Songs and Praise
   

 
 
 

Less 119 AN EXHORTATION TO OBEDIENCE TO GOD'S LAW

 
Deuteronomy 4:1-13, 32-40; 5:1-5, 23-33;

Lesson 119 Senior Lessons

MEMORY VERSE:  "If any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book" (Revelation 22:19).

I The Necessity for Obedience, and the Resultant Blessings

 God's first requirement of the Israelites was that they hear His words, to know His will, Deuteronomy 4:1; Psalm 89:34; Ecclesiastes 5:1; Revelation 2:7; Romans 15:4 The words of God were to be held inviolate by the Israelites, Deuter-onomy 4:2; Psalm 19:7; Luke 21:33; Revelation 22:19 The examples of others who disobeyed God, contrasted with those who obeyed God, proved the value of obedience, Deuteronomy 4:3, 4; Numbers 25:1-13 Their obedience would insure their well-being and cause them to be highly esteemed by the nations, Deuteronomy 4:5, 6; I Samuel 15:22; James 1:25; John 14:23

II Israel's High Calling

God's nearness to Israel was the first mark of their high calling, Deu-teronomy 4:7; 7:6-8; I Samuel 12:22; Romans 11:28; Psalm 4:3 The pure and holy law of God, as given to Israel, was another mark of their distinction, Deuteronomy 4:8; 26:16-19 The fact that God spoke to them as a nation was an unusual exhibi-tion of His love for them, Deuteronomy 4:9-13 A recounting of all God's workings reminded Israel of their great privilege, Deuteronomy 4:32-34; Psalm 78:1-72 God's purpose in calling Israel was that they might be His own peculiar treasure, to know His glory and power, Deuteronomy 4:35-40; 9:5; Exodus 19:3-6

III The Covenant Between God and the Israelites

The covenant of the Law was made with Israel specifically as a nation, Deuteronomy 5:1, 2; Exodus 20:1, 2 The covenant of the Law was not made with the Israelite fathers, but with the nation as they stood before Mount Sinai; Deuter¬onomy 5:2-5; Galatians 3:16-19 The Israelites drew back from God because of fear in their hearts, when they saw the manifestations of His power, Deuteronomy 5:24-27; Exodus 20:18-21 God granted them their request, but showed a great yearning to have them draw near to Him, Deuteronomy 5:28-31; 32:8-14 The final analysis was an exhortation to obedience, Deuteronomy 5:32, 33; Ecclesiastes 12:13

NOTES

At the Borders of the Promised Land

In our present lesson we find the Israelites at the borders of the Promised Land, the place toward which they had looked for many long, weary months and years. Sin, rebellion, and disobedience had caused them untold suffering. They had wandered in the wilderness until everyone who had come out of Egypt at the age of 20 years or over, with the exception of Joshua, Caleb, and Moses, had died. We have seen that the causes of Israel's delay in entering into their inheritance were disobedience and rebellion against the Word and commands of God. The rebellious had said, when they came to the borders of the land many years before, that the young ones would die in the wilderness; but now these young people were ready to enter the Promised Land and the older ones were gone, having fallen short of the blessings that God would have had them receive.

Disobedience and Rebellion

Disobedience is a terrible sin. We are told in I Samuel 15:22, that it is better to obey God than to offer sacrifices. And the sacrificial worship eventually became one of the most important things in the lives of the Israelites. Rebellion is also a grievous sin. This same passage of Scripture tells us that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft. The Law stated that any¬one guilty of witchcraft was to be put to death.


To disobey a command of God is to say that our mind is greater than God's mind, that we know more than He, that we can see the far-reaching effects of our act where He cannot. It is denying His omnipotence, or almighty power. It is setting aside the fact of His omnipresence, or the attribute of His being in our midst at all times. It is denying His omniscience, or infinite wisdom.


When we disobey we say, in fact, that God does not mean what He said, that He does not.know what He said, that He cannot know the effects of what He said, that He is not able to sustain or carry us through when we do what He said we should do, or that He is not interested in us at all. It is saying that He does not regard His own Word.


