As disciples, when someone asks us, 'Do you love God' our quick answer is ,'yes'. But the Bible clearly tells us that loving God is nothing but obeying God. Someone asked Jesus what is the greatest commandment. Jesus said to love God with all our heart, soul and mind is the greatest commandment and second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself.
1. Understanding the commandments
Jesus said that all the commandments of God can be mainly divided into two. Love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. When we look at the 10 commandments, the first four are about how we should love our God. The next 6 commandments tell us how we should love our neighbors. The commandments given in those times, to the Israelites - are they applicable to us in these times? This is a question we should think about. These commandments gave clear directions to those people in those days. If we need to put the commands of God into practice, we should understand what God is saying. We need to go deeper into the Word and find out what God wants to teach us to follow daily in our lives. The commandments made a difference to the people living in those days. Let us look at one commandment from the 10 commandments.
You shall have no other gods before me.
To understand this command a little more deeply we can look into the meaning of the combination of words, 'before me'. This actually has three meanings - instead of me, in front of me or in addition to me. God is very clearly saying that there should be no other gods apart from him. We need to understand the Israelites came out from Egypt where they were in slavery. Egypt is a land of many gods. They worshipped one god for money, there was a god of beauty, a god of strength, god of health. You name anything you need for life and they had a god for that. They had idols and worshipped those idols to get blessings from their gods. For the Israelites who had grown up in Egypt, among those idols, worshipping different gods, if God had just simply told them to worship him they would have easily done that. They would have added our God to their list of gods and worshipped him also.
Even today, God tells us to worship him only. We don't start by worshipping so many things - money, job - but there is a possibility that we may allow the things of this world to become more important to us than God. The amount of time, energy we need to devote to some of the things in the world which attract us can slowly draw us so close that the time we give to God can become less and less. Those things can become our gods. We need to look at our lives seriously this morning, brothers and sisters. Do we love God with all our heart, with all our mind and with all our soul? Or is there anything which is coming between God and our Christian lives? God very clearly says no one can serve two masters. Bible clearly says seek God's kingdom first and his righteousness and many things will be taken care of.
Exodus 20:13 says we should not murder. Jesus gives a new dimension to this. In Matthew 5:22 says anybody who is angry with his brother is subject to judgement. God says don't murder and if you do it's a sin because you're breaking a commandment. Jesus said that even if we're angry we sin.
You shall not murder.
But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca, ' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.
Exodus 20:14. It simply says do not commit adultry. Jesus gave a new dimension, a new meaning to this in the New Testament. In Matthew 5:28 Jesus says that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Brothers and sisters, we need to understand these commandments which give us convictions about what God expects from our lives.
You shall not commit adultery.
But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
The 8th commandment - Exodus 20:15 - says 'You shall not steal'. Jesus gives a new dimension to this commandment. In Matthew 5:40 he says that if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic let him have your cloak as well.
You shall not steal.
And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.
Exodus 20:16, the 9th ommandment says, 'You shall not give false testimony'. That means if a case is going on, and you are called to be a witness, don't give false witness. Jesus gave a new dimension to this commandment. Jesus says in Matthew 12:36, 'Men will have to give account on the day of judgement for every careless word they have spoken'. 'You shall not covet', the 10th commandment says. Luke 12:15 says, 'Be on your guard against all kinds of greed'.
You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.
Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."
Jesus gave every commandment a new dimension, a new meaning and he put a new conviction into Christian hearts. One thing Exodus teaches us again and again, through the commandments, through the history of the Israelites passing through the desert - God made them go round and round - that we need to obey what God has commanded. God gave them clear directions and clear commandments and introduced leaders among them and put people around them to help them but he also expected a high level of commitment and obedience. When man commits sin, his relationship with God is broken.
1 Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.
2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.
Even today, if we want to put this commandment into practice in our lives, we need a lot of help. Just as in those days it was difficult to follow - they fell into sin again and again, God was angry with them again and again, they repented and changed again and again - today also we need help in our lives.
The world is becoming modern everyday. Money is finding new meaning in different walks of our lives. Hebrew 3 clearly states that we need to watch out for each other that none of us falls into sinful desires. We need to encourage each other and call each other higher because sin can harden our hearts. That's why God has started the church why we are here today as a family. We need to help one another so that our relationship with God is restored when we fall into sin.
It is very important to ask each other the questions, 'How are you doing in your Christian life?' 'How is your family life?' 'How is your marriage?' 'How is your purity?' etc.
2. Sin always catches up
If we see the lif of Moses from the three books - Exodus, Numbers and Deuteronomy - it's very interesting to see that Moses did some incredible things and God appreciated him so much. Even in the New Testament, Moses is mentioned in Hebrews 11 and appreciated for standing up, not for his comfort but for righteousness and his convictions. The Bible says God spoke to Moses face to face and he talked to him as to a friend in those days as he led the Israelites through the desert. Ultimately it even says God buried Moses when he died. Isn't it amazing that God buried Moses? Let's look at a scripture that talks very highly of Moses.
10 Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face,
11 who did all those miraculous signs and wonders the LORD sent him to do in Egypt--to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land.
12 For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.
It says that no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in front of Israel. The Bible talks highly of Moses, his leadership, his personality, his character and his perseverance and patience. In spite of all this, Moses had to bear the consequences of his sin. One thing we need to understand from all this that sin catches up with us. We have to bear the consequences of our sin. If Moses had to bear the consequences of his sin, what about us?
11 One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people.
12 Glancing this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.
13 The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, "Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?"
14 The man said, "Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?" Then Moses was afraid and thought, "What I did must have become known."
