Because the Lord is Your God
June 22-23, 2019
Leviticus is a book of worship, I’ve mentioned. It’s instruction on how they worship through the offerings, the sacrifices, all of which point to Jesus. He’s promising them this land. He’s going to fulfill this promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He made a promise that He would go with them. He’s going to fulfill that amazingly.
Then He gave them instructions for how to live. He gave them these instructions for several reasons. First of all, so that they might be a people distinct from all other people. If the people of God, give me the people of God, then they should be different than all the rest of the people in the earth. That makes such right sense to us.
Then also, He gave them instructions to help them to live well; instructions for being healthy, keep them from diseases, but also, He gave them instruction to show them good and godly character. That’s seen in His Word, His instruction as well. He wanted them to understand, how to bless, how to show grace, how to take care. If they were to be God’s people, then they should have God’s heart. It makes so good sense.
When you think back and you look, it makes such sense that God told them not to eat bats, or rats, or snakes, or spiders. All of these things, He said, “Don’t eat these things.” I don’t like to brag, but I’m here to tell you, I have adhered to those laws well.
He gave them those, yes, but also, you see God’s heart when He told them, “But when you harvest your field, don’t harvest the corners, leave those for the poor.” That just shows such a concern and care. It’s beautiful.
Now, is there an aspect for Christians that we see out of this? Yes, there is, in that Christians should also live distinct. We should be different, we’re in the Kingdom of God. Therefore, Christians who live after the heart of the LORD should be different. Well, you’re in the Kingdom of God now, and there’s a whole different set of principles that apply, because the LORD is your God. That’s the thing.
Because the LORD is your God, and He has called you out of the kingdom of darkness, He’s called you to, therefore, live in the light, because He wants to bless you. When you live in the light, you’re going to be blessed. These are the principles.
I. I’m My Beloved’s and He is Mine
In chapter 18, starting in verse one, you really see the heart of God; the reason. Let’s just read it. We’re going to just read the first five verses here. Of course, the other verses around all these things are due on Wednesday. We love our Wednesday, verse by verse, come and be part of that as well. Chapter 18, we’re going to read, starting in verse one. The LORD, and whenever you see the LORD in all caps, it’s the name of the LORD; Jehovah, Yahweh.
Then Jehovah, Yahweh, the LORD said to Moses, and He said, now, you speak to the sons of Israel, and you say to them this, you say, “I am Jehovah. I am your God. You shall not do what is done in the land of Egypt, where you used to live.” He’s calling them to be different, calling them to be distinct. “You are not to do what is done in the land of Canaan. That is where I’m bringing you. Do not walk in those statutes of either Egypt or Canaan. You are to perform my judgments, and you are to keep my statutes, to live in accord.”
That is a really good phrase, “To live in accord with those principles, with those judgments, with those statutes, because I am Jehovah, I am the LORD your God. You shall keep my statutes and my judgments,” but notice this phrase, “by which a man will live.” If he does them, he will live.
“I am the LORD. I am Jehovah.” This is a great verse. These are the verses I want us to look at and to see how they apply, because here, you see these principles that really cover the entire book. This is a theme that covers the entire Book of Leviticus. I want to capture the principles that we can apply to our life. Starting, I like to put it this way, “I am my Beloved’s, and He is mine.” That’s really the principle that’s behind it.
Now, that phrase actually comes from the words of a song we used to sing when I was young in the church, “I am my Beloved’s and He is mine,” but it captures that phrase, it’s like, that’s the reason.
The LORD is your God, and you are His people. You are in relationship to the LORD. That’s the beginning. Because you belong to God and God is your God, that should determine then how you live, “Because I’m your LORD,” He says. The same is true for us.
I love 1 Peter 2:9, where it says about the church, he says, “You are a chosen race.” Do you know who you are? You are a royal priesthood. He’s speaking to you. He’s speaking to the church. You’re different. You’re called out. You’re distinct from the world. You are a holy nation. You are a people for God’s own possession. He’s speaking about you. “In order that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
Tonight, when you are worshiping, you are proclaiming it. You are proclaiming His excellencies. That was the reason that you were worshiping, to lift it up, to let it be known.
A. God gave you life
Then you step back. Why? Why should you show God, give God your heart and your allegiance? Let’s start with this. Let’s start with this, because God gave you your life. Let’s start with that. Because God gave you your life. You’re breathing His air and you’re living on His planet. In fact, Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the LORD’s, and all that it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it.” That’s a good reason. Deuteronomy 10:14, “Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven, highest heavens, and earth, and all that’s in it.”
