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Series Theme: FRAMEWORKS: Deuteronomy

(Return to Framework Contents)

 

CONTEXT

Part 1: Ch.1-4 Moses Reminds Israel how they got here

Ch.1 – Reminders of Failure at Kadesh

Ch.2 – Reminders of Guidance to get to this point

Ch.3 – Reminders of Triumphs & Direction

Ch.4 – Encouragements to Obedience

      

 

FRAMEWORKS: Deuteronomy 4: Encouragements to Obedience

 

v.1,2 Moses calls them to hear and obey

v.3,4 Remember the Judgement on Disobedience recently

v.5,6 Keeping these Laws will speak to the nations

v.7,8 These will reveal your uniqueness

v.9 But only as long as you hang on to them

v.10-14 Remember where they came from – God at Sinai

v.15-19 Remember your Experience & don't make idol replicas

v.20-24 A Covenant People – accountable to a Unique Holy God

v.25-31 You will be held accountable if you sin

v.32-40 Obey because you remember who God is

v.41-43 Examples of His mercy are the Cities of Refuge

v.44-49 So hold this Law bearing all this in mind

 

[Preliminary Notes: At first sight this is a very compact or dense chapter full of instructions. We move from Moses encouraging them by reminders of their past to Moses encouraging them in a very logical way to remain a unique people.

 

A. They have received the Law and now they need to hold on to it and make sure they keep it, and he gives a number of reasons:

i) they will be held accountable [v.3,4 AND v.25-31]

ii) these laws will show the world their uniqueness and God through them [v.7,8]

iii) this can only hold true if they keep them [v.9]

 

B. In order to help them keep them he says remember who God is and who you are:

i) He is the One who spoke to you at Sinai,

ii) He revealed His uniqueness in power and in speaking,

iii) He drew you into a holy covenant relationship with Him and your side of it was obedience.

 

Because of your experience which is unique in the whole world, keep these laws.]

 

 

v.1,2 Moses calls them to hear and obey

 

v.1 Now, Israel, hear the decrees and laws I am about to teach you. Follow them so that you may live and may go in and take possession of the land the Lord , the God of your ancestors, is giving you.

v.2 Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep

the commands of the Lord your God that I give you.

 

[Notes: So we clearly move from recounting the past into exhortation to obey the Laws that God has given them back at Sinai.]

 

 

v.3,4 Remember the Judgement on Disobedience recently

 

v.3 You saw with your own eyes what the Lord did at Baal Peor. The Lord your God destroyed from among you everyone who followed the Baal of Peor,

v.4 but all of you who held fast to the Lord your God are still alive today.

 

[Notes: As a not-so-gentle nudge he reminds them what happened to all those who were disobedient recently when the Midianite women had seduced many of the men into idolatry and some 24,000 died! They WILL be held accountable for disobedience.]

 

 

v.5,6 Keeping these Laws will speak to the nations

 

v.5 See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the Lord my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it.

v.6 Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.”

 

[Notes: Applying ‘carrot and stick' encouragement (in reverse order), the carrot being held out to them is that if they do follow God's laws they will stand out as blessed in the whole world.]

 

 

v.7,8 These will reveal your uniqueness

 

v.7 What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him?

v.8 And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?

 

[Notes: Indeed they will be seen as a unique people. This was of course seen in Solomon's early reign when the Queen of Sheba visited – see 1 Kings 10]

 

 

v.9 But only as long as you hang on to them

 

v.9 Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.

 

[Notes: But of course that will not happen if they don't follow them – and keep on following them!]

 

 

v.10-14 Remember where they came from – God at Sinai

 

v.10 Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when he said to me, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.”

v.11 You came near and stood at the foot of the mountain while it blazed with fire to the very heavens, with black clouds and deep darkness.

v.12 Then the Lord spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice.

v.13 He declared to you his covenant, the Ten Commandments, which he commanded you to follow and then wrote them on two stone tablets.

v.14 And the Lord directed me at that time to teach you the decrees and laws you are to follow in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess.

 

[Notes: As a further encouragement to obedience they just need to remember what happened just forty years ago at Horeb (Mount Sinai) where they had this unique encounter with the Lord.]

 

 

v.15-19 Remember your Experience & don't make idol replicas

 

v.15 You saw no form of any kind the day the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. Therefore watch yourselves very carefully,

v.16 so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an image of any shape, whether formed like a man or a woman,

v.17 or like any animal on earth or any bird that flies in the air,

v.18 or like any creature that moves along the ground or any fish in the waters below.

v.19 And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars—all the heavenly array—do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshiping things the Lord your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven.

 

[Notes: The thing about that encounter was that they never actually saw the Lord which means there is no space to go making idols, replicas of Him. Clearly that encounter was infinitely greater than bowing before models of animals or fish as some other nations did. Such idol worship is just shear folly in comparison to the encounter they had back then.]

