Tuesday, June 30, 2009

God Calls People to Covenant -Sunday School Lesson

International Sunday School Lesson
For Week Ending July 5, 2009

Purpose: To receive God's law as a gift and commit ourselves to holy living for the sake of God's mission in the world.

Scripture Text: Deuteronomy 5:1-9, 11-13, 16-21 (NRSV)

Deuteronomy 5:1-9, 11-13, 16-21
(1)Moses convened all Israel, and said to them: Hear, O Israel, the statutes and ordinances that I am addressing to you today; you shall learn them and observe them diligently. (2)The Lord our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. (3)Not with our ancestors did the Lord make this covenant, but with us, who are all of us here alive today.(4)The Lord spoke with you face to face at the mountain, out of the fire. (5)(At that time I was standing between the Lord and you to declare to you the words of the Lord; for you were afraid because 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 the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; (7)you shall have no other gods before me.

(8)You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. (9)You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents,to the third and fourth generation of those who reject me,(11) You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

(12) Observe the sabbath day and keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. (13)For six days you shall labour and do all your work.

(16) Honour your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, so that your days may be long and that it may go well with you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

(17) You shall not murder.

(18)Neither shall you commit adultery.

(19)Neither shall you steal.

(20)Neither shall you bear false witness against your neighbor.

(21)Neither shall you covet your neighbor's wife. Neither shall you desire your neighbor's house,or field,or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

This is the second time Moses shared the Ten Commandments with this community of people. The first time was some forty years earlier, shortly after he had led the children of Israel out of Egypt by way of the Red Sea. The first giving of the law took place approximately fifty days after the angel of death passed over those that painted their door post with the blood of a lamb, sparing the first born of all that followed God's command. We often think of Pentecost as a New Testament event, but it was really a celebration of the giving of God's law on Mt. Sinai, approximately fifty days after the original Passover. It is no coincidence that the second Pentecost involved the giving of the Holy Spirit, because it would be by the Holy Spirit that this new generation of believers would receive the same comfort, grace and assurance that the original giving of the law provided to that first generation at Mt.Sinai

The children of Israel have been lost in the desert for forty years and they are about to cross over the Jordan River into Canaan. A whole generation has died since they originally received God's law at Mt.Sinai. Moses is restating for this new generation what happened at Sinai, and trying to instill in them the responsibility they have, to respond to the grace, that God has shown them.

There are those that look at God's law as being impractical, too hard to follow and too restrictive on ones life. The flip side of that is; if we follow that law we have increased our probability of happiness, security and prosperity. In today's world you do not have to look very far to see the unhappiness and disappointment that comes from disobeying God's commandments. Our politicians are making news all the time and offering all sorts of alibis and apologies, as well as showing remorse and repenting, for their acts. Unfortunately it does not just happen to politicians and other celebrities; it also happens to everyday to people just like us.

The Ten Commandments are not just a one sided set of rules, for any society or community or even our own marriages to survive there must be rules. As adults we impose rules on our children, not out of anger, but out of love. God did the same thing, He knew where the trouble would come from and He tried to help us, by giving us some very specific rules. He wanted our response to come out of our gratitude for what He has done for each of us, just as He wanted this generation of this new community he had brought out of slavery from Egypt to respond,by following these Ten Commandments.

Some how we have been led astray thinking it is for God's sake that we are to obey, but it is for our sake that we have been given this guidance, and it comes from God's grace and not His anger. The one sure way we have of accomplishing all that God wants us to accomplish, is by being obedient to his law. In the same way, God wanted this community of people to show they had received something special from God, by just following these Ten Commandments. Certainly all of the world would take notice, if they followed these rules and accepted them as, what was best for them, in their relationships within the community and the family.

God wants us transformed from the inside out, just as Jesus promised for us at Pentecost. We can take that transformation into our daily lives, and live as we have been instructed, or we can ignore that transformation and face a constant struggle in our witness and testimony. Just as Moses addressed that generation at Mt. Horeb, the Holy Spirit speaks to this generation, and is calling each of His children to be obedient, to set themselves apart from the rest of the world, to live to a higher standard. And God knows what is best for each of us, Samuel said “obedience is better that sacrifice” I imagine there are a few governors, as well as Wall Street moguls, that agree.

How does your life stack up with what people expect from you? The old hymn calls for us to “press on to higher ground”, are you pressing on to a higher plain?

God shows his love by showing us the way we can live the happiest and most effective for Him.

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