But the Bible tells us that God's Word is forever settled in Heaven and that not one portion of it will pass away until it is all fulfilled. It is a fearful thing to trifle with, or disobey, even one command of God, for to do so is to be guilty of them all (James 2:10). Those who do will most surely be compelled to wander in a spiritual wilderness until they have repented of their disobedience, or until they have expired, never having come into the land that God had promised them.


There is a great deal of rebellion in disobedience, and almost invari-ably there is disobedience in rebellion. It is possible to disobey and not be aware of the fact that we are, in fact, rebelling against God. The dis-tinction between the two is vary fine, and either one will cause us to lose the love of God out of our hearts and be lost eternally unless we repent and seek God's forgiveness again. Wilful ignorance of God's law does not excuse anyone from the penalties imposed by the law. The sin of presumption on God's mercy is often classed as the great transgression (Psalm 19:13). Wilful ignorance and presumption are but rebellion, in the final analysis.


It is pointed out that there are two stages of apostasy. The first is that stage where a man or a nation rejects God. The second is where God rejects that man or nation. Rebellion can be the seed-root of the first stage of this damning condition, and apostasy can lead to a condition in which God no longer deals with the individual, when it is impossible for that person to find God's favor again.


God has given us the written history of the Israelites, together with the admonitions of His prophets, Apostles, and ministers of all ages, to re¬mind us of the serious danger of either of these two grievous sins: dis-obedience or rebellion. We stand in great light, knowing what the effect will be if we either disobey or rebel. As time passes, our light becomes greater; therefore, our judgment will be the more severe and our condem¬nation inevitable if we refuse to profit by the admonition.

The Blessings of Obedience

What joy there is for the person who will obey God's Word! What a satisfaction is given to each one who honors God enough to follow His will! What rich blessings are in store for everyone who trusts God for every¬thing, who takes God into consideration in every plan of life! The world cannot duplicate those blessings. Houses, lands, friends, wealth, prestige, and power cannot give one small fraction of the reality that simple obedience to God's Word gives most copiously.


Those of the Israelites who disobeyed, died before they reached their inheritance; but those who obeyed entered the land that flowed with milk and honey, where they could eat bread to the full and be satisfied. Let us not stop short of spiritual Canaan! Let us not let the prize for which we have labored, contended, and hoped, pass from our grasp at the last moment, as we stand on the very borders of our inheritance, by failing implicitly to obey God's simple commandments or His revealed will for us!

The Covenant with Israel

When the Israelites stood on the side of Mount Sinai, and heard the voice of God from the mountain, they fully understood what God's re-quirements were and freely subscribed to all that He asked of them (Exodus 19:3-9; 20:18-21; Deuteronomy 5:1-5). This constituted a cove-nant between them and God, the covenant of the Law or the Old Covenant (Deuteronomy 4:13; Jeremiah 31:31-34).


This covenant demanded the utmost of them; and no unregenerated or unsanctified person could, in his own strength, fulfill its demands. They could, in a form, offer up sacrifices, attend the morning and evening periods of prayer, and be seen at each of the three annual feasts when all the Israelites came to the House of God. But they could not love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and body, and their neighbor as them¬selves so long as sin existed in their hearts.


Israel, as a nation, failed because they did not obey the provisions of the covenant. They failed because they did not let God write His Law on their hearts. They failed because they fell short of all His blessings and provisions for them. We cannot say that they sinned in ignorance, for they had heard the voice of God and knew all that He demanded of them.

God's covenant at this time was not the first covenant that had been made with man. We read, in Galatians 3:16, 17, of a covenant made with Abraham (because of Abraham's faith in God) that this Old Covenant could not disannul, or cancel. This covenant that was made with Abraham was a prophetic covenant, an anticipation of the New Covenant fulfilled by Jesus Christ — the One who alone had power to purchase man's redemp¬tion because He secured it with His own Blood. But this Old Covenant was a great upward step in God's dealings with mankind. It was a school¬master to bring every man who would walk in it to the Christ who would come to take away our sins. It pointed to Christ in all its provisions, and was fulfilled by Him when He came to earth to live and die, our Great Paschal Lamb and Perfect Sacrifice.


