The Eighth Sunday after Pentecost (A)
“Because the Lord Loves You”
August 2, 2017
Sermon Text: Deuteronomy 7:6-9
Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Dearly Beloved of the Lord,
In the verses just before our Old Testament text recorded in Deuteronomy, chapter 7, the Lord our God, through His servant Moses, prepares the Israelites for their entry into the promised land.
And He could not be more explicit about how they are to live… and especially in regard to mixing and mingling with pagan people and pagan nations… with those devoted to worshiping false gods… with those who do that which is an abomination to the one true God.
We read, “You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly. But thus shall you deal with them: you shall break down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars and chop down their Asherim and burn their carved images with fire. (Deuteronomy 7:3-5)
Well then. That’s pretty clear… pretty serious… VERY serious in fact… which we, dear brothers and sisters, would do well to carefully consider and make proper application to our own lives. Why? Because the danger is still there… here… incredibly prevalent and all too real in our day and age.
What is more, many in our midst are courting danger by what they do, what they allow and are willingly exposed to… they and their children and their children’s children.
Satan is loving it as he tightens his grip and grasp on more and more people. Some have no idea of it… are ignorant of it because they are ignorant of God’s Word. Others know it. They know it is wrong, but continue down this perilous path anyway.
The danger, my friends… for us… for our sons and daughters and other loved ones… is to be led astray… to be led away… to be, as the Lord God here states, “turned away” from following Him “to serve other gods.” Be it the god of self and selfishness… the god of worldly spirituality that sometimes mimics Christianity but couldn’t be farther from it… the god of money… the god of possessions… the god of work… the god of sports and other activities, other human endeavors that seem so important now, but will mean nothing in the end… when all is said and done.
How many people will, looking back on their lives, lament over so much wasted time, wasted focus, wasted energy and effort. All for naught. All for nothing… certainly nothing lasting… nothing of value and importance in the sight of God, which is all that matters.
One of the greatest lies and deceptions that Satan puts out there is that you and I can balance a worldly life, being fully engaged, part and parcel with it… and one’s life in Christ. Satan promotes a “both/and” approach which sounds great… having the “best of both worlds” if you will. But it isn’t possible and he knows it. He knows the reality of it all. He knows God’s Word. He knows the truth that it is for us and all people an “either/or.” You can either go the way of the world or the way of Christ, but not both. The question is, do we know it?
Sadly, many do not and the list of casualties continues to mount… to grow… those who, little by little, have distanced themselves. They have grown closer to the world and farther away from the Lord to where unbeknownst to them (or in some cases, they know fully well) that they now stand outside of God’s Word… outside of God’s will… outside of and apart from God’s faithful people… His Church, which is Christ’s holy Body.
His holy Body of which we are part and parcel along with all of the saints here on earth and those residing in heaven… all who have been baptized and made holy through the washing of regeneration… all who remain steadfast in the one true Christian faith.
Don’t you just love the very first verse in our text? “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God.” (Deuteronomy 7:6) If you think that in some way this refers to you and me and the fact that we are special… that we are in a great situation… the greatest situation having the greatest gift and treasure… you would be correct… right on the mark.
As this referred to the people of Israel then, so it refers to all of us now, we who are the “new Israel” beloved of the Lord, chosen by the Lord to be His own special people.
“You are a people holy to the Lord your God.” The Hebrew word for “holy” that is used here is “qadowsh” קָדוֹשׁ . It refers to that which is of God, sacred and holy… that which is “set apart” … separated and separate from that which is unholy and unclean.
And such wonderfully became the case, as I said, when we came under the baptismal water where the Lord God Almighty, King of the Universe, claimed and named us as His own… where He declared that we are no longer of Satan, but of Him, sacred and holy… set apart… separated and separate from that which is unholy and unclean… separated and separate from the world and its ways.
Wow. The next time you find yourself feeling down… feeling that you are nothing, mean nothing, worth nothing… remind yourself of all of this. Remind yourself how special you are, precious and holy in the sight of the Lord.
St. Peter said it best as He reminds us and all God’s children saying, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9-10)
And truth be told, there is in all of us the Old Adam at work where to either a small or large degree, we feel that this is as it should be… that yes, of course, God has chosen me, saved me, gives me all that I possess now in time and infinitely more in heaven.
This fits right into the amazing sense of “entitlement” that is running rampant in our world and society today. The constant mantra of the world being, “I deserve” or “I have a right to” or “this or that is owed to me and I expect the same.”
My friends, Moses wonderfully declares, “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God” going on to tell them that they were chosen “to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth” and then immediately shares with them and us some sobering words, necessary words and facts that puts all of this into context.
It is sobering because we are reminded that our being chosen, selected, set apart has nothing to do with us and everything to do with Him… with God!
We read, “It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples.” (Deuteronomy 7:7)
You were the “least” of all peoples in regard to whom God could have chosen. And this still fully applies now… today… to us… all of us. But He has likewise nevertheless wonderfully, mercifully and graciously chosen us… picked us… claimed us as His own!
Why? Why us? We poor miserable sinners. The answer is right here in our text. Seven words that make up one amazing fact… one amazing and immutable truth. We read, “It is because the Lord loves you.” (Deuteronomy 7:8)
It is because the Lord loves YOU. As He loved our forefathers, so He loves us… bringing us, redeeming us out of the house of slavery… out of the clutches of sin, death and the devil.
So undeserved, but so ours… redemption, forgiveness, freedom, life and salvation.
So undeserved, but so ours… the title of God’s people, His chosen sons and daughters and heirs of His heavenly kingdom which knows no end.
All because… only because… God loves us… and this in Christ Jesus who in perfect love took our place on the cross…
… who in perfect love felt the punished and full fury of God’s righteous wrath due us…
… who in perfect love payed the full penalty for our sins and that of all mankind.
So rejoice, dear brothers and sisters, you who are most certainly “qadowsh” קָדוֹשׁ – holy and precious in the sight of the Lord. Remind yourselves again and again of this marvelous fact. And say to yourselves again and again, proclaim again and again the reason why, “Because the Lord loves me!” Amen.
May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, unto life everlasting. Amen.
“Because the Lord Love You” 8/3/17 The Rev. Mark H. Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL