Blessed are Those Who Hear
February 29 -March 1, 2020
I mentioned before that the book of Deuteronomy is Moses' last speech, because Israel is just about to cross the Jordan and enter into that land that God promised them, but Moses knows that he cannot go. God's already made it very clear, he's not crossing that Jordan. This is His last opportunity to speak into their lives, and you can just sense the urgency in it, because He wants it to go well, He wants him to be victorious spiritually, He wants him to be blessed, and He knows that this is the key, and so He gives him some powerful words. In fact, in the book of Deuteronomy, you will find the greatest words that God has ever spoken. In fact, we know it's the greatest because Jesus was asked, what are the greatest words, the foremost of all that God has ever said, and Jesus quoted right from Deuteronomy, "You will love the Lord with all of your heart." That's what God says. That's what God wants.
Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. This is a very important message, sense of urgency, because He wants it to go well. When you get to chapter 18, He's warning them here of spiritual dangers, because He knows that the land in which they're going is filled with spiritual darkness. These nations, these people, they're filled with all kinds of dark practices which God detests, He says, and that's the reason He's casting them out of there. To have nothing to do with them.
Part of spiritual revival is understanding how to keep your life from being spiritually shipwrecked, and this is the key. He knows that the key, for them to be in the place of greatest blessing, is revival. He wants revival. I'm telling you God still wants revival today. That warning that Moses gives to Israel is very much applied today, because we are living in a time of tremendous spiritual darkness, would you not agree? There is darkness like I have never seen before in my life. Keeping your heart from those things, away from spiritual darkness, is part of revival. With this warning, comes a tremendous promise. One of the greatest promises of the Old Testament are found in these verses, because he says it this way, he says, "Now those nations which you shall dispossess when you cross the Jordan, they listen to those who practice witchcraft, they go to listen to diviners, they go to those who practice witchcraft to get a word, they go to diviners to hear a word."
God says, "Should not a people seek their God." He says, "The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet, like me." This is a direct prophecy of Jesus Christ, right in Deuteronomy, "You will listen to him, I will put my words in his mouth. He will speak in my name." There's just a powerful understanding of the prophecy of Jesus, but how it applies to our lives is critical. Let's read it.
Deuteronomy 18:9, "When you enter the land, which the Lord your God gives you, you will not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire." This was so wrong, so despicable what they would do. Actually, they would burn their oldest child in the fire as a sacrifice to The god of fertility, or whatever, so that their crops would be more abundant.
God says, "No, this is detestable. Have nothing to do with this." It breaks the heart of God to see if people sacrifice their children. Then he says, "Let there not be found anyone who uses divination, or who practices witchcraft, or who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium or a spiritist, so one who calls up the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord, and because of these detestable things, the Lord your God will drive them out from before you. You will be blameless before the Lord your God, for those nations, which you shall dispossess, they listen to those who practice witchcraft, and they go to diviners, but as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you to do so. For the Lord your God, and here's that prophecy I was telling you, the Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you and your countrymen, and you will listen to him. This is very clearly a prophecy.
In fact, every Jew would tell you, he's referring here to the Messiah, that great Messiah who will one day come. Well, we know who he is, we know his name. His name is Jesus. He is that exact fulfillment of the Scriptures because he will be a mediator. Notice what it says in the next verses. "This is in accordance to all that you ask of the Lord your God at Horeb, Mount Sinai, on the day of that assembly." Remember what had happened, they all gathered at Mount Sinai. God spoke to the nation of Israel out of the mountain, out of the smoke in the fire, and the people said, "This is too much to hear His voice. Moses, you speak God's Word to us." They asked for a mediator, so God said they did well in asking for that, and I will send a prophet to be a mediator in the latter days.
Notice what it says, verse 16, "This is in accordance to what you said, let me not here again the voice of the Lord my God, let me not see this great fire anymore unless I die, Moses you speak." And the Lord said to me, "They have spoken well with this. So I will raise up a prophet from you", here it is, again, "from among your countrymen like you, and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them as I command him." Notice verse 19, "And it shall come about that whoever will not listen to my words, which he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him." Wow, these are great verses, and they apply directly to our lives. He's telling them all of these dangerous, dark, spiritual things. "I detest these things, have nothing to do with him." Because he wants revival. He knows that these things will draw people away and will destroy them spiritually. He wants revival. He wants people to love God with all their heart.
