Sermon on Deuteronomy 11:18-21, 26-28
Text: Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.
26 See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse — 27 the blessing if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today; 28 the curse if you disobey the commands of the LORD your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known.
Our text for this morning comes to us from the book of Deuteronomy. The people of Israel were about to enter the Promised Land. They had been traveling for forty years in the wilderness. When they crossed the Jordan River, they would finally reach their goal. Moses had led them out of the land of Egypt during this time. He knew that he would not be able to join them, so he took the opportunity to remind this generation of all that God had said to them. He wanted them to be blessed and to enjoy this wonderful gift that God had in store for them. As we study his words, we also will see how we RECEIVE CONTINUED BLESSINGS FROM THE LORD. It comes 1. By Keeping The Word Close To Our Hearts In Our Every Day Lives and 2. By Keeping The Word Close To Our Hearts Every Day Of Our Lives.
Moses said to them, “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.” (Verse 18) When Moses says “these words of mine,” he is not referring to some sage wisdom that he had come up with during the 120 years of his life. He is referring to the words that God had spoken to him and that he had relayed to the people. Moses showed the importance of these words by saying that the people were to “Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.” There were some who took these words quite literally. Jesus refers to the Pharisees of his day in Matthew 23:5. “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long.” A phylactery was a little wooden box that they would tie to their foreheads containing four sections of the Bible. Some would also tie these boxes on their arms. However, God didn’t mean that they were to do this literally. Rather, by referring to their foreheads, God meant that his Word was to influence what they thought. By referring to their hands, God meant that his Word was to guide everything that they did. His Word was to be a part of their everyday lives.
This is a good reminder for us, as well. It is so easy for us to compartmentalize our lives to God’s time and our time. We take the opportunity to think about and study God’s Word during our worship services and Bible classes. We may carve out a bit of time for a daily devotion. That’s God’s time. However, God wants his Word to influence our entire lives. His word is not something extra that we think about in life. It is all that we think about in life. Everything else in life only has meaning when it is considered in light of what the Lord says about it. Because we are the children of God, we want everything that we think or do to give glory to him. God’s Word is to be a part of our everyday life, as well.
Moses continues by saying them, “Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Verse 29) What Moses taught the people was not something insignificant or just for their time. They were to teach their children what they had been taught. This was not just to be done in a formalized setting, such as when they worshiped. Rather, as they went through life, there would be many opportunities for them to teach their children. They were to do so as they went about their chores or enjoyed each other’s company at home. As they went from place to place, they were to use the opportunities that were presented to remind their children about God’s Word. It was to be the last thing that the children heard at night and the first thing that they heard in the morning.
So, also, God has given this responsibility to parents today. There are many voices out there that are teaching our children. Much of what they hear is just plain wrong. They are taught that there is no such thing as absolute right or wrong. Every point of view is just as valid as another. In some cases that may be true, but not when it comes to right and wrong. There are voices that are telling our children that they are merely the outcome of a series of events that took place millions of years ago. They just happen to be the highest form of animal that there is at this moment. God wants us to share with them that they are special. They are not just some combination of atoms, but God knows them personally and he has made them. God wants them to know how much he loves them and what he has done for them. This is the main responsibility that God has given to parents. Also, we take note of the fact that God wants this training to go on throughout the day. We don’t just have Bible time and then there’s the rest of life. As we are together with our children, God gives us so many opportunities to teach them. It may be that there is something that is on the television that is not right. God gives us the opportunity to tell them what is right. The child’s feelings may be hurt by something that was said to them. It is easy for us to comfort them, but God is also giving us an opportunity to teach about forgiveness. It is also important to note that we do not just teach with our words. We can often teach far more by what we are doing and how we react to things than we can with just words. Children will not buy into the idea “Do as I say, not as I do.” We show that God’s Word id close to our hearts in our everyday life. There are so many chances for us to show our children that God’s Word is to be kept close to their hearts in their everyday lives, as well.
Moses used another picture to help get this point across when he said, “Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” (Verse 20) Again, there were people who took these words literally and would affix boxes called a mezuzah to their doorframes which would contain portions of the Scriptures, as well. By doing this, they thought that they were fulfilling what Moses said to them. Again, this is not what God meant. By means of this picture, God was reminding the people that his Word was to influence his people’s lives as they entered their homes and interacted with their families. His Word was also to influence their lives as they left their homes and dealt with others.
