On Sunday we began a series reexamining the 10 Commandments in modern culture. In order to begin that series, we had a discussion on Exodus 20:2. Before God ever established His rules to live by, He established Himself. He was the One who had delivered them from bondage, He was God, and He was the covenantal God (the “LORD”). I concluded the morning message by saying, “Before we talk about morality, we have to talk about covenant. If you aren’t in a covenant relationship with God first, then the rest of it will profit you little.” I want to take that thought up for a moment…

 In Deuteronomy 4, we are given a few more insights into the conversations between Moses and the people. Two verses have spoken to me this week (verses 7 & 8), “For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?”

Moses was speaking to the people about God’s law, but did you notice where he began? He first asked the rhetorical question, “For what great nation is there that has a god so near?…” Of all the nations of the earth, Israel was not great at this point in time. Estimates range from 2 million to 3.5 million people leaving Egypt. That’s a lot of people, no doubt about it! But when compared to the superpowers or great nations of the world at the time, they were not great…

 But Moses said the people had something no one else had…they had a God who was near. In other words, it mattered little that other nations were great, powerful, numbered, strong, militarily dominant, etc, etc…Moses said the people had something the others did not…a God who was near. The result of that was verse 8, that the nation had great and righteous laws. The two statements should be taken together. If God is perfectly righteous and hates sin, then He cannot be around that which is against His nature and character. So…God was near, Moses said, and His expectation was that the people would keep a clean house so He would inhabit them always. If I were to make a New Testament application, I would speak on not grieving the Holy Spirit. He inhabits us and will not leave us, He will finish the work in us and save us for the day of redemption, but God’s expectation is that we are not to grieve Him by bringing His presence into the company of that which is against His very nature…

Maybe it’s just a few ramblings from a pastor who struggles like everyone else to live at all times under the rule of God…but it made me think this week, “who else has a God so near?” Islam does not offer such a god…Hinduism offers a god everywhere except in us…Buddhism looks for our own inward divinity…atheism offers no supernatural support at all. Only the Christian religion offers a God who is near and ever present. But if God is so near (and we lived as though it were true)…isn’t it only logical that we would not subject Him to that which is against His character?

Illustration thought…I hate onions. I hate the way they smell, look, make me cry, and generally all things considered onion! I’m a bit of a hypocrite because I like onion rings…but let’s deal with one sin at a time, shall we. Kellie loves onions. She would put them in her desserts if she thought she could get away with it! Early in our marriage we reached a crossroads…she was secretly trying to slip small amounts of onion into my favorite dishes…only problem was that I would ALWAYS find them – you can’t fool my taste buds or nose! I hit the lottery when I married my beautiful bride. After 11 years of marriage, she still sacrifices putting onions in the food until it is prepared and my portion has been laid out (with a few exceptions when she tries to fool me). Do you know why she does that? For some inexplicable reason, she loves me and my craziness.

So I ask, “If I love God, why would I subject Him to onions?”…you get the point. He’s with me all the time. With a God so near, why would I subject Him to things which are against His nature and character…just some food (onions) for thought.

 Held by Grace, Pastor Chris