I. Ambitiously Please God
Really, he's drawing us to an understanding. God wants you to seek after a relationship where you would ambitiously please God, I just love this phrase, ambitiously please God. We live in a time where ambition is the mantra of the day, they're driven, they're ambitious. Well, did you know that the Apostle Paul was ambitious? He had ambition but notice the way he says it. 2 Corinthians 5:7 and 9, "For we walk by faith and not by sight, therefore, we have as our ambition to be pleasing to Him. That's what I want to do with my life." Paul says, "I want to bless the Lord, I want to please Him. I want to walk in such a way that God is blessed." Revival is about relationship.
The key is relationship. There's two parts to our relationship, there's two sides to our relationship. That's why he says, "Here's the most important thing that God wants you to hear. Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength." That's your part. You love, you pour out your heart and your soul, you love, but the other side is God. God says, "I love you. You are precious in my sight. You are treasure to me, you're the apple of my eye." He says, "I love you so much, I'll send my Son that whosoever would believe in him would not perish but have everlasting life."
Notice now, part of relationship is the desire to please, to bless one another, but part of the relationship includes understanding what does not please, that's part of relationship too. We all have things we find displeasing, me too. For example, if we were in a close relationship, you would know that there's some things I don't like, I will not tell you what they are. There's some things that we're going to have a relationship, there's just some things I don't like. For example, I don't like cussing. We're going to hang out together and you're going to cuss, it's just not going to work out very well between us, I'm just not into it, I just don't like it. I find it displeasing. I don't like disrespect, I just don't like it, I just don't do disrespect. I think it should be the same, I'll respect you, you respect me. I just think that that's what we owe each other. I'm just not into disrespect. Dishonesty, I just think that there ought to be honesty in relationships. These are some things that I just think are good.
Humor, I love humor. I absolutely love good humor. I cannot stand potty humor. It's just me. Maybe it's just me, but I just don't like it. There's some things that we find displeasing. How much more is that true of God? God says that there are some things that He finds displeasing because God is good, and His nature is holy and righteous. It's because of His nature He says these things.
Moses wants Israel to know that there are some things that God finds not only displeasing. He finds them detestable, because they're contrary to His nature. The Scripture, in more than one place, describes this fact. In fact, Proverbs 6:16 and 19. It says very similarly, "There are six things which the Lord hates. Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him," and He's going to name them. He's going to list them right off. Number one, Haughty eyes. God says I can't stand that. A lying tongue, abomination to me. Hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, a false witness who out lies, one who spreads strife among brethren, can't stand that, because of the nature of God.
A. God’s heart is to protect you from evil
Why is he saying these things? Because He knows that these things that He's going to speak about will bring spiritual destruction. Here's God's heart. God's heart is to protect you from evil, because this is a relationship, and God wants to protect from Every good parent wants to protect their children from evil influences. Any parent that is a good parent at all understands the point of this. You got to protect your children from evil influences because as parents, we've lived long enough to know how dangerous evil influences can be. We live long enough to know. These evil influences can be quite dangerous. Here's the thing, children are not aware, they don't recognize how dangerous they are, and that right there is why they need a parent.
You all know, of course, we raised five kids, and now we've adopted our granddaughter raising her, and one of the phrases that I used to love when raising our kids, things would have been a little tussle over this or that. One of my phrases I used to love is this, "And that right there, my friend, is why you need a parent."
I'm going to bring all the wisdom I got into this parenting, because I know that these things from the world, these are evil influences and they'll destroy your life.
Many of you know our story, I mentioned last week. Our daughter was murdered by a 17-year-old boy who fell under every imaginable evil influence this world had to offer. Influenced by gangs, drugs, dark side of the internet, you name it, every evil influence, he fell under it, and the end result was he destroyed his own life, took our daughter's life, imagine the pain in his parents, the pain in ours. All because of the evil influences of the world around us. That's why as parents, I urge, I've lived long enough, I've been a pastor long enough to see how many lives have been destroyed. Keep your children from the influence of bad friends, of the culture of drugs and alcohol, from the wrongful influence of social media, or the dark world of gaming, or the dark world and sexual side of the internet. There's too many lives destroyed. Every culture, and every time has their own set of influences that come from spiritual forces of darkness.
Pastor Matthew and I are soon going to be going to Africa. We're going to be teaching at a couple of pastors’ conferences there. I will tell you, in Africa, that these practices are still very much happening in Africa. You go there, and you can see in pretty much every city, there are the witch doctors still there, in fact, they raise up their flags. You can see right where, there's one there, there's one over there, there's one over there. Every occultic practice is still influencing the people.
