself one nation out of another nation?”
To do that by trials - what God did to Pharaoh. Or signs, by wonders - the plagues. Or war - swimming lessons for Pharaoh’s army. Or by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm - God pulling His people out of slavery in Egypt. Great deeds of terror - all the things that God did for you before your very eyes and what you’ve heard about from your fathers.
Only God. Our God has done that.
Here’s why - going on - verse 35: To you it was shown, that you might know that the Lord is God; there is no other besides him.
Point number one on your Message Notes: What God does reveals who God is. Let’s say that together. “What God does reveals who God is.”
God’s people were surrounded by the 2,000 gods of Egypt for four hundred years. Many of them had been brainwashed to believe that the gods of insects and cattle and birds - oh my - and cats and the Nile River - that those gods would provide for them and give them hope for eternity.
Just like the world today tries to brainwash us into thinking that God is somehow less than He is and that our thinking of things - our perception of the world - is somehow the right understanding of how things are. That what we cling to instead of God is somehow better able to save and preserve us.
How many of you have seen The 10 Commandments? Charlton Heston - Yul Brynner - Anne Baxter. What about The Prince of Egypt? Great movies. Biblically speaking - hugely inaccurate.
Just watching those movies one would think that God delivering His people is all about equal rights and unfair labor laws.
God delivering His people is not a political statement designed to express God’s dissatisfaction with the status quo in Egypt and to show mankind a better more loving PC way to live. God’s delivering His people is all about revealing the indescribable awesomeness of the Almighty God of Creation through a demonstration of the one true living God’s personal working in the life of the people He has chosen to be His people.
Verse 35 - “To be shown that you might know” has the idea of observing - perceiving - and learning. Looking intensely at something - here, what God has done - in order to find out who God is. “that you might know that the Lord is God.”
In Hebrew “Lord” and “God” are two different names describing the one true God of Israel.
Names for the Hebrews were a profound thing. Your name was who you were - your reputation - the summary and representation of your character. With a good name you were respected. With a bad name you were dishonored. In Scripture, the “name” of God is the description of who He is - God’s reputation - His character - His nature.
“Lord” translates the Hebrew name for God - “Yahweh.”
Yahweh is the name used when God - Yahweh - comes to Abraham and tells him to leave his country and kin and head south to the Promised Land. Its Yahweh who promises Abraham the land that God’s people are about to step forward on to. Yahweh who promised Abraham descendants living on that land - and incredible blessing - and that Yahweh was going to use Abraham and his descendants to be a blessing to all the nations of the world.
When God meets Moses at the burning bush, Moses says to God, “You’re sending me back to Egypt to the people of Israel to tell them that the God of your fathers has sent me. They’re going to ask me, ‘What is His name?’ What should I tell them?”
God answers Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” Same name - “I AM” - “Yahweh”. (Exodus 3:13,14)
Yahweh sends Moses to Egypt to deliver His people. Later - in Exodus 19 - its Yahweh who establishes His covenant with His people - all of what He - Yahweh - will do for His people.
The name Yahweh emphasizes God’s intimate relationship with His people. Yahweh personally saving and delivering His people. Yahweh personally fulfilling His promises to His people. Are we together?
“God” - in verse 35 is the Hebrew name “Elohim.” Elohim describes God as the holy sovereign almighty self-sufficient God. Elohim emphasizes God who is transcendent. God who is other than His creation - distant - removed. The Holy God ruling over and sustaining all that He - God - has created.
There are parts of God that we just don’t get. God is free from the succession of time. He creates it. Uses it. We’re linear. Birth - death. God is eternal. How can we process existing in a continual now without end either past or future.
God never changes - what theologians call immutability. We’re changing all the time. Things that used to work, don’t.
God is infinite - meaning He’s free from all limitations. Nothing limits His power, His wisdom, His justice. Sometimes its hard for us just to get up and moving in the morning.
God is not dependent on anything outside of Himself. God occupies all space with the entirety of His being.
There are parts of God - attributes - that we just can’t process.
Moses puts those two names together: “See what God has done and know that Yahweh is Elohim.”
What Moses is reminding God’s people of is just who God is. The one true living God that personally moved and took out the gods of Egypt. God who served up death or life at the Passover. God who opened up the Red Sea for them to cross over - then took out Pharaoh’s army by closing up the sea. God who spoke to them at Mount Sinai. God who gave them His holy law. There is no other god like our God.
Why step forward in faith trusting God? Because we have seen and know that Yahweh is Elohim. And our God can and will do whatever He - Yahweh who is Elohim - the sovereign almighty creator God will and can do whatever He chooses to do - including keeping His promise to us.
Moses’ first point is that What God does reveals who God is. His second point - beginning in verse 36 is that Who God is reveals what God will do. Let’s say that together. “Who God is reveals what God will do.”
Look with me at verse 36: Out of heaven he let you hear his voice, that he might discipline you. And on earth he let you see his great fire, and you heard his words out of the midst of the fire. And because he loved your fathers and chose their offspring after them and brought you out of Egypt with his own presence, by his great power, driving out before you nations greater and mightier than yourselves, to bring you in, to give you their land for an inheritance, as it is this day,
Moses reminds God’s people that the God of heaven spoke to you. Why? To discipline you. Sometimes we forget that the law is really a huge expression of God’s love.
Parents put boundaries on their children to keep them from doing dangerous and bad stuff. That’s love. Then when their children do dangerous and bad stuff anyway the law becomes a tool to help us point out where our children messed up. That’s love.
The law is God’s boundary that tells God’s children where not to go and when they do it point out that they messed up. All of which as designed by a loving God to help His children understand their need for forgiveness and to prepare them to receive the coming Savior - Jesus. That’s love.
