Deuteronomy 4 

 

 

       ADMONITIONS AND EXHORTATIONS (vs. 1-40)

 

Moses, having presented to the people certain facts in their recent history which had

in them a specially animating and encouraging tendency, proceeds to direct his

discourse to the inculcation of duties and exhortations to obedience to the Divine

enactments. This portion also of his address is of an introductory character as well

as what precedes.

 

 

Exhortation to the Observance of the Law Generally (vs. 1-8)

 

The Law was to be kept as a complete whole; nothing was to be taken from it,

nor anything added to it; it comprised the commandments of Jehovah, and

therefore they were not only to do it as what Moses, their leader and lawgiver, had

enjoined, but to keep it as a sacred deposit, not to be altered or tampered

with, and to observe it as what God their Sovereign had enacted for them.

The dignity and worth of the Law are here asserted, and also its completeness as

given by Moses. Any addition to it, no less than any subtraction from it, would mar

its integrity and affect its perfection.  Altered circumstances in process of time might,

indeed, lead to the desuetude of some parts of the Mosaic enactments, and new

institutions or laws might be required to meet a new condition of things, or even in

that new condition to fence and sustain the primitive code; but that cede was to

remain intact in the Statute-Book, and no alterations were to be made upon

it that should affect its substance or nullify any of its principles. New laws

and institutions appointed by God would, of course, have the same authority as

those originally ordained by Moses; and such, it can hardly be doubted, were in

point of fact under the Hebrew monarchy introduced by the prophets speaking in

the name of God. The Law, nevertheless, was kept substantially entire.

Even under  the new dispensation, the Law has not been abolished. Christ,

as He Himself declared, came not to destroy the Law and the prophets, but to

fulfill them (Matthew 5:17). The sin of the Pharisees, for which they were censured

by our Lord, lay in this, that they taught for doctrines the commandments of men

(Ibid. 15:9), and had “made the commandments of God of none effect by

their traditions” (Ibid. v. 6).

 

The Divine Law asserts its authority over the whole of man:

 

  • over the intellect, for it demands attention, investigation, comparison,

and discrimination.

  • has authority over the affections, for it demands reverence, esteem,

 choice, and love.

  • has authority over the moral faculty; for it demands assent, response,

and loyalty.

  • over the active powers, for it requires watchfulness, self-restraint,

uninterrupted deference, and uncompromising service.

 

1 “Now therefore” -  rather And now. With this Moses passes from referring to

what God had done for Israel to admonish Israel as to what they had to

do as the subjects of God and the recipients of His favor.  They were to give

heed to ALL the statutes and judgments which Moses, as the servant of God,

had taught them, in order that they might do them - “hearken, O Israel, unto

the statutes” - (μyQiju), the things prescribed or enacted by law, whether moral,

ritual, or civil; “and unto the judgments,” - (μyfip;v]mi), rights, whether public

or private, all that each could claim as his due, and all he was bound to render to

God or to his fellow-men as their due - These two comprehend the whole Law as

binding on Israel. On the doing of these by the people depended life; these had been

made known to them, not merely for their information, but specifically that they might

do them, and thereby have life; not long life in the Promised Land alone, though this

also is included (v. 40; ch.5:33; 6:2), but that higher life, that life which man lives

“by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord” (ch. 8:3;

compare Leviticus 18:5; Ezekiel 20:11; Jesus refers to it:  Matthew 4:4), that

spiritual life which is in God’s favor (Psalm 30:5). Enjoying this life as the fruit of

obedience, they should also possess as their inheritance the laud promised to

their fathers - “which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in

and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers giveth you. 

2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall

ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of

the LORD your God which I command you.”

 

3 “Your eyes have seen what the LORD did because of Baalpeor: for

all the men that followed Baalpeor, the LORD thy God hath destroyed them

from among you.”  The people had had personal experience of the danger, on

the one hand, of transgressing, and the benefit, on the other, of keeping

God’s Law; they had seen how those who sinned in worshipping Baal-peer

were destroyed (Numbers 25:3, 9), whilst those who remained faithful

to the Lord were kept alive. This experience the people had had only lately

before, so that a reference to it would be all the more impressive. Baalpeor,

the idol whose cultus was observed at Peor. Baal (Bal, Be’ cf., Bel,

Lord) was the common name of the supreme deity among the northern of

the Semitic-speaking people, the Canaanites, the Phoenicians, the

Aramaeans, and the Assyrians. There were thus many Baals. Followed:

walked after; a common Biblical expression for religious adherence and

service (compare Jeremiah 8:2; 9:14; and with a different formula,

Numbers 32:12; ch. 1:36; Joshua 14:8; Judges 2:12).

 

4  “But ye that did cleave unto the LORD your God” -  “To cleave unto

one” is expressive of the closest, most intimate attachment and communion

(compare Genesis 2:24; Isaiah 14:1). The phrase is frequently used of

devotion to the service and worship of the true God (ch.10:20; Joshua 22:5;

23. 8); here it expresses the contrast between the conduct of those who remained

faithful to Jehovah and those who forsook Him to worship Baal - “are alive every

one of you this day.” Thus they that keep themselves pure in general defections,

are saved from the common destruction (Ezekiel 9:4-6; II Timothy 2:19;

Revelation 20:4).

 

 

     Life and Prosperity Dependent on Obedience to God (vs. 1-4)

 

In this paragraph Moses indicates, by the word “therefore,” the purpose he

has had in the review in which he had been indulging. It was not for the

mere rehearsal’s sake that the varied incidents in Israel’s career were thus

recalled to memory, but to stimulate the people anew to obedience, by

reminding them how strong was the reason for it, and how great would be

the blessedness of it. It was then, as it is now, “godliness is profitable for

all things; having promise of the life that now is and of that which is

to come” (I Timothy 4:8) and though that would be a low standard of virtue

attained by a man who served God merely for what he could get by it, yet, on

the other hand, if no good came of it, the reason for it would certainly be

seriously affected in the influence it had on a man. There is a mean and selfish

form of utilitarianism. But if, when a man contends for utility as the foundation

of virtue, he means by utility “a tendency to promote the highest good, on

the largest scale, for the longest period,” there is nothing selfish or mean

about the theory then, whether we accept it as sound philosophy or no.

And it is certain that our Lord Jesus Christ meant considerations of profit

to weigh with men (see Matthew 16:25-26). Observe:

 

  • GOD’S STATUTES AND JUDGMENTS ARE THE BEST MORAL

AND SPIRITUAL FURNITURE WITH WHICH A PEOPLE CAN BE

ENRICHED. The word “statutes” includes “the moral commandments and

statutory covenant laws.” “Judgments” are precepts enjoining what is due

from men to man or to God. Sometimes we get the word “commandments,”

including both the former; at other times we have the word “testimonies”;

in which duty is looked at as that concerning which God bears testimony to man.

