God alone is truly without comparison. There is nothing with which to compare God. “Who is Like Our God?” No one, and here’s why: Our God gives us a perfect Law so that we might live and one day come to heaven. (1) “And now, O Israel, give heed to the statutes and the ordinances which I teach you, and do them; that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, gives you. The Word of God is for us life itself – both here in this world and forever more in the one to come! Where there is God’s Word there is Life, and nowhere else.
Further, we read in Moses’ words that God’s Law is perfect requiring neither addition nor subtraction. (2) You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it; that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. It is not for us to shave a few verses from Paul here, or tack on a couple of thoughts from our own personal experience there. God’s Law stands perfectly whole and perfectly adequate just the way He chose to give it to us. And make no mistake about it, what you have in the Bible is what He gave to you … it has not changed one word since the day it was recorded.
Sometimes, however, we have the tendency to doubt these blanket promises of God (after all what can His Word really say to the situation I’m facing here and now?) We sometimes find ourselves doubting that His Word is enough and would rather modify the Law to suit our tastes. Perhaps we add to the law as the Pharisees did. As Mark recorded in our Gospel reading: (Mark 7:3-4) For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they wash their hands, observing the tradition of the elders; and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they purify themselves; and there are many other traditions which they observe, the washing of cups and pots and vessels of bronze.
Where can you find this command in the Law of God? You can’t … not in this way or for those reasons. But a hundred little laws that are easy to keep feel much better to the ears than One single Law that is beyond our abilities to fulfill. You also can’t find a Law against having a glass of beer or wine, playing some cards with friends, or a boy and a girl going out dancing. But you will find them in the teachings of the Pharisees and other religious types that are out to prove something to God and man. These are sentiments that still echo in each one of our human hearts to this day. It is still easier to find a hundred little ways to prove our piety to the world than to actually and fully commit our body, mind, and soul to God. I can give up drinking easier than giving up my free time. I can excluded certain entertainments if that excuses me from all those tiresome commitments that put my wishes behind someone else. I can give up a little bit of me if I don’t have to have all of God all the time!
Or perhaps, in our doubts about God’s perfect Law we tend to subtract from that Law instead, to put it within our grasp. After all, He couldn’t seriously think anyone could live up to all that could He? And so we hear that the action isn’t so important as the intention. Or the action alone is more than enough – just do it whether you want to or not, and it still counts. And it’s not like you even have to do the whole thing – just enough to prove your sincere. Sunday morning values are only binding on Sundays right? In the morning, right? Again in our Old Testament and Gospel (Mark 7:6-8) And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, `This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’ You leave the commandment of God, and hold fast the tradition of men.”
We really aren’t very good at keeping God’s Law – not the way He commanded it. Indeed, we are really not so very different from the people of Isaiah’s day or the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. But whether we add a few extra touches of our own, or shave off a few of those nasty rough bits to get some kind of rules for living we like better, God’s Law remains perfectly incorruptible, and condemns us sinners to death. (1) “And now, O Israel, give heed to the statutes and the ordinances which I teach you, and do them; (6) Keep them and do them; Not just the ones you like, not those others that you find easy. These and no others. These you must keep perfectly. There is a right and a wrong – God’s Word is right and anything else is wrong! Who else do you hear something like this from in our world? No one. For no one is like our God, giving a perfect Law so that we might live, knowing full well that we are perfectly unable to live up to that law and so must die.
But then again, no one is like Our God who gives us a perfect Gospel so that we may live in Christ even after we have died in sin. (7) For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? These words were written through Moses, but fulfilled through Jesus. Our God is near to us Law-breaking sinners in His Son. He is so near to us that he became one of us, not changing the Law but actually fulfilling it perfectly. Nothing added, nothing taken away – everything done perfectly. Jesus kept those righteous judgments handed down by God on the stone tablets and in the scrolls of the Torah. He defeated all temptation, doing not what was easy or to his liking, but that which God demands in the Law – even to the point of dying on the cross to pay for all us law-makers and law-shavers. He is so near to us His death and resurrection assures us of His eternal peace.
Who in all heaven and earth is still yet like our God? No one, for He is near to us even now through His perfect Word and Holy Sacraments 7 For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? While we were yet sinners we were called by Baptism, clothed with Christ and given an inheritance in heaven itself. While we remain law-breakers Christ continues to come to us preaching the Law and His fulfillment of it that our hearts may be strengthened in faith. While we daily struggle with a Law that could kill … should kill, Jesus gives us his own Body and Blood for our life and salvation. A guarantee of forgiveness and everlasting joy at the Lord’s Banquet Table.
So then I ask you again, What other people in the whole world has a God like our God? No one. In Christ, who is near to us, God has made us into a royal priesthood, a holy nation. He has freed us from slavery to sin and paid the debt of the Law. He has freed us in the Gospel to finally see the light. And so we teach and follow this Gospel and we live, and we become a light to the world around us. Like we did for those blessed children in our Vacation Bible School this past week. 6 for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, `Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ 7 For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? 8 And what great nation is there, that has statutes and ordinances so righteous as all this law which I set before you this day?
Who is Like Our God? We are, when we proclaim his Gospel to this hurting world.