SERMON TITLE: Finding Jesus
TEXT: Deuteronomy 4:44-6:25 (ESV)
SPEAKER: Josh Hanson
It’s great being with all of you this weekend at Gateway Church. And one thing I want you to know is that God loves you and I love you too.
And we’re in the final week of our Finding Jesus series — where I’m covering an entire book of the Bible in one sermon. And in this series — we’ve been looking at the first five books of the Bible — the books written by Moses.
We began in the book of Genesis — and there — we learned that God reigns. Through Joseph’s story — we saw how God uses all things — even evil and wicked things — for his glory and our good. And God proved this to be true when he used the death of Jesus for his glory and our eternal good.
In Exodus — we learned that God rescues — and that the Christian faith is primarily a religion of rescue. And through God rescuing his people out of slavery in Egypt we were reminded of the better rescue story — Jesus rescuing his people from their slavery to sin.
In Leviticus — we saw that God redeems. Because he is holy, unholy people — like you and me — can’t survive God’s presence. And in his love for us — Jesus paid the price for our sins with his blood — providing redemption for his people who are now welcomed into God’s presence.
And last week — in Numbers — we were reminded of how Jesus has reconciled us to God. He has restored the relationship between us and God that we had destroyed.
And the idea of Finding Jesus, comes from a story found near the end of the gospel of Luke. And in this conversation Jesus tells us how we’re to read and understand the whole Bible.
“And he (Jesus) said to them, "What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?" And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?" 19 And he said to them, "What things?" And they said to him, "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see." 25 And he (Jesus) said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" 27 And (watch what Jesus does here...and...) beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:17-27 ESV)
Here Jesus tells us that the whole Bible is about him. And he even began with the writings of Moses.
And like previous weeks in this series — I’m going to introduce you to a book of the Bible — I’ll give you an overview of the book. And then we’ll focus in on one section which I’ll use to show you how to find Jesus. So let’s turn to our book for today.
ANNOUNCE THE TEXT
If you have your Bible please turn with me to Deuteronomy chapter 4. We’ll begin in verse 44.
And, if you’re a guest with us, something we like to do at Gateway is let you ask questions that we answer on our podcast. So if you have a question, you can text it in to the number printed on the bottom of the sermon notes sheet or you can submit it on the Gateway app.
OVERVIEW OF DEUTERONOMY
Now the book of Deuteronomy takes place with the Israelites just opposite of the Promised Land. And this book is essentially the last words of Moses — his final speech to the people before they head into the Promised Land. Moses isn’t going with them — because of his own sin — so this is the end of the road for him.
And the book is broken up into three parts. The first part has more of a dark tone as Moses recounts their story. And Moses challenges this new generation to be different than their parents. Instead of rebelling — he tells them to obey — to trust God and his faithfulness. And it’s here that Moses reminds them of the Ten Commandments — which we’ll look at more closely in a moment.
Also — it’s here that we come across the Shema — a special prayer for the Israelites. A prayer they prayed twice a day and — the point of the prayer — was to remind them of their commitment to the One true God — the God who rescued them out of slavery in Egypt — the God who’s always been — and always will be — faithful to them. So as they’re about to enter a land full of many different religions — Moses wants them to know that loyalty to the true God — is the only way to live.
The second section of the book is full of laws and commands. Think of this section as a repeat of the laws that were given to them 40 years ago. So a lot of what you read here — you’ll have read in Exodus and Leviticus. But this was important for the people — because — they weren’t the generation originally given these laws — that was their parents. And Moses ends this section by reminding them about the promised blessings for obedience and the promised curses for disobedience.
Which brings us to the last part of the book — Moses’ final speech. Here Moses tells them to choose love — to choose obedience — to choose life. But after telling them to choose these things — Moses predicts their failure. Yeah...he knows them — he’s been with them for 40 years.
And though he wants them to choose life — he knows they’ll choose death just like their parents.
And though he wants them to choose obedience — he predicts a time of exile — “your entry into the Promised Land will only be temporary” because future generations will disobey God and will be kicked out of the land.
And though he wants them to choose love — Moses tells them they have hard hearts that are incapable of truly loving God.
But the book doesn’t end in despair. For — near the end — Moses tells them that after the exile — God will somehow transform their hard hearts. And one day they will choose to respond to God’s love with obedience.
And the book ends with Moses handing off his leadership position to Joshua. And then Moses climbs up to the top of a mountain — so he can see the Promised Land — and then he dies. And that’s how the first five books of the Bible end.
Now — some good news. God’s story doesn’t end here — because that’d be kind of depressing. God’s story continues — the story of a faithful God to an unfaithful people keeps going right into the next book of the Bible — which will get to at another time.
