Dr. Ed Young - The Way of God
You can't blend in when God gave you the calling to stand out. God has a message delivered to the world through everybody that's here, everybody on the planet. If that message does not get through to the world, through your life, that message will never be delivered. We're not here, ladies and gentlemen to blend in. We are here to stand out. The children of Israel had been in captivity for 400 years, slaves in Egypt. They'd forgotten who they are. They'd forgotten the worship that they'd experienced, they'd departed from understanding the heritage that was theirs beginning of Abraham.
Four hundred years; slaves. How long is 400 years? America, the United States had been in existence or 242 years. Four hundred years in slavery. Moses leads them out, the miracles of the plagues, Pharaoh said, "Go," and the wonderful moments when God parted the Red Sea, and they went there into the Sinai Peninsula. Now, I want you to notice something you may have missed. Moses was charged with leading a million and a half people who had been in slavery for 400 years. He was charged with feeding them, settling their disputes, having water for them, and when they crossed that sea, they went into the one of the most desert wildernesses, abandoned places on the face of this earth, the Sinai Peninsula. And there, they wondered around moving toward Mount Sinai for only three months, only three months.
Think about it. I don't know anybody in all of history who's given a most staggering, overwhelming assignment than was given to Moses. I don't think you can name anybody else. Million and a half people, feed, clothe, look after, settle all their disputes, and they make their way to Mount Sinai. Now, I've been to Mount Sinai once years ago. I was in Israel and I had took a day off, and four of us rented a little plane and we flew from Tel Aviv, Israel, and landed on a little, bitty strip about as long as this aisle, there in Sinai, right at the foot of Mount Sinai. And we thought we'd be able to climb the mountain, but we got there a little late and they said it takes two and a half hours to walk up, and we didn't have time to walk up and get back down.
So I just wondered around that deserted area right there, for about two hours until the plane took us back from Egypt into Israel. It's the end of the earth, it looked like to me. How anybody could live there for a week would be beyond my imagination, but Moses with the assistance of God, with the manna, with the cloud, with the fire that warmed them at night, and with the water that God supplied, they existed and the whole area was full of conflict. Can you imagine? I've tried to put myself in Moses' plight.
Man, here's a million and a half people, and we're out there in the middle of nowhere with nothing, and then all of a sudden, God says, "Go to Mount Sinai and I'm going to give you some instructions". How they needed instructions. They didn't know how to live, they didn't know how to provide for themselves, they didn't know what to do, they didn't know up from down, right from wrong. They had no really religious moorings, and they go to Mount Sinai.
Now, understand something, grace comes before law. By God's grace they were led out of slavery into Sinai on the way to the Promised Land. That was all grace. Unmerited favor, unmerited love. Take ya out of bondage, take ya into freedom. That was grace. Grace always comes before law. It was God's grace and then there was law, and then they were at the foot of Mount Sinai where God was to meet with them and give them clear instructions as to how they should live. Listen to it, it is one of the most dramatic scene, maybe the most dramatic scene in all the Bible externally.
Look at Exodus chapter number 19, verse 17, "And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Now, Mount Sinai was all in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire, and smoke ascended upon it like smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently, and it get louder and louder". He describes the scene. Here's a million and a half gathered around this mountain that is by the way, 7500 feet high may be four feet short of that. And you go to Sinai, there are two trails up today. One is a trail that takes two hours and a half to get to the top. Another one is called the trail of repentance, and it's almost straight up on the backside of where there's a monastery at the top.
And I'll tell you, if you went up that mountain on that trail of repentance, I guarantee you, you get to the top you'll be ready to repent. And this is what I was going to do, but the Mount was there and all the children of Israel gathered around, and all of a sudden, they see this dramatic display, the power of Almighty God. The glory of God came down on Mount Sinai. And you read it in the Scripture. It is one the most overwhelming scenes, earthquake, fire, smoke, thunder, lightning, sound of trumpets. I mean you there, all the children of Israel looked up to Sinai, and I am sure they felt and observed the transcendence of God.
Now follow me, God is transcendent, and they looked up and in awe and wonder and amazement. God was on that mountain. And then God tells Moses... by the way, Moses went up and down Sinai reading the Bible eight different times. He was a mediator between the people and Almighty God. And the people went there to meet God. When they got there, the Scripture says, "Moses, you talk to God. We don't think we want to talk with him". I mean here's this awesome, powerful display of his majesty, his glory and his might, and they said to Moses, "You go listen to what he has to say about how we are to live. We're going to stay down here". And God warned them. They put a no trespassing sign all around Mount Sinai, and they said keep the people back. And God said, "Moses, you tell anybody touches this mountain, they'll be instantly killed".
