by Pastor Ron Thomas
RODGERS BAPTIST CHURCH
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Text: Deuteronomy 7:7-9. "The LORD did not set His love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people:
8 But because the LORD loved you, and because He would keep the oath which He had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
9 Know therefore that the LORD thy God, He is God, (El-HaNe'-eman) the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations."
Introduction: In ancient times, a name was never given to someone, simply as a label to help keep that person from being confused with someone else. A name was given to an individual to express the kind of person he or she was, or hoped to become. This is the reason God changed various people's names in the Bible. Abram became Abraham. Sarai became Sarah. Jacob became Israel. Simeon became Peter. In each case, God desired a character change that reflected the new name.
God has given Himself many names. Why? God's names do not reflect a need to change. God is the changeless One. God's names are given to reveal the many facets of His perfect nature and character. God's names are actually an extension of Himself, to help us understand who He is, how He is, and what He can do in us and through us.
Our text contains one of the compound names of God that expresses His immutability. The name is given in verse 9 of our text passage. "Know therefore that the LORD thy God, He is God, (El-HaNe'-eman) the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations."
The name El, is a name that is translated "God" in our English Bibles. El is a simple form related to Elohim, which comes from the Hebrew root meaning strength or power, and has the unusual characteristic of being plural in form. In Genesis 1:1 we read, "In the beginning God (Elohim) created the heaven and the earth." Right from the start, this plural form for the name of God, is used to describe the One God, a mystery that is uncovered as God's revelation unfolds. Elohim is a God who creates something out of nothing by His mighty word of power. The name Elohim, is used 200 times in the Scriptures, and is combined with other words to describe certain characteristics and attributes of God.
In this case, El (God) is connected with the Hebrew word "eman," which the Old Testament translates as "faithful." The word actually means to prop up, to stay, or to support. The intransitive use of the word signifies to steady or secure oneself, or to be supported. When applied to a person, it describes a person you can lean on; someone you can count on for security and support at all times. The equivalent Greek word used in the New Testament, which is also used in the Septuagint, means to be trustworthy or to be relied upon.
The truth is, everyone depends on someone or something to hold them up, to prop them up on the inside. As long as those props, that support, stay in place, we experience a sense of peace, satisfaction, joy and hope. When that someone or something fails us, we collapse or implode. Have you ever heard the phrase "then the props came out?" We prop up a car when we change a flat tire. A tire jack is a prop. Never change a tire when the car is parked on the side of a hill. If the car rolls just a little, out comes the prop, and down comes the car! It is same with human beings. When we prop ourselves up with anything or anyone else, but the eternal God (El-HaNe'-eman), we are setting ourselves up for a great disappointment. Husbands and wives walk out on their spouses! Fathers and mothers forsake their children. The failure of a relationship, the loss of a job, the loss of health or a limb, the loss of a son, daughter, husband, wife, parent or friend, can being with it anxiety, depression, and a sense of hopelessness. The secret therefore to experiencing stability, is to fasten our peace, joy, and hope, on someone or something that is solid, unchanging, consistent, and faithful all the time!
The name Deuteronomy, means second law. It is Moses' final address to the people of Israel before they enter Canaan. He is essentially reviewing the Law of God given at Mount Sinai, and rehearsing God's work on their behalf in the past. We must remember that Moses is not going with them into Canaan. He would see the Promised Land from the top of Mount Nebo, but that is all. His job is to prepare them for their journey. Moses' words are a mixture of warning and wonder. He sounds much like a parent who is releasing a child into the world, whether it be off to college or for an overnight stay at a friend's house.
Moses' Admonition To The Next Generation And Beyond
First, the warning. Notice Deuteronomy 7:1-5. "When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou;
2 And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them:
3 Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.
4 For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.
5 But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire."
Moses sounds like a typical parent! "Now you be careful when you leave. Look both ways before you cross the street. There are a lot of evil people out there! Don't hang around bad people, because they will get you in trouble! Stay away from the drugs, the drinking, and partying crowd." Moses warns them of all the corrupting people, cultures, and influences in the land of Canaan. They are not to intermarry with the people of Canaan. Why? Those marriages and relationships will lead them to compromise their values and morals. Moses warns them not to compromise, but instead to obey God's commandments that will keep them safe and set apart from the world.
Second, comes the wonder. Deuteronomy 7:6 continues, "For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto Himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth." A parent tells his or her child, "Remember your up binging. You are special! We raised you to set a good example. God has a purpose for your life." Moses' reminds them of all God's past provisions and interventions in their lives. They were a holy nation, a special people above all the others that populated the earth. There were nations bigger and mightier than them, but there was not a nation what was as connected to God!
But then, Moses shifts his focus from the human realm, to the heavenly realm. In verse 7, Moses reminds Israel that God did not set His favor upon them because they were a great and powerful nation. They were anything but that! God set His love and favor upon Israel, simply because He loved them and had made a promise to them!
