Mad About You

by Jonathan Whitaker
in Blog

I have been procrastinating writing a blog for months.  I’ll ask you not to scroll down to my last blog to do the math on just how long it has been.  So without further ado…

Speaking of beloved 90’s sitcom “Mad About You,” (a bad transition is better than none at all)  I have been lingering in the book of Deuteronomy in my year through the Bible read and every time I crack the Book open to Deuteronomy, I can’t help but think of “Mad About You.”  “Why on earth?” you might ask.  Well, one of the recurring characters on the show was Uncle Phil, played by one of the greatest comedic actors of the last -- well, ever -- Mel Brooks.  In one episode, the main couple in the show, Paul and Jamie, (Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt) find out Uncle Phil is dying.  In an act of kindness toward dear old Uncle Phil, Paul promises to name his soon-to-be born child after his uncle.  The only problem is “Phil” is not Phil’s real name -- his real name is Deuteronomy.  Did I mention Phil is Jewish?  This always made me giggle (the name not the Jewish thing). 

The word Deuteronomy is derived from a Greek compound word deuteros nomos, which means “second law.”  The name suggests that there are two sets of law.  There aren’t two sets of law in the Bible, just the one. The name is confusing.  Deuteronomy is really a retelling by Moses of the Law found in Leviticus.  The book contains the majority of Moses’s sermons found in scripture.  Moses gave these sermons to a group of Israelites who either weren’t born yet or were very young when God dragged Israel out of slavery by the hand.  You may remember that shortly after leaving Egypt, Israel failed to enter the promised land because they did not trust that God would protect them.  Moses gave the law a second time to remind Israel of the greatness of the God they serve, so they would not fail to enter the promised land for a second time. 

We serve the Great God of the universe!  Like Israel, we need to hear that a second, third, fourth (and on, and on) time.  Deuteronomy chapter five is almost a word for word recounting of the Ten Commandments.  Great preacher’s tip from Moses -- if you got it right the first time, don’t mess with the format on your next delivery.  I was struck by how much time Moses spent on commandments one through four and how little was devoted to commandments six through nine (murder, adultery, stealing, lying).  It is really no surprise, because the first commandments are devoted to man’s response to the living God, and the last six are devoted to how we treat one another. 

In the very next chapter, Moses said these are the commandments of God, but there is a greater commandment still, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deut 6:4-5) This command became a prayer known as the Shema.  It was recited daily by every Israelite, and is still recited to this day by practicing Jews.   When was the last time you loved God with all of your might?  This is good preaching.  Moses first laid out the scripture that they all knew (the Ten Commandments), then he said, “Ok the point of all of that is, GOD loved you more than you can conceive, so you love Him back with every fiber of your being.”  I think if we are being honest with ourselves, none of us really do that, and that is what has been missing from our worship, our service, our prayers, our very lives.  God gave us everything, and everything is all He wants from us in return. 

At Element Colorado Springs, we strive each week to remind you of the greatness of God, by sharing God’s truth found in His Word.  I can only imagine what it must have been like to sit under the preaching of Moses as he delivered this book to the people.  We certainly know the result: Israel was given a spirit of conquering and their hearts turned to God and His promised land.   When the most religious people asked Jesus Christ what the greatest commandment was, he simply quoted Deuteronomy chapter 6 and Leviticus 19.  He said a prayer that Hebrews from age 3 to 99 recited daily, “The greatest commandment is to love God,” and the other is like it, “love people.”   I suspect when God Himself gives it to you that straight, the effect is pretty powerful.  For a little perspective, the first time God gave them that law on Mount Sinai, Israel feared that if they were in His presence any longer, they would die.  Now God the Son stands in their midst, gives them the law, and they mock Him for it. 

Whoa, that got real heavy there.  You don’t need to beat yourself up over how you continue to fail God.  Just ask yourself, “did Jesus die for that sin too?”  The answer is yes, so repent, trust that His salvation is sufficient, and that He made you a new creation that can put one foot in front of the other and start loving God.  That is my simple plan.  God is amazing! Not only did He love us enough to die in our place, but He made us able to love Him in return.  And bonus, He probably won’t ask you to name one of your kids Deuteronomy.    

Blog over.  I won’t dilly-dally so much on my next installment.