About Jesus    Steve Sweetman

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chapter 4

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ch. 4:1-14   ch. 4:15-31    ch.4:32-40   ch. 4:41-43   ch. 4:44-49

Obedience Commanded (ch. 4:1 - 14)


In verse 1 Moses encourages, or I should say, commands, Israel to follow the decrees of the Lord so that they will be able to possess what God has promised them.  We noted in earlier chapters that possessing what God has promised means that we must be willing to fight and struggle for the promises.  Here is another aspect to possessing God's promises, and it is obedience to His will.  So as Christians, we need to really understand that God's promises don't come without a struggle and without obedience.  The Hyper-faith movement seems to suggest that possessing God's promises is all about faith, but that's not so.


In verse 2 Moses says not to add to, or take away, from God's decrees.  This was hard for Israel to follow.  Over the centuries Israeli leaders have added much to the decrees of their God.  Christians have done the same.  In Christian circles, many instances, the rules and traditions of men have replaced the decrees of Jesus.


Note in verse 4 the words "hold fast".  You see similar words in the New Testament.  Once one has faith, or trust, in Jesus, we then must "hold fast" to that trust.   In my thinking, verse 4 implies that if you don't hold fast, meaning, you lay aside your trust, then you will not be saved.


We see in verses 5 to 8 that Israel , if they obeyed God's decrees, would possess both wisdom and understanding that would be an example for other nations.  This was to be the reason for Israel's existence in the first place.  They were to be a kingdom of priests to represent God to the nations of the world.  They were also to be the defender of the rule of God's truth to other nations.  The sad fact is that they were seldom the example God wanted them to be.  The very name "Israel" means, "soldier of God".  That should tell us something of Israel's place among the nations.


From verses 9 through 14 we see the importance of passing God's decrees from one generation to the next.  This seems hard to do.  Each generation needs to find personal faith and trust in their God, that's the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.  They must find this for themselves, but, it is the responsibility of the parents to teach, from an early age, the precepts and truths of our Lord. 


Many times over the years I've seen parents forfeit their responsibility and hand it over to a Sunday  school teacher or youth leader.  That's wrong.  The Sunday school teacher and the youth leader should be over and above the parent, should complement the parent's teaching.  Moses is placing the responsibility on passing the decrees of God to the next generation right on to the parent.


Idolatry Forbidden (ch. 4:15 - 31)


In verse 15 Moses points out that when he came down from the mountain with the decrees of God, Israel did not see any form of God.  Israel did not ever see what God looks like.  Jesus Himself said that no one has ever seen God except God's Son. (John 1:18)  Moses implies that God did not show Himself for a specific reason, and that was so Israel would not make any idol, or duplication of what they saw.  Once they would do that, they would then begin to worship the idol they made, and not God, the one the idol was to represent.  Israel didn't always obey this command.


When it comes to the church, especially in Catholicism, the church has made idols, and I'd suggest worshipped them more than the God the statues were meant to represent.  My suggestions would be to have no replica of anything associated with God, not even a cross.


In verse 19 Moses says not to worship the stars and the planets because they are given to all the nations.  I believe what Moses is saying is practical.  The heavenly host in the skies are there for practical purposes for all nations to benefit from. I don't believe Moses is saying that the stars represent real gods, as the pagan nations would say.


In verse 20 God compares Egypt to the "furnace of fire".  When Israel was in Egypt they were being tried and tested as if they were metal being refined in fire.  It is no stretch of the imagination to know that the Bible portrays Egypt as the world and the world's system.  For the Christian then, we should view our lives in the world as a place where we are refined in the fire.  I'm not sure we really view our existence in this light, but I think we should.  Hyper-faith people seem to think just the opposite.  Living our lives in this present world, in the present age, is to be a time of great prosperity, but I see it as a time of testing, preparing us for the next life.


In verse 20 Israel is seen as "God's inheritance".  That means, God viewed Israel as His children, just as He views Christians today.  That elevates the believer on a level as Jesus Himself.  The only difference between us and Jesus, which is a big difference, is that He is the biological Son of God, and we are the adopted children of God. 


