Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Sermon on Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9, for the 14th Sunday after Pentecost, "Light for the Nations"

Sermon outline:
1.      Deuteronomy (“second law”): Moses’ reaffirming God’s statutes and rules to a fledgling nation, about to enter the promised land. High calling, exalted among the nations as the treasured possession of God, kingdom of priests, holy nation (Ex. 19:6). Warned not to think too highly of themselves (Deut 9—you are not more righteous, or greater, but rather are stubborn). But because of God’s gracious choosing & show His glory. Their obedience to His law > witness for the nations. Righteousness and wisdom of God’s teaching. Show that God is not a national God (Israel only), but the God of all the nations.
2.      How did they do? Did they reach that high standard? Tried at times. Nearest example: Solomon’s reign. Temple dedication (1 Ki. 8:41-43)—draw in the nations. Queen of Sheba (1 Ki. 10). Did it last? Not even a generation. Fell away, disregarded law. Warning in Deut. 17 about kings not assembling power, prestige, wealth, and many wives to himself—but to hold to the law and statutes, read it all his life, do them, and not turn to the right or the left. Solomon turned away from all this. What would become of Israel’s witness? Increasing disobedience, warnings, exile. Broken covenant (Jer. 31). God’s purpose for the nation abandoned?? Who to look to for hope? Who would “restore the promise of this great nation?” Look to their kings (politicians)?
3.      God spoke a new promise for the nation—a light for the nations (Is. 42:6; 49:6). Left to one, lone, faithful Israelite to live out their purpose, to become what they had failed to be. One who would be a King in the line of King David and Solomon, but of perfect wisdom and understanding. Never departed from the law, meditated on it day and night, kept it with unfailing devotion, not turning from the right or left. This man, Jesus Christ, was the nation of Israel reduced to one man. One faithful, obedient man. Fulfilled the purpose and calling of Israel, all that they did not do. King of kings and Lord of lords. Light for the nations, witness and life to all peoples. All nations. Jesus’ death and resurrection raised Him to His rightful throne, of an eternal, spiritual kingdom, that exists now and here. Christians, all believers, joined to this kingdom, of royal priests and holy nation.
4.      High and holy calling to live, bear witness, give light to the nations. Hold to God’s law and teachings. Not for us, or our glory, but for God’s. Fall from it in sinning, but continually lifted up and return to Christ our head in repentance. Remains light for us and for the nations. He alone can restore the promise of this great “nation” or kingdom of believers. He fulfills and keeps the promise. Church is privileged to bear that light of Christ to all the world. Joined to that reclaimed purpose, so the world can see. Look to His light and live!

Sermon Talking Points
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1.      The title of the book “Deuteronomy” means “second law”—because the book was Moses’ re-issuing of the statutes and laws that God had given to Israel on Mt. Sinai, as Israel finished its 40 years of wandering in the desert, and prepared to enter the Promised Land. It was a solemn admonition to keep God’s laws before them and to do them.
2.      Why is it vital that we do not add or subtract from God’s Word and commands? Deuteronomy 4:2; Matthew 5:17-20; Revelation 22:18-19.
3.      What was God’s hope and expectation for how Israel would become an example for the nations, as He called them out of Egypt and established them as a new nation? Deuteronomy 4:6-8; Exodus 19:5-6; cf. 1 Kings 8:41-43. How did He warn them against pride in their exalted status? Deuteronomy 8:17-9:7
4.      When did they seem to begin attaining that high purpose and calling? 1 Kings 10:1-9. How long did it take for King Solomon to go astray? 1 Kings 11:1-13; cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34.  How had God warned about this, centuries before? Deuteronomy 17:14-20.
5.      How would God provide one faithful Israelite, one man to be a king on the throne of David, one wise man who would not turn from God’s law either to the right or to the left, and who would be the Light for the Nations? Isaiah 42:6; 49:6; 60:1-3; Psalm 98:1-3; Luke 2:32; John 8:12; Acts 13:47; 26:23. How does Jesus, as Israel reduced to one man, fulfill all the promise and expectation where Israel fell short? How does He give His church, as His spiritual kingdom, His light to continue to bear? Matthew 5:14-16; Philippians 2:15. How do we continue to bear that high and holy calling? 1 Peter 2:5, 9; Revelation 1:6. 

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