Calvary Road Baptist Church

“GOD’S LAMENT”

Deuteronomy 5.29

 

After 120 years on earth, God’s servant, and the friend He spoke to face to face, was approaching the end of his days. Unlike his servant Joshua and the rest of the people, Moses would not enter the Promised Land. Therefore, on the first day of the 11th month of the 40th year after the Exodus from Egypt, Moses began to say farewell to the children of Israel. In this farewell, which is the book of Deuteronomy, as Moses reflects back on events that had occurred decades earlier, when the mothers and fathers of those standing before him were still alive, we see God’s lament. Please turn to Deuteronomy chapter 5.

In Deuteronomy 5.1-5, Moses reminded the Israelites of the covenant their God had made with them:

 

1      And Moses called all Israel, and said unto them, Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and keep, and do them.

2      The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb.

3      The LORD made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.

4      The LORD talked with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire,

5      (I stood between the LORD and you at that time, to shew you the word of the LORD: for ye were afraid by reason of the fire, and went not up into the mount;) saying,

 

In Deuteronomy 5.6-22, he rehearsed to the people the commandments God had spoken forty years earlier with a great voice and then wrote on two tablets of stone which He gave to Moses. In addition, in verses 23-27, we are told of the response of the people who had been alive at that time when they heard the voice of God:

 

23     And it came to pass, when ye heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, (for the mountain did burn with fire,) that ye came near unto me, even all the heads of your tribes, and your elders;

24     And ye said, Behold, the LORD our God hath shewed us his glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire: we have seen this day that God doth talk with man, and he liveth.

25     Now therefore why should we die? for this great fire will consume us: if we hear the voice of the LORD our God any more, then we shall die.

26     For who is there of all flesh, that hath heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived?

27     Go thou near, and hear all that the LORD our God shall say: and speak thou unto us all that the LORD our God shall speak unto thee; and we will hear it, and do it.

 

When the fathers of those standing before Moses, who had died in the wilderness, heard the voice of God they approached Moses and told him that if he would intercede for them, if he would represent them to God, they would gladly listen to whatever Moses told them to do and would do it. In Deuteronomy 5.28, Moses, the man of God, reports to the gathered people that the LORD heard their words that they had spoken to him and that the words they had said were good words:

 

“And the LORD heard the voice of your words, when ye spake unto me; and the LORD said unto me, I have heard the voice of the words of this people, which they have spoken unto thee: they have well said all that they have spoken.”

 

It is in Deuteronomy 5.29, however, that Moses rehearses in the ears of this younger generation now grown up the lament of God that he had heard so many years earlier. You see, my friends, just as surely as the Lord Jesus Christ “needed not that any should testify of man; for he knew what was in man,” John 2.25, so does the God of Israel, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, also know what is in man. Please stand and read this verse with me, Deuteronomy 5.29:

 

“O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!”

 

How very sad this verse is. How tragic it is that here, near the beginning of this last of the books penned by Moses, which is a summation and a rehearsal of all the victories which God had wrought leading up to this occasion, including the Exodus, whereby God delivered Israel by a strong right arm and then led them by smoke and fire for forty years, we are given here a glimpse of both the heart of man and the heart of God, the source of God’s sadness as well as the sadness of God’s heart. Uttered by an old, old man, though originally uttered by God Himself forty years earlier, these words were a reminder to that generation about to enter the Promised Land. And they are a reminder to us here today. Two things to look at in God’s lament:

 

LET US FIRST LOOK AT THE HEART OF MAN

 

The heart of a man is seen in his lack of fear: “O,” said God, “that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me.” Why is it that God laments the fact that men do not fear Him? Why is it that He is saddened in this way? The answer is that God knows that wickedness prospers among men who do not fear Him, as is illustrated in Genesis 20. He knows that those who do not fear Him, as is revealed in Leviticus 19 will torment those who are aged and who are physically afflicted.

 

God knows that

 

·         they who fear Him will serve Him, Psalm 2,

·         those who fear Him will worship Him, Psalm 5,

·         those who fear Him will live more cleanly, Psalm 19,

·         those who fear Him will praise Him, Psalm 22,

·         those who fear Him are more willing to hear good things about Him, Psalm 66,

·         and His salvation is very near to them that fear Him, Psalm 85.

 

The great tragedy is that man is sinful. In our sinfulness our perception of reality is so warped, so utterly twisted, so shaded and colored by sinful antagonism toward God, so biased by uninformed selfishness and conceit, that the single most obvious response that an intelligent creature could have as a reaction to a careful contemplation of God, which is the fear of God, is utterly missing from your consciousness.

 

Ponder this:  Every single time we observe in God’s Word a person who finds himself in the presence of God, or who thinks he is in the presence of God, he is overcome with fright and terror. Obviously, such situations and occurrences are rare in the extreme in human history. Throughout most of human history, God has been testified of but not experienced, heard about but not personally perceived. The result? Not outright denial, but an utter lack of fear.

