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APRIL19 2015

The Blessing of Obed

Part Two

 

Our Scripture reading is 2 Samuel 6:10-12. 

 

Last week we read the first 15 verses of 2 Samuel 6 and we saw how David’s desires and reactions to the Lord’s dealings very much reflect our own. We emphasized, though, the blessing of Obed-edom found here in our passage. We saw:

 

  • That the foremost item contained within the ark was the law of God on the tablets of stone.
  • The tablets were called the “tablets of the testimony” because the law testifies to who God is and the ark was called the ark of the testimony.
  • The law is eternal because God is eternal.
  • The law is moral because God is moral.
  • The law reflects love for God and love for our fellow man because God is love.
  • Where there is the presence of God’s law there is blessing for the blessed and cursing for the cursed.

 

We see that Obed and his entire household were blessed because the ark of the covenant remained in his house. I asked and answered the question, “Why did the blessing come to Obed?” The answer is: because God loves and blesses His law He dispenses his love and blessing where His law is. Further, the ark brings with it the presence of God Himself.

 

This morning I wish to ask two questions: How does the presence of God’s law bless? More simply, How does God’s law bless us? And, what blessings do we receive?

 

[I.] How does God’s law bless us?

 

[A.] It is appropriate to first state ways in which it does not bless us. It never does and never can bless us by justifying us, that is, by making us right before the eyes of God. The reason it can never justify us is because no matter how closely we follow it our current adherence can never make up for all the violations that each one of us is guilty. Further, even as committed Christians we continue to fall short of God’s standard as did the Jews before us.

 

Signor Dorando, the Italian champion, ran in the Marathon at Olympia in 1908. He was two laps ahead of the next competitor and only thirty yards from the goal when he suddenly collapsed. Slowly he recovered consciousness, as the crowd surged around him yelling and urging, He regained his feet. Had he even crawled in on hands and knees he would have won. But an ardent supporter, as Dorando tottered, put his hand on his back, with no pressure, and merely to steady him, as he afterwards said. Instantly the judges threw up their hands: Dorando had lost the race for the rules state that no runner can receive any physical assistance of any kind. The rules could not be bent.

 

Last week I attended the U.S. Chess Championships in St. Louis. On Friday Jael went with me and we were supporting Wesley So, originally from the Philippines, for obvious reasons. Wesley wrote a note to himself that simply said, “Double check your time.” He had to forfeit his whole game which resulted in him getting third instead of second: a difference of $10,000 for such a minor infraction. The rules state that no notes may be used. This even includes notes to oneself that have nothing to do with strategy or tactics.

 

The rules of men can be that strict. But God’s laws are even stricter! No violations are permitted. “But that is too strict!” Someone may say. I did not make this up. This is the reality of God’s demands. James tells us: For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. (2:10)

 

The first seven chapters of the book of Romans makes clear that no person will ever be blessed with salvation because of keeping the law.

 

[B.] The law does not bless through legalism. There are two great errors with respect to God’s law that men make. One is antinomianism. This word comes from two other words. Nomos in Greek means “law” and the familiar prefix anti means “against.” It is the doctrine that we no longer need to follow the law of God. Another more familiar term is also used to describe the practical results of believing antinomianism: license. Sadly, many Christians believe this error. Some take their cue from Paul’s statement in Galatians 5:18 that we are no longer under the law but they misconstrue Paul’s meaning. Paul uses that phrase to say that we are not justified by the law, which is clear from the first few verses of Galatians chapter 5, not that we are no longer obligated to live according to its direction.

 

The other great error is legalism. Legalism teaches that we must follow God’s law (another form of legalism adds man-made rules to the mix) in order to be acceptable to God. It says that God will only receive us or accept us if we obey Him. This is destructive and contrary to the love, grace, and mercy that the New Testament reveals as the Father’s character towards His own. It is a bad parent that makes their children’s acceptability contingent upon how well they behave. A good parent loves and accepts their children even in their failures. A bad god makes his devotees acceptability contingent upon how well they obey his laws. The true God loves and accepts His children even in their failures. That is the God that we have as revealed in Scripture.