Step back and think for just a moment. If life is a result of random chance, then you, certainly, can do whatever you wish without concern, but the evidence of God, the fingerprint, is all around us. It says, “Therefore, man has no excuse.” Man is without excuse. The more we know, the more we see the evidence for the amazing a design of God. Romans 1:20, “Since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes, His eternal power, His divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”
As an illustration, I was thinking, if you were to walk on the beach and you were to see the ripples in the sand, you might conclude, “This is a pattern of randomness.” But if you’re walking on the beach, and there on the sand you see a big heart drawn in the sand with the words, “Rich loves Jordy,” you would look at that and you would ponder, you’re going to think, “This is not random. This is the result of some deep intelligence here.”
Probably, you might say that, who knows. I was thinking like, “God made us.” The evidence of God’s creation, just the DNA, isn’t it amazing? The DNA of the human body is a declaration of our Creator. In just the DNA the human cell, there’s like 3 billion base pairs that fill a space of like six microns. If you were to stretch the DNA, in one cell, all the way up, it’d measure like six feet or more, and it’s encoded with this like four-character chemical language, the most efficient information system.
Just one strand of human DNA contains 720 megabytes of information. You’re supposed to be like amazed right now. That’s the fingerprint of God. That’s a fingerprint of God.
If you’re made from God’s dust and you’re breathing God’s air, then you will guard your heart and you will guard your allegiance. More than that, He redeems you from sin and give you the promise of eternal life. He gave you His Son. He gave you every promise that’s found in His Son.
I remember I was in Russia many years ago, and I was witnessing to a fellow who was coming to our services, but he had not yet believed. We had breakfast one day and he said, “I have a question.” He said, “Why doesn’t God just leave us alone?”
Let me put it into an illustration.
I said, “Imagine me that I create a computer, let’s say. I take the sand, and I melt it and I make the glass for the monitor, and I take the precious metals and I make the silicon wafers. I do all this. I make this computer myself and I write the code. I do all of this. I, me, I do all these things. I get it all ready to go. I plug it in and I turn it on, and then on the screen flashes the words, “Why Don’t You Leave Me Alone?” I said, “What should happen to a computer like that?” He said, “It should be thrown under the train.” I said, “That is a very good answer.”
B. Don’t live like those in the world
How much more should we give God our hearts, our life, because God has done so much more than that for us. Has He not? That’s why He says in Chapter 18, “Don’t live like those in the world.” Verse 3, He instructs Moses, “Do not do what’s done in Egypt. Do not do what’s done in Canaan.” Those things that are done in Egypt and Canaan are abhorrent to God and destructive.
In fact, the rest of Chapter 18, which we will get to very soon on Wednesdays, the rest of Chapter 18 speaks of some of those things that they were doing. It’s very common. Incest was very common, adultery, bestiality, sacrificing of their own children. These things were common. It was for these reasons that God said that the Canaanites must be removed from the land.
I’ll tell you what’s interesting. If God were to do today what He did in Leviticus 18, which is to call out the sins of the world, if God were to do that today, I’ll tell you what would happen, the world would be offended. The reason I know that is because that is, in fact, what’s happening today. It’s offensive to the world when Christians say this or that is a sin. It’s offensive to the world to suggest that such a thing, this or that is a sin.
Why are they offended? I suggest that they are offended because they misunderstand the nature of sin. Sin can only be understood in the light of God’s nature. If they don’t believe in God, then they don’t believe in sin, so why be offended? If you don’t believe in God, you don’t believe in sin because they’re interconnected. The only way to understand sin is in the light of God. Why be offended?
If Christians were to say to people in the world, “Hey, it’s a sin to paint your house the color black,” would they take offense at such an edict? No. They wouldn’t take offense because they don’t believe in such an edict and they don’t believe in the meaning of the word sin.
Why do they take offense? I suggest that they take offense because it’s a powerful weapon. There’s a new moral standard of society, that new moral standard is offense. Anything that offends anything or anyone is condemned in the judgment of postmodern society. It all comes down to this, however, it all comes down to what God said in Chapter 18, all through those verses. It all comes down to this, “Is Jehovah God or not?” That’s what it comes down to.
Many years later, there’s an interesting scene that unfolds, many years later when Israel is in the land, and then the land is divided between the northern and the southern kingdoms. The northern kingdom got into great trouble. They turn their back on God. What did God do? He sent Elijah. Elijah is like the most powerful prophet in the Old Testament.
He sent Elijah, who gathered all the people of Israel at Mount Carmel and he gathered the 400 prophets of Baal for a great challenge. This is what he said, because I tell you that these words still ring true today, 1 Kings 18:21. Elijah, great prophet, he came near to all the people and he said this, listen to this, “How long will you waver between two opinions?”
