Summary: God's Word is a powerful thing. It is where God is found, and the instrument that He works through.
Last week, when my wife and I were doing a 10 hour car trip with our four-year-old nephew, we did everything that we could to keep him entertained. As you do that, you can really scrape the bottom of the barrel in trying to find ways to keep him entertained and happy. At one point, we were looking around at our surroundings, and started to play Ispy. I would look around and see an object in the distance and say, “I spy with my little eye, something green! Where is it?” And he would take a look around and try to find something that was green. This only lasted a few minutes before the novelty of it wore off, but the concept that came into my mind didn’t. I wondered: what would this look like with spiritual things? How would this look with things of our faith?
For example, if I were to say, “where is God?” what would you say? A child might answer with heaven, church, or the cross. An adult might answer something similar. An unbeliever might answer “nowhere” since that person doesn’t think that God exists. How would you answer that question though? What would you say? Today, Paul helps us with our question of “where is God?” and all that the answer entails.
To help us answer this question, Paul takes us back to a pivotal point in the history of Israel. When you have a significant moment in your life, you can often remember the words that are spoken to you on those big days. Whether is what your parent may say as you make your first big purchase of a car or home. Maybe it is what your Dad told you as you graduated or got certified. You might be able to recall what a spouse told you at the birth of your first child. Whatever the event may be, we can remember what is spoken to us at big moments in our lives. These words stick with us.
As the people are about to enter the Promised Land, a high point in their lives, they are hearing the words of Moses, and these words stick with them. In Romans 10, Paul brings us back to this event. The people of Israel had been saved and brought out the land of Egypt. God had provided them water, food, and clothing throughout their 40 years of wandering in the desert. Before they enter the Promised Land, the people hear how they are to respond to what God has done for them. They were not told these things so that they could earn salvation by doing them. They never could. Moses tells them: “For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.”
Moses tells them that this word is not far from them. They know what it says and how they are live in response to what God has done for them. They know the story and their history. They don’t need to go all over the world searching for these things. In fact, it is in their very midst and accessible to them.
Paul the apostle sees this text from Deuteronomy 30 as having a fuller meaning and application in Jesus. He says that we don’t need to go up to the highest heights, heaven, to bring Christ down, or go to the deepest depths, down below, to bring Christ up from the dead. We don’t need to search all over or do impossible things. With the people of Israel, we too hear, “The Word is near you, in your mouth, and in your heart.” Our God and the message of salvation is found in Scripture. It is where our God chooses to be revealed. We don’t know Him apart from it, nor can we fully. Lutheran father Philip Melanchthon writes this when talking about this passage with these words, “God is found nowhere outside of His Word, or without His Word; He wants to be known through it. By means of this instrument He wants to work.” Our God is found in His Word, and this Word is found in our midst!
But what is this Word (and what does it do)? Paul tells us in the following verses. He says that it is the message that Jesus is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead. The word that Paul uses here for Lord is kurios, which is the same word used over 6,000 times in the Greek Old Testament for Yahweh, or Lord in all capital letters in our English Bibles. The word kurios confesses that Jesus is true and full God!