So — now — after learning about God reigning, and rescuing, and redeeming, and reconciling us — now we come to God ruling — to his commandments. As I’ve said in this series, Christianity does have rules and commands we’re to obey — but first and foremost Christianity is a religion of rescue. And those who’ve been rescued by God are to know and obey his rules in response to his love for us.
Yet we can’t talk about rules without acknowledging two things ingrained in us from society. First, we’re told that some rules — though this seems to be arbitrary and always changing — but there are some rules that society says everyone must obey. And — second — all other rules can be ignored. And — often — the “feel free to ignore them” rules are the ones that come from God.
Now hear me out. Some of the rules society tells us to obey are good and should be followed. Traffic rules are good. If you don’t believe me, I’ll take you to some countries I’ve been to. Even after 24 hours of travel — and no coffee — you’ll be wide awake because their traffic laws are optional.
But even though society has some laws that are good — often the decision as to which laws we’re supposed to follow — and which ones we aren’t — is subjective. And even if it’s not an official rule — like the law of the land — sometimes the pressure society puts on us to conform to its standard of right and wrong — goes against our faith.
Now nearly all of God’s commands go against our natural desires because our desires are influenced by sin. And knowing there’s no part of us left untouched by sin — we should be cautious in trusting ourselves — even collectively as a society — as having the final word on what’s right and wrong. And that’s why we — if you’re a follower of Jesus — that’s why we must turn to God’s Word — to his commands — his rules — and allow God — for he’s completely holy and uninfluenced by sin — to tell us what’s right and wrong.
And even though most of us don’t like rules because they feel oppressive. Here’s something to consider about God’s rules — his rules are freeing. Obeying God’s rules leads to freedom because he knows what’s best for you — he knows how you should live if you don’t want regrets, or to cause pain to others, or even to yourself.
RE-ANNOUNCE AND READ THE TEXT
So let’s turn to our passage for today. Deuteronomy chapter 4. Beginning in verse 44.
“This is the law that Moses set before the people of Israel. 45 These are the testimonies, the statutes, and the rules, which Moses spoke to the people of Israel when they came out of Egypt, 46 beyond the Jordan in the valley opposite Beth-peor, in the land of Sihon the king of the Amorites, who lived at Heshbon, whom Moses and the people of Israel defeated when they came out of Egypt. 47 And they took possession of his land and the land of Og, the king of Bashan, the two kings of the Amorites, who lived to the east beyond the Jordan; 48 from Aroer, which is on the edge of the Valley of the Arnon, as far as Mount Sirion (that is, Hermon), 49 together with all the Arabah on the east side of the Jordan as far as the Sea of the Arabah, under the slopes of Pisgah.
5:1 And Moses summoned all Israel and said to them, "Hear, O Israel, the statutes and the rules that I speak in your hearing today, and you shall learn them and be careful to do them.
“If you want to live — if you want to know freedom — then listen and respond to what I’m about to say to you.”
2 The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. 3 Not with our fathers did the Lord make this covenant, but with us, who are all of us here alive today. 4 The Lord spoke with you face to face at the mountain, out of the midst of the fire, 5 while I stood between the Lord and you at that time, to declare to you the word of the Lord. For you were afraid because of the fire, and you did not go up into the mountain. He said: 6 "'I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
Rescue comes first — then rules. And God is the one who rescues. And having been freed, the people are now told how they must live.
7 "'You shall have no other gods before me.
God demands exclusive loyalty from those he’s rescued.
8 "'You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 9 You shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 10 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
God’s jealousy means he will have nothing less than 100% of his people’s devotion. Why does he expect this? Because his people have 100% of his love. If you don’t want to give God 100% of your devotion why would you expect to receive 100% of his love?
11 "'You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
God’s name represents God — so — to mess with his name — is to mess with God. And you don’t want to do that.
12 "'Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. 15 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.
Sabbath rest is a gift from God. As slaves in Egypt — the people never got a day to rest. And this command — to break free from their labor and rest — among other things — is meant to remind them of God breaking them free from their enslavement in Egypt. And our rest is to remind us of God breaking us free from trying to save ourselves as we rest in all that Christ has done for us.
16 "'Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
This commandment wasn’t originally just for young children — it was given to adults. Treat your aging parents with honor and respect — regard them as someone of great value and worth.
17 "'You shall not murder.
Life is sacred. Protect it.
18 "'And you shall not commit adultery.
Marriage is sacred. Protect it.
19 "'And you shall not steal.
This command has many applications — but — as slaves — they were stolen property. In Joseph’s story — back in Genesis — when Joseph talked about being sold into slavery he describes himself as being “stolen out of the land of the Hebrews.” (Genesis 40:15, ESV)So this command — in addition to being against thievery — has sanctity of life implications.
20 "'And you shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
We’ll keep it simple — don’t lie.
21 "'And you shall not covet your neighbor's wife. And you shall not desire your neighbor's house, his field, or his male servant, or his female servant, his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's.'