There's a pastor missionary friend of mine, who was telling me a story about, he was in a church service, and the pastor was dedicating one of the children. Okay, we do this, it's a very important part of the life of the church, and he's dedicating one of the children. The point of that, of course, is you thank God for the gift this child has been to this family, that's part of it. You're praying, we always ask the church, extend your hand in the posture of blessing, because we want God's hand of blessing to be on this child, but part of that is also we're asking God's hand of protection over this child because of the evil influences of the culture in which we're living. God, protect this child.
Well, okay, this pastor was there in this church service, the pastor was dedicating this child. Before he prayed, he turned to the parents. He said, "Before God in this church, promise me that you will keep this child away from witchcraft." Now, I'm telling you, such a thing ought not to have to be promised, but it needed to be because it was very much part of the culture which they're living.
I tell you what, that is very much true today in that same sense, there is evil all around us today. Is there not? We are living in a very dark and dangerous time. There's a very much in necessity of praying, protect our children, but also us. He says have nothing to do with these things because it will spiritually shipwreck your life, so he names names.
When Israel is going across the Jordan, they're going to be entering into this land, filled with all kinds of spiritual practices of darkness. He's going to like name names, say what it is, in verses 10 through 14, because there's a spiritual reality of darkness of demonic nature. Don't be involved in these things, he says, because they're detestable to God.
Not only that, but He knows that the nature of man is such that I think they have their way, they would do both. He knows the nature of man, if they get out their way, they would do both. They would want the things that the world does, and they would want God's things. This is the nature of man, want both. I want the things of the world, and I want God's things. The same is true today. It's the nature of man. There are many people today, if they get to have their way, they would do both. They would do the things that the world's got, and they would do God's things. The problem is, you do both things and you're going to find yourself compromised, and you're going to be what I call the miserable middle, because you'll be miserable because you're in the middle. It's miserable there.
In fact, Jesus said, He called it being lukewarm. "I would rather you either be hot or be cold, but if you're lukewarm, you're in the middle, I'll spit you out of my mouth," He says, that's a pretty strong word. Don't be in middle, but that's the nature of man, they want both. These very practices, God speaks and says, have nothing to do with them.
It's like this, in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, He says, "What partnership have righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness? What harmony does Christ have with Belial?" That's another name for Satan. "Or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate," says the Lord. "Do not touch what is unclean. I will welcome you, and I'll be a father to you, and you will be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty."
That's a great verse right there, because he's saying, look, this is about relationship. I'll be a Father to you, you'll be sons and daughters to me. We're going to have this amazing relationship, come out, don't touch those things, be separate, He says. He starts naming names. He starts saying what it is. Divination. Trying to see the future through a cultic means, and there are those who do this today, whether through reading tea leaves, or palm reading or tarot cards, Ouija boards. He says this is a cult thing, have nothing to do with it.
Witchcraft. This is the attempt to use dark spiritual powers to speak against other people's lives, like casting spells or speaking incantations. Did you know there's actually a modern resurgence of witchcraft today? Although they call that white witchcraft, I'm not sure what the difference is. I guess white witchcraft is environmentally friendly. I don't know, but it's a resurging or soothsayer. These are those who predict the future using astrological signs.
Back in the day when newspapers were a thing, it was common for newspapers to print the horoscopes of the day. People would read the horoscopes for one purpose, to seek counsel, to seek direction. What does the horoscope say that the direction? What should I do? God would respond. You go to that? Should not a people seek their God? That's a great word.
Then he speaks of interpreting omens. This is the practice, or people would see events in their lives as indicators of either what is to come or what they should do. They look for these omens as indicators of what they should do with their lives, and this has been true in history. Throughout history, long history, they used to cut up an animal to see what the angels would say to them. Or they would cut up an animal to see what the liver had to say to them. God says have nothing to do with these things.
Then there was sorcery, the using of drugs to bring about a spiritual experience. Our modern word “pharmacy” actually comes from the Greek word pharmacia, which originated in the idea of using drugs to create a spiritual experience. The drug culture of the '60s, I know many of you are not old enough to know much about the '60s, but I read all about it in history books, so I know that the drug culture of the '60s, actually, started out as the desire to seek after spiritual experiences, and to use the drugs in order to induce it. The idea was to seek a spiritual influence. He says have nothing to do with this.
