The Gift of God’s Law

The title of the book of Deuteronomy literally means second law. Moses is reiterating for the people of Israel the commands of God. The nation left Egypt nearly four decades ago, an entire generation lies buried in the desert. And now it will be time for the people of God to enter and take possession of the land.

Before the nation enters the land, God will use Moses as his spokesman one final time. God will have Moses remind the people of the laws of God that the nation received when they were still children, fresh out of Egypt. For the first 3 chapters of this book, Moses reminded the people of their basic history. In chapter 4, Moses begins to point to the law. And what Moses has to say is beautiful.

Deuteronomy 4:1-2 – 1 “And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the rules that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you. 2 You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you.

As God prepares to send Israel into her land, he points them directly to his word and his promise. He has promised them the land. But he has also shown them, as a people, how to live so as to be under his favor. And it all centers on the word of God.

Moses tells the people not to add to or take from the word of God. They are not to make up new commands, laws, or styles of worship that God did not command. They were not to adopt the religious practices and pagan moralities of the people living in Canaan. Nor were they to bring to the table new, fresh, never-before-seen ideas about who God is and how he is to be considered. They were to stick with the revelation of God they had received.

Neither was the nation to take from the word of God. It was not for Israel to enter the land and then ignore what God had commanded them about sacrifice, about marriage, or about justice. They were to worship as God prescribed. They were to shape their society as God had prescribed. And they, if they were to continue to be in God’s favor, were to keep his law without cutting it down.

As Christians who live under the New Covenant, we are not necessarily required to obey the laws that God gave to Israel about camping in the desert or the laws of sacrifice that were a shadow of the perfect sacrifice of Christ. But we would be fools not to see that the law of God shows who God is and what are his standards. God’s law teaches us about justice, genuine justice. God’s law teaches us about marriage and family. God’s law teaches us about God’s requirements for human sexuality. God’s law teaches us about God’s holiness. God’s law shows us that no sin has ever been forgiven without a substitutionary sacrifice, a perfect sacrifice—the sacrifice of Jesus—making atonement.

When God had Moses tell the people to keep his law and neither to add to nor take from it, God was showing the people that he had blessed them greatly. God had given them the information they needed to live as his people. This is a kindness from God beyond what we can imagine. God is not required by any external standard to let us know who he is or what he desires. God has every right to cast us into hell for sin even if he never tells us what sin is. But God chose to graciously reveal himself in his word. God chose to graciously reveal his worship, his standards, and his ways in his word.

May we never be a people who do anything less than treasure God’s word. Yes, from time to time we will need to examine Old Testament law closely to learn what is the timeless principle for today’s application. But there is such a thing. God’s law is perfect. God’s word is good. And we as the people of God love the law of God because that law reveals to us the God we worship if indeed we worship the true God. Never let any part of the word of God go. Never stop loving the word of God. Never change or twist the word of God. Let the law of God reveal to you our God and lead you to worship Jesus, the Son of God, who perfectly fulfilled the law of God on our behalf.

Why My Kids Do Not Believe in Santa

Pastor Travis Peterson

My children do not believe in Santa Claus. To some, this is an obvious move. To others, this is a shock. What’s the deal? Am I some sort of anti-holiday Scrooge? Am I some sort of overzealous fundamentalist? Why in the world would I not have my little ones believe in Santa?

 

I am probably asked every year about what our family has decided to do about Santa at Christmas time. And, every year, I share a version of this post to try to explain the process that my wife and I went through in deciding our answer to the big question: To Santa or not to Santa.

Since you know the answer already, let me very briefly tell you the reasoning that made the no Santa policy in my home. Then, I will share with you a bit of how we deal with Santa.

 

Christmas is a…

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Who Is This?

One place where modern folks might find the book of Job quite helpful is in how the Lord responds to the questions of Job. It is popular these days to tell everybody that every question they have is a valid one, a good one. We are told there are no stupid questions. We are told that everybody has the right to be angry with god—an obvious falsehood, but not one opposed by nearly enough people.

But consider Job. This man suffered. He went through a hardship that he did not earn through open rebellion against the Lord. And he had questions. Job did not understand why God was doing what god was doing. The actions of God had hurt Job. And Job felt like he deserved an answer.

If the modern Christian wrote this book, I think he would be likely to depict God as a friendly psychologist, listening, nodding, validating Job’s feelings. Perhaps a modern author would even have God tell Job what was up, opening the curtain to give Job a well-deserved peek. But that is not what really happened.

Job 38:1-4

1 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:
2 “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
3 Dress for action like a man;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.
4 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.

Job had questions for God. Job demanded answers. Job let us know that he would not be satisfied until he could get from the Lord the answers he sought.

God turned to Job, and his first two questions make clear how this is all going to go. God asks who in the world this man is. He is darkening counsel through words without knowledge. That is God telling us that, as Job speaks, he is lowering the IQ of the room. Job is speaking without knowledge. Thus, Job is muddying the waters and not shining the light of wisdom. Job is decrying the unfairness of God, but Job does not know enough about ultimate reality to speak.

Then, in the second question, God turns to Job, tells him to get ready, and then asks where Job was when God laid the foundation of the earth. Are you as old as the planet, Job? If you are not, then how could you possibly think you know enough about reality to begin to question the God who created the universe?

Think of something you know nothing about: cooking, carpentry, plumbing, physics, musical composition, etc. I’m sure that one of those categories will suffice. For illustrative purposes, let’s say you know nothing about plumbing. A plumber, an expert plumber, the kind of plumber that Mario would be uber-jealous of, sets up a new bathroom for you. Imagine that you look at his work, and then begin to scold him for having used what is, in your opinion, the wrong tool to tighten up a pipe fitting. You look at him and demand that he explain to you how he could possibly have chosen the particular wrench he did. Would you not expect the expert to look at you and say, “Where were you when I set up my plumbing business? Have you been trained?”

Your question to the imaginary plumber is infinitely less insulting than was Job’s question of the Lord. Job has no knowledge, none whatsoever, to qualify him to demand that God explain himself. And the point is that neither do we.

God is holy. God is infinite in his perfections and wisdom. You and I are sinners, finite in our understanding. We have no right to demand God answer to us. We have no right to sit in judgment over the Lord as if we could evaluate his decisions. God is God and we are not. And the book of Job reminds us of this foundational truth. Indeed, who do we think we are?