Now, men will rise or fall according as the moral nature is cultured or

Neglected!  And it is because the Divine precepts constitute a directory

 for our highest selves, that they are so invaluable to us. Doubtless, to

some extent, the Law of God is still graven in the hearts and consciences of

men; and if men were perfect, the Law written on the heart would be clear

enough. But as men neglect God’s Law, they come to fail in discerning

 it. The characters written inwardly are more and more faint, and, lest it

should cease from among men, our God has had His will graciously

recorded in a Book, our constant standard of appeal, our unvarying

directory of right!

 

 

  • THESE STATUTES AND JUDGMENTS ARE TO BE PRESERVED

INTACT.Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you,

neither shall ye diminish ought from it” (v.2; ch. 12:32).  The manifestation

of the tendency of men to do one or the other, yea both, is one of the saddest

chapters in human history. (Compare Jeremiah 26:2; Proverbs 30:6; Revelation

22:18-19; [we are either for God or against Him!  There is no straddling the fence;

Matthew 12:30; 5:19; 15:1-13.) Skepticism violates God’s Law by subtracting

from it; superstition, by adding to it. Our appeal must ever be “To the Law and

 to the testimony, if they speak not according to this word, IT IS

BECAUSE THERE IS NO LIGHT IN THEM!”Isaiah 8:20) and the appeal

will only be valid, nay, will only be possible, as both are preserved intact

and kept free from the tampering of men.

 

  • THEY ARE TO BE PRESERVED IN THEIR ENTIRETY, IN

ORDER THAT THEY MAY BE OBEYED IS THEIR ENTIRETY.

Hearken, for to do them (see John 13:17; James 1:22). A mere reverence

for the letter, without obedience to the spirit, is displeasing to

God. Jesus Christ complained of this among the Jews (John 5:38-40).

A written law, honored as to its preservation, but yet neglected in life, is a

silent witness against us (John 5:45). Men may rest in having the

oracles of God, and may cherish even up to the last, vain hopes of

acceptance on the ground of privilege, but they will be undeceived

(Matthew 7:21-27). Obedience to the Law of God includes the two

great duties of trust in a great salvation and loyalty to moral precepts. No

man was allowed to trifle with the sacrificial code any more than with the

ethical: both formed parts of the Law; both were to be observed with equal

exactitude.

 

  • OBEDIENCE TO THE LAW WOULD BE FOR ISRAEL’S WEAL,

AND WAS THE CONDITION OF THEIR CONTINUANCE IN THE

LAND.  That ye may live,” (v. 1).  The word “life” is very far from being a

mere synonym for “existence.” It is equivalent to “healthful existence,” a

state of being in which all his powers and functions are in harmonious

exercise, and directed to their proper objects and ends. Nor can any one

doubt that obedience to the laws of God has a tendency to promote true

comfort and success in this life, while it is certainly the truest, yea, the

only, preparation for the next. Besides, the blessing of God is promised

 to the obedient. If a man’s life accords with the laws of God, he will find out

how conducive obedience is to good. But if he “strives with his Maker”

(Isaiah 45:9), his life-course will bristle up with prickles everywhere.

 

  • AS WE LOOK ROUND, WE MAY SEE SAD EXAMPLES OF THE

REVERSE, FROM WHICH WE MAY TAKE WARnING. (See the sad

history of Baal-peor, referred to in v. 3; Numbers 25).   Surely we should take

warning from that, and from too many similar instances. The prevalence of lust

will be destructive of LIFE’S BEAUTY, PEACE, POWER and HOPE.

(“For to be carnally minded is death; but to the spiritually minded is

LIFE and PEACE.”  - Romans 8:6)

.

  • THE EXPERIENCE OF THE PEACE AND JOY, ATTENDANT

UPON A LIFE OF LOYALTY TO GOD, IS A STRONG ARGUMENT

FOR CONTINUANCE THEREIN.   “Ye that did cleave unto the Lord

 your God are alive every one of you this day” (v. 4).  What would the

victims of lust and greed and passion give if they could but have the calm

peacefulness of one who follows the Lord fully!   But that cannot be! The test

of a life for God is God’s own seal to its worth in His eye (Psalm 91.); while

long life is ensured by the healthy state of body which a righteous life induces.

(Contrast Romans 1:27 “receiving in themselves that recompence of their

error which was meet” and Proverbs 5:11 “And thou mourn at the last,

when thy flesh and thy body are consumed.” – I interpret this in light of

today’s sexual revolution as a reference to STD’s, VD’s and AIDS – CY –

2012)    And the hope — the good hope through grace — which gilds the

outlook, oh, the unutterable joy of that!

 

 

5  “Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD

my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to

possess it.  6  Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your

understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these

statutes, and say,” - The institutes of Moses were the commandments of Jehovah,

and therefore obedience to them was imperative.  By this was conditioned the

enjoyment by Israel of the Promised Land; and this would be their wisdom and

 understanding in the sight of the nations; to themselves it would be life, and to

the nations it would convey an impression of  their being the depository of true

wisdom and knowledge, so that they should be constrained to say, “Surely this

great nation is a wise and understanding people.” “The fruit of the righteous

is a tree of life; and he that is wise winneth souls” (Proverbs 11:30). God’s

statutes make wise the simple (Psalm 19:7; 119:98-99); and they who are thus

made wise attract the attention of others by the fame of their wisdom.

 

7 “For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the

LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for?  8  And what nation

is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law,

which I set before you this day?”  Translate, For what great nation is there that

hath gods that draw near to it, as Jehovah our God whenever we call upon Him?

And what great nation is there that hath righteous statutes and ordinances like

this whole Law which I am giving before you this day? (compare ch.33:29;

Psalm 34:17-20; 145:18; I Samuel 14:36; I Kings 18:26-29, 37; James 4:8).

True right has its roots in God; and with the obscuration of the knowledge

of God, law and right, with their divinely established foundations, are also

shaken and obscured (Romans 1:26-32).

