How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand…
—Psalm 139:17, 18
It's All About Motives
Reading: 2 John
I suppose I could be accused of seeing the Ten Commandments everywhere I look these days. That’s the natural outcome of preparations for the series that I am teaching beginning in January. But honest, I saw them again as I was reading 2 John this morning.
Traditionally, we see our relationship to God in the first four commandments:
·No other gods
·No misuse of God’s name
·Honouring the Lord’s Day.
We consider that the last six of the Ten Commandments have to do with our relationship with others:
·Honour your parents
·Don’t commit adultery
Keeping the rules turns into legalism if the proper motivation for keeping those rules is not in place and John, who seemed to turn from crusty, fire-breathing fisherman to the apostle of love after his encounter with Jesus, addresses the motivation factor which turns the potential for legalism into Christ-honouring lifestyle.
“…I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love” (2 John 5b, 6, NIV).
When we look at these verses and compare what John is saying to what God handed down to Moses, we can see the vertical and horizontal connections between the two. Vertically, we show our love to God and honour the first four commands by walking in obedience and giving God the respect that He deserves. Horizontally, we honour the last six by walking in love. We do nothing that would harm our neighbor.
The motivation makes all the difference in the world.
Matthew 24 ends with some pointed advice from the Lord about being watchful. This last “sermon” of His, called the Olivet Discourse, covers some details about the future of Jerusalem and information on Christ’s return to earth, which we call the Second Coming.
The message on being watchful is based on His caution to His followers that no one knows when all this is going to happen and because of that, they need to live as though it could happen at any moment.
“Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come...you also must be ready because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Matthew 24:42, 44).
Jesus gives the illustration of two women grinding grain and two men working in the fields. One will be suddenly taken and the other left. He also says that life will be going on as normal when the Lord returns. No one will be standing on a mountaintop dressed in white with one eye raised to heaven and the other on a watch counting down t…
What might have happened if…? “As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset” (Exodus 17:11-13, NIV). What might have happened if Moses, as leader, hadn’t bothered to go up on that hill to intercede for Joshua and the troops who were facing the army of the Amalekites? What might have happened if Aaron and Hur had not been with Moses to help him continue to intercede through a long, tiring day? It’s not such a leap, in fact no leap at all, to equate this story to the church today. As we lose the battle for holiness, for victory over the world that has invaded the church, we can ask ourselves who’s interceding on behalf of that church? Leaders? Laymen? Moses talked to the Lord privately a lot. He is described as Go…
I’m no mind-reader, but I suspect that Moses got what he most wanted. I suspect that if he hadn’t wanted this more than anything else in life, God would not have responded to him as He did.
Exodus 33:11 tells us that, “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.”
God, who sees the heart (and reads the mind), knew what Moses wanted. He knew that beyond the want was the commitment on Moses’ part, to be all that God asked, to do all that God required. The result was the most intimate description of a relationship between God and man that we have in Scripture.
It doesn’t get any better than that. It isn’t that Moses proclaimed high and low, “I’m God’s friend!” His statement would not have necessarily made it so. What proved the truth of the statement was what happened just a bit later and is recorded for us in Exodus 34:29-35. After Moses had been with the Lord he would return to the camp of the Israelites. The Sc…