Monday, February 3, 2014

Bigger Than the Scout Law; Psalm 19

In our litany this morning, we heard the Scout Law and saw how all the points of the Boy Scout Law connect to God’s word and God’s commandments. God’s law found in God’s word is even bigger and more important than the Scout Law. In the children’s message, we learned that God’s law is better than the sweetest honey and lots of the finest gold. God’s law is so wonderful because it reveals the glory of God. Our psalm also tells us that creation reveals the glory of God. Whether originally written as one psalm or later combined together, the two parts of Psalm 19 make a whole, stating that the revelation of God is amazing. Both creation and God’s law involve the word of God spoken. God created the world by speaking it into existence. God spoke the law to Moses on Mt. Sinai. In return both speak. “The heavens declare the glory of God.” The glory of God is the part of God that is visible. I listened to a fascinating lecture series on the original meaning of the zodiac. The stars tell the same story that the Bible tells—the story of Creation, the Fall, our search for God, God’s pursuit of us, our struggle with sin, the sending of Jesus as our sacrifice and savior, our reconciliation with God, Jesus as the Groom and the Church as the Bride. The psalmist particularly points out the movements of the sun. God’s light is brighter than the sun’s. The sun also points to Jesus as the Bridegroom. The prophet Malachi calls Jesus “the Sun of Righteousness.” We also know the movements of the stars and planets are controlled by physical laws. These physical laws point to the moral law that God gave Moses. It’s all there in the sky! God’s handiwork isn’t just in the creation itself, which indeed is marvelous, but in the story that Creation tells, the revelation of God’s glory. The heavens speak without words. God’s law, the Scriptures, tell the God’s story with written words. J. Clinton McCann Jr. puts it this way: “God has broken through the silence of nature with the written word.” First they were spoken words, passed down until they were written. Then God wrote the 10 Commandments Himself in stone tablets. God also revealed God’s name—Yahweh, “I AM”. God’s commandments, laws, statutes, and precepts warn God’s servants. Again from McCann: “The instruction of the Lord is all encompassing, restoring human life.” God’s law tells us what it means to be human at its best. Just as the sun’s orbit is described as all encompassing, so is the law is. And indeed, you find laws about everything, some of them quite particular and peculiar to us. But our lives need constant recreating, and each new day reminds us that we can begin again. Even more than the spoken word, creation and the Law involve the Living Word. Jesus Christ is the Living Word. We know this from the gospel of John—“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning of God.” That passage along with other Scriptures, like Colossians 1 tell us that Jesus created all things. Creation declares the glory of the Creator. The earth was made with care and intentionality by the Holy Trinity—Father, Son, and Spirit. As the living Word, when Jesus came to earth, He taught that He came to fulfill the Law, not to abolish it. Jesus shows us and gives us the full meaning of the law. He said that everything in the Law and in the Old Testament speak only of Him. Law and creation tell us that Jesus is the revelation of God. Again, Jesus said, “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.” Jesus is the visible glory of God. Paul tells us that in II Corinthians 4:6, “For God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” What Jesus, the Law and Creation reveal is that God is Love. Love is the highest Law. Love is bigger than the Scout Law or any other law, though if we follow the Scout Law and if we follow God’s precepts, statutes, and commandments, hopefully we will be loving. It is never enough to know the law; it must move from the heavens to our hearts. Our psalm ends with the statement that in keeping God’s laws is great reward, but immediately after this, the psalmist exclaims, “Who can detect or discern errors?” In other words, who knows their own hearts well enough to be able to say with confidence, “I’ve kept God’s law perfectly.” No one can! Not only do we not know the depths of our hearts, we also cannot keep God’s law perfectly. Just as we fail to keep the Scout promise or any other promise at times, we find it impossible to keep God’s law. We need the forgiveness that the God of Love offers every day through Jesus Christ. Even the psalmist realizes this and prays, “Cleanse me of my secret faults.” Forgive me for the things I don’t even know I do that are wrong. As God chooses to reveal God’s glory, we often try to hide our wrong actions, even from ourselves. That’s why in 12 step programs, the first step is to step out of denial. We sometimes like to think that what we do isn’t all that bad. So cleanse me from my secret faults. And then the prayer goes, “Let my thoughts and words be in tune with Yours, God.” God’s law is bigger than the Scout Law because it doesn’t just teach us how to live; it points to Jesus, who points to the fullness of the Godhead, who is Love. The God of Love wants so much to be known. God revealed Himself first through creation. Then God gave us the Law. Finally He came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus, the Living Word, did keep the Law perfectly. And Jesus can live in us. If Jesus lives in us, we are forgiven, and we are better able to keep God’s law of love through the power of the Holy Spirit. And so we respond in praise and wonder for the revelation of God’s love. If you do not know the God of Love, I pray that you will come to know Him. God has been using everything in creation and in your life to draw you to Himself. If you ask Him, God will give you the eyes to see Him, to behold His glory in the face of Jesus Christ. God is in hot pursuit of you because God loves you. If you are beginning to realize this for the first time, and you know that God loves you and wants to have a relationship with you, you can begin that today. You don’t have to know or understand everything. Pray with me as I pray or use your own words, but let God know that He’s got your attention, and you want to know this love.

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