So God is displaying his awesomeness, his power and his glory. And God is indeed transcendent, ladies and gentlemen. He is transcendent. Why did God put on this display of power, and glory and might in such a spectacular way? Why do you think he did it? I think he did it to let all the people know that when he gave these instructions to Moses about how they were to live, they were words from him, from God Almighty himself. And when Moses came down out of that fiery mountain and had those tablets in their hand, they knew these were the commands of Almighty God himself. The Ten Commandments, not suggestions. Commands. We live in a day in which there is a giant debate philosophically, and the debate is about is there moral law? Is morality moral? Is morality permanent or is it optional?
So we talk about situational ethics. Well, whether something's right in law depends on the circumstances. It depends on the people. Oh no, no. There is absolute law. There are absolute principles. There absolute things that tell us this is right and that is wrong. People come to me and say, "You know pastor, a lot of the Bible I don't understand, and I just have a trouble with those confusing parts". You know that doesn't bother me. You know what bothers me? The part of the Bible I do understand. Does anybody have a problem understanding, "You shall not commit adultery". Is that confusing. "Wow, I wonder what that means"? It's what we do understand. God's immutable truths. And the thing about it, it works. It really gives us freedom in every area of life.
So we look at this first commandment. "The Lord, my God is one God. You shall have no other gods before me". There's one God. There's one God. Do you realize that may be the most profound discovery in all of time and history? There is one God because all of the world there were so many gods and goddesses, and temples and altars, but now the revelation comes there is one God and it is the living, true God that we see in God's Word, the Bible, and that's the first commandment. One God, it doesn't mean that he's first in line and some people interpret it like that. "You shall put no other God before me. I'm first and the other gods and goddesses fall in". No. In the Hebrew, he says, "I am the exclusive God. I am the one true God," and that's the first commandment.
And the second Commandments just underscores that start first commandment. It talks about no idols. What is an idol? Anything you and I put ahead of God is an idol. Any person, any activity, any hobby, any way we worship and we put it ahead, and he deals with that in the second commandment. "You shall not make for yourself an idol or any likeness of what's is in heaven above, or earth beneath or the water under the earth," and he goes on and talks about idolatry. Aren't we glad that all those old pagan gods and goddesses are no longer worshiped like you see in Egypt and around the world? Isn't it wonderful that all those gods are now dead and buried and we no longer look at them? You believe that? No, they've taken on new names. We talked about Aphrodite.
"Oh, is that God still being worshiped? The God of sex and sensuality and pleasure"? "Oh sure. It's big time". What about Bacchus? We get any Bacchus worshipers? The God of drink. My goodness, you think tobacco causes lung cancer and infringes on health. Everybody agrees with that. Let me tell you something, the number one health problem in the world is alcohol today. For a long time, people didn't believe. "Well, smoking you know it really doesn't harm yourself, lung cancer, and you know it's, and oh, I think..." Nobody debates that anymore that I know of except the two or three idiots who sell it. And I am telling you the returns are in on alcohol today, and the returns are far more convincing at the deadliness of it than we ever saw anything with the use of tobacco.
Bacchus, oh they worship that, and that's another god and goddess that we have operated in the lives of many of us who are right here. And then what about Mammon? Is the God Mammon worshiped? Sure it is. "I want more stuff, I want more things, I don't have enough," and we worship money, and prestige and things. Pleasure. Hedonism. All those little gods and goddesses the Egyptians had, we have them and they have multiplied, and they've become idols in your life and in my life. Anything we put ahead of God, a wife, or a husband, or children, that becomes an idol to us.
God says, "There's only one. Put nothing ahead of me". Number two, "You make no idols". And then number three, look at the third commandment, he says, "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain but the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes his name in vain". How we hear that so much in our culture, the name of God. Let me tell me about the name of God and say it in the secular way. The name of God has been copyrighted. It's been copyrighted. And the name of God can be used only in entities, only in entities that the Bible has spelled out. And the exclusive franchise for the use of the name of God has been given to the church. And therefore, we use the name of God, it is copyrighted. In other words nobody else can use it outside the parameters presented in the franchise prescription and description we find in the Bible which is the property of the church.
For example, you start selling hamburgers, say, "You know, I'mma put a sign over my hamburger joint and call it McDonald's". You know what's gonna happen to you? Man, the law is going to come after you. That is a franchise name. Exclusively for McDonald's. Let me tell you something, God's name is franchised by him. It is described in the Bible how it is to be used and it's to be used only in the understanding of the church. And let me tell you something, those who take his name in vain, they will be charged by God Almighty. God will be the prosecutor, God will be the judge and God will be the jury. The name is sacred.
In the Hebrew world, somebody's name expressed all their character and their personality. When you named your children... I named my three sons. Edwin Barry Young indicated father, mother, authority over the child. Clifford Wesley Young, authority over that child. And I went through Benjamin Blake Young. My children, I held them. This is their name. Authority over that name. A name of God is a sacred, sacred name. Don't take it in vain. God judges those who takes his name in vain. There was a man who was flying home from a trip. He wanted to get some sleep, and behind him were two guys that were just cussing every other breath, God's name in vain, just loud.