Now, this is good. “People of Israel,” he says, listen to this, “How long will you waver between two opinions?” Listen. “If Jehovah is God, then follow Him. If Baal is God, then follow him.” It says, “But the people did not answer him a word.” So then, of course, was that great challenge and God answered Elijah in a powerful way and God demonstrated His hand that day as he set forth this great challenge.
I love those words, because it really rings true today. Is Jehovah God? Because if Jehovah is, in fact, God, then serve Him, then follow Him. If Jehovah is God, then He gets to say what He wants to say and He gets to say what is right. He gets to define holiness, don’t you think, because here’s the bottom line.
God is not intimidated by people taking offense at Him. Amen? God is not intimidated by people taking offense, because being offended won’t get you to heaven either. Galatians 6:7-8 are powerful verses, I love to quote them, where it just shows the power of God’s declaration. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” God said it. If He’s God, He’s got the right to say it.
“For the one who sows to the flesh, will from the flesh reap corruption.” God has the right to say that. “Well, I don’t like it. That’s very offensive to me. Are you saying that the things I do are sinful?” God says, and He’s got the right to say it, that the one who sows to his flesh will, in fact, reap from the flesh corruption. Then He adds this promise, “But the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap life, even eternal life.”
While we’re on this topic, the world is also offended when Christians say that Jesus is the only way to heaven. “Are you suggesting that all of the other ways that say that they are the way to heaven, are you saying that they’re wrong?” That’s offensive. It’s not politically correct to say such a thing. You’re offending them. It all comes down to this. Is Jesus, in fact, who he said he was? That’s really what it comes down to. Did Jesus speak the truth when he said, “I am the way, I am the truth, I am the life, and no man comes to the Father but by me.”
Was Jesus speaking the truth, because it all comes down to that, who is Jesus? If Jesus is the Son of the Living God as he said, and if Jesus is the creator of all things, and if Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day, then serve him, then follow him, then receive him, and open your heart to him, and trust the way of salvation that he has opened up for you. Amen?
I ask you this question, why did the people of Egypt and why did the people of Canaan live this way? Answer, because they were separate from God. They were separated from God. Those who are separated from God live according to the flesh, and the result is death. If you belong to God, then you be separate from the world.
I want us to look at both of those perspectives, because those are really big key. Those who are separated from God are going to live like the world. Therefore, He says, “You be separated from the world and live like God.” It’s a whole different thing. Amen? You see, this is the point. The result is life. “Live according to God’s heart and you will have life,” Jesus said, “And life to the full.”
That’s what God wants. “I want you to have life. I want you to have joy. I want you to have peace. I want you to have my joy. I want you to have my peace. I want you to have the love that comes from the Father.” These things come from God to you. You draw near to the LORD. Be separate from the world and draw near to the LORD.
We use the word worldly, such-and-such is worldly, because it describes the condition of the world. There’s a lot of pressure. The world puts a lot of pressure to live like the world, to conform to the world. Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is,” which is good, it’s acceptable, it’s perfect, complete. It’s good for you. It’s good. It’s a blessed.
The word “conform”, do not be conformed means don’t be molded. It’s like when someone is molding clay by pressuring that clay to become what the person wants it to become by pressuring it. Consider the pressure that many teens face today from their peers; pressure to fit in, pressure to be accepted, pressure to be cool, pressure from the world, the problem is that it teaches them to be more concerned about the opinion of others than the opinion of God.
One of the things I say to young people when I have an opportunity to speak to young people, one of the things I like to say to young people is that, “When it comes to peer pressure, you be the pressure.” Amen? When it comes to peer pressure, you be the pressure.
I was reading an interesting story, humorous, where a daughter asked her father if she could do something, and then she said, “But dad, everybody’s doing it.” The father responded, “No, not everyone, because you’re not.” That father deserves some kind of prize for fathering right there. Amen? “No, not everyone’s not, because you’re not there.” I love that answer, like frame that and put it on the wall, “No, not everyone, because you’re not.” I love that.
God wants us to understand the importance of being separate. Be separate in a godly way. He says, “Even if you’re the only one doing it, live under God.” Remember when I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that Jesus healed 10 lepers all at one time? Do you know that one, one and only one, went back to say thank you to the Lord? It’s the right thing to do, but only one did it. Do the right thing, do the godly thing, even if you’re the only one doing it.
