The Most Important Words God Ever Said
January 26th, 2020
What are the most important words that God has ever said? Many times they came to Jesus and asked that very question. They said, "Of all the things that God has ever said, what is the greatest and foremost of them all?" Jesus answered by quoting from these very verses out of chapter six in Deuteronomy. He said, "The greatest and foremost of all that God has ever said is this. Hear, O Israel. You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your mind. The second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
Now, I suggest that if Jesus said, these are the greatest and foremost of all that God has ever said, but these are in fact the greatest and foremost of all that God has ever said. He meant those words. Therefore, it's important for us to take hold of the significance of it. We know that scripture says that God is love. It's who He is. Is part of His nature. Therefore, that we lost your lights there. Therefore, because you are made in the image of God, then that is an important aspect of who you are as well. God is love. It's who He is. It's who His nature. You've been made in His image.
I was thinking of an illustration. In the new Testament, it tells us that the leaders of Israel, they plotted together how they might trap Jesus in what He said. They questioned Him and listen to the setup. "Now teacher, we know that you are truthful and teach the way of God in truth and defer to no one. Tell us then, what do you think? Is it lawful to give a tax to Caesar or not?"
Jesus perceived their malice. He said, "Why are you testing me?" Actually, what he said was, "Why are you testing me, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used to pay the tax." They brought him a denarius. He said, "Whose inscription and likeness is this?" They said, "Caesar's." He answered, "Then render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar and render unto God the things that are God." They said they decided to question him no more after that.
What a powerful answer, but it's a tremendous point. That coin is Caesar's because his image and inscription is upon it and the same is true for you, God said. God's image is on you. His word is inscribed on your heart. This is important. He is saying that God is love and you are made in the image of God. Therefore, what you love defines who you are and what you love most is critical to your life because love is a transforming power. You become like that which you love. That's why you must love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength because you will become like that would you love.
Deuteronomy is the last speech that Moses gives. If you've got one last speech, if you got one last one, you are going to make it an epic speech and that's what this particularly when you look at Deuteronomy 6, he's going to show them the way of greatest blessing. He said, "Hold these words in your heart, listen, be very careful to do it and God will bless your way." Let's read it. Deuteronomy 6:1.
Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the Lord your God has commanded me to teach you that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the Lord your God to keep His statutes and His commandments, which I command you all the days in your life and that your days may be prolonged. This is the blessing of God that he's going to show them.
Oh, Israel, you should listen and you should be careful to do it that it may be well with you and that you may be multiplied greatly just as the Lord the God of your fathers has promised you in a land flowing with milk and honey, all the blessings that God wants to pour out on your life. That leads us to these very famous verses starting in verse four. "Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God. The Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your might and these words which I am commanding you today shall be on your heart. Take these words and write them on your heart.
Teach them." Verse seven, "Teach them diligently to your sons. Talk of them when you sit in the house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you rise up. It's that important. Bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be his frontals on your forehead." Now, that's fascinating. If you know about the antichrist, you know that this sounds familiar because it tells us that in the latter days, that the antichrist will put a mark, the mark of the beast on the right hand and on the forehead of those who follow after him.
It is an imitation and mockery of the very things that God says. "You write this on your forehead." He says, "Let it be on the very forefront of your mind because you have been set aside for me. My seal is upon you. My word sets you apart from all other peoples." Then he says verse 9, "Write them down on the doorpost of your house and on your gates."
By the way, when you go to a Jewish home, whether it's in Israel or here in the United States or many places of the world, they do this very thing. They will have a little container, it's called a mezuzah and they would affix it to the door of their doorpost of their home and it will contain a scribed-by-hand these very words out of Deuteronomy 6 to fulfill this exact word. "Write them on the doorpost of your house and on your Gates."
Verse 10, "Then it will come about that when the Lord your God brings you into the land which He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the land to give you great and splendid cities which you did not build, houses full of all good things which you did not fill, human cisterns which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant and you eat and are satisfied, then watch yourself, be very careful, lest you forget, lest you forget the Lord who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
Fear the Lord only. He is your God and you shall worship Him and swear by His name." These are the verses I want us to look at. We'll do the other verses around it on Wednesday, but there's so much here for us to take hold of and to apply to our lives.