 

The possession of the oracles of God by Israel was a benefit to them only as these

were kept in mind and reverently obeyed. Therefore they were to take heed and

diligently beware of forgetting the circumstances under which the Law had been

 received at Horeb. God had then commanded the people to be gathered together,

so that they stood before the Lord, were in His manifested presence, and were

made to hear His voice speaking to them from amidst the fire and the clouds that

covered the mount. They had thus actual evidence and guarantee that the

Law they had received was Divine; and this they were to keep in mind as long

as they lived, and to communicate to their children in all coming time, that so they

might fear the Lord; for on this rested that covenant which God had made with

Israel, and which they were to keep as the condition of their continuing to enjoy

privilege and life.

 

9 “Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently,” - i.e. Be very

careful to preserve thy life (Proverbs 13:3; 16:17; 19:16; in all which passages the

same formula is used as here). The Hebrew (vpun,) means primarily breath,

then vital principle, natural life (anima), then soul life, the soul or mind (animus).

The forgetting of the wonders they had seen would lead to their forgetting

God, and so to their departing from Him, and this would mar and

ultimately destroy their life (Joshua 23. 11-16) -  “lest thou forget the

things which thine eyes have seen,” -  (see Exodus 19:16-20) - “and lest

they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy

sons, and thy sons’ sons;”

 

 

      National Greatness Dependent on Obedience to God (vs. 5-9)

 

In these verses we have a continuation of the address of Moses to the people. He had

previously reminded them of incidents which had occurred. He here points out to them

the advantageous position they are privileged to occupy, and shows them how to

MAINTAIN and PERPETUATE it. He reminds them:

 

  • That theirs was the very special privilege of having God nigh unto them

as the Lord their God (see also vs.32-34).

 

  • That they would occupy a prominent place among the nations round

about (Exodus 9:16; 15:14; Numbers 14:13-21; ch. 28:10).

 

  • That the cornerstone of their national life and honor was the

 worship of God and the practice of righteousness. Their “statutes

and judgments” were characterized by this special mark — they were

righteous above those of any other nation. (v. 8).

 

  • That the carrying out into action of these precepts was their only

Wise course (v. 6).

 

  • That such wisdom would be their true greatness, and such greatness

would win them regard and honor from surrounding peoples (v. 6). [This

was actually the case to a very large extent. Our space will not allow us

even to touch on the matter here; but careful research will show the

student how Israel’s greatness has manifested itself in the influence exerted

by them in modifying the religion, philosophy, literature, politics,

institutions, and moral judgments of the world. First, among the Egyptians,

Canaanites, and Phoenicians; and then among the Assyrians, Persians,

Greeks, and Romans]

 

  • That it behooves them to “keep and do” these precepts, to retain them in

their heart, to hand them down to their children, and to take constant care

of themselves. In turning all this to pulpit use for modern times, observe:

 

 

THERE ARE CERTAIN PRINCIPLES, THE APPLICATION OF WHICH

          WILL SECURE THE TRUE GREATNESS OF A PEOPLE.

 

It is becoming to a true patriot to think of his country as being renowned

among the nations of the earth, Jehovah evidently meant the people to be

moved by such an ambition. It is far more healthful to direct natural desires

into a right channel than to try to suppress them. Let a man cherish the

most fervent wish to see his country unsurpassed among the people. God

promises this as the result of His blessing. Thou shalt be “the head, and not

the tail” (ch. 28:13).  But observe: No conspicuousness is so much to be

 desired as that arising from wisdom and understanding. The prominence

which arises from moral influence is that alone which is worth striving

after. Any influence by which we help to lift up other nations in virtue and power,

is worth infinitely more than that which comes of martial valor, or diplomatic

tactics, or such supremacy over a people as shall simply make them stand

amazed at the length of our purse, or the precision and deadly fire of out

arms. To be known as the wisest people, so that others seek in friendly

emulation to learn from us — this is an eminence any patriot well may

desire for the land he loves. But observe: This will depend on the amount

of moral culture in a people, i.e. on the degree of clearness with which a

people see what is right, on the measure of force they put forth in the

pursuit of it, and on the firmness with which they insist on the right being

paramount to any considerations of power, expediency, or gain. “The

throne shall be established in righteousness.” (Proverbs 25:5);

“Righteousness exalteth a nation; but sin is a reproach to any people.”

(Ibid. 14:34).  Not only in the individual, the family, and the social life

must righteousness be the chief corner-stone of a common weal, but in

those acts in which a man has to play the part of a citizen, and in which a nation

has to do with other nations. Righteousness may not be eliminated from

 politics, nor may it play a subordinate part. UNIVERSAL, ETERNAL,

UNCHANGEABLE are the laws of righteousness  and by whomsoever

they are violated — by individuals, families, Churches, or nations — such

violation will surely be followed by remorse and shame.

 

The truest form of moral culture is loyalty to the Divine Being and His

commands. No nation ever has or ever can thrive without the recognition

of a Great Supreme. It is only the fool, the “nabal,” the withered one, who

says there is no God. And no nation which ignores the duty of loyalty to

God will ever be great. But then in the Book, as the world’s grandest

moral text-book, there are statutes, precepts, testimonies, judgments, for

THE REGULATION OF LIFE  both individually and collectively.

The appeal of v. 8 is still valid, “What nation is there... that hath statutes

 and judgments so righteous as all this Law, which I set before you this day?”

(Now contrast this verse with Jeremiah 2:10-13 – CY – 2012).  We know how

the Law may be summed up: “All the Law is fulfilled in one word, even in

this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his

neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the Law” (Romans 13:9-10).

 

And this principle of love to all, carried out in loyalty to God, will ensure

that greatness which is most worth having. The Egyptians were at one time

renowned for learning, the Phoenicians for their commerce; the men of Bashan for

their giant strength; Greece for its philosophy; Rome for her “imperium et

libertas” (empire and liberty).  Their sway has gone. But the Hebrew race, by

whom first and alone this law of love was proclaimed as the one guiding principle

of a nation’s life, is living in its literature the grandest of all lives, and swaying,

with the scepter of its ONE PERFECT MAN, JESUS CHRIST THE

RIGHTEOUS,  men of different nations, tribes, and tongues in every quarter

of the globe. Yes, this one law of love has given to the Hebrew race a greatness

it will never lose. The brightest streaks of light on the globe now are to be

discerned only where the law of love is known and obeyed; that law given by

Moses, GRACE was brought in by Jesus Christ (John 1:17).And in

proportion as nations follow and act out this law, will they attain to the only

greatness on which heaven smiles. “The world passeth away and the lusts

 thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” (I John

2:17).  This righteousness is in itself an armor of lightA NATION’S

BEST DEFENSE!  For on “the righteous nation which keepeth the truth”

will God’s blessing rest, and, next to the Divine blessing, the good will of the

nations is our surest and happiest guard.