It is here someone might say, "So what! People fall in and out of love all the time! Promises are made to be broken! Marriages begin with the expression of love and deep devotion, promises are made, rings exchanged, and it means nothing!" This is true on the human level, but Moses is focusing His gaze upon, El-HaNe-eman, the faithful God! As Moses prepares them for their journey, he does not attach them to himself or to their next leader Joshua. Moses attaches them to the God known as El-HaNeeman.
What does this name say about God?
Truth one: As El-HaNe'-eman, God is faithful to the core of His being. Deuteronomy 7:9 begins, "Know therefore that the LORD thy God, He is God, (El-HaNe'-eman) the faithful God." God's faithfulness is a matter of His being. It is not that He chooses to be faithful. God cannot be unfaithful! God is the standard for faithfulness. God is 100% faithful, or not at all! Would you pledge your eternal love at the altar, to a bride who promises to be faithful to you, most of the time? Would you step onto an airplane, that stayed in the air and completed most of its flights? There is no middle ground when it comes to God's faithfulness. God can't be "kinda, sort of" faithful. God cannot even be 99.9% faithful. If there is any unfaithfulness whatsoever in God, then He is a fraud by His own definition.
God's faithfulness is at the core of His very nature. He is knowable, holy, the creator, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, just, sovereign, unchanging, and loving, because He is faithful to His own character. God never changes any of His attributes. Paul drew on this truth when he wrote to the Thessalonians in I Thessalonians 5:24, "Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it."
God's faithfulness is the single most important fact of Christianity. It is the foundation upon which everything about Christianity is built. How? If God is not faithful, then we have nothing to place our hope in or build our lives upon. If God is not faithful, then we cannot trust what the Bible says about any subject, any person, or any promise. If God is not faithful, then we cannot trust in Jesus Christ; therefore there is no hope of salvation; no lasting peace; no promises to cling to. If God is not faithful, then we have nothing to live for, nothing to hope in. The opposite is just as true however! Because God is faithful to the core of His being, we can live our lives with confidence, assurance and hope!
Truth two: As El-HaNe'-eman, God is faithful to keep His promises to us. Deuteronomy 7:9 continues, "....which keepeth covenant." This is a an election year. Two candidates running for the office of President, are going around the nation making all sorts of promises to special groups. If they kept every promise they made on the campaign trail as President, it would throw our nation into chaos!
Earlier in Genesis 12, the Lord had made a covenant promise to the Jews or descendants of Abraham. He told them that they would be a special people unto Him, that He would give them a beautiful and fruitful land of their very own, and care for them. God also promised to bless all people through this nation. God chose these people because of His love for them and His unconditional covenant with Abraham. This doesn't mean that God loved Israel more than other people, it was just that He intended to use Israel as His means to love and bless the world. God's plan from the beginning, was that the Messiah would come through the nation Israel, who would be offered as the Savior for all mankind.
There are many times along the way when God intervened and spared the children of Israel, because of the promise He made to them through Abraham! Throughout times of victory and defeat, kings and judges, priests and prophets; through exile and restoration, God kept His promise. As a nation, Israel was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. At that time, the Jews were scattered throughout the whole world, yet they kept the hope alive based on the promise of their eventual re-gathering to the land of promise. Then in 1948, after almost 1900 years had passed, Israel was again declared a sovereign nation. Through a series of miraculous events, including the Jews retaking of Jerusalem in 1967, this generation has witnessed the fulfillment of prophecy with respect to God's special nation. Today, One of the greatest evidences of God's faithfulness to keep His promise, is the nation Israel. God did exactly what He said He would do.
Child of God, are you a promise keeper? When God declares by His will that something will be, then it will be. Are we that way? To be "faithful" means that when you say you will do something, ...you will do it! Hebrews 10:23 reads, "Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for He is faithful that promised."
Truth three: As El-HaNe'-eman, God is faithful to demonstrate His mercy. Deuteronomy 7:9 continues, "....which keepeth covenant and mercy." God's faithfulness is manifested when He stands by His people and saves them, even when they are unfaithful to Him. In this passage, Moses warns his people of all the wickedness in the land of Canaan. Did Israel listen to Moses? Did the people remain faithful to God and His commandments? You know the answer to that question! Over time, they succumbed to the culture that surrounded them, mingled with the pagans, adapted to their ways, and served their gods. In spite of Israel's rebellion and unfaithfulness, God remained faithful in His mercy toward His people. On many occasions, God could have totally destroyed them, but His mercy endures forever!
Our world, our society, offers and serves many idols. There are idols of pleasure, idols of materialism, idols of self. Sad to say, even as Christians we build altars to these idols in our hearts. Jesus said, "Where a man's treasure is, there will his heart be also." Take a look at your priorities, the investment of your time and money, and it will reveal the idols in your life! By the way, none of these idols or gods are faithful. Only God is faithful!