I. God Wants it to be Well with You
Starting with this understanding that God wants it to be well with you. It's His heart. He's showing you the way of great blessing. "I wanted to be well with you. I will show you that way." Why? Because He loves you. In fact, that's why we love Him because He's won us over. In fact, the scripture says 1 John 4:19, "We love Him because He first loved us." God, you have won me over. You have shown me your great love and you have won me over. Anybody else? Say amen to that. God, you have shown me your love.
A. Watch over your soul diligently
He says, "I love you. I want to give you the wisdom and the understanding to do well in your life. My blessings will flow. I will pour my favor out on you." Then he adds a caution, "But watch over your soul very diligently." Leading up to this in chapter 4 I mentioned as He's bringing us to this grand point over and over in chapter 4 he says, "Give heed to yourself. Watch over your soul. Keep your soul diligently lest you forget all the things which your eyes have seen. Lest they leave your heart." Never ever forget all that God has done for you all the days of your life. I'll tell you what, that's a tremendous statement for us today.
Never forget what God has done for you. I'll add my own testimony and I'll tell you God has done great things for me. Anybody want to say yes and amen? God has done great things. Never ever forget. He says, "Watch your soul, lest you forget. Hear, O Israel. Listen, be careful. Keep this word that it may be well with you." He's connecting them together. Watch over your soul. Press into these things because the blessing of God is found in spiritual maturity. By watching over your soul, more blessings flow from God.
One of the things that I've been mentioning, it's important for us to see is that Israel here is in many ways an analogy, a picture of the relationship that a Christian has with God. Here's what I mean. God bringing Israel out of the desert, excuse me out of Egypt, rather, saving them from oppression and slavery is a picture of us being saved.
Bringing us out of the world, out of the oppression and in the slavery in which we were held. God set us free. It's a picture of that. The Promised Land is not a picture of heaven, it's the picture of spiritual maturity, of moving into the blessings, of following Him obediently. That's what it's a picture. What's the desert then? What's 40 years in the desert picture? It depends.
Remember, now there were two generations there. One generation died in the wilderness. That is a picture of those who have been saved, they've come out of Egypt, you could say, but they don't have the faith to move into the promises. They don't have the faith to move into spiritual maturity. They spend their lives in the desert. I'll tell you what, there's a lot of people today who spend their lives in the desert. God wants more than that for you. Amen. God wants more than that for you.
Because it also can picture for that next generation. It pictures growing in faith, learning to have a relationship, pressing into, moving into spiritual things. Let it be a picture of that because here's the thing, there are certain promises that God gives when a person receives Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. There are many blessings that come just by receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior.
But there are further promises that you receive when you press into maturity spiritually, when you begin to walk in the deeper things of the Lord. When you watch over your soul diligently. Let me give you some verses. 2nd Peter 1:4, by these things He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises so that by them, you may become partakers of the divine nature, your character, your very nature will be transformed as you press into deeper things having escaped the corruption that's in the world by lust.
Here's another one. Hebrews 5:13-14, everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness. He's an infant, he's just a babe. God wants more than that for you. He said, solid food is for the mature, who because of practice. That means they take God's word, they hold it in their hearts, and then they do it. They live by these things. He said they have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
Think of the blessings that come from spiritual maturity, from watching over your soul diligently how would we describe that? How would we describe spiritual maturity? I think we could describe it in several ways. One might be deeper love for God, a heart that's forgiving, a heart that's gracious, peace, joy, a servant heart, a kind heart. We could go on and on. This is just to name a few. These are the blessings, the qualities of spiritual maturity.
I suggest that these qualities certainly bless others, but also they bless you. Here's what I mean. Forgiveness. Forgiveness, you would agree, is a quality of who God is. It's part of His nature, He is a forgiving God, is He not? Therefore, when you become a forgiving person, you are moving into spiritual maturity, you are becoming like your God. He is a forgiving God. When you move into spiritual maturity and become a forgiving person, certainly that's a huge blessing to the people around you.
