THE LORD AND HIS LAW
Lord, give me a deeper appreciation for Your precepts
Read DEUTERONOMY 4:1–14,32–40
4 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. 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.
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, 4 but all of you who held fast to the Lord your God are still alive today.
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. 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.” 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? 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?
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. 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.” 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. 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. 13 He declared to you his covenant, the Ten Commandments, which he commanded you to follow and then wrote them on two stone tablets. 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.
The Lord Is God
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? 33 Has any other people heard the voice of God[a] speaking out of fire, as you have, and lived? 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?
35 You were shown these things so that you might know that the Lord is God; besides him there is no other. 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. 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, 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.
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. 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.
a Deuteronomy 4:33 Or of a god
New International Version (NIV)
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“Your decrees are the theme of my song wherever I lodge” (Psa. 119:54). If you had a theme song, about what, or about whom, would it be?
God’s “decrees” and “words” are an important theme throughout Deuteronomy. The Lord and his Law (his words) are frequently cited and closely linked.
Moses invites the people to focus their attention back to the very beginning (32). God spoke creation into being; his word brought life out of nothingness and ordered the chaos (Gen. 1). God’s Law also brings life (1) and orders the daily lives and relationships of God’s people (40); Moses moves effortlessly from reiterating the life-giving Law (1,2) to extolling the life-giving God (3,4). Both in today’s passage and also in Deuteronomy 30:11–16, the Law of God and God himself are intimately and inextricably linked. Jesus makes this same connection when he says, “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me” (John 14:21); and again, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them” (John 14:23).
Moses closes with three rhetorical questions (32–34). The first is: “Has anything so great as this ever happened…?” His audience would surely have shouted, “NO!” We, today, however, must respond with a resounding “YES!” For the God who was near to his people then has drawn even closer to his people today—not merely speaking with humankind, but becoming a man (John 1:14) and working “signs and wonders” (34) far surpassing anything Israel ever experienced. The Word who spoke all things into being is Jesus, who became flesh and lived among us, of whom John declares, ‘In him was life, and that life was the light of all people” (John 1:4).
Forgive me, Lord, for the gap I allow between the love I so readily profess with my lips and the love I so frequently fail to demonstrate in my life.
Lord, Your people are careful not to subtract from or add to Your Word, lest we incur Your displeasure.