************ Sermon on Deuteronomy 29:29 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on November 25, 2012
"Dirty little Secrets: 20 tech facts they don't want you to know." This was the title of an article I read in PC World. Who is "they"? It could be Google, or product manufacturers, your cell phone carrier, Hollywood, even Uncle Sam. Let me tell you a couple of the secrets.
1. Cell Phones Don't Crash Airplanes. But they won't let you use your phone on flights.
2. Your Passport could Make You a Target for Crime because of a RFID chip embedded in the passport.
3. Pacemakers and Other Implants Can Be Hacked.
4. Your Webcam May Be Watching.
5. Phones Are Homing Beacons.
6. Antivirus Software Won't Protect You from the worst viruses.
7. You Can Escape Almost Any Service Contract Without Penalties.
All of these, and more, are secrets they don't want you to know.
Our Scripture reading today also talks about secrets: the secret things of God.
I God Reveals Himself
A Now, I want you to recognize that apart from God's revelation, everything about God is secret. This is because God is so infinitely higher than the entire creation. He is so exalted above us that without revelation He is completely unknowable. This is true of His existence. This is true of His attributes. This is true of His law. This is true of His saving purposes in Christ Jesus.
Let me repeat: if God did not reveal Himself to us, everything about Him would be secret.
B But God did reveal Himself to us. He reveals Himself in the creation, preservation, and government of the universe. That universe is before our eyes like a beautiful book in which all creatures and all things are as letters. Displayed before us are God's eternal power and His divinity,
God also reveals Himself to us in His prophets. Moved by the Holy Spirit, these holy men of God spoke on behalf of God. They reveal to us that God is eternal, incomprehensible, invisible, unchangeable, infinite, almighty, completely wise, just, good, and the overflowing source of all good.
Finally, God reveals Himself in Jesus Christ. Jesus is God's last and best and most clear revelation. It is in Christ that we especially see God as the God of the covenant.
C Eighteen times our Bible reading uses the title "LORD." In the Hebrew the title is "YHWH." This is God's covenant name. This is the name first revealed to Moses out of the burning bush. At the heart of the covenant lies this promise: "I will be your God and you will be my people." We know this covenant promise finds its ultimate fulfilment in Jesus Christ and salvation.
Throughout salvation history God has revealed this glorious purpose. This revelation began with Adam and Eve in the Garden and was completed with the visions given to the Apostle John on the isle of Patmos.
D Even though God has revealed so much to us, He has not revealed everything. We don't know everything about Him and His ways. There are good reasons for this. First, our finite minds cannot grasp all there is to know of God. Only God can fully know Himself. As we read in Isaiah:
(Is 55:8-9) "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. (9) "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."Second, there are things that are coming, as determined by God's providence and foreknowledge, that are better for us not to know. It is not good for us to know the future!
Yet, God has revealed Himself. So, we know Him as the God of the covenant. We know His salvation in Jesus Christ. And we know how to live with Him in His covenant.
II The Things Revealed
A When Moses spoke to Israel in his final speech or sermon about revealed and secret things, he had some very definite things in mind.
The things revealed refers to the revelation that God had given up to this point in history. This includes the revelation of Himself as the Creator and covenanting God. This includes all the covenant promises given to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This includes the revelation of His judgment: the flood, the tower of Babel, Sodom and Gomorrah, the ten plagues, and so on. Also included were all the acts of salvation done by God: such as the salvation of believing Noah and his family at the time of the flood, Israel's deliverance from the bondage of Egypt, the sparing of Israel as she walked safely through the Red Sea, and the preservation of Israel in the wilderness.
There is one revelation that dominated all others up to this point in time – namely, the law given at Mount Sinai. This law regulated Israel's life in the covenant. This law consisted of the moral law that guided Israel's behavior generally. It also consisted of civil and ceremonial laws that proclaimed the salvation of God and pointed Israel ahead to the coming Messiah. The Mosaic law also spoke of the blessings that would come upon Israel for covenant faithfulness and the punishment that would come upon Israel for covenant unfaithfulness.
Under the inspiration of God, it was Moses who had recorded all these things revealed in the first five books of the Bible.
B The "things revealed belong to us and to our children forever." This should thrill us and this should scare us. We should take this as a promise and as a warning.
The "things revealed belong to us and to our children forever." What is their purpose? Why have they been revealed? So that we may know God and Christ Jesus sent by God. The purpose of the things revealed is faith in Jesus as Savior and trust in Him as Lord.
The "things revealed belong to us and to our children forever." God has not revealed everything about Himself, His ways, and His plans. But He has revealed more than enough for us to know the plan of salvation and to believe.
