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THE LORD’S HEART ACHES TOO!
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
14 AUGUST 1988
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
1 Corinthians 10:4
Preparation Verse: (Psalms 51:1)
Be gracious to me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness;
According to the greatness of Thy compassion blot out my transgressions.
So far this morning we have read, responsively, words of confidence in God, we sang hymns of God’s holiness and of His call to sinners, and we read in our Scripture lessons of God’s promise and of our falling away.
There is not a day that goes by that does not speak of God and of the wonders of His creation. Note Romans 1:20 –
20. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
Even Moses himself fell short, even though he was in God's presence, knew how truly righteous and holy God really is, and lived and led the children of Israel by the Law of God.
By showing his personal anger and being irreverent before God in the presence of the people, Moses was denied access into Canaan, as an example to the people. Note what we are told in Deuteronomy 34:1-8.
1 Now Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the LORD showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan,
2 and all Naphtali and the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah as far as the western sea,
3 and the Negev and the plain in the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar.
4 Then the LORD said to him, "This is the land which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, 'I will give it to your descendants'; I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there."
5 So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD.
6 And He buried him in the valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor; but no man knows his burial place to this day.
7 Although Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died, his eye was not dim, nor his vigor abated.
8 So the sons of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days; then the days of weeping and mourning for Moses came to an end.
From all that is recorded in the Bible, we know that God had a very close relationship with Moses, and He must have been very hurt by Moses’ action.
Thus God had no choice but to prohibit Moses from entering the land of Canaan. He would not leave him behind to be depressed and lonely, for He loved him too much to do that.
So God took the life of Moses upon Mount Pisgah, but not until He had shown him all the land of the promise.
Moses, who was to set the example of how to live under the Law, could not do so himself; therefore, he had to die according to the Law.
Sometimes it’s hard for us mere mortals to understand the depth of God's love and that He can feel true sorrow.
For it was God Himself who picked up the lifeless body of Moses from the top
of the mountain and buried him in the valley in the land of Moab.
Think of how hard it would be for any of us to have to bury a son, for I believe that is exactly what God was feeling at that time.
And if situations like this didn't hurt enough, God sent His only begotten Son to die for those who were rejecting Him.
It’s hard to understand that kind of love, isn't it?
We don't deserve that kind of love, but God freely gives it to us. That is grace in its purest form.
We were never completely capable of living according to the Law, and we are not able to do so now. This is exactly what God is trying to show us.
Even righteous Moses could not live according to the Law he handed down. His death was to show that very thing to the people.
Moses understood this fact, and in our Hebrew (Old) Testament lesson for this morning, he tries to encourage the people to realize that we all need a Savior to free us from the Law of sin and death, for none could live completely according to the Law.
Note the way Moses calls upon all heaven and earth to hear what he has to say, as a witness against the people who are assembled before him. (Deuteronomy 32:1-14)
1. "Give ear, O heavens, and let me speak;
And let the earth hear the words of my mouth.
Then he shows that the words from God are really soft and gentle, if we listen, for they are given in love.
But if we reject God’s love, we are not to forget that He is still a holy and righteous God.
2. "Let my teaching drop as the rain,
My speech distill as the dew,
As the droplets on the fresh grass
And as the showers on the herb.
3. "For I proclaim the name of the Lord;
Ascribe greatness to our God!
4. "The Rock! His work is perfect,
For all His ways are just;
A God of faithfulness and without injustice,
Righteous and upright is He.
The Rock referred to by Moses is God, and implies God’s power as a refuge for frail people.
It is also important to note here that the act of irreverence that Moses displayed that prevented him from entering Canaan was the way in which he struck the Rock that supplied the water at Meribah.
Now hear what Paul said of this Rock in 1 Corinthians 10:4 –
4. and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.
God made us to have the same feelings that He has.
Haven’t we all experienced the striking out in anger against a loved one; and after it happened, wasn’t that hurt greater than what caused the anger in the first place?
God hurts just as we do when things are not right.
He doesn't want us to hurt, and He doesn't want to grieve over our loss. He only wants us to come to Him and trust Him as a loving and caring parent.
Moses continues with his message of God's caring love and of God's plea for the people to be steadfast unto Him.