One of the greatest blessings and comforts we have as Christians, is knowing that God doesn't give up on us when we are unfaithful! God doesn't abandon us when we stray. God doesn't quit on us, when we seem to quit on Him. God is faithful to show mercy when we repent and return to Him!
This is not a license to abuse God's faithfulness. We must remember that God is also faithful to chasten His children! God did not abandon Jonah, but Jonah paid dearly for his detour! We know and serve the God of a second chance! Though we often struggle and fail in our Christian lives, our merciful God gives us the opportunity to pick ourselves up, dust off, and start again. II Timothy 2:13 reads, "If we believe not, yet He abideth faithful: He cannot deny Himself." I John 1:8-10 reads, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and his word is not in us." Our security is in Gods faithfulness, not in our own!
Truth four: As El-HaNe'–eman, God is faithful to keep on loving us. Deuteronomy 7:9 continues, "...with them that love Him." John tells us that we love God, because He first loved us! Earlier in verse 7, the Lord lets us know that His relationship with Israel was based upon His love for them, not the other way around. "The LORD did not set His love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people." The Lord's love for Israel was not meritorious, conditional, or performance based. The Lord loved them because He chose to do so! God is faithful to love at all times!
Did you ever stop to realize that God chose to love you not because you were the best, or because you were the brightest, but because you are you? God chose us, like He chose the people of Israel .....just because. Romans 5:8 says, "God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." How incredible!
Truth five: God expects us to reflect His faithful character. We love to watch funny films or movies. Most funny movies center upon someone who fumbles and bumbles through life. We love to laugh at Giligan, Barney, Lucy, Inspector Clouseau, or Harry and Lloyd, but when it comes to real life, we opt for a more reliable, trustworthy person!
God kept His promise to Israel, but it came with responsibility. Deuteronomy 7:9 ends, "...and keep His commandments to a thousand generations." Notice verse 11. "Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them." The children of Israel were to respond to God's faithfulness, by being faithful to Him!
If God is faithful to you, then He expects the same from you! As we go about our day, people ought to be able to see this faithfulness demonstrated in our lives. How does God expect you to be faithful? 1. By walking in obedience to God's Word! 2. By being faithful to God's commandments. 3. By being faithful to your family. 4. By being faithful to your church. 5. By being faithful to the work God's called you to do!
In the previous chapter of Deuteronomy, Moses spoke what is known as the Shama. The Hebrew word "Shama," means hear. Deuteronomy 6:4-5 says, "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: 5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might." Are we loving God this way? Does He have our whole heart, life and strength? It seems that so many Christians today are doing things just because they can, instead of limiting their liberty for the sake of demonstrating their love and commitment to Jesus Christ and a lost world!
In the country of Armenia, in 1988, Samuel and Danielle sent their young son, Armand, off to school. Samuel knelt before his son, looked him in the eye and told him, "Have a good day at school, and remember, no matter what, I'll always be there for you." They hugged, and the boy ran off to school. Hours later, a powerful earthquake rocked the area. In the midst of the pandemonium, Samuel and Danielle tried to discover what happened to their son, but they couldn't get any information. The radio announced that there were thousands of casualties. Samuel then grabbed his coat and headed for the schoolyard. When he reached the area, what he saw brought tears to his eyes. Armand's school was a pile of debris. Other parents were standing around crying. Samuel found the place where Armand's classroom used to be, and began pulling a broken beam off the pile of rubble. He then grabbed a rock, and put it to the side, and then grabbed another one. One of the parents looking on asked, "What are you doing?" Samuel answered, "Digging for my son."
The man then said, "You're just going to make things worse! The building is unstable," and tried to pull Samuel away from his work. Samuel set his jaw and kept working. As time wore on, one by one, the other parents left. Then a firefighter tried to pull Samuel away from the rubble. Samuel looked at him and said, "Won't you help me?" The firefighter left and Samuel kept digging. All through the night and into the next day, Samuel continued digging. Parents placed flowers and pictures of their children on the ruins, but, Samuel just kept working. He picked up one more beam and pushed it out of the way and when he did, he heard a faint cry, "Help! Help!" Samuel listened but there was only silence. Then he heard a muffled voice, "Papa?" Samuel began to dig furiously. Finally he could see his son. "Come on out, son!" he cried. "No," Armand said. "Let the other kids come out first, because I know you'll get me." Child after child emerged until, finally, little Armand appeared. Samuel took him in his arms and Armand said, "I told the other kids not to worry because you told me that you'd always be there for me!" Fourteen children were saved that day, because one father was faithful.
How much more faithful is our heavenly Father! God is faithful to "a thousand generations," which means He is faithful today! We are never cut off from God's faithfulness!
Will God find you faithful?