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Deut 14_1-22 A people holy to the Lord

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A people holy to the Lord

His treasured possession

21-05-06pm

Announcements

Call to worship

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)

Blessing

Grace to you from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.

Prayer Confession of sins

Loving heavenly Father,

David in Psalm 130 speaks of your mercy. He said, “If You, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?  But with You there is forgiveness; therefore You are feared.”

You don’t keep a record of sins, but it doesn’t mean that we do not need to acknowledge and confess our sins and sinfulness. Your Word states that “if we confess our sins, You are faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  Furthermore, if we claim we have not sinned, we make You out to be a liar and your word has no place in our lives. You knew that value in teaching your disciples to daily pray, “Forgive us our trespasses, even as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

In our heart we feel the pain of disappointing You, sinning against You and grieving the Holy Spirit.  We admit that we have sinned, not in the first instance because we feel bad about it; this is what your Spirit convinces us of. Our old nature makes us your enemies, alienating us from You and bring shame to your Name.

We pray for the sanctifying work of your Spirit in our lives; and we plead that the blood of Jesus Christ, your dear Son and our Saviour, will wash us clean from all unrighteousness.

With You there is forgiveness; therefore You are feared.  We praise, thank and glorify You for your loving-kindness, mercy and grace.  Instil in us a holy fear and awe for You and help us to have victory over sin as You give to us the righteousness of Jesus Christ, who paid the price as the last sacrifice and High Priest, satisfying your demand to atone for sins.  Hear our prayer.  Amen.

Declaration of pardoning

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.
If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken. (Isaiah 1:18-20)

Hymn No 385:                            “What shall I do my God to love?”

Prayer of Adoration and Invocation

Hymn No 96:                               “God we praise You” (Tune 24)

Prayer for others

Scripture Reading                     1Peter 1:13-2:3

Offering and Dedication

All remaining seated sing:

Hymn no 364:                              “Almighty God of all created things”

Scripture Reading                     Deuteronomy 14:1-21

Sermon                                          “A People holy to the Lord”

Introduction

My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,

The declaration of the Lord in verse 1 of Deut 14 is profound:  “You are the children of the Lord your God.” Moses addressed the Israelites as they are about to enter the Promised Land.  He did not ask them, “Are you children of God?”; he made a statement and then he provided the reason for what he had stated: “Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the Lord has chosen you be his treasured possession.”  And then right in the middle between these statements he states the position of God’s people and God’s purpose with his people in this world:  “You are a people holy to the Lord your God.”

The rest of this paragraph of chapter 14:1-21 describes the way in which they had to display their relationship with the Lord as his holy people in the way they live in the land God would give them.

You are the children of God

Of course, in the immediate sense of the word, God addressed the Israelites by declaring “You are the children of God”.  ; In the immediate sense of the word they were chosen by God to be his treasured people.  They were living under the covenantal promises of Abraham.  They were the nation rescued from Egypt and they were the ones who would now enter into the Promised Land which God had promised to their forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Surrounding them were the heathen nations of which we read some months ago in the article prepared by Kwangho in our monthly magazine.  There were the seven nations which God wanted Israel to dispossess:  Canaanites, Jebusites, Amorites, Girgashites, Hivites, Hittites, Perizzites; but there were also the surrounding nations like the Moabites and the Ammonites.

It was God’s purpose with his people ; to live differently from all these nations.  Because He called them and blessed them above all the nations on the face of the earth, made a covenant with them, gave them his Law of the Covenant, and gave them a land to live in, He wanted them to live lives holy unto Him.  This means that their lives and conduct would be determined by God’s standards; they were in no way to be trapped into the detestable religious practices of the any of the nations which they had to drive from the land.

They were God’s Old Testament Church. They had the calling to be priests of the Lord and witnesses of the holiness of God.  ; As such they would be instruments in the hands of God to draw the heathen nations unto the Lord. 

In her bosom Israel would carry the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ, and in Him God would continue his church to become the universal church, a church not defined by national heritage or bloodline, but by faith in the Messiah who would become the Passover Lamb of God, the light of God to the nations and the Doorway to God. It was therefore not meant for Israel to forever be the chosen nation of God.  They would be the channel through which God build his universal church in and through Jesus Christ. 

Those whom God calls to Himself from all eternity in Jesus Christ are members of this church.  The New Testament is a continuation of the church of the Old Testament.  Old Israel now became New Israel and both have the covenantal father Abraham and become children of God through Jesus Christ.