“The world is passing away,” he says, “Don’t be conformed to the world. The world is passing away, don’t be conformed to the world. The world is passing away. The world is pursuing death. It’s dying. The world is dying. I want you to have life.”
1 John 2:15-17, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” The reason the world lives the way it does is because it’s separate. It’s far from God, has no heart or desire to be near to God.
“All that’s in the world,” he says, “The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the boastful pride of life, this is not from the Father, this is from the world, and the world is passing away and its lusts, but the one who does the will of God will live forever.” It’s a great word. God promises that if you will live differently than the world, you will have opportunity for deeper relationship to the LORD.
2 Corinthians 6:17-18 are great verses. “Therefore,” He says, “Come out.” This is the LORD speaking, “Come out. Come out from their midst and be separate.” Be different. Be distinct. In another verse, He says, “Be a peculiar people.” That’s a compliment.
II. God’s Way is the Way of Greatest Blessing
The LORD says, “Do not touch what is unclean and I will welcome you. I will be a Father to you. I’m different. My heart’s different. I’ll be a Father to you. You’ll be sons and daughters to me,” says the Lord Almighty. “My ways are different than the world’s ways. My way is life. My way is good.” Let’s put it this way, God’s way is the way of greatest blessing. God’s way is the way of greatest blessing. Do you believe it?
“Do you want the greatest blessing?” He says, “Well, I’ll tell you how. It’s my way.” God breathed life into you. He called you according to His purpose. He gave you a future. He gave you a hope. His way is the way of greatest blessing. “Choose that way,” He says.
Look at the contrast. God designed animals with instinct that will direct them in how to live and what to do. Birds know where to fly without ever learning the direction. Bears know how to hibernate without anyone telling them. In other words, dogs do dog things because they’re dogs with dog nature, which is to say a dog is a dog, a cat is a cat, a horse is a horse. Unless, of course, that horse is a -- but my point being, you’re different.
You’re different. God made you with a choice. You get to choose. A bird does what it does because God built the instinct to go in this direction at this time of year. But you, He made you to have a choice. God lays out before you life, and says, “Now choose it. Here, I show you life, now choose it.” That’s why He says in Chapter 18, He says, “Perform the judgments of God.”
A. Perform the judgments of God
The word judgment has several meanings. It can mean determining guilt or innocence, right or wrong, but it can also mean the operation of the mind involving comparison and discernment, by which knowledge, and value, and intellectual concepts and logical propositions are observed or obtained. In other words, you might say, “What are the reasons behind the action? Why? Why do you do the things you do? What reasoning, by what estimation, by what judgment did you make that decision?
One of the biblical English illustrations of that has to be in the Book of Daniel when the king of Babylon, Belshazzar, held a feast, a party, and Belshazzar said, “Go get those goblets that came from the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. We’re going to drink wine from those things that we took from the temple.” That’s sacrilegious, you could say. That’s dishonoring, but that’s what they did. He’s going to have a party. “Go get those goblets. We’re going to drink wine. We going to have a party. We’re going to drink wine from those religious things of Israel.
While they’re having this party, the happy partying came to a sudden screeching halt when a hand appeared, just a hand -- no arm attached, just a hand -- and began to write on the wall, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN, and it sent a shiver of fear, “What can this mean?” No one knew what it meant. They searched and found Daniel, the prophet, and had him come, and Daniel read the words and interpreted. He says, “This is the meaning of the words, Belshazzar, you have been weighed in the scales and you have been found lacking. Behold, your kingdom will be taken from you.”
Live by the judgments of the LORD. What are the reasons behind what you do? You make thousands of decisions every day. He says, “By my judgments, by my discernments, live that way.” He says, “Live by these things and you will live. Grow in discernment, grow in judgment, and you will know how to more like God.”
I love Hebrews 5, where we see these strong words, verses 13 to 14, “Everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, he’s just an infant. But solid food is for the mature who, because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” “By my judgments, train your senses to discern that which is good, right and godly.”
There are many who misunderstand faith. There are many who misunderstand faith and how it relates to good judgment and good decisions. There are many who make very unwise decisions and they say, “God will work it out.” But God says, “No, listen, I give you good judgment. I give you good discernment so that you won’t get into those situations in the first place.”
James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let them ask of God. He gives to all generously and without reproach, and God would give it you.” Ask. You need faith and you need wisdom. That’s why he says in verse 4, he says, “Live in accord with God’s Word.” Live in accord. That means to live in agreement with the judgments and the statutes, the Word of God, the ways of God, rather than resisting them, rather than being opposed to them. “Your way is right, LORD. Your way is good. Your way is right. I want to live your way.”