 

 

   HERE IS AN APPEAL TO THE PEOPLE AS INDIVIDUALS TO

TAKE HEED TO THESE PRINCIPLES.

 

The appeal is fourfold in this paragraph.

 

  • “Keep therefore and do them.” There is as much obedience to God in

the nation as is rendered to Him by individual souls, and no more. Hence it

is the part of the true patriot who desires his nation’s greatness to see

that he is living the life which will help to make the nation great.

 

  • This is not to be superficial work, but the Law is to be in the heart. Not

an accidental, surface life, but an intelligent and designed direction of the

inner and outer life according to God’s ways and Word.

 

  • This LAW of RIGHTEOUSNESS, TRUTH AND LOVE  is to be

handed down FROM SIRE TO SON, AND SO ON TO GENERATION

AFTER GENERATION!   The parent is to be the true depositor,

 conservator, teacher, and transmitter of God’s Law. He is to live after

he has gone in the truth he has taught, and, when he is dead, his speech

is to be molding the young hearts of a nation.

 

  • Each one is to put a careful guard around himself, lest any of the baneful

influences around him should destroy or weaken his loyalty to God and

the right. “Take care of thyself;” — such is the meaning of the phrase in

v. 9 (compare Proverbs 4:23, Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out

 of it are the issues of life”). It is easy to gather from the Book of

Deuteronomy against what influences the ancient Hebrews would have to

guard. These influences, hostile to unswerving loyalty, vary with each land

and race and age. A careful observation and knowledge of the times will show

us against what foes we have at all points to be armed. LET US TAKE

THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD!  (Ephesians 6:11-18).   “Let us save

ourselves from this untoward generation.”  (Acts 2:38)  Let us play

the man and the citizen, with HEARTS LOYAL TO OUR SAVIOUR,

JEALUS FOR THE RIGHT AND TRUE, FEARING GOD, but having

no fear beside!

 

10 “Specially the day” - The word “specially,” introduced by the

translators into the Authorized Version, is a needless interpolation. With

this verse begins a new sentence, which is continued in v. 11 on to the

end of v. 13. Render, On the day [i.e. at the time, the μwy, is an adverbial

accusative] when ye stood before Jehovah your God in Horeb... when ye

came near and stood,… then Jehovah spake to you -  “that thou stoodest

before the LORD thy God in Horeb, when the LORD said unto me,

Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words,

that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon

the earth, and that they may teach their children.”

 

11 “And ye came near and stood under the mountain; and the mountain

burned with fire unto the midst of heaven, [unto the heart]” -  i.e. up to the

very skies; a rhetorical description of the mighty pillar of fire that blazed on Sinai,

and betokened the presence of Him whose symbol is fire. With darkness, clouds

[cloud], and thick darkness; underneath the fire was a cloud of deep darkness,

out of which it blazed, the “thick cloud” of Exodus 19:9, 16, and the “smoke”

out of which the lightnings flashed, and over which the glory of the Lord, like

devouring fire, rested on the top of the mountain (Ibid. v.18; 20:18; 24:16-17) -

 “with darkness, clouds, and thick darkness.”

 

12 “And the LORD spake unto you out of the midst of the fire: ye

heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only ye heard

a voice.”  On this occasion the people heard the voice of the words,

but saw no similitude; there was no form or shape apparent to the eye.

No man can see God’s face (Exodus 33:20, 23); “no man hath seen

God at any time” (John 1:18); and though the nobles or elders of Israel

who went up with Moses into the mount are said to have seen God, it is

evident that what they saw was only some luminous manifestation of His

glory, and not a form or shape of which a similitude could be made

(Exodus 24:9-17). Even Moses, with whom God said that He would

speak mouth to month, and who should behold the similitude of God

(Numbers 12:8), was told that he could not see His face, His essential

personality, but only his back, the reflection of His glory (Exodus

33:18-23).

 

God surrounded Himself with these signs of His greatness, power, wrath,

and holiness:

 

Ø      That we may reverence and fear Him.

Ø      That we may be kept from presumption in our approaches to Him.

 

Recalling this scene, the Israelites should have been preserved from ever trifling

 with it.   God’s Word should be handled and read with a deep feeling of

reverence.

 

13 “And He declared unto you His covenant,” - God’s gracious engagement

with Israel for their good, and by which they were bound to observe all His

commandments. God declared this at Sinai when He uttered the ten

commandments (words, μyrib;d]), “the words of the covenant, the ten words”

(Exodus 34:28), which He afterwards gave to Moses on two tables of stone,

written with the finger of God (Exodus 24:12; 31:18). Besides these, there

were other statutes and ordinances which Moses was commanded to teach the

people, and which, with them, comprised the Law given at Sinai (see Exodus 21

and following chapters) - “which He commanded you to perform, even

ten commandments; and He wrote them upon two tables of stone.

14 And the LORD commanded me at that time to teach you statutes

and judgments, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go

over to possess it.”

 

As the people had seen no form or figure when God spake to them, so they

were to beware for their very lives (v. 9) of acting corruptly by making any kind

of image, whether of man or of beast, for the purpose of worshipping God as

represented by it; they were also to beware of being so attracted by the splendor

of the heavenly bodies as to be forcibly seduced to worship them and offer them

religious service. They were not in this respect to imitate the heathen; for God,

who had delivered them out of the furnace of Egyptian bondage, had taken them

for Himself to be His special possession; and therefore they were to take heed not to

forget the covenant of Jehovah their God, nor to offend Him by making any

image or representation of Him as the object of worship. Among the

heathen, and especially in Egypt, images were the very pillar and support of

religion; but in Israel, as God had revealed Himself to them without form, it

was as a spirit He was to be worshipped, and not under any outward

representation.

 

15 “Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no

manner of similitude on the day that the LORD spake unto you in

Horeb out of the midst of the fire:  16  Lest ye corrupt yourselves,

and make you a graven image,” -  Graven image (ls,p,), carved work

or sculpture, whether of wood, or metal, or stone  - “the similitude of any

figure,” - the form of any idol (lm,s,, form, statue, idol) - “the likeness

(figure (tynib]t", a building, a model, a form, or figure) of male or female,”

- in apposition to graven image, and illustrative of it.

 

17 “The likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any

winged fowl that flieth in the air,  18  The likeness of any thing that

creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters

beneath the earth:” – A warning against the animal-worship of Egypt.

