Deuteronomy 11:18-21, 26-28
My fellow believers,
How important do you think God’s Word is? Is it important until life gets in the way? Is it important until it interferes with your wants and desires? Is it important only to get a good grade? Is it important until you want to sleep in? Is it important until it interferes with your friendships, or your love interests, or your work schedule, or your sports activities? The value you set on God’s Word is the value you set on God himself.
That has been the trouble with people down through the ages. That was the trouble with the Israelites, and that is the trouble still today. If God does not take first place in our lives . . . if he is not the most important person in our lives . . . his Word won’t be either. That means we’ll avoid church; we won’t study God’s Word privately or publicly; and we won’t share God’s Word either. God can’t be just a figurehead or a symbol or a statue or an idea or a feeling. No, God is the Creator of all things and of everyone; God is the Savior of sinful mankind; God is giver of forgiveness and grace and faith and of eternal life in heaven. God is the giver of his holy Word.
The Israelites were about to enter the Promised Land – the land of Canaan. They were about to cross the River Jordan. Because of Moses disobedience, God was not going to allow Moses to go with them. So, before they crossed over, God commanded Moses to remind them of their history and all that the LORD had done for them, as well as restate the laws of God that they were to continue to obey as God’s chosen people. Part of their preparation included an accent . . . an emphasis on the importance of God’s Word. God really made it so simple: follow me and my Word and you will be blessed; do not follow me and my Word and you will be cursed.
In order to drive that home to them, God had Moses explain it more than once. Moses told the people to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength so they might continue to enjoy God’s blessings. Plus, God told Moses to tell the people to pass this truth on to their children: to love the LORD and to obey his Word. Through the inspired Word of God, we, too, have been given the loving command to make his Word the most important thing in our lives.
And what is this truth God wants us to believe? It is the truth that God loves the world so much that he sent God the Son to die for us so that our sins would be completely forgiven, and we would be saved. It is the truth that we have heaven by faith in Jesus Christ alone. It is the truth that God will protect and defend his faithful and give them all that they need while here on earth. It is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
So, what does God want us to do with his words of truth that reveal his loving, just and gracious heart? He wants us to FIX THEM in our hearts and souls and minds. These words of God are so important that they must be fastened – attached – permanently in us so nothing can rip it away from us.
He wants us to TIE THEM as symbols on our hands and BIND THEM on our foreheads (the Hebrew literally says “right between the eyes”). These words of God are so important that they must always be before us and be the reason for all we do. We are to keep the focus on God and his Word in every environment and situation we encounter.
He wants us to TEACH THEM to our children. These words of God are so important that they must be the core instruction for our children, so they grow up to be faithful servants of the one true God. Parents, you won’t have a formal classroom; everywhere you are with your children will be your classroom. So, while your are talking with them at home, instruct them; while you are out for a walk, or a drive, or even on vacation, instruct them; when you are tucking them into bed, instruct them; and when you are getting them up in the morning, instruct them. Make the most of every opportunity. Everything we can do to get God’s Word to stick helps them to remain faithful.
He wants us to WRITE THEM ON THE DOORFRAMES of our homes. These words of God are so important that they can be witnessed by others – not for show, but because Jesus lives in us and through us. Let’s make our homes places where God is number one so that people know Jesus lives there. Maybe people know that because we display pictures, crosses, and Bible verses. Better yet, they may know that because our faith spills out past the doorframes of our homes when we display a godly attitude, when we are polite and respectful, and when we are eager to help our neighbor. When we do this, we will be blessed with just the right number of blessings and with just the right amount of days to enjoy them.
What was sad is that the Israelites turned to making little boxes called phylacteries (or teffilin), which they wore on their foreheads and on their left arm [near the heart], and they had Bible passages placed inside the boxes – one of those passages is our text for today. And they would also place Bible passages on the doorframes of their homes (called a mezuzah). They took God’s words here literally. They forgot what God really meant . . . they forgot the deep importance of having God’s Word live inside of them and in their homes. When Jesus criticized the Pharisees for making their phylacteries wide and tassels on their prayer shawls and garment long, he exposed them for seeking only one thing . . . the honor and approval of the people around them, and not to honor and praise the one true God. It was all for show and for outward appearances. People look at the outward appearance and appearances can be deceiving. However, God looks on the heart; he looks deep into our souls. He wants us to be faithful to him and be dedicated to his Word. And he wants us to live what we believe.
GOD’S WORD IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING! Everything in this world is temporary; only God’s Word lasts forever. God’s Word reveals our God in all of his power and glory and love and justice. God’s Word reveals how God planned to save sinful mankind and did so by dying in our place. God’s Word reveals our victorious and living LORD who fills us with the ability to believe his Word and live his Word and share his Word. God’s Word is what we hunger for; what we thirst for; what we live for; and what we die for. That’s how important God’s Word is. Join me, dear Christians, in thanking and praising God for his holy and saving Word. Amen.