It’s always a beautiful thing when the heart comes to that point of maturity, when it says, “You’re right, LORD. You’re right.” Maybe in illustration, it’s like when a teen is resisting the parents. It happens. I’ve read about it books.
The teens, they start resisting their parents. It’s always a beautiful thing when that teen comes to the point, at some point in their life, when they say to their parents, “Your wisdom is high. I cannot attain to it.”
It takes a while, usually around 25, then it’s like, “Okay, what do you think, mom? What do you think, dad? What do you think?” This maturity to say, “I want to live God’s way. You’re right, LORD. You’re right. Your way is good.” Don’t resist. Do you believe God’s way is good? Amen? Do you believe God’s way is right? Do you believe that God’s way is going to bless your life?
B. Live in accord with God’s Word
That’s the perspective when you say, “It is.” It is. “God’s way is good. God’s way is right. I want to live that way.” That’s why God said to Saul, later we know him as Paul, “Why are you kicking against the goads?” This is a farming phrase. A goad, of course, is a farmer, would use to move the cattle this way or that, and then the cattle with an attitude would kick. “Why are you kicking against the things of God. Why are you kicking?”
That’s why when Stephen made his famous speech in Acts 7, he called him stiff-necked, always resisting the Holy Spirit. Acts 7:51, “You men are stiff-necked. You’re uncircumcised in heart and ears. You’re always resisting the Holy Spirit. You’re doing just what your fathers did.” That’s a pretty powerful statement, but it’s good to apply it. Don’t be stiff-necked.
It’s a picturing of the hand of God on the neck, the hand, the power and authority that lays its hand on your neck, and then you go, “Ah, that’s good. Put your hand here, LORD, on my neck. I welcome your power. I welcome your authority. Put your hand on my neck.”
In contrast, there are those who say, “Don’t you touch me. Don’t. No, no, I’m the boss. I am the captain of my own soul, don’t you put your hand on my neck.” Then the LORD says, “Then I can’t bless you. I can’t bless you. Let me put my hand on your neck and direct your way. I’ll make a new covenant. I’ll write it on your heart. I’ll make your way good.” It’s just a such a good word.
Psalm 40:8, “I delight to do Your will, O God.” I delight to do Your will. Your law is written on my heart.”
C. Living is good
Lastly, we’ll end with this, He says, “Those who do this will live.” Living is good. Living is good. Life is good. Keep judgments and statutes, you’ll live. Galatians 6, I mentioned it before, let’s repeat it, “The one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap life, even eternal life. Do not lose heart in doing good; in due time, we will reap if we do not grow weary.”
Life comes from God, from God’s ways. He will keep you from death. He will keep you from trouble. When God was about to bring the people of Israel into the Promised Land, Moses brought this challenge, Deuteronomy 30:19-20, “I call heaven and earth as witness, I have set before you, today, life and death, a blessing and a curse, choose life.”
“I set it before you, choose life. Choose life that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the LORD, your God, by obeying His voice, by holding fast to Him, for this your life, this is the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the LORD swore your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to give them.”
I mentioned last week this famous challenge by Joshua, bear this repeating, he drew everyone together, and he said these famous words in Joshua 24:15, “If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, then choose for yourselves today whom you will serve, whether the gods of Egypt from where you came, or the gods of the people in the land you’re now living. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
“I set it before you. Is God’s way good? Is God’s way right? Is God’s heart to bless?” He says, “Then choose it.” Choose it. Let’s pray.
Father, thank you so much for your heart. Thank you for your Holy Spirit. Thank you for that wonderful promise that your way is good and that you’ll give us life when we walk your way.
Church, tonight, He’s calling us to choose. As for me and my house, I’ve made my choice, made my mind, your way is good, LORD. Your way is right. I want to walk. I want to walk your way. I want to be different than the world. I want to be distinct. Your way is good. Your way is right. I want to walk your way. I want to honor you.
Church, tonight, would you say that? “Is that your heart?” Would you say that to the LORD tonight, if you would? I’m going to ask you to say it by just raising your hand to the LORD. When you raise your hand, you’re saying to the LORD, “I declare it. Your way is good. Your way is right. I want to live that way. It’s good. I choose it.” Just raise your hand to the LORD and say it tonight by raising your hand, “Your way is good. Your way is right. I choose it. I want it, your way, LORD. Your way.”
Father, thank you for everyone who is moved of the Spirit, who says, “Yes. Yes, LORD, your way will be my way. Yes, LORD. Yes, to you.” Father, thank you. We give you praise. We give you honor. You are amazing. Thank you, LORD. In Jesus’ name, and everyone says--