Lent Third Sunday Morning Service (20 March 2022) Deuteronomy 6
At the beginning of this month, we stepped into Lenten period. On Ash Wednesday, we meditated about the purpose of Lent and the passion and death of Jesus. Revd Mark preached to us about temptation on Lent first Sunday. On Lent Second Sunday, Colin spoke about how the Almighty God kept His covenant in Abraham’s life. Moses wrote the first five books of our Holy Bible. This is called Torah which is the Holy Book of Israelites. In Genesis, Moses wrote about the creation, the covenants God made with Adam and Eve, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He wrote about the wilderness journey from Egypt to Canaan in Exodus. He consolidated the commandments and covenants, including blessings and curses in Deuteronomy. Our Lord’s commandments and His covenant go hand in hand. We cannot have one without the other. Continuing with the lent theme, I would like to meditate on how God’s Covenant and Commandments link with each other. We must keep our Lord’s commandments if we want to have our covenant with Him.
Throughout the Bible, we read that our Lord liked to bless humans. But before blessing His people, He made covenant with them. This covenant included commandments and the blessings. Humans would receive blessings if they kept their part of the covenant, that is, by keeping the commandments. If they did not keep their part of the covenant, the covenant was broken and they lost the blessings. The Lord then would then find another person to make a covenant and bless them. This happened repeatedly and we can read this in many people’s lives.
In Genesis 1:28, God blessed Adam and Eve and made a covenant with them. The verse says, “God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth”. The Lord God gave Adam and Eve authority over the whole earth. But their sin broke the covenant and separated them from the presence of God. They lost the blessings that were given when the covenant was made. The first sin passed the authority of ruling this world from humans to the fallen angel. When the earth was filled with humans, Genesis 6:11 says, “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence”. God was grieved and regretted for creating humans. He wanted to destroy all humans and beast. In this situation, Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Genesis 6 says, “Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God” The whole world was destroyed by water and the first covenant came to an end.
When Noah and his family came out of the ark, Noah built an altar and sacrificed burnt offerings unto the LORD God. Genesis 8:21 and 22 say, “the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done. While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease”. God renewed His covenant with Noah in Genesis 9:1–3: “God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things”. This is the covenant is similar to the one He made with Adam and Eve.
When Noah’s generation started filling the earth, Genesis 11 says, “the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth”. Humans were proud of their ability and knowledge. The LORD God was not pleased with this and He scattered them. The LORD God confounded their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.
Among these scattered humans, the Lord chose Abram. Abram did not have any children but the LORD God made a covenant and promised him to increase his descendants like the sand and the stars. We read about these in Genesis chapters 13 and 15. Abram was also true to his call and God was true to his promises. When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. God changed his name as Abraham and made another everlasting covenant with him through circumcision. The Lord also made covenants with Isaac, Jacob and Joseph.
God the Father gave Ten Commandments and the Old Testament laws to the Israelites in the wilderness when He brought them out of their bondage land Egypt. We read about these in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. The Almighty Father made a covenant with the Israelites through the Old Testament laws and commandments. The LORD God gave them this framework to protect the people. Most of the time Israelites did not follow the laws and commandments and walked away from the LORD God. The laws and commandments did not make the people righteous or bring them closer to the Lord. they continued to commit sin and offer sacrifices.
When the Israelites asked for a king, God anointed Saul as the king of United Israel. When Saul’s ways displeased the Lord, He chose David and made a covenant with him. In 2 Samuel 7:14–16 we can read about the covenant: “I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee. And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever”.
David’s son, Solomon, did not please the LORD God and led the people away from the LORD God. People broke the covenant but God kept His promise and sent His son to save us from eternal death. When Jesus spoke about the commandments in Matthew 22:37-40, He said “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets”. Jesus consolidated the ten commandments to two prime commandments based on love. Jesus lived His life as the perfect example following the New Testament laws and commandments. He loved His Father, so He fulfilled His Father’s will in His life. He loved all humans, so He offered Himself as the one-time sacrifice on the Cross. Jesus made a new covenant with us through His precious blood. This covenant was based on the Old Testament commandments and covenants. When Jesus was crucified on the cross, He fulfilled the Old Testament law of sacrifice. Jesus offered Himself as the Passover Lamb for the remission of our sin. He made a covenant with us through His blood by offering Himself as the one-time sacrifice.
In our reading portion from Deuteronomy 6:4-6 we read, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart”. All through the Bible, this is the prime commandment that the Lord has given. If we love the Lord with all our heart, soul and might, we will keep His words in our heart. When we have His words in our hearts, we will teach them to those around us, particularly our family and friends. We are not called to love Him only on Sundays or only when inside the church. We are expected to remember His commandments when we sit, walk, lie down and when we rise up. In short, we are expected to hold our Lord’s commandments 24/7. If we are among those who forget the commandments, we are to find ways to remember them. With the gadgets and reminder options available today, it is easy to add reminders. Our Lord has given us commandments to keep us in His way. He wants us to keep us in His way to fulfill His covenant with us.
During lent days, we reflect on the sacrifice that Jesus made on the Cross for us. Meditating on His passion and death gives us a glimpse of His sacrifice for us on the Cross. It gives us assurance about salvation and encourages us to prepare ourselves to take our cross and follow Jesus. It reminds us to keep our Lord’s commandments to keep our part of the covenant. We are reminded that we receive salvation only when we reconcile with Him through His blood. If we look back at the various commandments and covenants our Lord has made in the Bible, we can learn a lot from the lives of those people whom our Lord made covenant with. We can learn the dos and don’ts and our Lord’s expectation. Are we lacking in obedience like Adam and Eve? Are we grieving our Lord because of our sinful ways? Are we perfect and just like Noah? Are we the reason for the salvation of our family? Do we have pride in our hearts about something in our lives? Do we consider ourselves to be supreme to others and are a hinderance to others? When our Lord asks us to do something, do we do it without question? Is our faith like Abraham? Do we realise the depth of Jesus’s love in hanging on the Cross for us? Or do we take salvation for granted? Is committing sin and reconciliation a cyclic process? Are we breaking the New Covenant by not pleasing Jesus or are we fulfilling and passing the covenant to the next generations?
This Lent, let us pause and reflect and spend time on reflecting on what our Lord Jesus has done for us. We should not be sent out of the Garden of Eden like Adam and Eve. Do we use all that we have for our Lord’s glory? Although Abraham was an idol worshipper, he left his family when the LORD called him. How about us who have a personal relationship with Jesus? Let us re-align our relationship with Him. Let us humble ourselves and receive His forgiveness. Let us spend more time in fasting and praying and getting to know His will in our lives. Let us be strengthened and guided by the Holy Spirit to overcome temptations. Let us circumcise our hearts and commit to His will saying “Not my will, but thine”. Let us have the assurance and confidence that we are keeping our part of the covenant by obeying the commandments. Let this period not be another one in the church calendar. Instead, let it be a time to bring us closer to the Lord who suffered for us. Let it be a time of renewing our relationship with our Lord Jesus. Let us lay our treasures in heaven and look forward to the day we inherit those treasures.
I pray that our LORD Jesus cleanse us by His precious blood, prepares and preserves us for our eternity in the kingdom of God with Jesus. Amen!