I suggest it's also a blessing to you for you don't have to carry the burden of unforgiveness. You don't have to carry the burden of a bitter heart. God has blessed you, because you have now become like him, in the sense that you are forgiven.
Here's another aspect of grace. God is a God of grace, is He not? We love the grace of God. Your amazing grace, how sweet the sound. We love God's grace. When you become a person who also has grace toward others, you are becoming like God. It's part of His nature and you become partaker care of that when you also have grace toward others in your life. Now I'll tell you what, if you have grace toward other people in your life, you will bless those people I can tell you. It's also a blessing to you. For to have a heart that's full of grace is a heart that's beautiful, filled with joy and peace. It comes back to you.
Matthew 5:7-9, Jesus said, Blessed, are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the peacemakers, that's another quality of God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God, they'll be like their father.
In contrast, Paul writes about spiritual immaturity. He says, this is Galatians 4:9, now that you have come to know God or rather be known by God, which is to say he's speaking to the church here. Now that you've come to know God or rather be known God, how is it? How is it that you turn back to the weak and worthless elemental things? To which you desire to be enslaved all over again. Those things are weak, those things are worthless. God has better things in mind for you than that.
B. Faith works through love
Move into spiritual maturity. Watch over your soul diligently because there are blessings of God that come with those things. Watch; be very careful. Then He shows a connection that we've got to see. Faith works through love. We see they're both connected, they are intricately together. Moses is calling Israel to believe, believe God. This is the way of greatest blessing, believe God. Write these words on your heart; believe.
Then he begins to show them what love is. It's absolutely essential to understanding connects faith with the highest, not most love. They are intricately connected. Faith works through love. Let me give you a verse. Galatians 5:6, in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision mean anything but faith, working through love, in other words, means everything. In fact, Paul went on to say something absolutely amazing. He said if you have faith, even great faith, but without love, you are nothing. That is an amazing statement.
1 Corinthians 13:2, it's very famous. If I have the gift of prophecy and I know all mysteries and all knowledge even, if I have all faith, even so as remove mountains, but don't have love, I am nothing. That is an amazing statement. Love is what makes you something. That's why this is such a key section of scripture.
C. All laws come from this law
What he shows us is this. He says all laws come from this law. All laws come from this law. Matthew 22, Jesus was asked there again, what is the foremost and highest of all that God has ever given his commandments.
He responded by quoting from Deuteronomy 6. The second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself. Then he added Matthew 22:40, and all the law, all the profits, that is to say all of the Old Testament depend on these two commandments. All come from this one law. In other words, loving God is greater than all other laws. If you love God, then there will be a desire to live by those things. Let me give you another verse. This is Jesus teaching a very similar thing, John 14:15 and 21. Jesus said, If you love me, you will keep my commandments. He who has my commandments, and keeps them, he's the one who loves me.
He who loves me will be loved by my father. I will love him and will disclose myself to him. In this speech, Moses is reminding them of the statutes and the judgments and the principles of wisdom and understanding. Then he says, but the greatest of all things, all of those things come out of love. Because God knows the way of greatest blessing. It flows out of His love for you, and your love for Him. He gives you the principles and the wisdom to direct your steps. Then when you live in those ways, when you walk according to the way that God gives to you, it says, He loves it.
God delights to see it. Let me give you a great verse. I love this verse, Psalm 37:23, the steps of a man are established by the Lord. He delights in His way. God delights when you walk in the ways of the Lord, when you walk in the ways that He has given to you, God loves to see it, He delights in it. Too often, people have a very short-sighted view of what God is doing. If God isn't doing what they think that God should do the way they think that God ought to do it, then they wonder if God is really working in their behalf and if He loves them.
God can make it well with your soul even in the midst of the troubles and the trials and the storms of life. I was thinking of an illustration. Many of you know about a hymn that we've sang in the church many times very powerful, It is well by Horacio Spafford. The backstory to it is so important because it shows us the very thing that God is showing us in Deuteronomy. The backstory is this. There were many tragedies in his life starting with, they lost their son. He died at a very young age. He was three years old when he died.