The 10 Commandments. Now — again — you may look at these and see them as oppressive — as burdensome — as restrictive. So a little United States fact for you from the Internet. (Kevin DeYoung, “Five Reasons to Obey the Ten Commandments,” thegospelcoalition.org, October 9, 2018, https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevin-deyoung/five-reasons-obey-ten-commandments/) Do you know how many laws there are in our country? No one knows. We’ve got over 20,000 laws on gun ownership alone. In one year, 40,000 new laws were added in our country.
OK. So God narrowed his laws down to ten. Compared to all the laws in the United States — do you really want to say that God’s oppressing you with too many rules?
22 "These words the Lord spoke to all your assembly at the mountain out of the midst of the fire, the cloud, and the thick darkness, with a loud voice; and he added no more. And he wrote them on two tablets of stone and gave them to me. 23 And as soon as you heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, while the mountain was burning with fire, you came near to me, all the heads of your tribes, and your elders. 24 And you said, 'Behold, the Lord our God has shown us his glory and greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire. This day we have seen God speak with man, and man still live. 25 Now therefore why should we die? For this great fire will consume us. If we hear the voice of the Lord our God any more, we shall die. 26 For who is there of all flesh, that has heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of fire as we have, and has still lived? 27 Go near and hear all that the Lord our God will say, and speak to us all that the Lord our God will speak to you, and we will hear and do it.' 28 "And the Lord heard your words, when you spoke to me. And the Lord said to me, 'I have heard the words of this people, which they have spoken to you. They are right in all that they have spoken. 29 Oh that they had such a heart as this always, to fear me and to keep all my commandments, that it might go well with them and with their descendants forever! 30 Go and say to them, "Return to your tents." 31 But you, stand here by me, and I will tell you the whole commandment and the statutes and the rules that you shall teach them, that they may do them in the land that I am giving them to possess.' 32 You shall be careful therefore to do as the Lord your God has commanded you. You shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. 33 You shall walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land that you shall possess.
6:1 "Now this is the commandment — the statutes and the rules — that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, 2 that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son's son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. 3 Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey. 4 "Hear, O Israel:
The word “hear” — or “listen” — means more than just hearing the words. It implies responding to what’s heard. To truly listen includes a response. And what are they responding to?
The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
They’re responding to who God is and — as we’ll see — what he’s commanded — but their response is to come from their heart — it’s to be a response of love. Meaning — because they’ve been loved by God — as evidenced in him rescuing them out of slavery in Egypt — and because they love him in return — they’re to obey his commandments.
6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. 10 "And when the Lord your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you — with great and good cities that you did not build, 11 and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant — and when you eat and are full, 12 then take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 13 It is the Lord your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. 14 You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you — 15 for the Lord your God in your midst is a jealous God — lest the anger of the Lord your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth. 16 "You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah. 17 You shall diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God, and his testimonies and his statutes, which he has commanded you. 18 And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord, that it may go well with you, and that you may go in and take possession of the good land that the Lord swore to give to your fathers 19 by thrusting out all your enemies from before you, as the Lord has promised. 20 "When your son asks you in time to come, 'What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the Lord our God has commanded you?' 21 then you shall say to your son, 'We were Pharaoh's slaves in Egypt. And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. 22 And the Lord showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes. 23 And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give to our fathers. 24 And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day. 25 And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us.'” (Deuteronomy 4:44-6:25 ESV)
Our obedience today — matters for the next generation. Parents — think of your kids. Your obedience today — your following Jesus now — matters to them — and they don’t even know it.
Maybe you’re not a parent — but you’re part of this family of faith — your obedience today matters for the next generation of Christians in this church — and they don’t even know it.
FINDING JESUS IN DEUTERONOMY
So let’s find Jesus. I’ll show you two ways. One way we find Jesus is by asking, “How did Jesus view God’s rules?” One day he was asked by an expert in the law — a lawyer — about which of God’s commands was the most important. “And he (Jesus) said to him (the lawyer), "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets."” (Matthew 22:37-40 ESV)
Earlier I compared the ridiculous amount of laws we have in the US with God giving us ten. Well Jesus just narrowed it down to two — so how about that? And — by the way — he quoted from Deuteronomy when he narrowed everything down to two rules. So that’s one way to find Jesus — go and discover what he thinks about God’s rules.
But another way to find Jesus — in Deuteronomy — and as we think about God’s rules — is to know that the God who gives rules is the God who does rule. Later — in Deuteronomy — God will be called Lord of lords — meaning — God is the Ruler of all rulers — he’s the King of all kings. And in the New Testament — this title — is given to Jesus. The apostle Paul describes Jesus as “King of kings and Lord of lords.” (1 Timothy 6:15 , ESV) Twice — in the book of Revelation — the apostle John calls Jesus “King of kings and Lord of lords.” (Revelation 17:14; 19:16, ESV)
And Jesus — the One who reigns and rescues — Jesus — the One who redeems and reconciles — is also the One who rules. And as King, as Lord, as Ruler — he’s given his people commandments — not to oppress us — but to show us what it means to truly be free.