Moses goes on - verse 37 - that God revealed Himself to you because He loved your fathers - despite their rebelliousness and stubbornness - God loved them and God brought them and you out of Egypt. And that love has been lavished on you their children. Point - God loves you.
Who loves you? God.
By His power - not yours - by His power God took out nations greater and mightier than you - hear giants in that? God did all that to bring you here - Israel camped on the east bank of the Jordan River - getting ready to enter the Promised Land - God did all that to bring you here to give you their land - the land that He promised you as your inheritance.
God did that - in part - because God loves you.
Going on - verse 39: know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the Lord is God in heaven above and on earth beneath; there is no other.
Know therefore - or therefore know - because God has revealed for you Who He is in what He’s lovingly done for you - therefore know - and lay it on your heart - meaning take this in and let it rattle around at the core of who you are - that the Lord - Yahweh - is God - Elohim - in heaven above and on earth beneath - there is no other.
There’s a contrast here. Moses describing God as the God who’s the God of heaven above and the God of earth beneath.
Heaven - in contrast to the earth - is
what’s up there.
And there is a lot of up there up there. Yes? A few quick
are galaxies in the nearby area. A reminder of the
vastness of space.
This is an artist version our galaxy. You can see
where we are there where it says “Sun.” Its kinda
the Steve Martin thing.
“Let’s get small.”
Point being that “heaven” is beyond measure and comprehension. God has authority over all that. He is the creator - sustainer - ruler over what’s up there.
And - contrast - He is the God of earth below.
God speaks through the prophet Isaiah and God says, “Elohim is the Creator of the heavens. He formed the earth and made it. He established it; He did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited...” (Isaiah 45:18 - HCSB)
God creates the earth - forms it - shapes it - designs it - not to be empty - but to be inhabited - by us.
Anybody know where this is? Mercury. Not inhabited. Anyone know where this is? Surface of Venus. Also not inhabited. Very nasty place. This is where? Mars. No inhabitants. Very cold. This is where? Our moon. Been there. No indigenous life forms. Uninhabited.
This is where? Yosemite. Quite a contrast with the moon. A place of great beauty. Not to far from here. Habitable and inhabited. Earth. By the way, those are Ken’s pictures.
The earth is a very special place. The Creator
God - who is sovereign over the earth that He formed -
made the Earth habitable. Why? Because God
Every time we take a breath of air we experience the love of God. Every time we see trees popping out flowers around here - that’s an act of God’s love. God created the Earth for us to live on in a relationship with Him where we experience His presence and provision and protection - His love lavished out on us.
God creates the Promised Land. Creates it as a land flowing with milk and honey. In the midst of the barely inhabitable sand factory of the middle east - that land is very desirable.
Moses - in verse 38 - Moses reminds the people that God is giving that land to His people as an inheritance. An inheritance isn’t something we earn. Its given to us. Its what a loving relative gives to us as an act of love. Who’s giving the land to them? God. Why? Because He loves them.
The Promised Land is more than dirt. The Promised Land is a place to call home. To put down roots. To cease wandering and to raise up generations. To belong. The place where God’s people - trusting God - dwelt in the land in obedience to God’s statutes and rules - where God dwelt with them. The land is a place of God’s presence and provision and protection. God dwelling with His people in a deeply satisfying - intimate - relationship with them. God meeting their deepest needs.
Why create the land? Why bring the people to the land? Because God loves His people.
Why trust that God is going to give us the land - to take out the strong dudes and fortified cities and giants - because we’ve seen who God is and what our unique - there is no other - God of love has done. And we know that that is what He can and will do for us.
Its Yahweh Who promised Abraham and the offspring of Abraham - that’s us in Christ - that He - God - would be their God - our God - personally - intimately - knowing each of us and God being intimately known by us - a right relationship with God Himself.
Jesus comes from the Greek form of the Hebrew “yeshua” - which combines the name of God “Yahweh” with the word “yasa” - to help - to deliver - to save. In the New Testament God reveals the name of His Son - Jesus - as “Yahweh saves.”
The angel tells Joseph, “You must call Him Yahweh saves, for He will save His people from their sins.”
Athanasius - one of the early defenders and explainers of our faith - Anthanasius once said, “Our Lord took a body like ours and lived as a man in order that those who had refused to recognize Him in His superintendence and captaincy of the whole universe might come to recognize from the works He did here below in the body, that what dwelt in this body was the Word of God.”
It is amazing to contemplate that God Himself is so in love with His creation - creatures who reject Him - who live in sinful disobedience of His will - that God Himself has come to be with us - to call us into a relationship with Him.
Why trust that Yahweh - Yeshua - Jesus - will save us? Because we have seen and know that Yahweh is Elohim. And Elohim can do and will do whatever He - Elohim - the sovereign almighty creator God chooses to do. And we know that God loves us.
Verse 40 is Moses’ application point. Verse 40: Therefore - because what God has done reveals who God is and who God is reveals what God will do - therefore you shall keep his statutes and his commandments, which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land that the Lord your God is giving you for all time.
How do we respond when we come up against giants in our lives? Answer - step forward in faith - trusting the God who promises to be there with us - providing - protecting. Obey God. Stay the course. Follow God. Claim His promise and know that it will be well with us. Why? Because He loves you.
The words of Coach Taylor are huge. “You are about to play the biggest team you’ve ever faced. They’re strong, fast, and undefeated… so far. But I want you to remember where God has brought us…. If there is anything in you that says this is a loosing effort throw it out. Because as I stand here I believe that as long as we honor God nothing is impossible… nothing…. Now, who will go fight the Giants with me?”
The second half of your Message Notes is the “Taking It Home” part. There are some questions there that we pray will help you this week and beyond as you come up against situations where your faith is tested. Maybe you can answer those questions for yourself or spend time discussing what’s there with others.
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.