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The Human God (Deuteronomy 4)

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CHAPTER 4 Apr. 21 
Moses Commands the People to Obey God
Now Israel, listen to the statutes and to the ordinances which I teach you. Do them so that you may live and go in and possess the land which Yahweh, the God of your fathers gives you. 2You must not add to the word which I command you, neither must you take away from it, so that you may keep the commandments of Yahweh your God which I command you. 3Your eyes have seen what Yahweh did because of Baal Peor; for all the men who followed Baal Peor, Yahweh your God has destroyed them from the midst of you. 4But you who were faithful to Yahweh your God are all alive this day. 5Behold, I have taught you statutes and ordinances as Yahweh my God commanded me, that you should do so in the midst of the land where you go in to possess it. 6Keep therefore and do them, for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations who shall hear all these statutes and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people! 7For what great nation is there that has a god so near to them as Yahweh our God is whenever we call on Him? 8What great nation is there that has statutes and ordinances so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day? 9Only take heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things which your eyes saw and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life; therefore make them known to your children and your children’s children. 10Remember the day that you stood before Yahweh your God in Horeb, when Yahweh said to me Assemble me the people and I will make them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days that they live on the land and that they may teach their children. 11You came near and stood under the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire to the heart of the sky, with darkness, cloud and thick darkness. 12Yahweh spoke to you out of the midst of the fire; you heard the voice of words, but you saw no form; you only heard a voice. 13He declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, the Ten Commandments, and He wrote them on two tablets of stone. 14Yahweh commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and ordinances that you might do them in the land you go over to possess. 
Idols Forbidden
15Take therefore good heed to yourselves, for you saw no kind of form on the day that Yahweh spoke to you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire. 16 Do not corrupt yourselves and make yourself an engraved image in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female, 17the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the sky, 18the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water under the earth. 19 Do not lift up your eyes to the sky and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the army of the sky, be drawn away and worship them and serve them, which Yahweh your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole sky. 20But Yahweh has taken you and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be to Him a people of inheritance, right up to this day. 21Furthermore, Yahweh was angry with me for your sakes and swore that I should not go over the Jordan, and that I should not go in to that good land which Yahweh your God gives you for an inheritance; 22but I must die in this land. I must not go over the Jordan; but you shall go over and possess that good land. 23Take heed to yourselves, lest you forget the covenant of Yahweh your God which He made with you, and make you an engraved image in the form of anything which Yahweh your God has forbidden you. 24For Yahweh your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. 
Punishments for Idolatry
25When you father children and children’s children and you have been long in the land and corrupt yourselves and make an engraved image in the form of anything, and do that which is evil in the sight of Yahweh your God, to provoke Him to anger, 26I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that you shall soon utterly perish from off the land you go over the Jordan to possess; you shall not prolong your days on it, but shall utterly be destroyed. 27Yahweh will scatter you among the nations and you shall be left few in number among the nations where Yahweh shall lead you away. 28There you will serve gods, the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell. 29But from there you shall seek Yahweh your God and you will find Him, when you search after Him with all your heart and with all your soul. 30When you are oppressed and all these things have come on you, in the latter days you shall return to Yahweh your God and listen to His voice; 31for Yahweh your God is a merciful God; He will not fail you neither destroy you, nor forget the covenant of your fathers which He swore to them. 32For ask now of the days that are past, which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, and from the one end of the sky to the other, whether there has been anything like this great thing, or has been heard like it? 33Did a people ever hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire as you have heard, and live? 34Or has God tried to take a nation for Himself from the midst of another nation by trials, by signs and by wonders, by war and by a mighty hand, by an outstretched arm and by great terrors, according to all that Yahweh your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? 35It was shown to you so that you might know that Yahweh is God and that there is none else besides Him. 36Out of heaven He made you hear his voice so that He might instruct you, and on earth He made you see His great fire and you heard His words out of the midst of the fire. 37Because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their seed after them and brought you out with His presence, with His great power, out of Egypt, 38to drive out nations from before you greater and mightier than you, to bring you in, to give you their land for an inheritance, as at this day. 39Know therefore this day and lay it to your heart, that Yahweh He is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is none else. 40You must keep His statutes and His commandments which I command you this day, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which Yahweh your God gives you forever. 