They got louder and louder. And finally he couldn't handle it anymore, he didn't know what to do, and he just leaned over the seat, those men were there. And he said, "Gentlemen, you must be ministers". And they said, "Well, what makes you think that"? He said, "We heard you in one sentence say, 'God and damn and hell and Jesus Christ,' in one sentence. And he said, 'I'm a Bible study teacher and I can't put all that in one sentence like you men have". He said he turned around and they were quiet for the rest of the trip. We use God's name in vain in other ways. We say something like, "God told me. God told me".
Be careful, ladies and gentlemen, how we use God in a casual way. You know, and it will slip, "Well, God told me". Not God leads us. No, you know I understand. God, the Holy Spirit directs, but God told you? I know people in my position, they run the church on that basis. "As the pastor of this church, I want you to know, you can't argue because God told me". I mean oh, my goodness. Using God's name in vain. It is a reverent, holy thing and we have to be careful of that, as a just spew out these little pedestrian words that sound so pious. "God told me that we were supposed to have chicken and not fish for supper tonight". "God told me".
Be careful how we invoke the name of the Almighty. Don't take it silly, triviously. Don't take it in vain. Then the next commandment, we're getting in deeper water all the time, are we? What is it? "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all of your work". It goes on to tell us that even God rested in creation on the seventh day. Sunday, it's the new Sabbath, it's the day of resurrection. It was changed from Saturday to Sunday, celebrating the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. That's the reason folks. Every time we come to church it's really Easter. We're celebrating life beyond this life. And therefore, we need to keep one in the week sacred and holy.
What does that mean? I came up in a family, my mother and dad passed a law down that every Sunday afternoon we'd take a nap. It was a terrible thing. I mean I didn't like it. I didn't do it. I pretended to be asleep or I just waited and counted the minutes until I could go outside and play with my buddies. And Sunday isn't supposed to be a day of legalism. It's a day for recreation, that's worship, that's what we're doing. It's a day for recreation. I have no problem with that. It's a fun day, it's a celebratory day, it's a family day. It's a son, and daughter, and children and friendship day. I have no problem with that. It's recreation, it's re-creation. It's to rebuild your life, your body. But I'll tell you what's the problem, I see so many say, "Boy, Sunday I did this. I did that. I did that. I had to go back to work so I could rest". One in seven, we rest.
Somebody told me about a bum on the street and he was asking for money, and the guy had only $7 with them. He pulled out a five and two ones, and gave the beggar $6 and kept a dollar for himself. And the beggar then grabbed him and stole the other dollar. I mean what kind of crook is that? That's what we do. God gives us seven days. He says, "Take a day out of that to rest, to reflect, to recover, to worship, to enjoy life, family, friends. A day of celebration. Don't make it like any other day of the week". That's what Sunday's all about. And it should be a joyful time for us, a privileged time for us. Just one in seven to give honor and glory to the Almighty. So we have these commandments. Say, "Boy, they sure are limiting". Nor they are liberating. Inside these boundaries, there is love, and joy, and peace, and meaning, and we discovered that we are not here to blend in. We're here to stand out and to stand up for Christ.
You see, you take the name Christian, what does that mean? Hey, there is a Christian. We give definition to that name by the life you live and the life that I live. All these commandments are strong. One God, no idols, no substitutes. The name of the Lord is a holy, special name, and we're to take one in seven and give that day for re-creation, worship and even for recreation for family, and we recover and discover our identity and who we are. A man was a part of a small business, had about 30 employees, and they had made a lot of money, this small business, who appeared about 25, 26 years. But the founding owner of the business gathered all of them together one day and he gave them an announcement and said, "I'm terminally ill. I'm not going to live just a few weeks longer, and I wanted to thank all of you. We made a lot of money together these years. I want to express my appreciation to you".
And then he said, "Can anybody hear tell me, is there life after this life"? Now, one of the employees of that company was present. And he was telling this story to a friend of his in church. And he said, "Boy, when the boss man stood up and told us that, there were about 29 of us in the room. He said nobody said a word. He said, 'Can anybody tell me, is there life after this life?' And he said, 'Nobody said a word.'" And this man said, "Look, we're in church together. You've taught Bible study class. You could have told him about heaven, about God about Christ. You didn't say anything"?
He said, "No, I didn't say a word". He said, "Why"? Said, "You see I've worked with them for 20 plus years. They've heard my language. They know that I know there's another set of books. They know when we've shortchanged, and take some shortcuts, and we cheated and exploited suppliers, as well as our customers. They knew all of that". He said, "They know that I've gone with them to conventions in Las Vegas, and man, we've seen all the shows, and we slept with all the women that were available when we were out. So they know all of that about me". He said, "Therefore, when he said, 'Can anybody tell me about life after this life,' he said I knew but he said my life had closed my lips. My life closed my lips". Folks, we're not here to blend in.