Sometimes it is worth just writing down some of my little musings as I read through a chapter. Here are some from Deuteronomy 4.
Deuteronomy 4:2 – You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you.
Sola Scriptura is not only a reformation principle, it is a biblical principle. I find it fascinating that, as Moses sends the Israelites into the promised land, just 40 years after the Exodus from Egypt, he is adamantly clear that no person is to tinker with, change, add to, or subtract from the word of God. The Lord has given his commandments to his people, and no person has the right to mess with the word of God.
This is a principle still in play today. While we understand that the New Testament has shown us that many Old Testament laws are fulfilled in the person and completed work of Christ, the word of God still stands. We should not mess with it. We should not attempt to reshape Scripture to fit our culture. We dare not hide from Scripture for social popularity. God’s word is sound. We must hear it and obey it for God’s glory and our good.
Deuteronomy 4:8 – And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?
God’s people were given God’s law, and that set them apart from every other nation. All nations out there which are not a nation of the people of God have laws that are not as wise and not as righteous as the laws of God. God taught his people how to live righteously. But only the people of God carry with them the laws of God given to them by the revelation of God.
Today, we live in societies which are not the people of God. Our laws in our lands do not all reflect the glory of God. We should be reminded that, only when Christ returns and reigns as king, will we really have perfect laws. At the same time, we should pray for and work toward helping our laws inn our land be laws that honor the principles of the Lord’s commands. We want the righteousness of God’s law to cover our land, because the law of God is good. No, I’m not a theonomist. I do not believe that we should try to institute formally Old Testament laws for a non-Israelite, modern context. However, I will say that we should, as a people, pray that God grant us the grace to have righteous laws rather than laws that formalize support of things that are evil, dangerous, and dishonoring to God.
Deuteronomy 4:12 – Then the Lord spoke to you out of the midst of the fire. You heard the sound of words, but saw no form; there was only a voice.
Moses reminded the people of Israel that, when God spoke to them out of the fire on top of the mountain, they saw no form. They only heard the word of God. They did not see any shapes.
One of the glorious recoveries of the protestant reformation is the understanding that the church is a word-centered people. We are not a people who focus our lives and worship on visual images. True worship is always first and foremost focused on the clear, perfect, powerful, life-changing, binding, authoritative word of God. We are a word people, not a drama people or an image people.
Deuteronomy 4:15-19 – 15 “Therefore watch yourselves very carefully. Since you saw no form on the day that the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, 16 beware lest you act corruptly by making a carved image for yourselves, in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female, 17 the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the air, 18 the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water under the earth. 19 And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the Lord your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.
We are a word-based people. And the Lord has commanded his people not to become focused on developing images to depict him. Why? We can’t do it. No matter how good of an image we can produce for the Lord, we will always fall infinitely short of his glory. God chose not to give us a visual representation of himself. We should be wise enough not to try to come up with one for him.
While that passage obviously applies to the use of images in worship, idols and the like, it also should give us a strong reminder about how we represent God. God is very passionate about being properly represented. When a person says, “I like to think of God as…,” they are in danger of developing an image of God that is false. We must only represent God as God has represented himself. We must only depict God as the God of Scripture, the God who reveals himself to us, not in pictures or images, but in his perfect and holy word.
Deuteronomy 4:29-31 – 29 But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul. 30 When you are in tribulation, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, you will return to the Lord your God and obey his voice. 31 For the Lord your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers that he swore to them.
I find it fascinating that, here in Deuteronomy 4, God spells out for the nation what they will face. They will rebel. They will be scattered. And, in the latter days, they will return to the Lord. Christians do not believe that this return has occurred for Israel, but look forward to that return as Paul promised in Romans 11. The return will not be to the old temple system, but will be a return to the Lord as they recognize Jesus as the promised Savior.
Deuteronomy 4:35 – To you it was shown, that you might know that the Lord is God; there is no other besides him.
What has God done? He has shown his glory through his perfect word and his mighty deeds. God proved to Israel and to all who read and understand his word that he is the Lord, there is no other. There is only 1 God, the God of the Bible. He proved that by doing things that only he can do. Later, he affirmed it by not only rescuing Israel from Egypt, but by raising Jesus, God the Son, from the grave. There is no room in Scripture for people to believe that there are multiple paths to heaven. Such is not Gods word or way.