Cities of Refuge
41Then Moses set apart three cities beyond the Jordan toward the east 42that the manslayer might flee there, who kills his neighbour unawares, and didn’t hate him in time past, and that fleeing to one of these cities he might live: 43Bezer in the wilderness, in the plain country for the Reubenites; Ramoth in Gilead for the Gadites; and Golan in Bashan for the Manassites. 44This is the law which Moses set before the children of Israel; 45these are the testimonies, the statutes and the ordinances, which Moses spoke to the children of Israel when they came forth out of Egypt, 46beyond the Jordan, in the valley over against Beth Peor, in the land of Sihon king of the Amorites, who lived at Heshbon, whom Moses and the children of Israel struck, when they came forth out of Egypt. 47They took his land in possession, and the land of Og king of Bashan, the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan toward the sunrise, 48from Aroer, which is on the edge of the valley of the Arnon, to Mount Sion (the same is Hermon), 49and all the Arabah beyond the Jordan eastward, even to the sea of the Arabah, under the slopes of Pisgah.


4:2 So that you may keep the commandments- The last message of Jesus, like that of Moses, emphasizes we are not to add to nor subtract from God’s word (Rev. 22:19). The commandments we have been given are designed by God to be a system of living which brings us to Him as He wishes. Jesus was perfect before God not just because He kept the commandments fully, but because the life elicited by that obedience produced a totally God-like person. If we omit some commandments and add others, then this will not be the end result. They are intended to synthesize together to produce a truly spiritual character and way of life. If we ignore some of them and add others then we will actually find obedience to the commandments in toto far more difficult. See on 11:22.
4:9,29,39 Your heart- Time and again in Deuteronomy, Moses speaks of the state of theheart. He warns them against allowing a bad state of heart to develop, he speaks often of how apostasy starts in the heart. Moses makes a total of 49 references to the heart / mind of Israel in Deuteronomy, compared to only 13 in the whole of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers. This was perhaps his greatest wish as he faced death; that God’s people should develop a spiritual mind and thereby manifest the Father and come to salvation. He saw the state of our mind as the key to spiritual success. But do we share this perspective? There is so much in our modern would which is mind-corrupting. Perceiving the importance of spiritual mindedness is a sign of our spiritual maturity.
Therefore make them known to your children- The very process of teaching or explaining something to others makes us fully conscious of the material we are teaching; and so preaching or teaching our children God’s principles enables us to be the more conscious of them and to ourselves remember them. The whole concept of evangelization is partly for our benefit.
4:10 The LXX uses the word ekklesia eight times in Deuteronomy, but not once in Moses' other words (4:10; 9:10; 18:16; 23:1,2,3,8; 32:1). Responsibility for the whole family God had redeemed was a mark of Moses’ maturity. Both as the community of believers and as individuals, this will be a sign of our maturity too.
4:16 Engraved image- God’s people are to accept Him as He is in His word, rather than try to create God in a form which seems attractive to us. As we read His word, it is not for us to say ‘I don’t think God would be like that, He will be like this, which is how I imagine He ought to be’. And it is not for us to work around those words of His which are inconvenient to us by forced, out of context interpretation, dismissing their inspiration or other tricks of the human intellect. By doing so we are effectively making a graven image, fashioning God as we want Him to be rather than accepting Him as He is. 
4:24 Yahweh your God is a consuming fire- This is quoted about us in Heb. 12:29 with a slight change of pronoun; “Your (Israel’s) God” becomes “our God”. The God of the Christian believers is the Old Testament Yahweh God of Israel; in this we see the significance of studying the accounts of how our God revealed Himself in the Old Testament.
4:27 Left few in number among the nations- Israel were indeed disobedient and were scattered throughout the provinces of the Assyrian and Babylonian empires. “There you will serve gods...” (:28) - but the prophets (especially Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel) condemned them for this. There is a downward spiral in spirituality, whereby if people choose to go to false gods, the true God confirms them in their delusions.      This is why followers of false religions are so totally convinced they are right, everything makes sense to them within the theological system they adopt- because God confirms them in the delusion they have chosen (2 Thess. 2:11).
4:30 In the latter days you shall return- This is one of many indications that just before Christ returns, at least some Jews will repent and turn to the Father and His Son in truth. We should therefore always given special attention to witnessing the Gospel to Jewish people, because their repentance will be one factor which brings about Christ’s return.
4:37,38 Brought you out... to bring you in- Our separation from this world isn’t merely negative. We are separated from the world so that we might be separated unto the things of God. These two ideas are found together in the Hebrew word for ‘holiness’.