I heard a wise and humorous preacher once say, “A good sermon says the same thing three times. First, tell ’em what you’re going to say. Say it. Then, tell ’em what you’ve said.”
Moses seemed to approach his audience as the wise preacher suggested. In chapter four he tells the congregation what he is going to say.
In chapter five he says it. The remainder of Deuteronomy explains God’s word in chapter five.
Tell ’em what you’re going to say.
In Deuteronomy 4 Moses gave a summary of what God told him to say to the congregation as they were on the verge of entering the promised land. What is the most important information for the people to know about God’s plans for them?
(1) Pay attention to God’s message.
— Verse 1 – So now, Israel, give heed to the statutes and ordinances that I am teaching you to observe, so that you may live to enter and occupy the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you.
God’s statutes and ordinances that form the Book of Deuteronomy were given to humans by a loving God. They were given to educate people about how to live their lives to the fullest.
People live the best life possible when they know and follow God’s directions.
The first step to know and do God’s will is to pay attention (give heed) to his instructions. We cheat ourselves out of God’s best if we fail to invest time and energy into the discovery of God’s principles.
(2) Don’t put your “spin” on God’s instruction.
“Spin doctors” find creative ways to turn God’s black and white directions into something other than what he intended.
Moses instructed the people to not add their thoughts to God’s guidance, thereby diminishing their impact. Instead, we are to follow what God taught us to do.
— Verse 2 – You must neither add anything to what I command you nor take away anything from it, but keep the commandments of the Lord your God with which I am charging you.
(3) Don’t do this!
Good preachers always include examples that capture the attention of their audience and emphasize their message. Moses used a tragic illustration from Israel’s past to make his point.
— Verses 3-4 – You have seen for yourselves what the Lord did with regard to the Baal of Peor—how the Lord your God destroyed from among you everyone who followed the Baal of Peor,
While those of you who held fast to the Lord your God are all alive today.
Numbers 25.1-5 tell the story of how Israelite men had sexual intercourse with Moabite women. The sexual sin led to some of the Hebrew men worshiping the idol, Baal of Peor. Twenty-four thousand people died in a plague that was related to their behavior.
The program of Alcoholics Anonymous tells participants to “play the tape all the way to the end.” When they are tempted to use drugs or alcohol, they remember the disastrous consequences of their last experience and remain steadfast in sobriety.
Moses and many sober living individuals know that if we “hold fast” in obedience to God and his principles that a full life will be the result.
The Foundation of God’s Commandments
Moses appeared to repeatedly marvel at the great opportunity the Hebrew people received from God. What was true of them is likewise a tremendous opportunity for us.
In today’s YouTube video with Rudy Ross, we discussed the advantage that Jewish people have had for centuries. While the majority of the world was illiterate, Jewish people were readers.
Their culture of literacy gave them an advantage over societies where 90% of the people could not read.
In addition, they read instructions from God on how to live the best life possible. In turn, they became “wise and discerning people.”
–– Verse 6 – You must observe them diligently, for this will show your wisdom and discernment to the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and discerning people!”
An old but true saying is that “A person who doesn’t read is no better off than someone who can’t read.”
God has given us his best information on how to live. If we learn his principles and apply them to our lives, we will become wise and discerning, just as the Old Testament examples.
Like a great preacher, Moses piled one benefit of God’s guidance upon the other. He ended with two astounding gifts from God to humans.
— Verses 7-8 – For what other great nation has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is whenever we call to him?
And what other great nation has statutes and ordinances as just as this entire law that I am setting before you today?
(1) God has given to us the privilege of personal communication with him. He is near to us “whenever we call to him.”
There is a very long list of important people who will not take a phone call from us, much less spend a few hours of their time in conversation with us.
However, the Greatest Being of All is near whenever we call to him.
Sports superstars, politicians in Washington, business moguls, and even many preachers don’t know and probably don’t care that you and I exist. However, God is willing to be our friend (John 15.14).
The hymn that sings, “I walk with him and talk with him,” is true of our relationship with God.
(2) God loves humans so much that he gives us basic directions to enable us to live in a joyful relationship with him and other people.
Moses gave his listeners behaviors to embrace and some actions to avoid. We do well to follow his instructions.
They were given to us by our loving heavenly Father, who desires the best for his children.
About This Blog
Rudy Ross and I discuss these verses on YouTube. Rudy is an excellent Bible student and lover of God. You can find the video on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.
I use Peter Craigie’s insights on Deuteronomy for my blog articles. We are indebted to him for his scholarship and insights into the Bible.
Please email your prayer requests to firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.