Many of us have Christian art in our homes. What is the purpose of it being there? It can be so much more than just a painting on the wall or a knickknack on the shelf. It can serve as a reminder of what God has done for us. This visual representation of God’s Word can help us remember that ours is a Christian household, which will influence how we treat each other. It can also help us remember, as we go out of our homes, that we are God’s and what he has done for us. Every time we see it, we can be reminded of the many blessings that God has given and wants to give us. God blesses us when we keep his Word close to our hearts in our everyday lives.
Moses concludes our text by saying, “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse — the blessing if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the LORD your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known.” (Verses 26-28) This not some sort of law, as if it depended on their efforts. Rather, in love, Moses was encouraging the people of Israel to keep God’s Word close to their hearts every day of their lives. He knew that, if they would forsake God’s Word and follow other gods, they would only have trouble. If they continued in their faith, God would continue to bless them. As we read the rest of the history of the people of Israel, we see that it happened just as Moses had told them. When they started to run after other gods, they would have troubles. There would be famines and infestations. Foreign nations would invade their land. This was all done so that the people would repent of their wrongdoing and come back to God where there would be blessings. God had given them a precious treasure and they were to be vigilant as they held onto it.
God has given us this precious treasure, as well. He has told us all about his love for us and the blessings he wants to give to us. In his Word, we have the law, which exposes our sins. There we see the times when we have been lax in our love for God’s Word. We have not always gladly heard and learned it. Often times, we have merely gone through the motions. For these sins, as well as all of the other ones that we commit, God’s Word is also very clear about the consequences. It is an eternity of separation from God’s love. Instead, there is only God’s wrath. However, God also shows his amazing love for us in what he did to rescue us. Jesus left his throne in heaven and came to the earth to be our Substitute. In the pages of the Scriptures we see his love for God’s Word. We think of the twelve-year-old Jesus asking his mother, “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:40) We often read that Jesus went to the synagogue, as was his custom. Jesus treasured his Father’s Word, where we have not. Then, Jesus satisfied divine justice as he suffered and died on the cross. There he paid for all of our sins. The slate has been wiped clean. Through his resurrection, we have the assurance of sins forgiven and the relationship restored with our Father. The Holy Spirit worked through the means of grace to create the faith that is in our hearts. All of this is revealed to us in God’s Word, which is why it is so precious to us. In it we see what God has done for us and we see what we can do to thank him for it.
This is why we need to keep God’s Word close to our hearts every day of our lives. The devil doesn’t want you to hold on to it. He knows that if we get distracted by other things, what God wants to give us doesn’t seem as important. So, he will whisper in our ears, ‘Do you really have to believe everything that’s in the Bible? There are many things that don’t make sense.’ Or he may say, ‘You’ve heard this since you were a little kid. You know everything you need to know. Why not take a break from it for a while. You can always go back to it later.’ He says, ‘Look at all of the rules that are in God’s Word! Who wants to live like that? Why not go and have some fun?’ His voice is so enticing. The more we think about it, the better it sounds. So, little by little, we let loose of God’s Word. We put it further and further from us. Then, we have become easy pickings for the devil. If it continues, we will put God’s Word in a box some place in our memory and could eventually lose that faith that once shone so brightly in our hearts.
When we keep God’s Word close to our hearts, the Holy Spirit will work through it to strengthen our faith. Then, we see all of the blessings that God wants to give us. We see that the Bible is the one place that we can find truth that stands the test of time. Man’s theories have come and gone over the centuries. God’s Word has remained true. As we study God’s Word, we find new treasures. We find him speaking to us as we face the various situations in life. We find comfort in our sadness, strength during trials, and the place to go to help us express the joy that fills our hearts. Instead of finding that God’s Word is full of rules that take all the fun out of life, we see that when we do it God’s way, it goes better for us. We have God’s promises that he will provide for us and protect us. We, also, see the eternal home that is waiting for us. We see all of these blessings as we keep God’s Word close to our hearts every day of our lives.
As I said earlier, the book of Deuteronomy is Moses’ final instructions for the people of Israel. He cared deeply for them that he wanted everything to go well for them. He knew that could only happen one way: if they remained close to God. It was for that reason that he told them to keep God’s Word close to their heats. The same is true for us. God wants to bless us. How do we receive his continued blessing? It is by remaining close to him and that is done through his Word. May God help us to keep his Word close to our hearts in our everyday life, for then we know true happiness. May God help us to keep his Word close to our hearts every day of our lives, for then we will not fail. We join the hymn writer in singing, “How precious is the Book divine, By inspiration giv’n! Bright as a lamp its doctrines shine To guide our souls to heav’n.” Amen.
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