 

We must avoid these two errors. The truth is that God loves us no more and no less whether we fulfill His will or fail to do so. But it is also true that it pleases Him when we live according to His will and it displeases Him when we do not. Blessings will follow those who live according to His revealed will, His law, and there will be a lack of blessing for those who do not. These truths are so often expressed throughout the Bible that only someone unfamiliar with the sacred text could say otherwise.

 

However, to say that blessings accompany His law and an absence of blessings are experienced in the absence of His law is not to say that He loves us less or accepts us less. They are two different things altogether.

 

Remembering our definition of legalism – that one must follow God’s law in order to be accepted by Him, the law does not bless through legalism; meaning: we must never think that our obedience to God merits our acceptability to Him.

 

[C.] The law does not bless by justifying and it does not bless through legalism. How does it bless? The law blesses by showing us what love is.

 

When an expert in God’s law tested Jesus by asking which of the commandments was the greatest, Jesus replied with two “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)

 

Then Jesus went on to say, “All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments. You see, there are many laws that the Lord has given in his holy word. The ten commandments are a summary of these laws. And the two commands that Jesus said were the most important are a summary of the ten commandments. The first table of the law expounds how we live out loving God and the second table what it looks like to love our neighbor.

 

We are a fallen people. We know we are supposed to love but we do not know how to do it. That is bad enough. But what makes matters worse is that we think we do know how to love. We do not. Oh, we know it partly. When a child is hungry we know that is a demonstration of love to give them nutritious food and it is a sign of the absence of love to let them go hungry. We know the basics. However, our fallen nature leads us into expressions of what we think is love but is not. This is why, as believers, we need God’s law.

 

Love itself must come from the work of the Spirit upon our hearts but we need God’s law to show us how to express that love.

 

The Bible holds law and love together. Love left to itself can degenerate into license. Law left to itself becomes legalism.

 

The law is a three-way expression of love. [1.] It demonstrates God’s love towards us. Who knows us better than God Himself? He created us and knows our innermost needs and desires.

 

  • He knows the needs of our human spirit.
  • He knows the things that make for peace in our minds.
  • He knows what most fully satisfies our emotional framework.
  • He knows what is best for our bodies since He is the Creator.

And God’s law meets those needs and desires as nothing else can. Therefore, God’s law demonstrates that he loves us – giving us a guide that most fully satisfies us in every way.

 

[2.] It shows our love towards God. The apostle John said as much in his first letter. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

(1 John 5:3 ESV)

The first tablet, containing the first four commandments, shows us how to love God.

 

[3.] It informs us how to live out our love towards our fellow human beings. People become so easily confused and self-deceived. They confuse feelings they have with true love, all the while mistreating or abusing those they claim that they love. A friend of mine just posted a picture of a church marquis that he saw. It read: “Love is a choice, not a feeling.” It is pithy but true. Love expresses itself and it expresses itself in the choices we make.

 

The second tablet, containing the other six commandments, shows us how to love people with our choices.

 

It’s the natural way to love!

 

[D.] The law also brings the blessing of God in a supernatural way. When the ark was in Obed-edom’s house there was a visible blessing that came Obed’s way. This was a prosperity that others noticed. Things began to happen in and around his life that were to his advantage. It was the hand of God in his favor.

 

The law then blesses both naturally, by showing us how to love and how to be loved, and supernaturally, by invoking the life-changing hand of God in and around us. This answers the question of how God’s law blesses.

 

[II.] What are the blessings that we receive? The first three verses of Psalm 1 answers this question for us. READ.

 

[A.] The person who delights in the law of the Lord will yield fruit in its season. One month ago I had a friend call me from Washington state. He is a brother in the Lord who is ten years older than me and who was experiencing a great deal of depression because he had come to realize to his chagrin that the last 20 years of his life, maybe even his whole Christian walk bore no fruit. He had tried to do so many different things in serving the Lord and each one resulted in absolutely nothing. Then he shared the reason why he thought that this was so: there was a sin in his life that he had been self-deceived by. He engaged in it for years while convincing himself that it was not a sin. His assessment of his condition was right. He only needed an assurance of God’s love and a hope for the future which I believe I helped to give him.

