Ceremonies for worship (Deut 26)

On Sunday morning, we looked at the Deuteronomy 26 as the ceremonial laws found there to help shed further light on the radical words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, especially in Matthew 5:17 – “Do not think I came to abolish the law and the prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”  By reading the Old Testament through the lens of New – thanks to the hermeneutic given to us by Christ and his Apostles – we find both continuity and discontinuity between the two covenants.  To listen to the sermon, click here.  The following are the closing lines:

Beloved, in closing, let us consider some of the indispensable truths that must inform our worship and lives as Christians today: as we find our history stretching back to Israel on the plains of Moab, back to Abraham, and even beyond to the Garden of Eden.

Yes, we appeal to God’s oath, his promise, to Abraham, but not through the ceremonial and judicial laws that governed Israel under the OC. Rather, we have received and rest in the accomplishment of God’s sworn oath in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Through the eyes of faith, you and I see the fulfillment of the Abrahamic promise. We possess it; it is ours!

If it is true that the history of God’s dealings with his people has moved forward from the time of types and shadows, then we do not look back to Israel’s Exodus from Egypt as God’s chief act of redemption. Nor do we look to Jerusalem as our final home. Rather, we worship God this morning for delivering us finally from slavery to sin and death through the Second Exodus of Christ’s death at the cross. Israel was still under the curse of sin on the edge of the Promised Land, even in Canaan, but we are not.

Beloved, let us also remember – let us never forget – how the conditions of covenant ratification have changed. In Deut. 26:17 we learned that the condition imposed on Israel under the Mosaic covenant was obedience to the law. While faith in God’s promise to the patriarchs kept Israel as his people, their earthly blessings as a nation were dependent on keeping the Old Covenant.

Now consider the condition for God keeping his gracious promise to those of faith, to us today: “He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in the glory” (1 Tim 3.16). Beloved, there is no “if you obey” in our confession, there is no condition of personal obedience for God to keep his gospel promise to us. For God says, “Believe on Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.” The object and source of our joy in worship today and to all eternity, is Jesus Christ, who offered up obedience on our behalf to seal God’s unbreakable oath of eternal life to us. This is our history and our future. This promise we must remember and never forget. Amen.


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