15 When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian, where he sat down by a well.
Let us carefully into the passage about what happened in Moses' life. Although Moses was a Hebrew child he grew up in Pharaoh's palace. He knew, even though he was raised in the Pharaoh's house, that his people were the slaves under Pharaoh's rule. The Bible says that one-day he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. In v12 it clearly says that Moses killed the Egyptian. When he saw the Egyptian hitting one of his people he could not tolerate it, his emotions rose, he became angry and seeing that no one else was present, he killed the Egyptian and hid his body in the sand. He gave in to his anger.
He thought no one had seen him, justified his action by thinking it was the best thing to do and committed murder. He forgot that God is always watching. Sin is like that, brothers and sisters. We see this side and that side and we see nobody and then we commit some kind of sin. We think it's ok because we justify our action and that because nobody is watching us we can carry on. That is what Moses thought when he hid the body in the sand. But the very next day someone who saw the murder challenged Moses about it. He had to face the consequence of his sin. He was forced to run away and stay away from that place for 40 years, in the desert.
We need to look at our own lives, brothers and sisters. Our secret sin - we think nobody has seen us doing it. Today there are many areas in which we can sin without anybody watching. Think about the times when you were alone in your house or in your office. Think about the time when temptation came and you thought nobody was watching you. One thing is sure - sin always catches up. We have to bear the consequences of our sin. God is willing to forgive and other people are also willing to forgive but there are consequences of our sin. In the house as parents, we think nobody is watching us but our children are secretly watching us do the things we are not supposed to. We speak words which we should not use but our children are hearing it. God is teaching us that he is always watching and that we must bear the consequences of or sin. Moses was a very patient man but he gave in to the sin of anger. He had to pay a costly price for his sin. Look at the final blunder for which he had to pay.
1 In the first month the whole Israelite community arrived at the Desert of Zin, and they stayed at Kadesh. There Miriam died and was buried.
2 Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron.
3 They quarreled with Moses and said, "If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the LORD!
4 Why did you bring the Lord's community into this desert, that we and our livestock should die here?
5 Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!"
6 Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the Tent of Meeting and fell facedown, and the glory of the LORD appeared to them.
7 The LORD said to Moses,
8 "Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink."
9 So Moses took the staff from the Lord's presence, just as he commanded him.
10 He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, "Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?"
11 Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.
12 But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them."
Very interesting passage. There was no water and again the people complained and grumbled. It says people quarreled with Moses and questioned him about bringing them there to die. Moses knew he had to go on his knees to God in order to ask God for water. Moses was very humble. In spite of their grumbling and quarrelling, he still went to God and prayed. God gave him specific instructions about what to do. God asked him to take the staff and speak to the rock before their eyes and the rock would pour out water. What God would have told Moses to do was to gather all the Israelites, go to the rock, talk to the rock, talk to God in front of them and water would gush out.
The Israelites' thirst would be quenched and God would bless Moses' prayers. V10 says Moses gathered all the people but he had a few extra words to say. Moses was very angry at their complaining, grumbling attitude and he said in v10, 'Listen you rebels must we bring you water out of this rock?' Then Moses raised his staff and struck the rock twice and water gushed out. The whole community and their livestock drank the water. Moses was boiling with anger, gave in to his emotions and he did not honor God by what he did. He spoke harshly, took the staff and beat the rock twice.
Eventually water did pour out but God did not like the way Moses reacted. He behaved as if he was the one who was bringing out the water with his effort. He did not glorify God with his words and action. God immediately told him that because Moses had not honored and trusted God in front of the Israelites, Moses would not lead the people into the Promised Land. Moses had to bear the consequences of his sin.
He was in a way disobedient to the commands of God. Then God took him very politely to a mountain and told him.
1 Then Moses climbed Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab to the top of Pisgah, across from Jericho. There the LORD showed him the whole land--from Gilead to Dan,
2 all of Naphtali, the territory of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the western sea,
3 the Negev and the whole region from the Valley of Jericho, the City of Palms, as far as Zoar.
4 Then the LORD said to him, "This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, 'I will give it to your descendants.' I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it."
God took Moses to a mountain top and showed him the Promised Land. God was a good friend of Moses. He showed him Naphthali and Judah. He told Moses this was all the land he was giving to his chosen people. After God showed him the land he told Moses that he himself would not enter the Promised Land.
At this point Moses' reaction was godly. There was no anger, no disagreement with God. He accepts the verdict of God. Moses finished strong - the Bible says God buried him. He did not get to go to the earthly Promised Land but he would definitely have made it to heaven. One thing we need to understand is that Moses had to pay the price for his sin. And whenever we fall into sin we have to pay its price. We need to take our life seriously. Many times we escape thinking no one have seen us. If Moses had to pay, believe me we also will have to pay.
We can read something incredible in Exodus 20. The people request Moses to tell them what to do and not to let God speak to them. They feared God so much. The Bible says it is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of our living God. What God expects is not perfection but repentance.
Today we understood that to love God is to obey God. Firstly we understood it is important for us to read the commandments of God and understand them and practice them in our lives. To put these commandments into practice we need each other's help and that is why God has given us this church. We need to be open to correction in our lives. We need to talk about our weaknesses and ask for help. We may think nobody is watching us sin but God is always watching us. That was my second point. Moses had to bear the consequences of his sins. So do we have to pay for our sins. Moses finished his life strong. Because he was humble he repented and changed. There are a lot of things we need to learn from Moses' life. Let us learn and put it into practice in our lives.