Then they were living in Chicago. The Chicago fire swept through the city and left him financially ruined. He had many properties and buildings and whatnot. All of them destroyed, left him financially ruined. They decided to book passage to Europe. As he booked passage on the ship, a last-minute urgent matter arose that he had to attend to back in Chicago, so he sent his wife and three daughters on ahead. On the journey across the Atlantic, the ship perished at sea. Only his wife was rescued.
She sent the cable back to him from Europe, saved alone. Devastated, he decided to book passage on the next ship to join his grieving wife. As he got onto the ship, he talked to the captain and he said, "Please alert me when we come to that place where the other ship was lost. Some days later, the captain came to him and said, "I think it's about here." It was during the middle of the night.
He came up to the deck, looked out over the sea, and these words of this hymn came to him, "When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say, it is well, it is well with my soul. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, let this blessed assurance control, that Christ has regarded my helpless estate, and hath shed his own blood for my soul. It is well, with my soul. It is well with my soul."
II. Love is Above All Things
I can add my own testimony. When our daughter was murdered five years ago, it brought us to the depth of grief, our heart was broken. I can tell you this, God was with us all through and it was well with our soul. He is still with us today. It is still well with our soul. Amen. Because He's showing us something key here. He's showing us this, that love is above all things. Love is the transforming power. You become like that what you love. He says, love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul with all of your might otherwise you're going to love wrong things that will poison your soul.
A. Love is the law above all other laws
What we understand, what he's showing us is this, love is the law above all other laws. In Jesus's day, the law of Moses was actually a heavy, heavy burden. The leaders of Israel would often argue over which laws were heavier than other laws. What they had done was this, the 10 commandments contain in the Hebrew language-- the Hebrew letters of the 10 commandments are 613 letters. They took the 613 commandments, some positive, some not to do things, and they assign them to each of these letters so that they can memorize them. Then the debate began. Well, what if one law is in conflict with another law?
Well, then, which one is weightier? Which one has more weight? They started arguing and debating amongst themselves. In fact, by the way, we have something similar to that today, we actually do. In the sense that today, a one law can conflict with another law. One of my illustrations I used to illustrate that is, back when we were having kids some years ago, ee were pregnant with our third-- I say we because I was a coach, so there you go. We were pregnant with our, we-- my wife was pregnant. That part I know.
We were pregnant with our third and we were about 10 days before the delivery. She woke up that morning with a terrible pain, she says the pain was so bad that she thought maybe that her pelvis was broken. I called the hospital and they said, this is a medical emergency, either you get an ambulance, or you get in the car, but you get here now. I went into the room where she was and I said, "They say it's a medical emergency, we're either getting an ambulance or we're getting in the car."
She says, "Don't let us make a fuss. Don't call an ambulance, we're going to take the car." I said, "Okay." Here's the thing, she's nine months pregnant, and she can't walk. I picked her up in my arms, I brought her in the car and then off we go. We're driving down to the highway, and we come to a red light.
Now, there is a law that says, "When you come to a red light, you stop, and you wait at that red light until it turns green." Is that not the law of the land? If you don't do that, you will get a ticket and you do that enough, you will lose your license. What do you do? That is the law. I came to the red light, looked both ways and blew right through it. I have to tell you, I enjoyed it. Came to another red light, looked both ways blew right through that one. I noticed somebody keeping up with me a bit. Then I came to another red light, looked both ways blew right through that.
All right, so we get to the hospital. They do this test and another and discover that-- They said the baby had a raging blood infection. If you had not brought that baby in when you did, that baby could have died in the womb. I said, well, explain that pain. What was that pain about? She thought her pelvis was broken. It was so bad. They said, "We have no explanation for that whatsoever. We have no idea. We didn't know this, if it wasn't for the pain, you would not have brought that baby in." I said, "That's amazing."
