New Rockford Transcript - Official Newspaper of Eddy County since 1883

By Mindy Meier
First Congregational Church 

Sermonette: Oct. 14, 2019


October 14, 2019

Moses declares the Ten Commandments two different times in his lifetime: once on Mount Sinai, just after God freed the Israelites from slavery, and again 40 years later, at the end of Moses’ life, just before the Israelites enter the Promised Land. In this second declaration, Moses says, “It was not with our ancestors that the Lord made this covenant, but with us, with all of us who are alive here today” (Deuteronomy 5:3). Moses is saying that these commandments are for those who are gathered there. Is this even true? What about those who heard them first?

In English, emphasis is given to something with a string of colorful adjectives. We might describe a person we admire as “the most honest, brave, strong, loving, gentle, beautiful, smart person in the world!” Hebrew is different. In Hebrew, emphasis comes from repetition. This is why we hear, over and over, all throughout the Old Testament, about God freeing the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. It’s repeated endlessly. Because every time it’s repeated, it adds emphasis and meaning to the event.

The NIV translation of verse 3 (above) doesn’t quite get at what the Hebrew says. Literally, verse 3: “[this covenant was made] with us, we, these, here, today, all of us, the living.” Because of the repetition in just one verse, Old Testament scholars believe this verse to be among the most important verses in the Hebrew bible, especially in regard to how we read Scripture. These laws, given there on that day, are for whoever is receiving them at the time.

It’s sometimes easy to wonder what this archaic book (more accurately, group of books) could possibly mean for us in 2019. Moses emphasizes that scriptural stories are for and about you, right here, right now. They’re about your lives, and the lives of your loved ones. The story of Abraham and Sarah isn’t just about them a long, long time ago. The story of Abraham and Sarah is about how God calls you to amazing things; how to be patient; how God can create miracles even in the lives of those who aren’t as faithful as they should be; how you are part of the promise.

Even if you’re not sure what you think about the Bible, you might enjoy reading about the lives of ordinary human beings, struggling to find meaning in their lives, trying to balance power or an utter-lack-thereof, tripping over their own self-centeredness, putting themselves above others. And mostly, read about God who loves no matter what, who promises to never abandon us, who never gives up on humanity. All glory be to God.


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