Worshiping God – Deuteronomy 13:1-5

Worship God And No One Nor Anything Else

1 If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder, 2 and if the sign or wonder spoken of takes place, and the prophet says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,” 3 you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. 5 That prophet or dreamer must be put to death for inciting rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. That prophet or dreamer tried to turn you from the way the Lord your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you.

False Foreknowledge

Not every sign and wonder comes from God.  In the time of the end, Satan will try to deceive with false signs and wonders.  It should not surprise us to know that Satan tries to copy what God does in order to try to get people to worship him.  God specifically tells us that He allows this in order to test us.

Troubling Test

It is troubling to think that God would allow false signs and wonders to appear, for we associate these things with the working of the Lord God Almighty.  But God wants to show us where we are.  He already knows the condition of our hearts, but we often don’t know because we are busy, or compromised in some way.  Think about poor Aaron just after Moses had gone up the mountain to speak with God.  The people demanded that he create a God for them that they could worship.  Moses had been gone for so long (a month can seem like an eternity…), they thought he was dead.  Aaron capitulated, and made them the golden calf.

God tests us in many ways.  He allows difficult circumstances to occur in our lives so that we will make a choice – hold fast to what God has said, or react to the pressures around us and do what is expedient.  We may fail these tests, but we must constantly strive to hold fast to the word of the living God.

Chase Christ

God tells us that we must follow Him and not other Gods.  Only the Lord God Almighty is worthy of our praise.  Satan seeks this worship for himself, and will do anything that God permits him to do to try to convince us to either worship him or someone/something other than God.  We must be vigilant in this, because we were created to worship, and we will worship someone or something.

Obedience to God is crucial to the life of the disciple of Christ.  Without obedience, we will be easily caught up on sin and have our lives, careers, and reputations harmed by the pitfalls that Satan plans for us to encounter.  It is bad enough to be persecuted for following Christ in faith.  It is far worse when those who are respected and looked up to fall from public trust due to moral failure.

Sovereign Sentence

God does not take kindly to those who claim to speak for Him and do not.  God has authorized and issued the sentence for all who would dare invoke His name without His permission.  They are to be put to death.  While this may seem harsh, it is a just penalty for trying to lead others down a path of unrighteousness.  Jesus declared,

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

Exterminate Evil

It is only through obedience that we are able to exterminate evil from our presence.  We must say no to sin and temptation in order to overcome.  Otherwise, we will become victims of the snares that have been placed before us.  If we allow evil in our midst – to permit the active participation of people who claim to be disciples of Christ (colloquially but only anecdotally now called Christians) within the church, we will allow leaven into the dough.  And once leaven enters the dough, it will leaven the whole lump.  The Corinthian church did this, and tolerated an evil that even those who did not know Christ would not tolerate – incest.

Without holiness, it will be impossible to see God.  Evil must be removed from our presence.  We need to retrain our desires using the word of God so that we will desire righteousness instead.  Evil cannot be tolerated.  God will not allow it.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do I permit evil to live and thrive in my life?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are holy, holy, holy.  You cannot tolerate evil, and have repeatedly told us in Your holy word to rid ourselves of it.  Sin crouches at our door and seeks to devour us.  Keep me safe today, and help me to avoid the pitfalls and traps that have been placed before me.  Rescue me when my adversaries seek to box me in to finish me off.  Help me to overcome all of the attacks and pull of sin and evil that I may follow You in righteousness and holiness.  Give me the wisdom and discernment to recognize when others are trying to lead me away from You to follow false gods.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

The Fear of God – Deuteronomy 10:12-13

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge

12 And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?

Fear Factor

We have all heard the expression, “That’ll put the fear of God into him!”  But what exactly is the Biblical meaning of “the fear of God”?

  • Is is an aversion of a “proverbial old, angry, bearded, white-robed man in the sky with his finger expectantly hovering above a smite button, waiting for the least opportunity to press it”?
  • Is it an anticipatory dread of the eternal forthcoming sentence as punishment for sins?
  • Or is it something else?

The Case of Character

In order to answer that question, we must first look at the character of God the Father:

  • Jonah, angry that He was sent to preach repentance to the Ninevites, had this to say about God:
  • He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.

  • In Lamentations 3:22-23, it is very likely that the prophet Jeremiah wrote the following:
  • 22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
        his mercies never come to an end;
    23 they are new every morning;
        great is your faithfulness

  • John the Apostle wrote the following:
  • Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

It is clear, just from the three accounts above, that God is not waiting in heaven with His finger over the smite button just waiting for us to make a mistake – that is the devil’s lie, looking for any reason to try to deceive us and bring condemnation upon us.  And while there is a coming judgement where all whose names are not found in the Book of Life will judged and sent to the lake of fire, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ.  The Apostle John also says there is no fear in love.  So this “fear” must be something else.

Reverence Revealed

There is a big difference between abject fear (terror – Greek phobon – we get our word “phobia” from it) and reverential fear.  Abject fear is an emotional response to a life-threatenting or pain-anticipatory situation.  However, when referring to “the fear of the Lord”, it is a different type of emotional response.  The “fear of the Lord” is a reverential trust and understanding that not only is God a Just Judge and will punish all evil, for He is Holy; but God is also Love, full of compassion, mercy and grace for those He created.  It is this synergy of both aspects of God’s character that permit us to see that He is not some towering ogre waiting to destroy us but rather a loving Father who righteously disciplines us so that we will not have to face His punishment (the white throne seat of judgement).  The love component of His character allows us to reverentially fear Him in love, where there is no emotional phobon of punishment.

The Qualifying Question

So let’s ask the question:  Are we motivated by God’s love to reverentially trust God, or are we motivated by the perceived threat of punishment for doing evil?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You reveal Your love to us through your mercy and compassion in that You sent Your One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins.  Remove any fear in my heart, Lord God, of punishment, and help me to reverentially trust You in Your steadfast love, mercy and grace.  Strengthen me when I am weak.  Guard my heart against all unrighteousness, and help me to come to You as a child in wonder and awe.  Forgive me of my sins, and give me clean hands and a pure heart, that I may worship you in exceeding joy.  Help me to recognize the warped viewpoint of the world, the flesh, and the devil, that I would not be deceived.  Blessed be Your name in all the universe!  May all creation rejoice in Your character!  Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?