What God Takes Seriously: His Word
I. We are to Listen to His Word; 4:1.
1 Hear now, O Israel, 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 that the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you.
Moses functions as a pastor-teacher, reiterating earlier revelation, applying that revelation specifically to life in the land, declaring the essence of covenant relationship, and highlighting the importance of a correct response to the revealed will of God.
Moses offers not theoretical speculation but practical instruction for life demonstrated through obedient action. In order to function as God’s people, they must listen to Him and His Word. For us to live God’s people, we must listen to God’s Word.
II. We are to Obey His Word; 4:2-8.
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?
Obedience to Yahweh is a matter of life and death. God destroyed all who “followed” after Baal of Peor. The people standing before Moses are alive today because they “held fast" to God. They are living testimony to the importance of obedience to God’s will. The people's faithfulness will be tested every day once they have entered the Promised Land.
Moses declares that the nation's greatness does not derive from her own qualities, but from Yahweh their God. The Israelites are uniquely privileged because their God is near to them and He answers their prayers. When other people pray to their gods, they remain silent.
Through obedience to Jesus Christ we demonstrate our love of him, but we also display to the world the privilege of salvation, divine presence, knowledge of His will, and blessing. Delighting in obedience to the revealed will of God represents the key to fulfilling the divine mission of reaching the world with His grace.
III. We are to be Vigilant with His Word; 4:9-14.
9 Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip 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.
Moses concludes his report of the events at Horeb by adding that Yahweh commanded him to teach the Israelites "decrees and laws," which they were to put into practice in the land that they were to enter and possess.
We remember God’s Word and work to pass it along to the next generation. If it doesn’t get to the next generation, we have failed to make it a priority. Christians, as individuals and as the church, are increasingly dismissed by outsiders as irrelevant, hypocritical, and self-serving. But in His own farewell address to His disciples, Jesus reminded His followers of the relationship between spiritual statements and life:
If you love me you will obey my commands (John 14: 15).
If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as l have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love (John 15:10).