 

We are made for better things than weakly to associate in our minds the

invisible and eternal God with the creatures of sense. Let us give faith proper

scope, and the worship of God will prove both possible and delightful. But the

worship of God through images makes stocks and stones of men.They

that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them”

(Psalm 115:8). May our worship raise us and not degrade us! Superstition

degrades, but worship of the invisible God in the Spirit elevates and ennobles

our souls.  “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true

worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth:  for

the Father seeketh such to worship Him.  God is a Spirit:  and they

that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”  (John 4:23-24).

 

19 “And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest

the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven,” -

The worship of the heavenly bodies, especially star-worship, prevailed among the

Canaanites and many of the Semitic tribes, but was not confined to them;

the Egyptians also reverenced the sun as Re, the moon as Isis, and the stars

as the symbols of deities. The Israelites were thus, both from past

associations and from what they might encounter in Canaan, exposed to

the danger of being seduced into idolatry - shouldest be driven

to worship them,” – shouldest be urged on, drawn, or constrained

(compare ch.13:13) - “and serve them, which the LORD thy God

hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven.”   God had

allotted (ql"j;) to all mankind the heavenly bodies for their advantage

(Genesis 1:14-18; Psalm 104:19; Jeremiah 31:35); it was, therefore, not

competent for any one nation to seek to appropriate them as specially theirs,

and it was absurd for any to offer religious service to objects intended

for the service of man.  

 

  • There is no distinction here between the Hebrews and the other nations

of the earth; “all nations” includes them as well as the heathen.

 

  • Though God permitted the heathen to worship the heavenly bodies, He

never allotted these to men in order that they might worship them.

 

20 “But the LORD hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the

iron furnace,” -  furnace for smelting iron is used as a figure of the burning

the torment in Egypt. This reference to the smelting of iron shows that, though

the implements of the ancient Egyptians were mostly of copper, iron must

also have been in extensive use among them. Other references to the use of

iron are to be found in the Pentateuch; see Genesis 4:22; Leviticus 26:19;

Numbers 35:16; ch.3:11; 8:9; 19:5; 27:5  - “even out of Egypt, to be unto

Him a people of inheritance,” – (Exodus 19:4-6;  ch. 7:6) – “as ye are

this day.”  (I recommend Deuteronomy ch.32 v. 9 – God’s Inheritance by

Arthur Pink – this web site - CY – 2012).

 

 Moses, after again referring to his being not permitted to enter Canaan, takes

occasion anew to warn the people against forgetting the covenant of Jehovah and

making any image of God, seeing He is a jealous God, and a consuming fire.

 

21 “Furthermore the LORD was angry with me for your sakes, and

sware that I should not go over Jordan, and that I should not go in

unto that good land, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an

inheritance:”  Neither in Numbers 20:12, nor (Ibid. 27:12-14, is there any

mention of God’s having sworn that Moses should not enter Canaan with the

people; but it is absurd to suppose, as some have done, that the writer here has

confounded this with what is recorded in Ibid. 14:21, 28, — that is

inconceivable; and it certainly does not follow, because no mention is made

in Numbers of God’s having sworn, that He did not swear on this occasion;

if He confirmed with an oath His decree that the generation that rebelled at

Kadesh should not enter Canaan, the probability surely is that He would do

the same when He announced to Moses the decree that he should not

conduct Israel into the promised laud. Obviously, from ch. 3:23-28, not all

the details are given in the historical account of the event referred “.

 

 

22 “But I must die in this land, I must not go over Jordan: but ye shall

go over, and possess that good land.  23 Take heed unto yourselves,

lest ye forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which He made with

you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of any thing,” - literally,

a graven (sculptured) image of a form of all that Jehovah thy God hath

 commanded thee;  (compare chps. 16-18 and ch. 2:37) -“which the LORD

thy God hath forbidden thee. 24  For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire,”

 When God spoke to Israel at Sinai, His glory appeared “like devouring (consuming)

fire on the top of the mount” (Exodus 24:17); and in allusion to this Moses here

calls God “a consuming fire.” He is so to all His enemies, and to all who disobey Him;

by severe inflictions He will punish, and, if they persist in their hostility and rebellion,

will ultimately destroy them (compare ch.9:3; Isaiah 10:16-18; Amos 5:6; Zephaniah

1:18; Hebrews 12:29) - “even a jealous God.” Septuagint., Qeo<v zhlwth>v Theos

zaelotaesa jealous God.  God has a burning zeal for His own glory; He guards it with

jealous care; and He will not spare those who do Him dishonor, especially those who

are guilty of idolatry, whereby they “change the truth of God into a lie” (Romans 1:25;

compare Exodus 20:5; ch.6:14-15; 32:16; Psalm 78:58; Nahum 1:2). He is jealous also

over His people, because He loves them, and will not endure any rival in their

 affection  and devotion.

 

Moses enforces the warning against idolatry, by predicting the evil that should come

upon the nation through the apostasy of those who should in after times turn from

Jehovah to strange gods. When they should have begotten children and children’s

children, and had been long in the land, i.e. when in after years a generation should

arise that had not known the things they had seen, or had forgotten them (v. 9), and

the nation should then become wanton and corrupt, and fall into idolatry

ch. 6:10-12; 8:7-20; 31:20-21; 32:15; Hosea 13:6-9); then should they utterly

 perish from off the land of which they were now about to take possession.

 

25 “When thou shalt beget children, and children’s children, and ye

shall have remained long in the land,” - literally, have become old,

an ancient nation -  . “and shall corrupt yourselves, and make a graven

image, or the likeness of any thing, and shall do evil in the sight of the

LORD thy God, to provoke him to anger:” -  i.e. so as that He should be

displeased and grieved, and roused to punish.

 

26 “I call heaven and earth to witness” -  Moses speaks in the name of the Lord

of all, and so calls to witness the whole created universe to attest his words; the

heavens and earth are witnesses for God, and when evil comes on those who

transgress his Law, they declare His righteousness (Psalm 50:4, 6), in that what

has  befallen the sinner is only WHAT WAS ANNOUNCED BEFORE

HAND AS THE PENALTY OF THE TRANSGRESSION - “against you this

day, that ye shall soon” -  hastily (rhem"), without delay (compare ch.7:4, 22

[“at once,” Authorized Version]; 9:3 [“quickly”], 12, 16). “utterly perish from

off the land whereunto ye go over Jordan to possess it; ye shall not prolong

your days” - usually equal to have a long life (ch. 5:16; 6:2; 11:9; 17:20); here it means

“continue long to occupy.” Only as they continued faithful to Jehovah could

 they continue as a people to possess the land; severed from Him, they

lost their title to occupy Canaan, and ceased to be His special people; as a

nation they would be destroyed by being scattered among other nations.

