Richard Agee

Deuteronomy 4: Statutes, judgments of the Lord

The very first verse (Deut. 4:1) tells you what the entire book of Deuteronomy is about: the statues and judgments of the Lord. A statute is a predescribed task, something that God has explained and given as a task. A judgment tells us how to carry out the decision of a judge. A judgment elaborates how to perform a particular statute. Not always negative, judgements a sometimes re favorable.

The Lord says not to add or take away a single word from His law. Don’t change the law or put any clause to override God’s word. 

When one begins to look at the Torah, it does seem full of laws, rules, “dos and don’ts” and seems to involve the people of the House of Israel and doesn’t involve non-Israelites. Let’s be very clear. The TaNaKh (Torah, Prophets and Writings, i.e. the “Old Testament”) is not a history book in the traditional sense of the word. There are no dates and the TaNaKh is written in a series of events, not in chronological order. 

The Torah teaches us what God sees and how He does things. The very first verse of the Bible is about God’s actions, not man’s actions. 

It’s a good thing to know the words and statutes of the Lord and they are God’s gift to us when we internalize them and keep them diligently. Deut. 4:6 calls these laws “your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes.”

As human beings, we tend to cherry-pick and live by only the words of God we like, but God is saying through Moses that we are to understand and keep all the words of God. 

Moses reminds the people that when they stood before the Lord at Shavuot/Pentecost, they experienced the Lord in a fire. God is a consuming fire. He reminded them that God spoke to the people from the midst of the fire, without any form. God had to burn away a lot of dross, bad habits and wrong attitudes from the people of Israel before they were ready to enter the Promised Land. This process started at Horeb and took 40 years. 

Moses reminds them that God has no form that can be copied and made as an object of worship and to attempt to make a form of God and worship it would be a grievous attack against God’s law. He also warns the people not to worship the sun, moon, stars and the heavenly host or look to them for guidance and insight. The zodiac is an example of the “host of heaven.” When people inquire about what “sign” they are born under, they are assuming that the particular sign has control over their destiny. Moses warns that this is evil in God’s sight. He brought them out of Egypt so they would no longer worship or think the way the Egyptians do. 

When we respond to what God is doing, something happens inside us. We become wise. Are you ready to teach people the words of God? Wisdom does not come to one all at once, it takes a lifetime. Don’t despise the small things because God starts with the small things. People are not considered wise until there’s some hindsight. 

God made a covenant with them as a people and it was originally on stone but God writes it on the heart. 

God also warns that if they disregard His statutes and run after foreign “gods”, he will scatter them to the four winds of the earth but if they listen and respond with all their hearts, He will bring them back. 

The commandments are an ongoing charge. They are a continual and perpetual. They never come to an end. We are always supposed to abstain from idolatry, stealing, etc. We are always supposed worship the Lord and the Lord alone, etc. 

Speaker: Richard Agee. Reader: Dave De Fever. Summary: Tammy.

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