-With a tremendous exhortation Moses now urges Israel to follow all of God’s statutes, judgments, and ordinances that he was teaching them to perform. The purpose? That they would live and go in and take possession of their Promised Land, which the LORD their God had generously given to them. They were warned not to add to the Word of the LORD or take away from it (Deuteronomy 4:1-2). Their eyes had seen all that God had done to bring them to this point by destroying their enemies and providing safe passage in all their wanderings and battles. Keeping God’s statutes and judgments as He had commanded was essential in their new endeavor into the land. It would indeed be their wisdom and understanding in the sight of all peoples making them all say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people (Deuteronomy 4:3-6).” The people of Israel were intended to be a glorious testimony. Moses continues, “For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the LORD our God whenever we call on Him? Or what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole law which I am setting before you today (Deuteronomy 4:7-8)?” Then Moses turns his attention to the heart of this people. “Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen and they do not depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your sons and your grandsons (Deuteronomy 4:9).” Moses called on them to remember when they stood before the glory of the LORD at Horeb (Mount Sinai). He wanted to instill the literal and abiding fear of the Almighty who reigns in majesty, truth, and splendor speaking with His Voice, though not seen, and displaying “fire to the very heart of the heavens: darkness, cloud and thick gloom (Deuteronomy 4:10-12).” This was the God of the covenant who commanded them to perform the Ten Commandments written by His Hand on two tablets of stone. God had instructed His servant, Moses, to teach the principles of this Law of God for the purpose of gaining entrance and longevity in the land that they were going to possess avoiding idolatry, which man has a tendency to do (Deuteronomy 4:13-19). The LORD reminded them that He alone had taken them and brought them out of the “iron furnace,” which was Egypt to be a people of His own possession (Deuteronomy 4:20). Moses further noted the pain he had incurred as the LORD was angry with him on their account and his inability, sworn by God, to go into the Promised Land across the Jordan because of their actions in unfaithfulness. But then he did provide hope with the word of the LORD that they, these descendants, would indeed be able to cross over and take possession. He then reiterated that they watch out for themselves when that happened so as not to forget the covenant of the LORD and make vain images to worship other than Him alone (Deuteronomy 4:21-23). “For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God (Deuteronomy 4:24).”
-The next section describes how things will be if they transgress and break covenant with their faithful Creator and God. If they act corruptly and create idols, heaven and earth witnesses against them in the sight of Moses, that they will perish quickly from the land where they were to go. They will not live long on it, but be utterly destroyed and scattered among the peoples of the earth where they will be few in number and powerless. But, the LORD will not forget them and beseeches them to call upon Him when they are exiled as evidenced by this word, “But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul. When you are in distress and all these things have come upon you, in the latter days you will return to the LORD your God and listen to His Voice. For the LORD your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them (Deuteronomy 4:25-31).” Nothing like this had ever been done before, nor would it ever be like this again. Israel was His chosen people to carry out His redemptive plan for the whole world. Nothing would deter it. They had a privileged position, but incredible responsibility. God revealed Himself to the Jews in special ways through signs and wonders and wars and a mighty Hand and an outstretched Arm and by great terrors. “To you (Israel) it was shown that you might KNOW (emphasis mine) that the LORD, He is God; there is no other besides Him (Deuteronomy 4:32-35).” Out of the heavens God uniquely let them hear His Voice to discipline (yacar- to admonish, instruct, discipline, chasten) them for the journey that would one day result in the salvation of the whole world. He let them see His great fire also from which they heard His words. Why? “Because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their descendants after them. And He personally brought you out from Egypt by His great power, driving out from before you nations greater and mightier than you, to bring you in and to give you their land for an inheritance, as it is today (Deuteronomy 4:36-38).” There was no other God, and Moses emphatically let his people know this before he was to pass on into eternity. He desperately wanted it go well with them in the land that they were going into. He knew that God would not share His glory, and that His statutes and commandments were good for posterity and well-being (Shalom) in the land He would give them for all time (Deuteronomy 4:39-40).
-Then Moses set apart the three cities across the Jordan to the east as places of refuge for unintentional manslaughter. These included Bezer for the Reubenites, Ramoth in Gilead for the Gadites, and Golan in Bashan for the Manassites (Numbers 35:14, Deuteronomy 4:41-43). The rest of the chapter sums up the commands of the LORD and the geographical locations where the children of Israel had possession (Deuteronomy 4:44-49).
-*Application* Moses says these things which are well worth considering today: “Give heed,” “Keep your soul diligently,” “Do not forget,” “Watch yourselves carefully,” and “Beware” (Deuteronomy 4:9, 15, 19, 23). There is only one God, and that is Yahweh (the LORD). He is the God of heaven and earth and controls His creation with wisdom, majesty, and transcendence. He chooses particular things and people to bring about His glory at the proper time, yet gives us choices and decisions in the matter. That is evident from this incredible passage. Will we cooperate with the LORD, who will win regardless, or fight against His sovereignty? Thank Him for His compassion and wonders today. You are indeed blessed if you are His child and part of His Kingdom. Take no part in idolatry and the fading things of this temporary world. He is God, and there is no other. Unite with Him!
Verses to Memorize: Deuteronomy 4:1, 9, 20, 30-31, 35, 37, 40