Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.
Deuteronomy 4:1-2 (NIV)
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. 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.
Deuteronomy 4:1-2 (MSG)
Now listen, Israel, listen carefully to the rules and regulations that I am teaching you to follow so that you may live and enter and take possession of the land that God, the God-of-Your-Fathers, is giving to you. Don’t add a word to what I command you, and don’t remove a word from it. Keep the commands of God, your God, that I am commanding you.
“Now, O Israel, listen and pay attention to the statutes and the judgments (God’s legal decisions) which I am teaching you to do, so that you may live and go in and take possession of the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you. You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, so that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I am commanding you.” –AMPLIFIED
We will now take a look at the final book of Moses, Deuteronomy. Within the pages of the book of Deuteronomy we find the final arrangements made as the people prepared to go into the Promise land and claim their inheritance that was promised to them by God. This book was written as a reminder of God’s laws for the people and also of God’s mighty power.
It is important for us to remember that this group of people was not the same group that had exited from Egypt in the Exodus. All of those people had died; all except for Joshua and Caleb. Not one of these people had seen the parting of the Red Sea, the destruction of the Egyptian army or even the giving of the laws to Moses on Mount Sinai. Much had happened that they were never part of and they are about to enter into their Promised land; so God takes the time to remind them who they are and who He is to them.
The word Deuteronomy comes from the Greek. The word “deuteros” means “second” and the word “nomos” means “law”. Deuteronomy was the second giving of the law. Mind you, the law had not changed; for God does not change. Remember this verse from Numbers? “God is not a man—He doesn’t lie. God isn’t the son of a man to want to take back what He’s said, Or say something and not follow through, or speak and not act on it.” -Numbers 23:19 (VOICE) God does not change, but the people had. It was important that God took the time to remind the people what He expected from and of them.
In our text we see God, through Moses, calling the people’s attention to His commands and laws. “So now, Israel, pay close attention to the laws and judgments I’m going to teach you.” (VOICE) The people are told that “IF” they follow God’s commands “THEN” they will take possession of the land. This was a conditional If/then statement. If you do as I say, then you will be able to take possession of the land. It was necessary for the people to understand that they needed to follow God’s commands.
This was not going to be an optional choice; God demanded obedience.
How serious were God’s commands? Moses tells the people this,”Don’t add anything to what I command you, and don’t take away anything from it; just follow the commands of the Eternal your God that I’m giving you now.” Moses reminds them of the incident at Baal Peor, “You saw with your own eyes what God did at Baal Peor, how God destroyed from among you every man who joined in the Baal Peor orgies. But you, the ones who held tight to God, your God, are alive and well, every one of you, today. Pay attention: I’m teaching you the rules and regulations that God commanded me, so that you may live by them in the land you are entering to take up ownership. Keep them. Practice them. You’ll become wise and understanding. When people hear and see what’s going on, they’ll say, “What a great nation! So wise, so understanding! We’ve never seen anything like it.” -Deuteronomy 4:3-6 (MSG)
Several times in Deuteronomy Moses tells the people that they need to stay alert and watch themselves. There was the need for them to be vigilant and aware of their relationship with the Lord, their God. There was to be no coasting through life; for there would be no excuses if they were disobedient. They had been warned. Moses cautioned them, “Just make sure you stay alert. Keep close watch over yourselves. Don’t forget anything of what you’ve seen. Don’t let your heart wander off. Stay vigilant as long as you live. Teach what you’ve seen and heard to your children and grandchildren.” -Deuteronomy 4:9 (MSG)
All of this is a reminder to us that we need to be careful of how we are living our lives before God. The Apostle Paul told the Galatians, “Don’t be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life.” -Galatians 6:7-8 (MSG)
Lord, God, help me to be vigilant in living my life in such a way that I am pleasing to you. Help me to be vigilant. Diligently keeping watch over myself. For only I am responsible for my actions and reactions; I cannot hold anyone else responsible for what I do. Help me always to stay true to you and what you require of me. I want to be a living testimony to the faithfulness of the Lord, my God!