SanLo Community, an update for the week of September 1, 2019…
Deuteronomy 1:1-2:37 – What Love Is – Pastor Joshua
“What is love?” Without understanding the strenuous lengths and the tremendous depths to which God loves us, all of us will continue living only on shadows and mirror reflections of love instead of looking to the source of love Himself as our definition and example. God’s Word shows the example of love Himself on display teaching us what love truly is.
Our new sermon series in Deuteronomy is to get a better idea of who God is, that we would grow not only in our head knowledge but how we respond to those truths with our hearts in our lives. Consequently, we’re going to learn today about who God is in regards to His love and how it’s on display through His faithfulness in keeping His covenants with His people. Which leads us to our main idea: God’s covenant love is revealed through His faithfulness. God’s faithfulness in keeping His covenants shows us what love is.
A covenant is a partnership where 2 parties make promises to one another. It’s a bond when 2 people make commitments to each other. Thus, the sermon series “Covenant Love” on the covers of our programs, because we’ll see how God partners together with His chosen people the Israelites, having already made a covenant with them, and now He wants to fulfill those promises He made to them. That is what Deuteronomy is about. God keeping His promises to Israel, and He does it even when Israel doesn’t keep their commitments to Him. That leads us to our first point…
1. God is faithful when we are not. (vv.19-33). God’s covenant is revealed in His faithfulness even when we are unfaithful. Moses, Israel’s leader at the time and the one who led them out of slavery from Egypt, is recounting Israel’s history ever since they had finally escaped Egypt’s hands. He does so by giving these speeches meant to not just retell their history but in order to point to how faithful God has been through this entire process even when Israel was not.
God had made two covenants: the Abrahamic Covenant, which was an unconditional promise to Abraham. God also made a covenant with Israel through Moses, but this one was conditional. The condition was as long as Israel obeyed God’s laws given to them at Mt. Sinai, then God would bless them. But if they disobeyed, then God would punish them. What does Israel do? I want to say obey but they actually disobey.
God kept His promises with Israel. He loved them, cared for their needs, led them and brought them to the Promised Land and He was even giving it into their hands. God was faithful in keeping His promises, His covenant. But Israel was not. They thought they knew what was best for themselves instead of trusting in God. We too ignore what God has already promised and set before us, especially when we put what we think is most important before Him. But even when we are unfaithful and disobey, God continues to show His love towards us by remaining faithful to the ultimate promise we have of a life together with Him because of Christ. This is one way we see God’s covenant love.
2. God is faithful when He disciplines. (vv.1:34-46; 2:1-37). Even when we are being corrected, God is still revealing His covenant love to us. The Israelites had just rejected God’s promises to them. Even though the Promised Land was literally lying before them waiting to be taken up, they failed to hold up their end of the covenant with God to love Him and obey.
In verse 34 on, we see God heard their words and was angered, so He swears to not allow anyone of the adult generation to be allowed to enter the Promised Land because they all broke their covenant with God! God says you are no longer allowed in the Promised Land because you broke your promise with Me. I will discipline you all by not allowing you into the Promised Land but I will allow your children to enter it, but the rest of you are going to pass away as you wander the desert.
God could have destroyed all the Israelites on the spot. But He still shows His people mercy and grace. He disciplines them as a Father would. “You broke your promise to Me but I’m still going to hold up my covenants with you. Your kids will be the ones to enter the Promised Land.” Like a good parent who loves His children, God faithfully keeps His promises with us even as we’re being corrected. He doesn’t write us off but instead He continues to actively pursue our hearts.
3. God is always faithful to keep His promises. (vv.1-18). No matter how far we’ve fallen, God will always faithfully extend His love to us. Eventually towards the end of those 40 years in the wilderness, God brings Israel back again to the outside of the Promised Land. Again, Moses is sharing the history of the Israelites with the kids of those parents who had broken the covenant with God originally in order to instruct them and remind them who their great God is before entering the Promised Land.
So God kept His Word. He did what He said He would do by bringing His people into the Promised Land. As we’ll continue to see in our Deuteronomy series together, Israel was up and down. They listened to God and they didn’t listen to God. They obeyed and disobeyed. Were faithful and unfaithful. We are no different. We’re up and we’re down. We’re faithful and we’re unfaithful. There are seasons of our lives when we seem to be walking closely with God and there are other seasons or moments where there would be no discernible marks of our faith in our lives. But unlike the Mosaic Covenant wherein if we obey God’s laws then God will bless us, we live in the New Covenant. Jesus has come and fulfilled the Mosaic Covenant, because none of us were able to do it on our own. None of us could fully keep God’s laws because none of us could ever meet that mark of perfection.
That’s where we get to see God’s covenant love on display for us. Though we fail to live up to the standards of the law, God sent His Son Jesus to fulfill them perfectly on our behalf, living the perfect life for us and dying the death that we deserved to die as consequence, then conquering death by rising from the dead and allowing us to join our identity with His before the Father so that we can be given new life with Him now and forever. That is what covenant love is and that is how it’s related to God’s faithfulness. God faithfully kept His promise to bless the world and He did so through His only Son, Jesus Christ.
Do we see love as our “shadowy” notions? No, it’s way more. It’s a covenant love that meets its fulfillment in God’s Son because God faithfully kept His promises for us. This is the hope we now live with. That though we were and are unfaithful at times, that though we get disciplined at times, God still loves us faithfully and always keeps His promises. So sisters and brothers, live in light of God’s covenant love as revealed through the work of Jesus. For God is our loving Father, always calling us back to Him. This is love. This is how God’s covenant love is revealed through His faithfulness. This is why we can trust Him, even when we are unfaithful. Praise God for the hope we have because of His covenant love.
Praise Songs: Great is Thy Faithfulness, O Come to the Altar, Broken Vessels, Doxology