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Deuteronomy 5:1-6 1
1 Moses summoned all Israel and said: Hear, Israel, the decrees and laws I declare in your hearing today. Learn them and be sure to follow them. 2 The Lord our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. 3 It was not with our ancestors that the Lord made this covenant, but with us, with all of us who are alive here today. 4 The Lord spoke to you face to face out of the fire on the mountain. 5 (At that time I stood between the Lord and you to declare to you the word of the Lord, because you were afraid of the fire and did not go up the mountain.) And he said: 6 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

10commandmentsBackground 2

The Book of Deuteronomy means “second law or spoken words” and is the fifth book of the Hebrew Bible, and of the Jewish Torah. The book consists of three sermons or speeches delivered to the Israelites by Moses on the plains of Moab, shortly before they enter the Promised Land. The first sermon recapitulates the forty years of wilderness wanderings which have led to this moment, and ends with an exhortation to observe the law (or teachings), later referred to as the Law of Moses; the second reminds the Israelites of the need for exclusive allegiance to one God and observance of the laws (or teachings) he has given them, on which their possession of the land depends; and the third offers the comfort that even should Israel prove unfaithful and so lose the land, with repentance all can be restored.

One of its most significant verses is Deuteronomy 6:4, the Shema, which has become the definitive statement of Jewish identity: “Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one.” Verses 6:4–5 were also quoted by Jesus in Mark 12:28–34 as part of the Great Commandment.

Biblical Truth 3

Here, Moses summons the assembly of his people. He called all Israel; not only the elders, but, it is likely, as many of the people that could come within hearing his voice directly. None of them were above God’s command, or the meanest and toughest of them below God’s jurisdiction. They were all bound to follow God’s commands. God demands attention. We are to hear and heed, hear and remember, hear, so we may learn, and then retain God’s commands. Otherwise, hearing God has no purpose. When we hear the word of God we must set about to learn it, so that we may have God’s Word ready for any occasion. What we have learned, we must also put into practice because the purpose of hearing is learning, not to fill our heads with ideas, or our mouths with talk. We are to correct and direct our affections and conversations toward God.

Moses refers to the covenant made with them in Horeb as that which they must govern themselves by. See the wonderful free gift of divine grace that turned God’s command into a covenant. The gift that binds our consent to obey God’s commands with God’s promises to us. Observe, the parties to this covenant. God made it, not with our fathers, not with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. To our fathers, God gave the covenant of circumcision but did not give the Ten Commandments. The light of divine revelation grew gradually, and the children were made to know more of God’s mind than their fathers had done.

The covenant was made with us, or our immediate parents that represented us, before Mount Sinai. God made this covenant visible to us Himself. He talked with the people face to face; word to word. God did not use dark visions, as He did to the fathers (Job 4:12, 13), but openly and clearly, and so that all the thousands of Israel might hear and understand. He spoke to them, and then received their answer. The covenant was created face to face. The mediator of the covenant: Moses stood between God and them, at the foot of the mount (Deut. 5:5), and carried messages between them both.

Here, Moses was acting as a type of Christ, who stands between God and man, to show us the word of the Lord, a blessed days-man, which has laid his hand upon us, so that we may hear from God and speak to Him without fear. The verses that follow begin the repetition of the Ten Commandments. Though they had been spoken before, and written, they are again line by line, repeated so that we can keep the word of God in our minds and preserve and renew its impact upon us.

Items for Discussion

  • God seems to be spoon-feeding the Israelites their rules for living generation by generation. Why would this be an effective way of teaching God’s people a new way of life?
  • Why is face to face communications so much more effective than just reading something?
  • What impact do you think modern day technology like the Internet, Email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. have on the task of teaching people? What is good and what is bad about it?
  • Where in modern day society do we still use intermediaries and why is this still being done?
  • Why do you think that the “Ten Commandments” generate such adverse reactions when our government references them? Aren’t they just logical and desirable behavior between people?
  • If society does not use the Ten Commandments, what other guidelines, teachings would bring about suitable behavior?

1 Corinthians 13
1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Background

It is ironic that the Bible’s premier verses on love would come from a letter written to the people of Corinth. Corinth was a wealthy trade city and known for its twelve pagan churches, the most infamous being Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of sex and love. At this temple, one thousand prostitutes pursued their trade and gave the money into the temple treasury. This was the way that Aphrodite was worshipped. The people of Corinth were so well known for their sins that it was considered an insult to call someone “a Corinthian.”

The letter was written from Ephesus (16:8), a city on the west coast of today’s Turkey, about 180 miles by sea from Corinth. According to Acts of the Apostles, Paul founded the church in Corinth (Acts 18:1–17), then spent approximately three years in Ephesus (Acts 19:8, 19:10, 20:31). The letter was written during this time in Ephesus, which is usually dated as being in the range of 53 to 57 AD. In chapter 13 the apostle Paul goes on to show more particularly a better way to live, through a new definition of love. Paul recommends it by showing the necessity and importance of this new love, (1 Cor. 13:1-3), by giving a description of this new love’s properties and fruits (1 Cor. 13:4-7), and by showing how much this new love excels the best of gifts and other graces. He does this by reminding us of the real love’s lasting qualities (1 Cor. 13:8-13).

Biblical Truth

Here is a summary of the chapter:

  • There are many gifts that people can have, but the greatest gift of all will be the ability to love.
  • Some people might be able to predict the future and even understand all the mysteries of the world. However, if there is no love in their heart, then something is missing.
  • Love is patient
  • Love is kind
  • Love does not envy
  • Love does not boast
  • Love is not proud
  • Love does not dishonor others
  • Love is not self-seeking
  • Love is not easily angered
  • Love keeps no record of wrongs
  • Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth
  • Love always protects
  • Love always trusts
  • Love always hopes
  • Love always perseveres
  • Love never fails

Basically, love is everything good and nothing bad. It lasts forever, while spiritual gifts will fall by the wayside. Predictions and speaking in tongues can only get you so far in life. Love is for always, or at least should be for always. Paul explains that when he was a child, he acted like a child. But, now, he’s a grown man and he’s done with the childish things. When this world is done, when God has wiped everything away, it will be like looking in a mirror for the first time and really seeing. Before this, we only knew part of what there was to know. But when our world is gone, we’ll know everything. When this happens, spiritual gifts won’t matter. The only feelings that will exist when God finishes are faith, hope, and love. But of course, the most excellent one of all will be love.

Items for Discussion

  • So why is it so hard to love?
  • Where does the world get confused when it comes to love?
  • What does it mean to be loyal to someone or some group?
  • The message title is “Love and Loyalty.” Can you be loyal without love?
  • Are the benefits of love similar/different than those of loyalty? In what ways?
  • Can you teach someone to be loyal?
  • Can you teach someone to love?

Discussion Challenge

  • How would a church pass on to the next generation, more love and more loyalty?
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