From Leviticus 26:33, and ch. 28:64, it is evident that the author had in view all the

dispersions which would come upon the rebellious nation in future times, even

down to the dispersion under the Romans, which continues still; so that Moses

contemplated the punishment in its fullest extent - “upon it, but shall utterly be

destroyed.”

 

27 “And the LORD shall scatter you among the nations, and ye shall be

left few in number” - literally, men of number, i.e. that may be counted; few as

compared with the heathen among whom they should be dispersed (Genesis 34:30) -  

“among the heathen, whither the LORD shall lead you.”  The verb here (gheni,

Piel of gh"n;) is frequently used in the sense of conducting gently and kindly

(Isaiah 49:10; 63:14; Psalm 48:14; 78:52); but it also means to drive, to carry off,

to convey forcibly (Exodus 10:13; 14:25; Genesis 31:26; Psalm 78:26); the

connection shows that it is in the latter sense it is to be taken here. Dispersed among

the heathen, they, who had dishonored God by making an image to represent

Him,  should be compelled to do service to mere dead idols, the work of men’s

 hands, which not only could not hear or see, as God can, but also could

not-perform even such animal functions as eating and smelling (Psalm

115:4-7; Jeremiah 10:3-9). These idols are called “gods” by Moses,

because they were so counted by those who worshipped them; elsewhere

he stigmatizes them as “abominations,” things to be loathed and abhorred

(μyxiWQvi, ch. 27:15; 29:17). As had been their sin, so should be their punishment;

as they had dishonored God, so should they be themselves dishonored; as they

had worshipped by an image Him who is spirit and without form, they should

be made to sink down to an utterly materialized worship, that of mere idols, the

work of men’s hands; as they had apostatized from the one holy and true God,

they should be degraded to become the servants of abominations, objects of loathing

and abhorrence (Jeremiah 16:13; Acts 7:42). God, however, would not utterly cast

them off: if, in their misery and degradation, they should repent and turn

again to Him and seek Him sincerely and earnestly, they should find Him; for

He is a merciful God, and mindful of the covenant which He sware unto

their fathers (Leviticus 26:39).

 

28 “And there ye shall serve gods, the work of men’s hands, wood and

stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell.  29  But if from thence

thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find Him, if thou seek Him

with all thy heart and with all thy soul.” As true religion consists in LOVING

THE LORD WITH ALL THE HEART AND SOUL, THE WHOLE

INNER NATURE (ch. 6:5; 10:12), so true repentance consists in a

turning from sin and all ungodliness to God, in a coming from a state of

enmity to Him, or of indifference to His claims, to honor, reverence, and

serve Him intelligently and sincerely, thinking of Him aright, adoring His

perfections, delighting in Him as the alone good, giving to Him that honor

which is His due, and doing His will from the heart (II Chronicles 15:15).

When men have apostatized from God, it is often by means of

“tribulation” that they are brought to a right state of mind towards Him,

and to a true repentance “not to be repented of;” and to effect this is the

design of all the chastisements which God sends on His own people

(Hebrews 12:5-11; Jeremiah 24:7; 29:10-13; 50:4; Ezekiel 6:11).

 

30 “When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon

thee, even in the latter days,” - in the afterward of days (μymiY;h" tyirj}a"B];

“end,” – ch.11:12) - a phase used sometimes to designate the times of the Messiah

(Isaiah 2:2; Hosea 3:5; compare Acts 2:17; I Peter 1:20; Hebrews 1:1; I John 2:18);

but here, as generally, it simply indicates futurity, the time to come (Genesis 49:1;

Numbers 24:14; Deuteronomy 31:29). This, however, may include the far distant future,

and so points to the time when Israel shall finally return to the Lord and be saved,

through the acknowledgment of Him whom they despised and rejected when He came

as the Messiah promised to the fathers. As Paul grounds the assurance of the final

redemption of Israel, as a whole, on their calling of God (Romans 11:26-29), so

Moses here sees in God’s covenant the ground of the ever-watchful care and

grace of God to Israel, and the security of their final restoration as a nation.

“if thou turn to the LORD thy God, and shalt be obedient unto His voice;”

 

31  (For the LORD thy God is a merciful God;) He will not forsake

thee,” literally, will not let thee loose, will not lose hold of thee, will not cast thee

off (compare Romans 11:1) -“neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant

of thy fathers which He swear unto them.”

 

Still more to enforce his warning against apostasy, and urge to obedience and

faithful adherence to the service of Jehovah, in vs. 32-40, Moses appeals to

what they had already experienced of God’s grace in the choosing of them to be

His people, in His speaking to them to instruct them, and in the miracles which He

had wrought for their deliverance and guidance; grace such as had never been

showed before to any nation, or heard of since the creation of the world, and by

which those who had experienced it were laid under the deepest obligations of

gratitude and duty, to love and serve Him by whom it had been showed. With

this appeal he closes his first address.

 

32 “For” - This connects the statement that fellows with that which precedes as

its cause; it is because Jehovah is a merciful God, that the unparalleled grace

showed to Israel had been displayed - “ask now of the days that are past,” -  

i.e. inquire from the earliest time of man’s abode on the earth -  “which were

before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and ask

from the one side of heaven unto the other,” -  search the records of all

times and places, whether any so great a thing has ever happened or been

heard of - “whether there hath been any such thing as this great thing is,

or hath been heard like it?”

 

 

National Backsliding (vs. 23-32)

 

The history of the Jews is an unanswerable argument in favor of the truth of

prophecy and the reality of Divine revelation. The singularity of that history is such

as can only be fully accounted for on the idea of a supernatural Providence

interesting itself in their fortunes; but the strangest fact is in that, their own sacred

books, this wonderful history is predicted with minute precision. The Book

of Deuteronomy furnishes a series of these predictions, the extraordinary character

of which is not removed by any date to which the book may be assigned. We may

read this passage first as a prophecy, then as a warning.

 

  • A PROPHECY. It does not, as several later passages do, put the

backsliding of the Jews hypothetically, but states the fact plainly that they

will backslide — takes it for granted (v. 25). There is a prediction:

 

Ø      Of national apostasy. The whole history of Israel, beginning with the

time of the judges (Judges 2:19), is a commentary on this statement.

 

Ø      Of national rejection (vs. 26-29). How remarkably has this

testimony been fulfilled in the rooting out of both Judah and Israel

from their own land; in their scattering throughout the nations, in

every region and country under heaven; in their preservation amidst

all vicissitudes as a distinct people; in the conformity to alien worships,

customs, and beliefs, to which they have so often been compelled;

in the miseries and indignities which they have endured! Surely we

are entitled to ask from the unbeliever that he should give us, when

rejecting revelation, some satisfactory explanation of these coincidences.

