“Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons, specially the day that thou stoodest before thy God in Horeb, when the Lord said unto me, Gather Me the people together, and I will make them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children”. Deut. 4:9, 10
THE THINGS WHICH THINE EYES HAVE SEEN! What are they?
In general we may say that they are the things of God’s covenant.
Positively, they are Moses, Aaron and Miriam; the deliverance from Egypt’s bondage, the Passover, the journey through the Red Sea, and through the wilderness so far.
Negatively, they are the destruction of Pharaoh and his host, the plagues upon them, the beginning of the destruction of the wicked in Canaan, as also the destruction of Amelek.
They also included the destruction of the wicked among them, Korah, Dathan and Abiram, and also whatever seed of the devil was among them.
They all are the things which their eyes had seen.
But there is more.
They also included the Law in its broadest sense of the word. The Law as the self-revelation of that great and terrible God.
I said, in the broadest sense of the word, because this Law covered the entire life of Israel, and comprised the moral law, or the 10 words; their civil life and the ceremonial side of their existence.
And never forget: that Law of God was beautiful. Read the three verses which precede my text and you will see it: “Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who hath a God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon Him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?”
In particular, the things which their eyes had seen were the fact that Israel stood under the mountain of God and saw and heard the burning with fire unto the midst of heaven, the darkness and the clouds and the thick darkness, the ten words, declaring His covenant, commanding Israel to perform the ten words, as also these ten words written, engraved on two tables of stone.
All of that Israel saw and heard.
But we live several thousands of years later.
All the above is fulfilled in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Jesus stood under the Mount of God: the commandment was His, as also the darkness, clouds, and thick darkness. The Law of God was carved in granite: there was no change possible. There He stood in the trembling of eternal death.
Did you see it?
It is of the utmost importance that you SEE this.
Listen to this: Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.
Listen to Paul: But if our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost, in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ who is the Image of God should shine unto them.
Or listen to Mark: And He said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the Kingdom of God: but unto them that are without all these things are done in parables: that seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.
However, on the other hand, listen to the LIVING Christian: But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor ….
The same thing pertains to the church today as in the days of Moses, Aaron and Miriam: we see the things of the covenant of God.
God’s people are still standing under the Mount of God: trembling because of the sound and the sight of everlasting burnings and darkness.
It is the fulfillment when Christ suffered and died on Golgotha and two kinds of people trembled: the wicked with a trembling of the fear of death, and the good and faithful who also trembled, but it was the trembling of the fear of God which is clean.
And here we are today, so many years later.
But the things which Moses mentioned, the things asserted by Paul and Mark and Jesus are still with us. And still the people tremble.
And as your view is so you tremble.
There was a lot of trembling here a few years ago when Jehovah paid us a special visit: a tornado.
There is much of the same kind of trembling in the depths of the hearts of wicked men, but we see it not. It is hidden. Only God knows of that trembling. God wrote of it often in the Bible. There is always that trembling, a slavish fear of God.
And in the great day of Jesus Christ this trembling will become visible and audible. For then the nations of the world shall say: Mountains fall upon us and hills cover us from the EYE of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb!
You see, it was always there, but in unrighteousness the wicked always kept it under, and so you did not see it. But it is there.
So also the trembling which has its source in the fear of God and the love of God.
And here is a fundamental point: in the same measure that your view of the things of the Kingdom of God is pure, so you tremble.
In 1924 we were given a view of the things of God’s Kingdom which was beautiful: and the Protestant Reformed Churches were born.
We sustained a grievous and severe test in the years 1949-1953, but we emerged from this test victorious, though our number sunk.
The majority rejected the purest view of God and of Christ, and they are in the process of returning to their own vomit. God will judge in that great day. We have a deep pity for them. They knew not what they did.
But you may be sure of this: the view is gradual. All do not see the beautiful fire on the Mountain of God. Nor the great darkness and the thick darkness of Golgotha. None see it as God and Christ see it. And the angels. But the more you see these things of the Kingdom of God the more you have heaven in your hearts. And you tremble. Was it Isaiah who said that there is a people that tremble at His Word?
And how many of you heard that strange song: “Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Did you tremble . . . . ?”
That is true.
The crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ is the greatest fact of history by far. It is the focal point of all history of creation and of re-creation. Of time and of eternity.
And what shall we do with that focal point?
Take heed to thyself!
What does that mean?
It means that you watch over yourself; that you listen to yourself; criticize yourself; condemn your wicked self.
Its implications are that you keep your soul diligently. That you save your soul, that you keep it as a peculiar treasure. Listen to Jesus: “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
Listen to Moses in my text: “Lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen and lest they depart from thy heart . . .
Learn to fear Me!
Note: it is a matter of learning!
Why do you think did we build our own schools? And why did we do this at a great expense and sacrifice again and again?
And here is the answer: “Teach them (i.e. the things of the Kingdom of God and of His covenant) thy sons and thy sons’ sons.”
You saw the vision yourself. And there is a hunger, a yearning in your heart that your children and children’s children also may see the same things, that is, the same God and the same Christ under the Mountain of God.
Shall we send our children to the public school? God forbid.
Shall we send our children to the Christian Reformed Schools? God forbid.
No, but we shall send them to the schools that teach those things of God, of Christ and of His covenant such as we have loved for so long!
“Gather Me the people together!”
That is the Voice of God Himself!
What shall we say and do then? When He speaks it is the end of all argument.
We will gather the people of God together in the church, the catechism, the home, but also the school. For the object of this gathering is “learning to fear Me.”
And the extent? “All the days that they shall live upon the earth.”
And that they may teach their children.
This is a call to the dedication and re-dedication of the whole church of Jesus Christ.
If the majority be proven disloyal, disobedient, and if the number of those that tremble be small and ever smaller, we shall continue to teach our children the learning of God, the learning of the cross, the learning of the covenant of God.
The day will come, and thinking of it makes me tremble, that the children shall condemn the parents before the face of God.
Then they shall say: Why did you not tell us of these things?
Rather, let us take heed to ourselves; let us keep, save our soul diligently; and let us tell our sons’ sons, both by ourselves and through others, the beautiful things of God!