Note in verse 21 that for the third time so far in the book of Deuteronomy that Moses blames Israel's disobedience for the reason why he was not permitted to enter the promised land.


Note the word "covenant" in verse 23.  I believe this covenant is the Mosaic Covenant, not the Abrahamic Covenant, mainly because Moses is speaking of not committing idolatry, which was clearly stated in the Ten Commandments, and not the Abrahamic Covenant.


Verses 25 through 27 is both prophetic and a warning.  Moses states that if after Israel has been in the land of promise for a long time, if they create idols to worship, God will be angry at Israel.  He will then drive them out of the land and scatter them across the world.  Well, God did just that when He allowed Babylon   to demolish Jerusalem, and take the Israeli's captive.  But, this warning or prophecy was mostly realized in 70 A.D. when God allowed Rome to demolish Jerusalem and scatter the Jews all across the known world.  In the days of the Babylonian invasion, most of the Jews were taken to Babylon.  In the days of the Roman invasion, the Jews were scattered across the world, thus fulfilling these words. 


The simple fact is this, whether Jew or Christian, if we put other gods before our Lord God, we will lose our inheritance.  We will lose what has been promised.  Becoming a Christian is all about handing your life over to Jesus.  It is not all about accepting a pass into heaven.


In verse 28 Moses says that when Israel is scattered throughout the world, they will worship man made gods, and of course, a man made god is no god.   The Jews have done that since 70 A.D..


In verse 29 to the end of this section Moses continues this prophecy.  When the Jews are scattered across the known world, if they seek God with their whole heart and soul, God will hear them and Israel in "later days" will return to the Lord.


The words "later days" is important, because it tells you when this will happen.  In 70 A.D. the Jews were scattered across the known world.  They have been serving other gods ever since, for the most part.  You will know that we are in the later days when you see Jews returning to their God, something that is beginning to happen, and will ultimately end at the end of this age when God pours out a spirit of grace and supplication, as prophesied by Zechariah.                                          


In verse 31 Moses says that God is a merciful God and He will not abandon or forget Israel.  This is important for those who believe in "Replacement Theology".  These people believe that God has forsaken Israel and has replaced her with the church.  This passage says just the opposite, and it is based on the covenant that was directed towards Israel 's forefathers.  This covenant is not the Mosaic Covenant, but the Abrahamic Covenant.  God will never break that covenant.  God always has His eyes on Israel , no matter what shape she is in. 


The Lord Is God (ch. 4:32 - 40)


In verses 32 to 34 Moses asks a series of questions that is supposed to show how important the God of Israel is, which results in their importance.  Israel was extremely blessed to see and experience the power of God.  No other nation had experienced such things as Israel.  They were truly a nation sett apart.


Verse 34 is important. Moses says that no other nation on earth has experienced God being with them.  This has been seen in testing Israel, in miracles, by war, among other mighty works from God.  No other nation in history has ever been so blessed by God as Israel, and since Israel is still God's blessed nation, you can expect more great things to come.


In verse 35 Moses says that Israel was  shown all these marvelous works of God so that she would know that the Lord is God, meaning, Yahweh is Elohim.  Simply put, there is no other God other than the Lord, Yahweh.  The God of Israel is the only God.


In verse 37 Moses says that because God loved Israel's forefathers, that's Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, He brought Israel out of Egypt.  We must understand that all that God does for and with Israel, is out of love for these three men, and the covenant directed to them.  This is one continuous theme throughout both the Old and New Testament.


In verses 39 and 40 Moses restates that Israel 's God is the only God of all there is, both in the heavens and the earth.  Therefore it is mandatory that Israel obey the decrees of the Lord if they want to live in the land promised to them.


Cities Of Refuge (ch. 4:41 - 43)


We've seen this before in the Torah.  God provided what was called "cities of refuge".  If someone killed a person and it was not intentional, certain cities were set aside for the man to flee to where he would be safe from anyone who would try to kill him.   Of course, the killing had to be an accident.  This is just one aspect to the civil laws that God put in place for the nation of Israel . 


Introduction To The Law (ch. 4:44 - 49)


I will not comment on this section.  These are just introductory remarks concerning the Law that Moses is about to remind Israel of. 



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