 

Ø      Of national repentance (vs. 29-32; compare ch.30.). Though yet

unfulfilled, there can be little doubt in the minds of any who study past

fulfillments, that this prophecy of the repentance of Israel will in

God’s good time receive its accomplishment also (Zechariah 12:10;

Romans 11:26; Isaiah 66:8-9).

 

  • A WARNING. We learn the truths:

 

Ø      That backsliding is possible from a state of high attainment.

Ø      That backsliding is commonly of gradual development (v. 25).

Ø      That backsliding may assume very aggravated forms.

Ø      That backsliding exposes to severe punishment from God. But,

finally, and for our encouragement:

Ø      That backsliding, if repented of, will be graciously forgiven.

 

 

33 “Did ever people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the

fire, as thou hast heard, and live?” (Compare  v. 12; v, 22-26; Genesis 16:13.)

 

34 Or hath God assayed” - hath He ever made the attempt to come on the earth

and take a nation from the midst of a nation, as he took the Hebrew people from

among the Egyptians? -  “to go and take Him a nation from the midst of

another nation, by temptations,” - (twOSm", plural of hS;m", a testing, a trial) —

 i.e. by the plagues inflicted on Pharaoh and his people, whereby they were tested

and tried - “by signs, and by wonders,” – “The wonder (tpewm) differs from

the sign (twOa) in this, that the former denotes the properly marvelous, the

extraordinary, the uncommon, consequently the subjective apprehension of the

miraculous event; the latter the significant element in the miracle, the reference to

the higher, Divine design, the purpose of God in it, consequently to the objective side

of the miracle (compare ch.13:2) - “and by war,” – (Exodus 14:14; 15:3-10);  -

and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm,” - (Exodus 6:6; 14:8;

ch.5:15); - “and by great terrors,” -  (Exodus 12:30-36), the effect on the

Egyptians of the Divine inflictions (compare Psalm 105:27-38; 106:21-22) -

 according to all that the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before

your eyes?”

 

35 “Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the LORD

He is God; there is none else beside Him.”  All this Israel was made to see,

 in order that they might know that JEHOVAH IS ALONE GOD and

BESIDE HIM IS NO OTHER GOD!  (μyhilOa’h;, the God), the one

 living and true God.

 

 36 “Out of heaven He made thee to hear His voice,” – (Compare Exodus

20:18-22.) To indicate still further the preeminence of Israel, Moses emphasizes

the supernatural character of the revelation God had given to them, and

the awful manner of its delivery; God spake to them with audible voice,

out of heaven, amidst fire, and they heard His words out of the fire. “that He might

instruct thee:” -  To instruct thee. The verb here used (ds"y;) means primarily to

bind and thence to correct, to chasten, which meaning some interpreters would give

here. But the word means also to correct by instruction, to instruct or persuade

(compare Isaiah 8:11; 28:26; Psalm 16:7); and the connection, both with what

precedes and with what follows, requires the meaning heren - “and upon earth

He shewed thee His great fire; and thou heardest His words out of the midst

of the fire.”

 

37 “And because He loved thy fathers,” -  (compare Genesis 15:5-7; Exodus

13:15-17). Inasmuch as God had loved their fathers, the patriarchs, and had

chosen them their descendants to be His people, and had delivered them out of

Egypt, that He might establish them in the Promised Land, having driven out thence

 nations mightier than they, therefore were they to consider in their heart and

acknowledge that JEHOVAH ALONE IS GOD  and that in the wide universe

THERE IS NO OTHER!  The apodosis in this sentence begins at v. 39, and not,

as in the Authorized Version, at “He chose,” in v. 37, nor at “brought thee,” as

some suggest - “therefore He chose their seed after them, and brought thee” –

for all this thou shalt keep His statutes -  “out in His sight” - literally, in His face,

i.e. in His presence, BY HIMSELF present with them; with special reference to

Exodus 33:14, where the same word is used as here. Onkelos has here “by His Word,”

and the rabbins explain it of “the angel of His presence,” as it is said, Isaiah 63:9 -

 with His mighty power out of Egypt;”

 

38 “To drive out nations from before thee greater and mightier than

thou art, to bring thee in, to give thee their land for an inheritance,

as it is this day.” -As this day has shown, or as it has come to pass this day,

in the overthrow, namely, of Sihon and Og.

 

39 “Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart,” - literally,

bring back into thy heart. Because we cannot lay hold of spiritual things in

thought instantly in a moment, God commands to make them to revert, i.e.

again and again to recall them to the mind - “that the LORD He is God

in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else.”

 

40 “Thou shalt keep therefore his statutes, and his commandments,

which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee, and

with thy children after thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days

upon the earth,” -  rather upon the land (hm;d;a}h;) - “which the LORD

thy God giveth thee, for ever.”  The comma after “thee” in the

Authorized Version should be deleted. The sum of this whole exhortation is:

 

  • to acknowledge and lay to heart that God is the alone God of the

universe, in heaven and on earth; hence

  • to be obedient to His laws; and so
  • to have, as a recompense, a happy continuance in the beloved land

 

The conclusion of the exhortation reverts to its beginning (compare this

verse with  v.1).

 

 

APPOINTMENT OF THREE CITIES OF REFUGE BEYOND JORDAN

(vs. 41-43)

 

A short historical notice is here inserted, probably because it was during the interval

between the first and second addresses of Moses that he carried into effect the

Divine command to appoint cities of refuge for the manslayer (Numbers 35:9-34;

Exodus 21:13).  This notice, therefore, is here in its proper place in the order of the

narrative. That Moses should, just at this stage, have made this appointment was

fitting and proper, seeing he had been urging on the people obedience to the Divine

statutes and commandments, and had represented their conquest of the territory

of Sihon and Og as an earnest of their ultimate possession of the whole

 land of the Amorites. By appointing these cities, Moses gave an example of

obedience to God’s injunction, and, at the same time, not only asserted on the

part of Israel a right of proprietorship in this trans-Jordanic territory, but assumed

as certain that, on the ether side of Jordan also, the same right of proprietorship

should be possessed and exercised by Israel in the fulfilling of the whole law

concerning cities of refuge (ch.19:1-21).

 

41 “Then Moses severed three cities on this side Jordan toward the

sunrising;” - beyond Jordan, more expressly defined as toward the sun rising,

viz. on the east of that river.

