Intro: Hosea 6:7 – But like men they transgressed the covenant; There they dealt treacherously with Me.
- Another translation renders this verse as: But they, like Adam, have violated the covenant; there they have betrayed Me. (HCSB)
- The reason for the different wording is that the Hebrew word for man is also translated as Adam -the first man.
- The second suggests a comparison with Adam – He was a covenant breaker. God and he had an agreement, but he sinned.
- The first (NKJV) is more general – All men are covenant breakers. We have a problem keeping our word with God – and He knows that about us. Both are true. What does God expect in this regard?
- In our study of Deuteronomy, we are viewing the place and importance of covenant-keeping.
Turn to Deuteronomy 5. – In Deut. 5 Moses is reminiscing before the people concerning the initial revealing of the Law on Mt. Sinai in Ex. 20. What was revealed was not just a law but a covenant. A covenant inherently implied a choice – God was seeking a commitment from the people.
Deut 5:1-7 – And Moses called all Israel, and said to them: “Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your hearing today, that you may learn them and be careful to observe them. 2 The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. 3 The LORD did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, those who are here today, all of us who are alive. 4 The LORD talked with you face to face on the mountain from the midst of the fire. 5 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 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 bondage. 7 ‘You shall have no other gods before Me.
- What follows is Moses’ rehearsal of the 10 Commandments that were given by God to Israel from Mt. Sinai. (through vs. 22). When God initially spoke to Israel, they were terrified at His presence and voice. Moses reminds the people of their reaction in 23-27. At the time when God speaks the people make a commitment to keep the covenant.
Deut 5:27-29 – Go near and listen to everything the Lord our God says. Then you can tell us everything the Lord our God tells you; we will listen and obey.’28 “The Lord heard your words when you spoke to me. He said to me, ‘I have heard the words that these people have spoken to you. Everything they have said is right.29 If only they had such a heart to fear Me and keep all My commands, so that they and their children will prosper forever. (from Holman Christian Standard Bible)
- Let me hear it all – How much of God’s word do you want to hear? The people tell Moses that they want to hear everything God has to say. There are many who want to hear, but not everything. They are drawn to certain passages – familiar with some. But Bible study is boring – Do I really need to know everything?
I. The People’s Commitment – “we will hear and do it”‘ – Their fear of God produced a willingness to both hear and do all that God commands. This is a crucial point for them. God has led them to this point of submission and faith. A covenant demands a point of commitment.
II. God’s Reply –“They are right” God is pleased with the people’s commitment to hear the law and keep it. Deut 5:28 – 28 “Then the LORD heard the voice of your words when you spoke to me, and the LORD said to me: ‘I have heard the voice of the words of this people which they have spoken to you. They are right in all that they have spoken. This reveals something about the people. It seems to imply that they expected God to reveal more, and that whatever was later revealed, they would gladly do that as well.
- Albert Barnes says God commended their words here because “it showed a feeling of their own unworthiness to enter into direct communion with God. The terrors of Sinai had done their work; they had awakened the consciousness of sin. This is the response that God required. (Have you made such a commitment?)
III. God’s Desire – Deut 5:29 – 29 Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever! God knew the fickle nature of His people. He doesn’t just want this initial commitment, He wants a certain type of heart. Notice two things about God’s expectations for Israel.
• He is looking ahead – God was not looking for just a momentary commitment. It was not faith for a moment, but faith to live by – a sustained obedience to the covenant, so that it would be well with them in the future.
• He is looking inward – God’s desire could not be satisfied outwardly alone. He expected them to have a certain heart. These words describe the depth and length of commitment that God is looking for in all of us.
A. The word heart here is used to refer to the complete inner person. The O.T. usage of the word is enlightening.
1. The ISBE gives us this information on the O.T. usage of heart (leb): “As representing the man himself, it was considered to be the seat of the emotions and passions and appetites (Gen 18:5; Lev 19:17; Ps 104:15), and embraced likewise the intellectual and moral faculties… As the central organ in the body, forming a focus for its vital action, it has come to stand for the center of its moral, spiritual, intellectual life. “In particular the heart is the place in which the process of self-consciousness is carried out, in which the soul is at home with itself, and is conscious of all its doing and suffering as its own” (Oehler).
a. The heart then, is that part of you that knows you. You know in your heart what type of person you are. The heart is the center of operations or actions.