This means that what verse 2 of Deuteronomy says about Israel is now applicable to the church today, but then as understood through the salvation of Jesus Christ.  This verse reads:

“… you are a people holy to the Lord your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the Lord has chosen you to be his treasured possession. (Deuteronomy 14:2)

1Peter 2:9 puts it this way:

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)

His treasured possession

The word used here in verse 2 means personal property and is also used to describe the ; transfer of ownership after a certain price is paid.  In Psalm 135:4 the Lord declares:

For the Lord has chosen Jacob to be his own, Israel to be his treasured possession. (Psalm 135:4)

When some of God’s people in the Old Testament in the time of Malachi doubted God’s faithfulness, other rested in the fact that God paid the price to make Israel his own.  Listen:

Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name. “They will be mine,” says the Lord Almighty, “in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him. (Malachi 3:16-17)

To be God’s treasured possession is to ; enjoy the protection, grace and compassion of the Lord. The New Testament passage for tonight reads:

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. (1 Peter 1:18-19, 21)

The apostle Paul puts it this way:

“… we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (Titus 2:13-14)

God bought his church, both Old and New Testament, with the blood of his dear Son Jesus Christ.  He marked us to be his own with the blood of his Son and He poured out his Holy Spirit upon us.  Hear the Word of God:

“…those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if [because] we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (Romans 8:14-17)

This is the gospel we preach.

A people holy to the Lord

In the beginning I remarked that Moses did not ask the people “Are you the children of God?”; he stated it.  The proof if they were children of God lies in the next statement:  “You are a people holy to the Lord”. This statement separates the sheep from the goats.  It is one thing to say you are a child of God; it is another to live like one. We see it also in our day.  Many so-called Christians show their true colours the moment the Bible talks about walking the walk and talking the talk.

God regarded Israel as something special among the nations; therefore they had to conduct themselves as something special among the nations. They were after all in a covenant relationship with God.  In the paragraph of Deuteronomy 14:1-21 the holiness of the people of God is defined by the fact that they are called to display different lifestyles from the people around them.

God’s people and burial practices

It was a common practice of idolaters, both on occasions of their worship (1Ki 18:28), and at funerals ; to make horrifying incisions on their faces and other parts of their persons with their finger nails or sharp instruments. To make a large bare space between the eyebrows was another heathen custom in honour of the dead. The people of God had to avoid such improper and degrading usages, because it was extravagant and unnatural expressions of ; hopeless sorrow and inconsistent with being the people of God.

Among Christians today, there is something wrong if our burial customs are just as the rituals of the ungodly; Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 4:13: “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.” We, who have eternal hope in Jesus, should be different, which means holy.

God’s people and their diet

It was important to bleed animals before eating them, because the blood represented the life principle of the animal, and the life principle belonged to God and God alone. Another reason for the dietary laws was to project an important symbolism to Israel regarding blood and the sanctity of the life principle.

Only certain mammals were allowed to be eaten, and the rule was simple. If an animal had a divided hoof (not a single hoof as a horse has), and chewed its cud, it could be eaten. ; Predators could not be eaten, because they live off animals which died without the letting of blood.

Only certain sea creatures could be eaten, and the rule was simple. Any water creature having both fins and scales was kosher and could be eaten. This excluded catfish and shellfish which were considered ; scavengers of the sea.

Only certain birds could be eaten:  not vultures and the like because they were the scavengers of the air, they live off animals which died without the letting of blood.

Of course, ultimately, God’s people had to do as God commanded even if the commands did not really make sense to them.  Point is, they were do live lives different from the nations surrounding them.  These were statements of separation from the nations, and prevented Israel from having ; easy fellowship (sitting down at a common meal) with Gentiles.

Do these prohibitions on certain foods still apply to the church today? No!  The only condition we find in the New Testament regarding food is found in Acts 15:29:

You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals … (Acts 15:29)

But once again, the principle behind these dietary laws remains:  Christians are different and holy, a people of God, and therefore in whatever they do they should display a lifestyle pleasing to God.

The New Testament principle here is the same as that of the Old.  Listen to 1 Peter 1:

As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. (1 Peter 1:14-17)

Live your lives as strangers in reverent fear.  This verse talks about our heavenly citizenship, but it also has implications for our living now on earth:  we are strangers, and here we cannot conform to worldliness.

We have referred to the apostle Paul in Titus 2.  Let’s go back to that verse:

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, (Titus 2:11-13)

We are called to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives. Can you see the connection between this verse and Deuteronomy 14:1-3?

Let’s see what the other paragraph we referred to earlier is saying. Let’s turn to Romans 8:

Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live… (Romans 8:12-13)

Conclusion

Someone said:  Worldliness is what any particular culture does to make sin look normal and righteousness look strange.

When the apostle Paul wrote to Philippian Christians saying “our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil 3:20) he was calling Christians to be citizens of a heavenly commonwealth and to strife against the human tendency to make a home on foreign soil by imitating the customs of the homeland. The difference is simply that no matter how courageous and inventive our efforts, we Christians must never forget that this world is not our home. There is a sense of alienation that must be taken into the heart of all experiences. Adaptation may be second nature, but it can also be the death of our first nature—that created in the image of God and then re-created by the grace of God in Christ.

Let’s once again listen to the verse from Deuteronomy 14: 

You are the children of the Lord your God … for you are a people holy to the Lord your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the Lord has chosen you to be his treasured possession. (Deuteronomy 14:1-3)

AMEN.

Prayer

Hymn no 296:                              “Church of God, elect and glorious” (Tune 553)

Benediction

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)

Threefold “Amen”

Hymn no 637

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