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Deuteronomy - Chapter 4, Lesson 6
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Pastor Ovid Need
NOTE: Time requires I leave in the minor errors, e.g., abbreviations in text, wrong abbreviations, mixed tenses in a sentence (though I have tried to catch all of them), caps, etc. As time progresses, we will correct the lessons. There are also some comments at the end of this chapter.
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We saw last time the prohibition against using heathen, worldly methods to serve and worship the Christian God of the Bible. We are just as easily influenced by the world's methods today as was Israel of old. The results are the same today also. (See Rom. 6.)
In vv. 21-23, Moses recounts the reason he was unable to cross over into the promises of God. See Num. 20 and 27:12-23.
In Deut. 4:23, Moses warns them again against using any graven image or any likeness of anything to worship Jehovah God. Moses knew the weakness; he knew the influence of Egypt which they left behind; he knew the influence of the heathen around them; he knew the tremendous pressure of "Everyone else is doing it, so, why can't we? Look how the heathens prosper." (Ps. chps. 37, 73.) The covenant promise was that if they would serve God as He instructed them, He will cause them to inherit the blessings of the promise.
V. 24, God appeared as a devouring (consuming) fire on the mount, Ex. 24:17. Moses points out that this consuming fire is what He is to all who refuse to acknowledge His authority over them to tell them how to live and serve Him. (See Rom. 1:21.) Neither Ex. 24 nor Deut. 4 refer to those outside the congregation of the Lord--that is, outside of the covenant, Heb. 8:10; 10:16.
1. Our God is a jealous God. Define jealous?
2. What is He jealous over, Isa. 42:8; Rom. 1:21?
a. What else is He jealous over, Isa. 42:21?
3. What will happen if His people give the glory and honor which is due their Lord God to something or someone else, Isa. 42:24, 25?
(See also, Mat. 5:13.)
a. List some ways by which one can give His glory and honor to others?
b. Which of the Ten Commandments deals with giving God's glory to others?
V. 25, Moses, in his concern, returns to a theme he has already covered in depth. He knows what will happen after he was gone. He sees the graven images they will make to represent the living God, and he tells them that God will not put up with it forever. (See Rom. 2.) God is a Spirit, and can only be worshiped in Spirit and in Truth. One God and only one way to God, i.e., no graven images, clearly spoke of Christ as the only way to the one God. The looking forward to Christ is a reason God was so very harsh against this sin -- it corrupted the picture of Christ as the only way to the one God, Jn. 4:24.
In vv. 25-28, Moses lays out the warning. He explains the results, which began to be fulfilled in II Ki. 10:32 (17:17ff.).
4. Vv. 27-28, as they would choose to serve these images made by men over serving the living God, they would be scattered and forced to serve pagan images. Who scattered them?
Neither Assyria nor Babylon would have admitted they were tools of the Most High God, but it was true, Jer. 43:10, etc. The Roman general, Titus, however, did attribute Rome's success over the Jews at Jerusalem to the assistance of God; he saw Jerusalem's destruction as a demonstrations of God's anger against them. (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book VI, ch I.5. & ch IX.2)
Therefore, that thing we choose over serving our Lord, that which we allow to prevent our obedience to Him, will not only cost us our blessings in Him, but will also control us. Daniel is a good illustration: Israel chose to worship and serve God under the calves and to serve pagan idols (every man in his own way, serve God), but when Babylon carried Israel away, service to idols was no longer a choice. Babylon had a death penalty for not serving the image made by man's hands. As each man served God as best suited him in Israel, when he was forced to serve idols under the authority of the king, he had no problem doing it. We only have a record of three refusing to participate in the pagan worship out of the many thousands who were present in Daniel 3. Israel had already made the choice to serve the Lord God after the manner of the surrounding heathen before Nebuchadnezzar forced Israel to do so. Moses saw idol worship coming many hundreds of years before it arrived.
God's people today complain about being forced to serve ungodly men, but the choice was made years ago when they rejected the Lord God's authority over them. Ungodly men in authority are the natural result of the belief that God's grace does away with God's law. (Jude 1:4, e.g., "We are under grace not under law." Lasciviousness--unbridled lust.) If God's people will not admit God's law must control them, then how can we expect the heathens to admit God's law should control them?
5. Yet Moses does not leave them with a hopeless future. What does he promise Israel in vv. 29-31 (Isa.55:6, 7)?
V. 30. The "latter days" could speak of the days of the Messiah, I Pet. 1:20; Heb. 1:1-2; Acts 2:17. Does not Paul point out in Romans that the Jews were not cut off permanently (Rom. 11), and that they could be brought back into the covenant by faith in Christ just as were the Gentiles? Moses assures them that God will not forsake them; He will remember the covenant He made with their fathers. All they must to do is repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and cast themselves upon His mercy, just as everyone must do in these last days. The plan of salvation is the same for everyone, and no one is excluded from it as God builds His house for His glory. (See Rom. chps. 2, 3, 4, 9, and, especially, 11:1-23. Paul uses a whole book to explain this, Romans.)
6. His people were scattered, yet they will be regathered. To where will they be regathered, Isa. 11:10-12; Jn. 3:14; 12:32?
a. Who will do the gathering, Isa. 11:12; Jn. 6:35-71?
In vv. 32-39, we see Moses reminding them of how God appeared to them. He points out that God chose them out of and over all of the surrounding nations. He shows them that never in the history of the world has God ever shown this kind of mercy, grace and might to anyone. (Eph. 3:10.) Here we have Moses reminding God's people of who the Lord God is in order to show that He is capable of performing vv. 29-31. It will look very bleak and dark for Israel from Babylon and Assyria, but vv. 32-39 reminds Israel that there is a God in heaven who can accomplish mighty things for His name's sake through His people. I Peter deals with this for our day and time.
V. 40, is another reminder Moses goes over this many times.
Vv. 41-43, Moses sets aside the cities of refuge on the wilderness side of Jordan, the east side. These cities were protection for one who accidentally killed another, Ex. 21:13; Num. 35:19-34. To a city slayer could flee and find civil justice. Here also the family of the one slain could find justice. This has been applied to the church from earliest times, and civil government has always recognized the church as a "sanctuary" until recently. Civil government now considers itself the lawgiver and avenger, god on earth, as it seeks to be everything to everyone. Of course, this leads to corruption in all of areas; so now no one receives justice. There are some very practical laws concerning these cities that must be observed today if we want an orderly society.
Vv. 44-49, Moses closes this address with a reminder of God's provision, care and victory in war. Here under the springs of Pisgah, Moses delivers his final address. In Deuteronomy 34, Moses goes up to the top of Pisgah to see the land. There he died, and the Lord Himself buried Moses in a valley in the land of Moab.
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