 

Next, ponder this:   In his indictment against men sinful in the sight of God, the Apostle Paul lays the foundation of his indictment in Romans 3.10, by quoting the Psalmist who said of men, “There is none righteous, no, not one.” Then, verse after verse, Paul builds to a crescendo, like a prosecuting attorney before a jury pressing for a conviction. He ends with the most horrible of crimes, the greatest of offenses against God. The apostle writes in Romans 3.18, “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

 

There can be no greater folly than to have no fear of God. There can be no darker blindness than to have no fear of God. No rebellion is more repugnant to God; no shaking of the fist is more defiant, than the obtuse spiritual stupidity of one so ignorant, so blatant, so reprehensible, as to choose to have no fear of the one true and living God. What denial of truth and reality can be greater than to deny that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God, and that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom? Such can be said only of someone who is ignorant of the power of God’s anger, Psalm 90.11. Do you, my friend, fear the Lord? He has commanded that you fear Him, you know. It is wise that you fear Him, you know. Moreover, should you never fear God you will never be saved, you know. Does the fear of God play any role in your choice of employment, in your choice of residence, in your choice of a mate for life, in your attendance at church, in your involvement in ministry, in your choice of recreation, in the giving of your tithes and offerings, in the time you spend in prayer and reading and studying God’s Word? It should, you know.

The heart of a man is also seen in his lack of obedience: “O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always.” Some things are seen directly, while other things are seen indirectly. You can tell directly when a man fears God. It affects his behavior. He will do some things and not do other things if he fears God. However, with the keeping of God’s commandments other, less direct, evidence is before the discerning observer. It is obvious that failure to keep God’s commandments and do His blessed will reveals on one hand the presence of rebellion and stubbornness, First Samuel 15.23. Less obvious is what is not present in the life of one who does not keep all God’s commandments always: love. The first and greatest commandment, according to the Lord Jesus Christ, is to love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and soul, Matthew 22.37-38. What does it actually mean to love God? Is loving God isolated to only having good feelings about God, or does love toward God mean more? Second John 6 reveals to us that love for God is much more than good feelings. Listen to what the apostle whom Jesus loved wrote about real love for God: “And this is love, that we walk after his commandments.” In First John 5.3, he goes even farther in his assertion about love: “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” Do you pray as you are commanded? Do you study God’s Word as you are commanded? Do you witness to the lost as you are commanded? Do you attend church faithfully as you are commanded? You see, to the person who loves God, such things are not grievous, not burdensome, not a royal pain. Therefore, when you get right down to it, failure to keep His commandments indicates a lack of love. Imagine not loving One Who is altogether lovely. Imagine not loving One is Who is love. The Bible declares to us that God is love, First John 4.8 and 16. As our picture of the human race comes into better focus, we see more clearly the reason for God’s lament. First, men do not fear Him. Second, men do not love Him.

Third, the heart of a man is seen in his lack of concern for himself and his children. Our text concludes, “that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever.” People say they understand that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In the physical universe that is called the law of the conservation of momentum. In the realm of people and society it is called the law of sowing and reaping, otherwise stated as “what goes around comes around.” However, though people know that there are physical consequences in nature, and there are consequences that occur in the realm of human dealings, so very few people seem to recognize that there are consequences that arise from your dealings with God. Do you realize that there are consequences that directly result from not fearing God, from not loving God? You will do things you should not do if you do not fear God and if you do not love God that will guarantee dire consequences. As well, you will not do things you should do if you do not fear God and do not love God that will guarantee dire consequences. If you do not fear God and you do not love God, you will use every accumulated vacation day you have earned on the job to leave town and miss church. That may very well result in both you and your child missing the one sermon in your lifetime that God will use to strike deep into your heart, convict you of sin, and draw you to Christ. If you do not fear God and do not love God you will prove the adage that some things are more caught than taught and you will convince the child who adores you that God is not to be feared, since you do not fear Him, and God is not to be loved, since by your disobedience you do not love Him. In this lifetime, your child may love and adore you. However, I promise that in the next lifetime he will curse you, and hate you, and blame you, for luring him and enticing him away from the things of God, and from any real consideration of spiritual things that might have resulted in his soul’s salvation. Oh, my friends, as if it were not bad enough that sinful men do not fear God. As if it were not bad enough that sinful men do not love God. On top of these things, sinful men have not the natural affection to be concerned about the spiritual welfare of their own children. Imagine siring a child and having no concern whether he goes to heaven or Hell. Imagine doting on a precious daughter and then failing to give her the spiritual foundation she needs to spare her from the life that will lead to an eternity of fire and brimstone. Is it any wonder why God lamented, even after hearing such nice sounding words from the people? Is it any wonder Moses was compelled to repeat God’s lament again forty years later to a generation that would forget God almost as soon as their fathers had? Yes, here we see the heart of man, and we understand why God is saddened by what He sees in the hearts of men. You are heart sick, sir. You are heart sick, ma’am. Your heart is sick with sin. What a dilemma you face, my friend. You have a heart that is infected with sin, having no inclination for God or the things of God despite whatever nice words or religious feelings you may have. There is no fear of God and no love of God, nor concern either for yourself or your own children. Like lizards and snakes, you walk off from your little ones, letting them spiritually fend for themselves. With such a heart as you have, how do you suppose you will reconcile with this holy God? The Apostle Paul declares to us “with the heart man believeth unto righteousness.” However, with a heart such as yours, how is such a thing to happen? Again, I say, what a dilemma you face.