Now you may be here and all of this talk about rules and commandments goes against every fiber in your body. Here’s something for you to consider. God loves you. And because he loves you — he’s told you the very best way to live. His rules aren’t meant to be harsh or oppressive — that wouldn’t be a very loving thing for him to do — his rules offer you a kind freedom you haven’t even dared to dream about. I’d encourage you to explore what it means for God’s rules to be evidence of his love for you.
Maybe you’re here and you have a deep longing to feel like you belong — you feel like no one understands you — that you don’t fit in anywhere — that no one gets you. Well the church is called a family. And God’s family — like any healthy family — has some rules. And though it may be uncomfortable — and a bit scary — and may even seem to go against your uniqueness — in fact — it’s when you conform to God’s rules — that your longing to belong begins to find fulfillment.
And for all of us who believe — something we must always fight to remember — because this is something we so easily forget — something we must fight to remember is that we don’t obey God’s rules in order to pay him back for the bad things we’ve done. Jesus is our Redeemer — he paid the penalty for our sin — so if you believe in Jesus — you have no unpaid bills to God. But this doesn’t mean responding to God’s love in obedience is optional.
And don’t believe the lie that freedom is found by disobeying God’s rules — that lie leads to death. Always has — always will. But the freedom you long for — the freedom to belong — the freedom to be loved — the freedom to love others — is found not by disobeying God’s rules — but by responding to his love in obedience.
Do you want freedom? Do you want to be loved? Do you want to belong? Ask God to give you a heart that desires to obey his rules in response to his love for you. Let’s pray.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the freedom that’s found in being loved by you and by obeying your commands. You’re a tender Father who wants the very best for his children. So you’ve shown us the very best way to live in your commands to us.
Jesus — you are King, you are Lord, you are Ruler over all. Help us to respond to your authority as our Lord — in love — in the same way you responded to your Father’s authority when you walked on this earth. You knew his commands and you obeyed them all because you loved your Father. Help us all to see that our love for you is most clearly shown in how we live for you.
Finally, Holy Spirit, show all of us the freedom that’s found in obeying your commands. From those of us who’ve believed for decades to those of us who aren’t sure what we believe — our hearts cry for freedom. Our souls long for this brokenness and corruption and death and disease and the things that rob us of our freedom — we long for these things to be no more. And that is your promise to your people — one day a world free of these things will be the home of God’s people — the day when they live in the eternal Promised Land. May we all trust Jesus to lead us home. It’s in his name that we pray. Amen.
COMMUNION (JOSH WILL MOVE TO COMMUNION TABLE)
Today as we turn to the Lord’s Table, we’re reminded once again of God’s faithfulness to us. This meal is a powerful display of God’s love for us — his love for us that compels us to love him in return and respond to him in obedience.
On the night he was betrayed, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.” (1 Corinthians 11:24b-26 ESV)
And with these words our Lord commands all believers to eat this bread and to drink this cup in true faith and in the confident hope of his return in glory. God graciously declares to us that our sins have been completely forgiven through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. (Adapted from the Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 75, 80)
PRAYER (COMMUNION SERVERS COME FORWARD)
Father, we give you thanks for your Son, Jesus. For his obedience and suffering during his life on earth, and for his giving up of his body and blood on the cross. Give us assurance that our sins are pardoned through his blood and may your perfect love drive out all fear. Fill our minds with your peace and turn our eyes to Heaven, where Christ is at your right hand interceding for us. Enable us to offer up ourselves in service to you and to all your children. And unite us with each other through your Spirit so we continue in the living hope of our Savior's coming in glory. Amen.
At this time, ushers will be passing trays with the bread and the cup down your rows. You may take the bread immediately, but hold on to the cup, which we will all drink together.
Let’s feast on God’s grace together.
PRAYER (TRANSITION FOR WORSHIP TEAM)
Let’s pray. Heavenly Father, in your wisdom, you have made all things and you sustain them by your power. You formed us in your image, setting us in this world to love and serve you, and to live in peace with one another. When we rebelled against you — refusing to trust and obey you — you did not reject us, but still claimed us as your own. Then in the fullness of time, out of your great love for us, you sent your only Son to be one of us, to redeem us, to heal our brokenness, to cleanse us from our sin, and to defeat our greatest enemies of Satan, sin, death, and Hell. And now, you call us your sons and daughters. In response to these great truths, we now praise you in song together. Amen.
BENEDICTION (PRAY FOR: want assurance of God’s love)
May you go knowing that God loves you and respond to his love in obedience. Amen.
God loves you. I love you. You are sent.