December 1, 2013

A Devine Lamentation – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

“These words the LORD spoke to all your assembly at the mountain from the midst of the fire, of the cloud and of the thick gloom, with a great voice,…You said, ‘Behold, the LORD our God has shown us His glory and His greatness, and we have heard His voice from the midst of the fire; …speak to us all that the LORD our God speaks to you, and we will hear and do it.’

Considering the awesome display of God’s power, we understand the appropriate, commendable response of the children of Israel. But, God knew these people and His response was a lamentation.

 “…and the LORD said to me, ‘I have heard the voice of the words of this people which they have spoken to you. They have done well in all that they have spoken. Oh that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me and keep all My commandments always, that it may be well with them and with their sons forever!’” (Deut. 5:22-29)

Israel’s correct reaction made God sad. He knew Israel would not keep her promise, that she would in fact repudiate the covenant through idolatry and immorality and provoke His wrath and punishment.

God’s statement also demonstrates what He really, deeply desired for His people and for all men. If they are lost, they are lost because of their own free choice, because of their bad decisions, not because God willed their damnation. The apostle Paul told the Roman Christians, “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (I Tim. 2:3-4).

Furthermore, God’s statement demonstrates the anguished love of a parent who profoundly loves His child but is sorrowfully disappointed. Paul understood and described Him as “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all,” (Romans 8:32). God yearns over lost humanity with the tender care and concern of a heartbroken father over the profligate ways of a prodigal son.

In Jehovah’s lamentation, there is a divine description of true religion. The core of religion is the human heart: “O that there were such a heart in them…” True religion is religion of the heart. It cannot be inherited, practiced by proxy, nor expressed by mere outward observance of ritualistic forms. It must emanate from the heart, hence must engage the intellect, the emotions, and the will. It is at once intelligent, sincere, and purposeful.

True religion is motivated by the fear of God: “That they would fear me.” The fear of God is not the craven fear of a condemned criminal, but a deep-seated respect and reverence for God as our maker, our ruler, our judge, and our savior. Our religion must spring from reverence for Him, His laws, and His institutions. Conversely, every human innovation that has plagued the people of God from the beginning has been born of a lack of proper reverence and respect for Him. The propagator may make loud protestations of sincerity, love and devotion as the basis for his invention, but at its root, consciously or unconsciously, there is a lack of reverence for Jehovah.

True religion will express itself in the keeping of God’s commandments: “That they keep all my commandments, always.” This suggests that one cannot separate religion from revelation. There is no way man can know the will of God apart from revelation. Man does not and cannot know the will of God intuitively. Jeremiah understood, “I know, O LORD, that a man’s way is not in himself, Nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps.” (Jeremiah 10: 23)  Paul expressed the same insight this way, “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.” (I Corinthians 1:21)

God’s statement also demonstrates that neither preferences nor special situations change the application of His law. Divine grace provides for human imperfections, but not partiality. Imperfections result from man’s being “weak… through the flesh” (Rom. 8:3), whereas partiality results from a willful rejection of God’s right to rule over us. God expects and has provided for our failures through the offering of his own Son, but he will not tolerate disregard for His law. To do so would be subversive of the majesty of His law and the vitality of His government.

The expression, “all my commandments,” precludes our partiality. The word, “always,” rejects the possibility of situational modification and application. It is, therefore, neither legalistic nor incompatible with true religion to demand a “thus says the Lord” for every act of work or worship.

Finally, the blessings of true religion are eternal. They are “forever!” Therefore, whether or not our religion is true religion is a matter of greatest concern to us. Do we have such a heart? “…that they would fear Me and keep all My commandments always, that it may be well with them and with their sons forever!”

Adapted from an article by James W. Adams

 

 

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