Summary: The human heart -- the internal, invisible center of our being -- needs some work that only God can do.

Introduction to the Series, followed by the sermon

"The Problem Within" from Deuteronomy 5:28-29, 10:12-16; 30:6

Introduction can be used as a bulletin instery

Jesus Favorite Book: Deuteronomy

An introduction to our series

By Ed Vasicek

"The fifth book of the Pentateuch is …a new and fresh statement of Yahweh’s covenant purposes to a new generation in a new place with new prospects. The nation with whom the Sinai covenant had been made had died in the wilderness and so was no longer on the scene (Num 14:26-35). Deuteronomy was addressed to their offspring who were poised to enter the land of promise, and needed reassurance of Yahweh’s covenant promises in light of the challenge of impending conquest and settlement.

"…In light of the indisputable connection between form and function, it is safe to say that the concept of covenant lies at the center of the theology of Deuteronomy." Deuteronomy follows the pattern of Suzerain treaties (between "lords" and "vassals") of that culture and era. [Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology]

Our current series is not really so much about the Book of Deuteronomy as it is about the portions of Deuteronomy Jesus expounded. Jesus was one of hundreds of Rabbis who roamed the countryside with bands of disciples. Jewish society primed young men to give up months or even a few years of their lives to follow a Rabbi and study the Torah. Although Jesus was not just another Rabbi -- but the Son of God, our Savior and Lord -- He was not perceived as such when His disciples originally followed Him.

"Parables such as Jesus used were extremely prevalent among ancient Jewish sages, and over 4,000 of them have survived in rabbinic literature…the rabbis of Jesus’ day spent much of their time traveling throughout the country…to communicate their teachings and interpretations of Scripture. An itinerant rabbi was the norm rather than the exception. Hundreds and perhaps thousands of such rabbis circulated in the land of Israel in the first century.

"To ’make many disciples’ was one of the three earliest sayings recorded in the Mishnah, and perhaps the highest calling of a rabbi. Often he would select and train large numbers of disciples, but he was perfectly willing to teach as few as two or three students. It is recorded that the Apostle Paul’s teacher Gamaliel had one thousand disciples who studied with him." [from, "New Light on the Difficult Words of Jesus" by David Bivin, pp 12-14].

Although Jesus taught original material, much of His teaching was similar to that of other Rabbis; Jesus took portions of the Torah (first 5 books of the Bible) and gave His disciples a midrash. A "midrash" is defined by Bivin as, "A rabbinic interpretation or expansion of a Bible text with a story to explain the passage." I believe that most of, The Sermon on the Mount, for example, is a midrash from Deuteronomy 15:7-20 and Leviticus 19:9-18, 34. The key to interpretation: find the passage being expanded!

The book of the Old Testament Jesus quoted most (based upon what is recorded in the Gospels) is Deuteronomy. In addition, many of His teachings seem to be a midrash from Deuteronomy; the connection can be demonstrated but not proven (you can be the judge as our series progresses).

Boldly Going Where We’ve Never Gone Before

This series is unique, as far as I know. We will begin with an exposition of the text in Deuteronomy and then observe what I am proposing in Jesus’ midrash on that text. If I am wrong about these being midrashim (the plural of midrash) in an instance or two -- we are still on target, because carefully observing and applying Scripture can’t be wrong!

I anticipate 12-18 messages in this series. Needless to say, I am eager to get started!

**************************** Sermon Below *********************

The Problem Within

Deuteronomy 5:28-29, 10:12-16; 30:6

Main Idea: The human heart -- the internal, invisible center of our being -- needs some work that only God can do.

I. Man’s Problem Is In His HEART (Deuteronomy 5:28-29; 10:12-16, 30:6)

A. God wants us to serve Him with all our HEARTS

1. The people had bursts of faith and zeal

2. But they lacked faithfulness

3. Revivalistic Christianity nurtures this "up and down" attitude

4. Blasts and bursts of tremendous zeal are inferior to a steady walk

B. Our hearts are not INCLINED to do so

1. We all have an evil inclination, a sin nature -- even we who have believed

2. Psalm 86:11, David prayed, "Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name."

3. By nature, our allegiance is fickle.

4. According to the Talmud, "Our Rabbis taught: Man has two kidneys, one of which prompts him to good, the other to evil; and it is natural to suppose that the good one is on his right side and the bad one on his left, as it is written, A wise man’s understanding is at his right hand, but a fool’s understanding is at his left." Berakoth, 61a

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