The Law of God is Good and Wise

September 2, 2018 – 15th Sunday After Pentecost

by Pastor Pete Scheele

Read Deuteronomy 4:1-10

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Grace and peace to you as you learn from God’s past about your future, from God, Our Father, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Please open your hymnal to hymn #579 and read along with me the first verse of this hymn we just sang, “The Law of God is Good and Wise.” ‘The Law of God is good and wise And sets His will before our eyes, Shows us the way of righteousness, And dooms to death when we transgress.’

Matthias Loy in 1863 wrote this Hymn for the joint Lutheran Hymnal of that time. At that time, Matthias Loy was serving as a pastor, a teacher, the president of the Theological Seminary of Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, the President of the Ohio Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the husband to Marie Ann Loy and the father of 7 children. Matthias Loy was the son of Matthias and Christina Loy, immigrants from Germany. Matthias’ up bring was poor, though his mother strived to share with him and her six other children as much as she could about their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ as a Lutheran.  At the age of eleven his mother died and at the age of fourteen he was sent to Harrisburg Pennsylvania to be an apprentice for the Baab and Hummel printers. Along with his job of being an apprentice printer he also was educated by the Harrisburg Academy and then was sent at the age of 18 to Circleville Ohio to be a printer and while there he attended Trinity Seminary in Columbus, Ohio graduating to be a Lutheran pastor in Delaware, Ohio at the age of 21. Though he had very little contact with a formal church until he was 14 years old, his mother brought him up on the law and gospel of the Bible. Rev. Matthias Loy wrote this hymn, as a reminder to himself, his congregation, his family and to all Lutherans, of just how importance it is to let the Law of God be the guiding force in our lives.

That’s the whole purpose for Moses calling the people of Israel together in the Jordan valley across the River from Jericho. The Israelites had been traveling for forty years with the guidance of God and Moses and this was the end of Moses life, as they prepared to enter the Promised Land. What would you want to say to your loved ones at the end of your life? Moses tells the people of Israel and us, “And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the rules that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you. You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you.” (Deu. 4:1-2)

So, what are the statutes and the rules that God has given to us?  Most of you are probably thinking the Ten Commandments and your right, but there is more to the words that Moses is using to identify the Ten Commandments than the usual meaning.  The word translated into English as ‘statutes’ refers to the Words of God, written in stone, which deal with how God has given us a perfect relationship with Him and how we can keep that relationship in our lives. The word translated into English as ‘rule’ refers to the Words of God that are given to us that deal with how God has given us a perfect relationship with one another and how we can keep that relationship in our lives. Oh it’s more than the Ten Commandments and yet it’s the two tablets that Moses received from God telling us about how we can have a perfect relationship with God and how we can have a perfect relationship with one another.  The first three Commandments talk about how we can have that perfect relationship with God, which is the start of all wisdom. The 4th through the 10th Commandments tell us about how we can have a perfect relationship with one another, which is the peace this world is looking for.  That perfect relationship with God is the start of the perfect relationship with one another, which is the perfect love, peace and joy that we all are hoping for in this world and for all eternity in the perfect world prepared for all believers in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

So, let’s go to page 321 in the front of our hymnal and read the first three Commandment together today as a reminder of how God’s statutes can give us that perfect relationship that we are all looking for with God and mankind as God work in our lives.

As the head of the family should teach them in a simple way to his household.

The First Commandment – You shall have no other gods.

What does this mean?  We should fear, love and trust in God above all things.

The Second Commandment – You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.

What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not curse, swear, use satanic arts, lie, or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks.

The Third Commandment – Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.

What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it.

When we read the Ten Commandments the first thing that it does in our lives is show us our sins as Matthias Loy explains in the second, third and fourth verses of hymn 579. This is what the Israelites saw and experienced when they reject the statutes and rules of God during their forty years of wandering in wilderness and that’s why Moses calls them together to remind them of the importance of God’s law in their lives.  Matthias Loy reminds us of the importance of the guidance of the Ten Commandments as he says, “Its light of holiness imparts The knowledge of our sinful hearts That we may see our lost estate And seek escape before too late.” “To those who help in Christ have found And would in works of love abound It show what deeds are His delight And should be done as good and right.” “But those who scornfully disdain God’s law shall then in sin remain; Its terror in their ear resounds And keeps their wickedness in bounds.

Moses tells the people of Israel, “See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’” (Deu. 4:5-6)

The world that we live in today complains about the shootings going on, the horrible way people are treating one another and the loss of morality, but they don’t want to acknowledge that God imparts to us by His Ten Commandments as the guide that leads us away from these horrible things in life to His love. Why are there more suicides, shooting, broken marriages and depression going on in our world?  Because the Ten Commandments are disdain and shut out of our lives and thus wickedness abounds.

The world hasn’t changed from the time of Moses or even a hundred years ago, when Matthias Loy was trying to instruct the people of his time. Those who let the light of God’s love, peace and joy shine in their lives will show God’s love to the world by striving to do what the Ten Commandments show is good and right instead of the foolishness of the world. As we strive to live by God’s statutes and rules we to showing the world how close they can be to the God who not only created us all but redeemed us all by sending His Only Son, Jesus Christ into our world to save us from our sins and the eternal death that we deserve.

Oh, it’s not the Ten Commandment that bring us to the love, peace and joy of God, but it enable us to see our need for a savior who would fulfill all that we cannot do in our lives and makes us ready for the day when our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ will come again to take us to our Heavenly Home with Him.  Matthias Loy explains it this way in the 5th and 6th verses of hymn 579, “The Law is good; but since the fall Its holiness condemns us all; It dooms us for our sin to die and has no power to justify.” “To Jesus we for refuge flee, Who from the curse has set us free, And humbly worship at His throne, Saved by His grace through faith alone.

Moses knew the nature of all humans and so He warns the People of Israel as they prepare to get ready to enter the Promised Land, “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children.” (Deu. 4:9)

Teach and learn, those are the tasks that we are encourage to do today just as they were the tasks in the time of Moses, in the time of Jesus and a hundred years ago, in the time of Matthias Loy. If we don’t teach our children, how will they know there is a God who wants to give them His love, peace and joy that is beyond this world?  If we don’t learn from the sins of others and our own in the past how will we stop from falling into the same deadly traps again?  God has given us His Word and gives us men and women to teach us His statutes and rules so that we can remain in the relationship that He has given to us by His Love, grace and mercy for us.  Now it is our time to take care and keep our souls diligent lest we forget all that God has done for us through His Only Son, Jesus Christ to bring us back into the love, peace and joy that He wants us all to have now and for all eternity. Teach, learn and share the Good News of God’s Love, peace and joy and show the world what is good and right by living your life by God’s statues and rules in the midst of our world to show God’s love, peace and joy given to all the world.  Amen.