Then there's the communicating of the dead. Trying to communicate to the dead through mediums or spiritists or other means, for what purpose? For what purpose? To seek counsel. To seek counsel from the dead, and that's why later on in the history of Israel, a great prophet arose, his name is Isaiah. Isaiah said, and this is in 8:19, "When they say to you consult the mediums and the spiritists, who whisper and mutter-- I love what he says, "Hey, wait, should not people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on the behalf of the living?" He says, "Have nothing to do with this, because these things are detestable to God," he says.
Do not imitate the things of darkness that are in the world around you. We are living in a time of spiritual darkness. The spiritual warfare that we are encountering is very, very real. I have been a pastor long enough to see many lives destroyed. Has anyone else seen that? That's why the words that Paul says in Ephesians 6:11-18 are very much relevant today. He says, and he's showing us how to be victorious. He says, "Put on the full armor of God." Then he's going to explain what that means.
Put on the full armor of God so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil, for our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers and powers, against world forces of darkness, against spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything to stand firm, stand firm, therefore. He's saying, "Look, we need people who can stand firm in their faith to arise to set your feet on a rock and to stand firm today." Because he's giving a warning to Israel, and frankly, it's a great warning to us. These things will shipwreck your life. He says I want a relationship of revival.
B. God is joy and Pleasing peace
This is what he's drawing them into, enjoying us into, "Hey, pleasing God is joy and peace." That's a beautiful picture. See, there are things which please God very much. It's joy, it's peace. "I want that peace. I want that joy. I want that love. I want my soul filled with the Spirit of the Living God. I want those things, desire those things," he says. It's peace and joy.
May we come to the end of our lives and hear these words. This is Matthew 25:21. "Well done," Jesus says. "Well done, my good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your master." What great words. You know you got one life to live. You got one life. Don't you want to live it in such a way that when you come to the end of it, you'll hear those words? "Well done, well-lived, my good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your master."
There is that worship song by Timmy Hughes. I love the song. I love the lyrics. I want to just quote some of the lyrics because it captures it so beautifully. He says it this way, "May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart, bless your name. Bless your name, Jesus, and the deeds of the day and the truth in my ways, speak of you. Speak of you, Jesus. For this is what I'm glad to do. It's time to live a life of love that pleases you, and I will give my all to you. Surrender everything I have and follow you. I'll follow." It's based on Psalms 19:14. It's a great song.
Listen to those words. Psalm 19:14, "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, My Rock and My Redeemer. Isn't that a great verse? I love those words. It's time, it's time to live a life of love that pleases you, Lord.
In the book of Ezekiel, he describes what pleases God. God says, "I am pleased when I see the one who was once wicked, turn from his wicked ways and come into a relationship to the living God. I love to see that."
There's another verse in Zephaniah 3:17. I quoted it last week, "The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save; He will take great delight in you. He will be quiet in His love, and He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy." That's what he's speaking to. Have nothing to do with those things because God wants that kind of relationship where there's revival, there is rejoice, the rejoicing, there is victory in the Lord.
II. God’s Word will be Required of You
Then He gives this next word, this prophecy that Jesus fulfills, but it's so important to recognize the significance of what He says, "I will raise up a prophet. We know His name. I will put my words in His mouth. And when He speaks in my name, those words I will require of you. That's just a powerful statement. It means this, God's Word will be required. I will put my words in His mouth, take note of this. If you come about that whoever will now listen to those words which that Prophet speaks in my name, I will require it of him.
A. He is the mediator between God and man
God will require it of every man, because He makes it clear in this word of prophecy that he who is to come will be the mediator between God and man, he is that mediator. We need a mediator. We need a mediator, he says, because no man can save himself.
God spoke a powerful word, Jesus is the fulfillment of that. 1 Timothy 2:5, "For there is one God, there's one mediator between God and them, the man Jesus Christ. He was eight-six, but now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.
When John the Baptist was in Israel baptizing for repentance, they came to him and he said, "Are you the one? Are you that Prophet spoken of in the book of Deuteronomy?" All they longed, they waited, they knew one day that prophet would come. John said, "I am not the one, but He who comes after me." Then later when John was arrested and knew it would end with his life, he sent messengers to Jesus wanting to hear just confirmation. "Are you the one?"
In Luke 7:22, Jesus answered and said to them, the messengers of John, "You go and report to John what you have seen and what you have heard. The blind see, the lame walk, leapers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. You go tell John that and he'll know the answer."