5. "They, have acted corruptly toward Him,
They are not His children, because of their defect;
But are a perverse and crooked generation.
6. "Do you thus repay the Lord,
O foolish and unwise people?
Is not He your Father who has bought you?
He has made you and established you.
O people, hear the mournful cry of our loving heavenly Father calling His lost ones to return home.
And if you hear Him calling to you, answer Him.
7. "Remember the days of old,
Consider the years of all generations.
Ask your father, and he will inform you,
Your elders, and they will tell you.
8. "When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance,
When He separated the sons of man,
He set the boundaries of the peoples
According to the number of the sons of Israel.
And why does God care?
9. "For the Lord's portion is His people;
Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance.
10. "He found him in a desert land,
And in the howling waste of a wilderness;
He encircled him, He cared for him,
He guarded him as the pupil of His eye.
11. "Like an eagle that stirs up its nest,
That hovers over its young,
He spread His wings and caught them,
He carried them on His pinions.
The Lord will protect us and carry us, if we will let Him, and He will lovingly guide us just as we are being told here.
12. "The Lord alone guided him,
And there was no foreign god with him.
13. "He made him ride on the high places of the earth,
And he ate the produce of the field;
And He made him suck honey from the rock,
And oil from the flinty rock,
14. Curds of cows, and milk of the flock,
With fat of lambs
And rams, the breed of Bashan, and goats,
With the finest of the wheat –
And of the blood of grapes you drank wine.
Moses reminded the people of the great power of our loving and caring God,
and that He provided all that they needed. He also picked them up when they were
down, and comforted them.
Yet the people still turned away many times in the past, and would most likely turn away in the future; and we know that they did.
When this happens, God is grieved.
Put yourself in God’s position. You have a child. You cared for that child since it was conceived in the womb. You fed it. You clothed it. You sent it to school. And in the end, the child totally rejects you, and even curses your name. How would you feel?
Wouldn’t your heart ache?
In my personal relationship with God, I was once a child like that, but I repentantly came back, and God lovingly forgave me and accepted me; and, yes, set me upon a place I didn't deserve.
Were you once like that?
Perhaps you still haven't fully come back. Then today is just that perfect day to return.
And perhaps you know other people in this same situation. Have you told them about Jesus?
Have you told them about God's love for the whole of His creation?
Don't be like the people of Jerusalem who rejected Jesus Christ.
Don't cause Him any more grief over your loss. Return to Him today.
Listen again to Jesus' frustration over the hardness of the leaders, and His mournful cry over Jerusalem, as recorded in Luke 13:31-35 –
31 Just at that time some Pharisees came up, saying to Him, "Go away and depart from here, for Herod wants to kill You."
32 And He said to them, "Go and tell that fox, 'Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I reach My goal.'
33 "Nevertheless I must journey on today and tomorrow and the next day; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem.
34 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it!
35 "Behold, your house is left to you desolate; and I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'"
This passage is speaking of the people's rejection of God's messages of love that He has continually sent to them, but I'd like us to also consider another area where the vast majority of people reject God's love.
God lovingly created this beautiful world and all of the living being in it, and charged us with protecting it, but for the most part we have refused to do so.
Just take a moment and focus upon all the ways our worldly human lifestyle has caused millions of our fellow human beings and billions of animals to suffer horribly and die every year, and the way we are destroying our environment.
Do you think God is happy about this?
Do you think He is mourning over what we have been doing?
Do you think that this behavior is a form of rejecting God?
There is a point to which even God will no longer be pushed, and on that day
He will reject all those who have rejected Him.
God doesn't want to send anyone to hell. He desires that all would come to Him.
But God is still a holy and righteous God, and would not be just to the justified if He accepted the unrepentant sinner into the kingdom of heaven.
For such a thing to happen, it would reduce the value of heaven to zero.
The choice is up to each of us.
If we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, and repent of our sins, we will be born again into everlasting life; and God and all the host of heaven will rejoice.
But if we reject so great a gift, we will be lost, and God will grieve over our loss, for there will no longer be any hope, because the loss will be forever and ever.
If God is speaking to your heart, and you’re not completely sure of your salvation and your heart relationship with God, then right now, right here, change your life and have that assurance of everlasting life and confidence in God to preserve you until the end of this age.