 

You see, he was not bearing fruit because he was living in disobedience. He wasn’t delighting in God’s law. Bearing fruit is a blessing of the law.

 

[B.] The person who delights in God’s law has a leaf that does not whither. What does the leaf represent? According to Ezekiel 47:12 and Revelation 22:2, leaves are for healing. The one who delights in God’s law has the power to heal others. Healing physical maladies is a power that all disciples have in some measure; though some have the special gift. Yet, God is more concerned with the healing of broken lives and broken hearts than our bodies because our hearts go with us after this life. When the Lord returns we will receive a completely new body. Hence, God is working on that which lasts in a greater way than He is upon that which perishes.

 

For the one who delights in God’s law there will be no diminishment in their ability to minister life and healing to others.

 

[C.] The person who delights in God’s law prospers in what he does. When a person’s ways are right with the Lord his endeavors are blessed.

 

  • The work at a job turns out well.
  • The work at home turns out well.
  • The labors on behalf of the Lord are auspicious.
  • Relationships are good.
  • There is even financial prosperity. But, unlike what some teachers today try to assert, it is not some kind of “law” where God is obligated to bless you financially. Rather, it is a principle that generally holds true. There are exceptions.

 

Prosperity is a blessing of God’s law. We saw it in Obed-edom’s life and we see it here in Psalm 1.

 

What are the blessings of God’s law? It causes us to bear fruit. Our ability to heal the ravages of sin will not whither. And it causes us to prosper.

 

[III.] “You have convinced me of the blessings associated with God’s law. Now how do I make it Mine?” It is indeed good to learn of the great benefits that accompany His law but we must apply this knowledge to the way we live. How do I make the blessings real?

 

[A.] Locate God’s law in your home. I mean physically possess the ten commandments and display them prominently in your home. There is an adage that goes like this: “Possession is 9/10 of the law,” meaning that ownership is easier to establish if one actually possesses the object. That saying has to do with disputed ownership of property. Do you really have the commandments? Then show it to be so.

 

Obed was blessed because the ark, of which the law was the principle object, was physically in his house. I am saying that the physical presence of the law, the printed words, in your house will bring a blessing. “Preacher, that is silly and superstitious.” Maybe it is. Prove me wrong. Some people get offended when they are shown they are wrong. I like to be shown that I’m wrong. Because I do not want to do or teach things that are wrong. Please prove me wrong. Get the Ten Commandments and put them on your wall in a prominent place. Get back with me in three months and tell me what happened. It is a divine experiment.

 

Locate God’s law in your home.

 

[B.] Love God’s law. David said more than once, “Oh, how I love your law!” Jesus loved the law. Remember the church sign? Love is a choice. You can choose to love God’s law. When you love something or someone it becomes so easy, so pleasant, to spend time with that object or person – to make them a part of you. Love His law!

 

[C.] Learn God’s law. It is good to locate it, that is, to possess it and display it; but we should not just look at it. We should learn it. That will take a little study and some meditation. The Lord said that he would write His laws in our minds and upon our hearts. He will do that. But it takes our cooperation. That cooperation is learning it.

 

[D.] Finally, we must live God’s law. Learning is indispensable but it is not the end result. The intended result is for us to live it. Do you what makes it easy to live? When we love it! When you love it the living of it comes without much effort…because we do the things we love. It is that simple.

 

There will, of course, be times when we are tempted because we love other things too. But love is a choice and we can choose to live according to his precepts by the power of His Spirit who indwells us. Hallelujah! He is in us and He empowers us to live out God’s blessings!

 

Are you ready for the blessing of Obed? Then:

 

  • locate God’s law in your home.
  • Love it, that is, locate it in your heart.
  • Learn it, that is, locate in your mind
  • And live it, locate it in your everyday choices.

 

Then wait for the ricochet.