Remember when Jesus fed 5,000 with the five loaves and the two fish, it's in every gospel. One of the great miracles of the Lord, it says that afterward the crowd marveled. It says in John 6:14, when the people saw this sign, which He had performed, they said, this is truly that prophet who was to come into the world. He will be a mediator between God and man, because our sins have separated us from God, and no man can save himself. God doesn't save us. No man can be saved, but God sent His Son to seek and to save that which was lost. He is the way. He is the truth. He is the life. No man comes to the Father but by Him, Jesus said.
B. Write these words on your heart
Lastly, and I want us to really see the significance of this word. I will put my words in his mouth. He will speak in my name, and I will require those words of you. In other words, those words are so important. Write these words on your heart. Write these down but write them on your heart. Take hold of them, they will be required of you. It's like in Deuteronomy 11:18, where Moses said, you will impress these words on your heart. You will impress these words onto your soul, bind them as a sign in your hand, and as frontals on your forehead. How do you make a word permanent?
I remember when I was in Bible college, and I was in these classes. I'm amazed at this powerful truth, and I remember I had a favorite professor, Dr. David Needham. He's spoken here many times. I'm listening in his class. I'm saying to myself; this is good. This is power. This is truth. I need these words. So, what do you do? You're hearing them. That's good. You're hearing the words. They’re too important; I want more. You write them down; you write them on a notebook. That's not enough. Then it comes time for the test. I got flash cards. I'm memorizing them, I'm going to put him in my mind. No. They're more important than that.
It's one thing to have them in your mind. It's a whole another thing when you put them on your heart. Write them here, Lord. Write them on my heart. Let them be as treasures to my soul, because God will use them. God will use them. It says in the book of Luke 8:15, Jesus is teaching about the Word of God being sown like seed on ground soil. He said the seed and the good soil. These are the ones who have heard the word, but they've heard the word in an honest and good heart, and then they hold it fast. Hold on. I would give my words to this one. He will speak in my name, and I will require it of you. Write this down, hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.
Here is another. Proverbs 6:21-22. Listen to these words. Bind them continually on your heart. Tie them around your neck. When you walk about, they will guide you. When you sleep, they will watch over you. When you awake, they will talk to you. I love that verse. Ain't that good. That's the way to be transformed. Bind them on your heart, he says. Tie them on your neck. When you walk, they will guide your steps. When you sleep, they will watch over you. When you're awake, they'll talk to you. They'll guide your life.
When you hold His words in your heart, when you take them as treasures with the soul, they will be used of God to make you to a good man. They'll make you a good woman. When you hold His words, when you write them on your heart and take them as treasures for the soul, they will be used of God to make you into a good man or a good woman.
Psalm 119:9-11, how could a young man keep his way pure, or a young woman? How does that happen? He says by keeping it according to your word. Your word have I treasured in my heart, that I might not sin against you?
Jesus said in Luke 6:45, I love to quote this because it's so true today. The good man, out of the good treasure of his heart, will bring forth what's good, but the evil man, out of the evil treasure of his heart, will bring forth what is evil, for the mouth speaks from that which fills the heart. You hold this work, you write this on your heart, you hold it as treasure in your soul, God will use it to make you into a good man or a good woman. I'll put my words in his mouth. He'll speak in my name, and I'll require it. It's that important.
Father, thank you so much for your word. Thank you for sending it in power. God, we say to you today, write these truths on our hearts. We want to be transformed. We want to take them as treasures into the soul. Write them down. Write them on my heart, God. Imprint them deeply into my soul that I might say to you, may the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart, bless your name. May the deeds of the day and the truth of my ways speak of you, for this is what I'm glad to do. It's time to live a life of love that pleases you. Church, today, would you say that? Would you say that to the Lord's time?
I want to live my life in such a way that it pleases you. May the words of my mouth, may the meditation in my heart be pleasing in your sight, oh my Lord and my God. Write this on my heart. Its time. Its time to live a life that pleases you. Church, would you say that to the Lord? You want to live a life that pleases the Lord? Would you say to the Lord, write these on my soul? These words will be required, but these words will transform. Write these on my soul, I want to live a life that pleases you. You want to say that to the Lord, just raise your hand. Raise your hand in a powerful way. Say, God, I want to just say it. I want to live a life that pleases you. Write this down, write it on my soul.
Father, thank you for everyone with a desire after you, with a heart that longs for that kind of relationship where there is revival. You've given us a great word of warning, but you've given us a great promise. God, we want to take hold of such that transforms our lives. We give you thanks, we give you honoring glory in Jesus name, and everyone say, Amen and Amen. Let's give the Lord praise and glory and honor. Amen.