 

 

v.20-24 A Covenant People – accountable to a Unique Holy God

 

v.20 But as for you, the Lord took you and brought you out of the iron-smelting furnace, out of Egypt, to be the people of his inheritance, as you now are.

v.21 The Lord was angry with me because of you, and he solemnly swore that I would not cross the Jordan and enter the good land the Lord your God is giving you as your inheritance.

v.22 I will die in this land; I will not cross the Jordan; but you are about to cross over and take possession of that good land.

v.23 Be careful not to forget the covenant of the Lord your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the Lord your God has forbidden.

v.24 For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

 

[Notes: Remember, he goes on, what happened to you. You were slaves in Egypt and God did mighty miracles to set you free. Never forget that. Now because you had such an incredible experience and entered into covenant with God, remember He will hold you accountable if you go off the rails. Remember me, I am an example to you for I will not be going into the land because I failed Him. God holds all accountable.]

 

 

v.25-31 You will be held accountable if you sin

 

v.25 Idol worship will arouse His anger

v.25 After you have had children and grandchildren and have lived in the land a long time—if you then become corrupt and make any kind of idol, doing evil in the eyes of the Lord your God and arousing his anger,

 

v.26-28 That path will end in your destruction

v.26 I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you this day that you will quickly perish from the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess. You will not live there long but will certainly be destroyed.

v.27 The Lord will scatter you among the peoples, and only a few of you will survive among the nations to which the Lord will drive you.

v.28 There you will worship man-made gods of wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or eat or smell.

 

v.29-31 Yet if you then Repent He will restore you

v.29 But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.

v.30 When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the Lord your God and obey him.

v.31 For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors, which he confirmed to them by oath.

 

[Notes: In full prophetic mode Moses warns about the future – a future that worked out just as he warned. After time passes (and you may forget these things) and future generations drift away, be warned that if you do that you will not remain in the Land. You will be scattered and only a few (a faithful remnant) will be saved. If, however, in your exile you repent, then He will restore you. This was exactly what happened with the Exile in some four to five hundred years' time.]

 

 

v.32-40 Obey because you remember who God is

 

v.32 He is Creator

v.32 Ask now about the former days, long before your time, from the day God created human beings on the earth; ask from one end of the heavens to the other. Has anything so great as this ever happened, or has anything like it ever been heard of?

v.32 Uniquely He has spoken

v.33 Has any other people heard the voice of God speaking out of fire, as you have, and lived?

v.33 Uniquely He has created us by miracles

v.34 Has any god ever tried to take for himself one nation out of another nation, by testings, by signs and wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, or by great and awesome deeds, like all the things the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?

v.35 You know He is unique by what He showed you

v.35 You were shown these things so that you might know that the Lord is God; besides him there is no other.

v.36 You saw His fire and heard His words

v.36 From heaven he made you hear his voice to discipline you. On earth he showed you his great fire, and you heard his words from out of the fire.

v.37,38 He did what He did for you because of the Patriarchs

v.37 Because he loved your ancestors and chose their descendants after them, he brought you out of Egypt by his Presence and his great strength,

v.38 to drive out before you nations greater and stronger than you and to bring you into their land to give it to you for your inheritance, as it is today.

v.39 So now today acknowledge His uniqueness

v.39 Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other.

v.40 So now today live long and prosper by keeping His commands

v.40 Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the Lord your God gives you for all time.

 

[Notes: A further help to obedience and remain a unique people is to remember who this God is who saved you. He is Creator of all things, and the One who made Himself known to the Patriarchs and came to them in Egypt, miraculously delivered them, took them to Sinai, made Himself known to them, and gave them the Law. If they heed their history and follow the command, it will go well for them.]

 

 

v.41-43 Examples of His mercy are the Cities of Refuge

 

v.41 Then Moses set aside three cities east of the Jordan,

v.42 to which anyone who had killed a person could flee if they had unintentionally killed a neighbour without malice aforethought. They could flee into one of these cities and save their life.

v.43 The cities were these: Bezer in the wilderness plateau, for the Reubenites; Ramoth in Gilead, for the Gadites; and Golan in Bashan, for the Manassites.

 

[Notes: Now these verses almost appear as a strange insert, but they come as a reminder to the nation that in His kindness God has allowed two and a half tribes to inherit this land where they were at the moment and, even more, set up three cities of refuge to help them there. Implies that His blessing will be on both sides of the Jordan!]

 

 

v.44-49 So hold this Law bearing all this in mind

 

v.44 This is the law Moses set before the Israelites.

v.45 These are the stipulations, decrees and laws Moses gave them when they came out of Egypt

v.46 and were in the valley near Beth Peor east of the Jordan, in the land of Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon and was defeated by Moses and the Israelites as they came out of Egypt.

v.47 They took possession of his land and the land of Og king of Bashan, the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan.

v.48 This land extended from Aroer on the rim of the Arnon Gorge to Mount Sirion (that is, Hermon),

v.49 and included all the Arabah east of the Jordan, as far as the Dead Sea, below the slopes of Pisgah.

 

[Notes: So with all this in mind and their subsequent triumphs, the nation needs to do all it can to maintain and keep all the laws, commands etc. that God has given them.]

  

 

CONTINUE TO CHAPTER 5