 

42 “That the slayer might flee thither, which should kill his neighbor

unawares,” -  literally, in lack or want of knowing (t[;d"Aylib]B]),

i.e. unconsciously, unintentionally; in Numbers 35:31, 15, another word

(hg;g;v]Bi, by mistake) is used, rendered in the Authorized Version by

unwittingly;” in Joshua 20:3, both words are used - “and hated him not in

times past;” - literally, yesterday, three days since, i.e. formerly, heretofore

(compare Genesis 31:2; Exodus 5:8) - “and that fleeing unto one of these

cities he might live:”

 

43 “Namely, Bezer in the wilderness, in the plain country, of the

Reubenites; and Ramoth in Gilead, of the Gadites; and Golan in

Bashan, of the Manassites.”  Names of the cities set apart. Bezer;

Septuagint -  boso>r BosorBezer -  one of the cities of the plain or

table-land of the Amorites, on the east of Jordan (ch.3:10; Joshua 20:8),

afterwards a Levitical city in the tribe of Reuben (Ibid. 21:36). It is probably

the Bosor of I Maccabees 5:36; it has not been identified with any existing

locality, but the ruined heaps of Burazin to the east of Hesban, or those

of Berza in the same district, may mark its site. Ramoth in Gilead; probably

the same as Ramoth-mizpeh (Ibid.13:26); it lay to the northwest of Philadelphia

(Rabba or Rabbath-Ammon, hod. Amman), on the Jabbok (‘Onom.,’ s.v.”

Rammoth” and “Remmoth”); a Levitical city in the tribe of Gad (Ibid.

21:38), hod. Es Salt, six hours from Amman. Golan in Bashan. Eusebius

identifies this with Gaulon, a very large village in Batanaea, from which the

surrounding region had its name, viz. Gaulonitis, hod. Jolan (Onom.,s.v.

Gau-lon “); it was a Levitical city in the tribe of Manasseh (Ibid. 21:27;

I Chronicles 6:71); it has not been identified.

 

 

THE SECOND ADDRESS OF MOSES

 

The second address of Moses starts in v. 44 and continues through ch. 26:19.

This address is introduced by a general notice of what is to form the subject of it, viz.

the Law, with a more especial description of that in its different parts, as consisting

of ordinances, statutes, and rights; together with a reference to the place and time

when this address was delivered.

 

44 “And this is the law” -  the Torah - “which Moses set before the children

of Israel:”  He means what follows, so this belongs to the next chapter, where the

repetition of the laws begins.  Compare v. 1; ch. 6:1; Leviticus 6:9; 7:1).

 

45 “These are the testimonies,” -  ordinances attested and confirmed by God; the

word used here (twOd[e, plural of hd"[e) occurs only in Deuteronomy (here and

ch.6:17, 20) and in the Psalms - “and the statutes, and the judgments,” -

(compare v.1). “which Moses spake unto the children of Israel, after they came

forth out of Egypt.” - “i.e. not immediately after their exit, But, as v. 46 shows, when

they were already beyond Jordan; literally, in their coming out: i.e. during the process

of their passing from Egypt to Canaan; more exactly defined by what follows.

 

46 “On this side Jordan, in the valley” - (ch. 3:29) – “over against Bethpeor,

in the land of Sihon” – on ground already captured and possessed by Israel

(compare ch. 2:32-36; 3:1-17; v. 48) -“king of the Amorites, who  dwelt at

Heshbon, whom Moses and the children of Israel smote, after they were

come forth out of Egypt:”

 

47 “And they possessed his land, and the land of Og king of Bashan,

two kings of the Amorites, which were on this side Jordan toward the

sunrising;  48 From Aroer, which is by the bank of the river Arnon,

even unto mount Sion, which is Hermon,  49 And all the plain on this side

Jordan eastward, even unto the sea of the plain, under the springs of Pisgah.”

 

 

   The Circumstances Under Which the Law was Reiterated (vs. 44-49)

 

These verses are manifestly introductory to the discourse of the succeeding chapters.

Moses is about to declare the “testimonies” (tdo[eh;), what comes forth from

God  to indicate His will; and the “statutes” (μyQijuh"), the defined duties of

moral obligation; and the “judgments” (μyfiP;v]Mih;), or mutual rights of men.

The conditions of his speech are here detailed.

 

  • THE ISRAELITES HAD RECEIVED AN EARNEST OF THE

PROMISED INHERITANCE. They had got, as we have seen, the

land of the Amorites. The kingdoms of Og and of Sihon were already in

the hands of the two and a half tribes. Moses had a vantage-ground,

therefore, from which to plead the claims of God. And so, when we get

an earnest of the promised inheritance in the gift of the Spirit, we

are more likely to yield ourselves to the Divine demands (Ephesians 1:14).

We have an inheritance on this side the Jordan of death, more important

than the pastures of Bashan, and God, having given us this, may well make

demands upon us.

 

  • THE EXPERIENCE THROUGH WHICH THEY HAD PASSED

WAS ALSO MOST IMPORTANT. For the temporal inheritance in Moab

and Bashan was a minor part of their gifts from God. Their fellowship at

Sinai, their wanderings through the wilderness, the checkered experience

of judgment and of mercy, all combined to make the Israelites in Moab a

favored people. No other nation had had such an experience and history.

 

  • THE REITERATION OF THE LAW WAS IN THE MIDST OF

HAPPIER CONDITIONS. At Sinai their fathers and themselves had

witnessed awe-inspiring wonders. The mount was the center of quaking

and fear. Even Moses had to yield to the panorama of terror, and to say,

“I exceedingly fear and quake” (Hebrews 12:21).  But now in Moab

all around them is bright and hopeful. Mercy encompassed them, and so

they were more likely to enter into the spirit of the Law, which Moses

makes out to be love (ch.6:1-5).

 

  • WE LEARN FROM THIS THAT GOD FIRST GIVES BLESSINGS

AND THEN ASKS OBEDIENCE. It is here that we see plainly the

essence of the gospel. The glad tidings consist of the offer of a full and free

salvation to the sinner, on the ground that he is a sinner and cannot save

himself. The salvation is saddled with no condition. This is the trouble — it

is too good news to be true, in the sinner’s sight. He can hardly credit

such free gift — he would rather pay something for it. But God is firm, and

will make no half bargains. But when the sinner has been redeemed from

Egypt and brought to God, he is expected in gratitude to obey God’s Law.

It is His rule of life, and he renders obedience to it willingly. People “put the

cart before the horse,” and fancy God will take something in part payment,

and could not think of refusing them! Nothing is so important just now as

CLEAR VIEWS ABOUT THE PLAN OF SALVATION!

 

 

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