The "things revealed belong to us and to our children forever." This says something about how important it is to be a student of Scripture. This says something about how important it is to come under the pure preaching of the Word. This says something about the importance of regular devotions. Scripture is like a cup of water in a dry and thirsty land. Do you just let the cup sit there or do you take and drink? Likewise, we need to drink deeply from the well of living water as we find it in the Word of God. For, we cannot intimately know God as the God of our salvation, unless we first know the things revealed.
C I want you to notice that the things revealed belong also to our children and grandchildren. This is in keeping with the covenant – for the covenant, as you know, is with believers and their children. God's revelation is also for the salvation of our little ones and youth. For that reason, godly parents are duty-bound to instruct their children from God's revelation. Godly parents are to provide this instruction in their homes and through the church. It is wise also for parents to provide this same instruction in the schooling given their children.
And let us remember that this instruction must contain the whole counsel of God. That is, children need to be told that God's blessing only comes by way of faithfulness to God's covenant. And, children need to told that God's judgment is given for covenant unfaithfulness.
D Did you notice that attached to the things revealed is a call to discipleship? The things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, "that we may follow all the words of this law." Only as Israel did all the words of the law would she receive the great blessings of the covenant.
This is not to be understood as a work's righteousness. The law, you see, pointed Israel to Christ, so that doing the works of the law focuses on clinging to and living out of the promised Christ.
The great blessings of the covenant are still found today in faithfulness to this law.
Much of the law has fallen away with the coming of Christ. This is true of maintaining the tabernacle and the priesthood, offering up bloody sacrifices, and celebrating Old Testament feast days. Yet the law's essence remains in that it points us to Christ. The moral law of the Ten Commandments still remains as a guide for the life we are to live in Christ Jesus.
Only as we do the words of the law will we find the blessings of the covenant. The things revealed are given to us that we receive the blessings of the covenant.
III The Secret Things
A "The things revealed belong to us and to our children forever." But, "the secret things belong to the LORD our God."
I have already said that we know God but we don't know everything about God. So, what are the "secret things that belong to the LORD our God"?
You might realize that this verse has been wrongly applied to God's eternal decrees. It is especially God's decree of predestination that is declared to be a secret thing. This argument says God's decrees are so complex and so lofty that we cannot know them or understand them. Those who promote this kind of thinking do not want us to think or talk about predestination and God's sovereignty. As I mentioned, this is the wrong application of this verse. It reflect bad thinking and bad theology.
The "secret things" cannot be God's eternal decrees. The "secret things" cannot be predestination and election. The "secret things" cannot be God's sovereignty over salvation. Why do I say this? Because God has revealed much about this in Scripture. He hasn't revealed everything. He hasn't revealed everything we may want to know. But He has revealed much.
For instance, God has revealed the fact that He has predetermined the eternal destiny of men and angels. He has also revealed that His decree of predestination is twofold, i.e., election and reprobation. He has revealed that predestination is sovereign. He has revealed that predestination is unconditional. He has revealed that predestination is not based upon foreseen faith and good works. He has revealed that faith and good works are the fruit of election. All of this has been revealed to us. There is nothing hidden or secret about any of this. Therefore, they must be preached to us as part of the Gospel.
B So, what are the "secret things"? We don't know the future. We don't know the day or hour of Christ's return. We don't know the day or hour of our death. We don't know the evil that God permits in our lives. We don't know the hardship that awaits us or our children. We don't know what the future holds for us. We don't know and fully understand the being of God.
Keep in mind the context: Moses promises covenant blessings for covenant faithfulness and warns about covenant curse for covenant disobedience. We hope and pray for the former when it comes to friends, family, and fellow church members but we don't know for sure. Only God knows whether or not we and our children will be faithful. Only God knows who is elect and who is reprobate.
By the grace and providence of God many of these secret things may be revealed in the future. Certainly the counsel of God will be revealed to us as it unfolds in our lives and the lives of our children. And, in eternity we will come to know more of the being and works of God. But for the present these things are not for us to know. They are the secret things of God.
C As to what the Lord our God has kept from us, we must live by faith in God and His promises. We are not to pry into the secret things of God with all sorts of curiosity and speculation. Rather, by faith we must trust in God even though there are things we don't understand, and may never understand. By faith we must trust that the Lord is fair and just in all His ways, even though we are not able to see it. And, we must always trust the Lord to bless us abundantly when we walk in the way of faithfulness.
"The secret things belong to the LORD our God." "But the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law."
Let us, then, turn our attention with an eager heart to the things revealed. Let us with our children attend the church where this revelation is faithfully preached. Let us study this revelation in our homes with our children and grandchildren. Let us embrace it with a believing heart. And, let us live it with an obedient life.
If we do this, God's promise is blessing after covenant blessing.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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