 

LET US NOW LOOK AT THE HEART OF GOD

 

“O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!”

 

What do you suppose would cause God to say such a thing as this? God’s concern. My friend, despite what anyone may tell you or somehow lead you to believe, God has concern for you. Moreover, His concern reveals His heart.

First, God’s concern is for sinful man’s heart and not his nice words. Nice sounding words are so easy to manufacture, are they not? Sinful man has such tendencies toward religion and false spirituality. Such a tendency to convince yourself that God will be somehow pleased with nice sounding words, and with sincere smiles, and with bright countenances. So pleased, as a matter of fact, that He will gladly reward you with a free pass into His presence in heaven. At least, that is what people like to imagine. However, are such things really of interest to God? Not really. Not really. Remember the time when the old prophet was sent to the house of Jesse to anoint a new king to replace wicked Saul, Israel’s first king? When he had wrongly selected Jesse’s seemingly choicest son, God rebuked him, told him he was in error, and then said, “the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart,” First Samuel 16.7. Why is God so concerned with sinful man? He is concerned with sinful man because, when He looks upon your heart, this is what He sees: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jeremiah 17.9. How does God come to know such things about your heart? Psalm 44.21: “Shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart.” My friend, God’s concern for you arises not only from what you do that others can see, but also from what secrets are hidden in your heart that no one else knows of but Him. Further, He knows that “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil,” Ecclesiastes 8.11. This means that God is fully aware of the fact that so long as He delays final retribution, so long as He delays the final judgment, so long as He does not move quickly against you to judge your sin and wickedness and unbelief, you will only misinterpret that delay as encouragement to do greater evil, thinking you are getting away with your sin. Please do not deny this awful tendency of your heart, because it is true and God knows it is true. Jeremiah 17.10 shows us how God knows it is true: “I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins.”

Additionally, God’s concern is for sinful man’s well-being and not his comfortable thoughts. My friend, God is not nearly so concerned with how you are feeling as He is about how you are fairing. “. . . that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever.” Among so many people these days it is thought to be important that you feel good about yourself, that you have positive thoughts about yourself and your potential, that you have a high self-esteem, and that you never have negative thoughts about yourself or about your children. Understand, however, that feelings have mostly to do with your head, and God is concerned mainly with your heart, and of course you soul. You might think to yourself, “But what does this have to do with my welfare?” I respond by asking you what you have when you have gained the whole world but have lost your own soul? I respond by asking what good it does you to feel good about yourself as you rush headlong toward a rendezvous with death and an appointment with judgment before an eternal incarceration in the lake of fire? I respond by asking you how you will feel when it dawns too late on you to do anything about it that you have led your own child astray and forever ruined the opportunities the fruit of your loins might have had to come to faith in Christ?

 

Think of what we see in our text. We see the heart of man. You lack fear of God. You lack obedience, which shows us that you lack love for God. In addition, you are unconcerned about yourself and the welfare of your own children, showing to us your lack of natural affection. O, how sin ravages the human heart. How it despoils and defiles the human soul. How it corrupts the intellect and the perception. How it deviates and misdirects the human will. Can it be otherwise that One so good and merciful as God would be concerned?

He must be concerned, because He is holy. After all, Who is sinned against by sinful man but God? Who is rebelled against by rebellious man but God? Who is stubbornly resisted but God? Who is the shaken fist raised against and the angry countenance directed toward but God? Of course, He is concerned. His holiness is outraged, is offended, is insulted, is betrayed, and without fear! However, He is also concerned because He is love. Where there is no obedience toward God there is no love for God. God, with His great love wherewith He loved us, does not deserve such treatment. After all, He has given to you existence. After all, He has given to you prosperity and life and intelligence and meaning. He has given to you the sun, the moon, the stars, the rain, the grass, the birds, the cool breeze, the dew, and the flowers.

With such an investment in your life, what would you expect from Him but concern? Yet He receives from you no thanks. He receives from you no appreciation. He receives from you no praise. He receives from you no worship. He receives from you no service. He receives from you no honor.

No, not until He removes from you your health and vigor do you miss it. Not until He takes from you your breath do you value it. Not until He retrieves from you the energy of your youth do you cherish it. Even then you only long for these things and have no heart for the God who once gave them to you. Therefore, there is ample reason for God to be concerned for you, once we see His heart and then your heart. However, we do see more of God’s heart in scripture, don’t we? God’s heart resulted in Him being more than concerned for you. His heart, more specifically His love, moved Him to give up His Own Son for you.

“O that there were such an heart in them.” This is God’s lament. And, of course, there will never be such a heart in you. Too wicked. Too selfish. Therefore, God provided for you Someone Who does have such an heart in Him . . . His Own Son Jesus.

What will you do with your heart, so mean, cruel, callused, and turned against God? What will you do with a heart that will not believe unto righteousness, but which must believe unto righteousness or you are lost forever? The answer lies in God’s Son, Jesus. Yes, that is where the answer lies . . . in Him. Now, the question is, what must you do with Him?



Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org