Therefore we know that salvation from sin was provided from the very moment that Adam sinned in the Garden, and the promise of a Redeemer was first given. The provisions of Calvary, which were to be made many centuries after sin entered the world, were in operation from 'the foundation of the world.' They, in those early days, could know the joy of sins forgiven, of transformed lives, and of reconciliation with God, the same as we, if they came in faith and sincere repentance (Hebrews 4:1, 2). But this great covenant made on Mount Sinai was to point them all the more clearly to the way God would have them live, and to the Sacrifice that was to be made, so they, through the shed Blood, could fulfill the Law's exacting requirements.

God's Yearnings for Israel and for Us

God loved Israel. He has also loved every man, woman, and child who has ever walked on this earth. It is not His pleasure that men should die and be eternally lost. He has great pleasure in the death of His saints, but none at all in the death of the wicked. He gave the most priceless Jewel of Heaven to make provision for our justification, and chose the nation of Israel, because of the righteousness of their earthly father, Abraham, to be the means by which the Gospel would come to all mankind.


His heart must have been grieved beyond measure when He was forced to acquiesce to their wishes to have the Law given to them through the mouth of Moses, and not written on their hearts as He desired it should be. God had given man a sovereign will and even He, in His omnipotence, could not violate that will, nor cause Israel to receive the Law in their hearts when they drew back from it. He cried out in great yearning when He said: '0 that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!' (Deuteronomy 5:29).


Jesus told us of this yearning when He likened us unto sheep that are lost, for whom the Great Shepherd searches. He told us of the prodigal son, who wandered far away from home and returned after many days of sin and riotous living to find his father looking for him, eager to restore to the wayward boy the authority, affection, and security of the family home. He told us that we were as branches, nourished by the Vine, that we de¬pended entirely upon Him for life and strength. He also told us of a Home that He has gone to prepare for us, that we might dwell forever with God, enjoying the fellowship and favor purchased for us at such infinite cost.

The High Calling of Israel

Israel was given a high calling. They were separated by God from the other nations that dwelt upon the earth, because of Abraham's faith in God, that they might be His own peculiar treasure, a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. In Scripture they are often called God's elect.


How sad it is to see that so few of the Israelites lived up to God's requirements and entered into the rest that He provided for them, not only the visible Promised Land but the heavenly rest that would be theirs if they continued in His Word and obeyed His commandments. But they failed because of disobedience, because of rebellion, and because of lack of faith. Is it any wonder that so much of the Book of Deuteronomy, the last words and exhortations of the godly man, Moses, is devoted to admoni¬tions lest they repeat their former errors and disobey, rebel, and turn back to Egypt?


Here is given us the secret of success in the Christian life: complete obedience. One cannot be a Christian unless he obeys what God tells him to do. One cannot continue in God's favor if he refuses to walk in the will of God and rebels at the command of God. Obedience is the keystone of it all, the one requirement which, if we carefully heed, will not only bring us to the 'borders of the land' but will take us on over that we might enjoy the blessings abiding therein.


'Trust and obey,
For there's no other way

To be happy in Jesus,

But to trust and obey.'

QUESTIONS

1 Of what two great sins did Moses warn the Israelites in our lesson?
2 Why are these particular sins so dangerous?
3 What had happened to those who had previously indulged in those sins?
4 Where were the Israelites, in respect to their 40-years' journey, at this time?
5 Quote the verse in our lesson text that parallels the memory verse.
6 What was to be Israel's attitude toward the Word of God?
7 What does our lesson teach regarding the practice of family worship?
8 Tell about the different covenants made between God and man which are referred to in the study of this lesson.
9 Did the Israelites who were present at Mount Sinai have first-hand knowledge of the Law that was written upon the tables of stone?
10 Why was a repetition of the Law necessary at this time?

 
   
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