They said, "We have a word for that in the medical world, we call it providential intervention." I said, "That's an interesting thing. We have a word for it in the church too. We call it a miracle." They treated that; it took quite some time. Eventually, we came home and there was a letter from the sheriff. "You were seen going through red lights of this and that." He was getting my license plate. He turned me in. "You were seen going through red lights at this and that intersection, on this and such time." I thought, "Oh, my goodness, we're going to have to call the sheriff's office." I can just see the news now pastor arrested for going through red light.
I call the sheriff's office and I'm explaining to them. This is what, this is why, this was what was happening. The sheriff's office responded and said, "You did the right thing. There are times when it's right to break the law. When there is something higher, then you must do it, life is higher." That's his point. In other words, when they asked Jesus, what is the highest and foremost of all that God has ever said. Jesus answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all of your soul and with all of your might. In other words, this is the most important thing in your life."
That's what it means. This is the most important thing in your life, to Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul and with all of your might. Here's why. Because love gives meaning to life. He gave it as this commandment that they should love with all of their heart. Now if they did something for God but without love I suggest that it's void. It's empty. It's hollow. It means nothing. For love is what gives it meaning. Love gives meaning to life.
B. Love gives meaning to life
That's why in Isaiah 29:13. Now in Isaiah 29, God is accusing Israel here because they did not hold these words to their heart. They did forget all that God had done for them. He writes in Isaiah 29 to accuse them, "Then the Lord said, 'Because these people, they draw near with their words and they honor me with lip service but they remove their hearts far from me. The reverence for me consists of tradition, learned by rote. It's empty. It's void. It's hollow. It means nothing. Because love gives meaning to life. May I suggest that when you do something for the Lord, do it because you love Him. Because you mean it.
I was thinking of an illustration. I love this illustration. Because we are so close to Valentine's Day, I think it is especially appropriate. There's a Valentine's Day law. There is a Valentine's Day law. It's an unspoken unwritten law but it goes like this, "Is Valentine's Day, thou shalt buy flowers for thy wife". It's a Valentine's Day law. Everybody knows this. Okay. You wake up it's Valentine's Day. Well, it's a Valentine's Day law. You go to the florist and you buy your flowers and you bring the flowers home and you put them on the counter. "There's your flowers". To which any wife would say, "That's empty. That's hollow. That doesn't mean anything". Because love is what gives it meaning. Love is what gives it meaning.
That's why he says, "This is so important. Teach your children this. You want to give your children a life lesson, teach your children this". See, if you love God, then you'll want to honor Him. That's why you do it. That's why you do it. Because it's got meaning to you. That's why you do it. Let me give you another verse 1st John 5:3, "For this is the love of God that we keep His commandments and His commandments are not burdensome".
Now that is a great verse right there. This is the love of God that we keep His commandments. I think some people are quite surprised that the word commandment is in the New Testament. "Commandment? I don't think I should like the word commandment". He says, "This is the love of God that you keep His commandments and His commandments are not burdensome".
I was thinking of an illustration and I love this illustration. It's the story of a farmer some years ago who had to plow horses. Other farmers around him were buying tractors, but he loved his plow horses. He'd just keep plowing. Well, one day one of the plow horses died. He decided, "Well, it's time," so he bought a new tractor and decided to let the other horse go free.
One day, he went out to the barn and took the harness off the horse, opened the barn doors, "You earned it. Go. Be free". Then he went out and got on the tractor and started it, brought it around with his plow and started plowing the field. Then to his amazement he looked up, and out came the horse, coming up right alongside the tractor just walking alongside the tractor as though to say, "This is my job. I love what I do. Let me plow this field. Let me plow this field. I love what I do".
I was thinking about that and it made me think of myself. It made me think about what I do. I tell you; I love pastoring this church. This is not a burden to me. I love this church. It is an honor to do it for you, Lord. It's not a burden. I love it. It's what I love. I do it for you, God. It is a privilege and an honor. I love this church. This is not a burden to me. How about you? What do you love? What do you love? Can you love as an honor to the Lord? I love doing this. It's an honor to do it. His commands are not burdensome. I love. It's an honor for me, God. It's an honor for me. I delight to do this.