The Assembly of the Lord
Reverend Dr. Philip Lee’s sermon from Lord’s Day 2nd Service on June 2, 2019
The assembly of the church
For the people of God and for the people of Israel, the assembly of the Lord was their community where they gathered to worship. Moses was commanded to speak to the rock, but he disobeyed and struck the rock two times. For this, God forbade Moses from entering into the land of Canaan. Thus, Moses was unable to lead and bring the assembly into the land of Canaan (Num 20:12). The entire people of Israel were called the “assembly of the Lord.” God proclaimed the Ten Commandments in the fear and trembling of the people of Israel. This teaches us that those who receive the commandments of God are called the “assembly of the Lord” (Deut 5:1-5). The word “assembly” in the New Testament speaks of the gathering of the church. For all of us today, we each are the spiritual church to include the physical building; and the gathering of all of these churches we call the “presbytery,” “the church,” “the assembly.”
In our main scripture text today, there are people who can and cannot enter into the assembly of the Lord.
Those who are unable to enter into the assembly of the Lord
In our main scripture text today, it classifies people that are unable to enter the assembly of the Lord. First, people who are emasculated or has his male organ cut off cannot enter the assembly of the Lord (Deut 23:1). This speaks of the male genitalia. Among the foreigners and Gentiles at that time, there were those who followed incorrect customs and purposely emasculated their own male organs. To get rid of what God has given to creation is challenging and rebelling against the authority of God. Those that go through homosexual relationships and marriages are challenging the providence of God’s creation and the Bible tells us that is a great sin.
Secondly, no one of illegitimate birth shall enter the assembly of the Lord (Deut 23:2). These are people that were born not of a legal marriage. Redemptive historically, we have to look at this not only from a physical perspective but also from a spiritual perspective. In the period of the Judges, there was a man named Jephthah, who was born through the relationship his father had with a prostitute (Judges 11:1). However, God used Jephthah as a judge which teaches us that God is our spiritual husband. Today, we are all spiritually the wives of God and must worship Him only (Isa 54:5). The love of God divides the people of the world and the children of God (1 John 3:1). Therefore the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious (1 John 3:10). So let us not bear the fruit of illegitimate children.
Thirdly, the Ammonites and Moabites could not enter into the assembly of the Lord for three reasons (Deut 23:3-4). First, the Ammonites and the Moabites were born through incestuous relations through the two daughters of Abraham’s nephew, Lot (Gen 19:36-38). Lot’s eldest daughter had sexual relations with him and she bore a son named Moab who is the father of the Moabites. Also, Lot’s youngest daughter laid with her father and she bore a son named Ben-ammi from which came the sons of Ammon. Secondly, the Ammonites and Moabites could not enter into the assembly of the Lord because they did not help Israel with bread or water after coming out of Egypt (Deut 23:4; Neh 13:1-2). The Moabites and the Ammonites were Abraham’s descendants through his nephew Lot. Therefore, the Ammonites and Moabites were relatives with the Israelites. However, during Israel’s wilderness journey, they did not give the Israelites food and water and were not gracious to the needy (Psa 109:15-16; Prov 14:31). Thirdly, through the prophet Balaam, the Moabites cursed the sons of Israel (Deut 23:4b). The Moabite king was Balak. He sent elders and gave money to the prophet Balaam and said, “Curse the Israelites.” The prophet Balaam’s eyes were dim and with a few coins, he needed to bless the people of Israel but ultimately cursed the people of Israel (Num 22:7, 10). For the one that curses the people of God, they will surely be cursed by God.
Those who can enter into the assembly of the Lord
The Edomites and the Egyptians can enter into the assembly of the Lord from the third generation and on (Deut 23:7-8). First, in regards to the Edomites, Abraham’s son was Isaac and he was the father of twins Esau and Jacob (Gen 25:26). Jacob’s descendants became the people of Israel and Esau’s sons became the people of Edom; thus, Esau’s name was Edom (Gen 25:30). However, the people of Edom in the wilderness did not allow the people of Israel to pass through their territory (Num 20:21). Still, God opened up a path for the people of Edom to enter into the assembly of the Lord because Edom was their brethren. Due to Esau who sold his birthright to Jacob, Jacob was able to receive the blessings of the firstborn and the inheritance of God which opened the pathway for the Messiah who came through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Therefore, by giving his birthright to Jacob, Esau did the work for God’s providence to come through (Deut 2:4-5). We must not fight with or provoke our brothers for God is not pleased with that; even if it’s Esau.
Secondly, God says, “Do not detest the Egyptians” (Deut 23:7). Although Israel suffered and lived in Egypt for 430 years as slaves to the point of death, God says, “Do not detest the Egyptians, for you were aliens in their land.” Here, we can discover that the thoughts of man and God are different. The phrase “they were aliens in the land of Egypt” refers to the people of Israel, Jacob and his 70 family members who migrated to Egypt because of a severe famine in Canaan (Gen 46). Because the Egyptians received Jacob’s family members, gave them land and food to eat, God’s providence was able to be carried out. This teaches us that God has a big heart and did not forget the one thing that the Egyptians did right and acknowledged it. If there are people around you who helped you, do not forget them but remember them even if it was only one thing. Evangelize diligently so that they can all enter into the assembly of the Lord.
Conclusion: In Jesus Christ, there is no distinction. The circumcision of the Old Testament redemptive historically speaks of baptism in the New Testament period. In the Old Testament, you had to receive circumcision, but in the New Testament you are baptized by believing in Jesus Christ and by receiving the seal of the Holy Spirit (Col 2:11). Therefore, when we are baptized, we die and resurrect with Jesus, and there is no distinction; even with those stricken with illness in the past or an illegitimate child, or a foreigner, for if we believe in Jesus and repent, we can receive the righteousness of God as a gift (Acts 2:38; Rom 3:22; 10:12). We should not hinder those who are not against us (Luke 9:50). And those that are not against the Word of Redemptive History are, instead, for us. So let us proclaim the gospel to them very diligently so that we can hold unto all of them so that all of them may enter into the assembly of the Lord.