• If I tell you that I am speaking or acting from my heart, you would take that to mean that I am sincerely and consciously speaking and acting. I really mean it.
2. The N.T. command to love is based in the O.T. command found in Deut 6:5-6 – 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. In every appearance of these words (heart, soul, strength) the heart is always listed first. So God is never pleased with a “half-hearted” devotion.
IV. How does God describe the heart that he wants? Look again at Deut. 5:29
A. Reverent – “that they would fear me” – A.W. Tozer said, “what comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” God has always demanded that reverence and respect. But this is not because He is a selfish tyrant. He deserves respect.
1. The writer of Hebrews makes this point is two directions. After enumerating the superior blessing of Christ’s kingdom over the previous kingdom of Israel (Heb 12:18 – 23 – For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire… But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect,) The writer points to the necessity of serving God with fear. Heb.12:28-29 –Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. 29 For our God is a consuming fire.
a. God should be feared because of what He has given. As children respect the father who provides for them.
b. God should be feared for His power (ability and willingness to execute judgment). Matt 10:28 – And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
2. Those who truly fear God listen to His words and respect his choices.
a. David is the example:1 Sam 24:4-7 – Then the men of David said to him, “This is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand, that you may do to him as it seems good to you.'” And David arose and secretly cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. 5 Now it happened afterward that David’s heart troubled him because he had cut Saul’s robe. 6 And he said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord.” 7 So David restrained his servants with these words, and did not allow them to rise against Saul. And Saul got up from the cave and went on his way. He refused to rebel against God’s anointed (choice). A man after God’s heart. Proverbs 15:33 – The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom, And before honor is humility.
B. Submissive–“keep all my commandments” God has always placed a high premium on man’s complete obedience to His commands. The command to obey is almost always connected as the proper and immediate response to hearing the words of God. 1 Sam 15:22 – So Samuel said: “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.
1. The willingness to immediately respond to God’s word with obedience is depicted as true wisdom and saving faith.
• Matt 7:24-27 – “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. 26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”
• James 2:17-22 – Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe — and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?
2. In looking again at Deut. 5, notice the emphasis on future obedience. Deut 5:31-33 – But as for you, stand here by Me, and I will speak to you all the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments which you shall teach them, that they may observe them in the land which I am giving them to possess.’ 32 “Therefore you shall be careful 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 ways which the LORD your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you shall possess.
C. Steadfast – “always” The heart that pleases God is one that does not quit or turn back. The Christian is admonished to “run the race with patience” (Heb. 12:1-2)
1. Do you have a steadfast heart? Are you easily discouraged by persecutions, the failings of others or your own failures? God wants us to make a lifelong commitment to serve Him to the end.
2. Take a look at Psalm 51. After David sinned with Bathsheba God, through the voice of Nathan, the prophet brought him to repentance. In this penitent Psalm he asks God not only for forgiveness (Psalm 51:9 – Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities.) but also for a heart that will commit to the future.- Psalm 51:10 – Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
3. God is looking for hearts that in it for the long haul. He wants hearts that will endure hardships and “not grow weary in well doing for we shall reap if we faint not” (Gal. 6:9)
V. God’s Conclusion: The last phrase of Deut 5:29 looks to the future. – “so that they and their children will prosper forever.” (HCSB) Here in Deut. 5 God seeks for a people who care about the spiritual heritage that they leave their children. “What can you leave your children to fulfill this commitment? What is our defense against covenant breaking?
A. God commanded Israel to teach their children diligently about Him. Deut. 6:4-9 – “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 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. Do you have the heart to teach your children about God?
B. This heart begins in your personal commitment to love God yourself (with all your heart) and to consistently obey His commandments. (these words shall be in your heart).
1. The spirituality of our grandchildren depends on whether we have the heart that God wants us to have today.
a. Do we fear Him (both for his gifts and His Holy judgment on sin)
b. Do we obey Him in all aspects of our life?
c. Are we committed steadfastly to His cause, never willing to quit?
d. Are we teaching others so that that it might be well with them, as it is with us?
Conclusion: God sees my heart. I cannot fake this. He knows me thoroughly, and still loves me. Just as surely as He sees my heart, He wants me to see His heart. The gospel is the revelation of the heart of God. “For God so loved the world that He gave us His Son…”