Studies in Torah

Deuteronomy 4:20-49: Love v. knowledge

“So watch yourselves, that you do not forget the covenant of the LORD your God which He made with you, and make for yourselves a graven image in the form of anything against which the LORD your God has commanded you.” (Deuteronomy 4:23 NASB)

God is referring to the 10 commandments in this verse. The entire book of Deuteronomy is about the 10 commandments. 

God made a covenant with Abraham, Issac and Jacob about the inheritance of the Promised Land, which he is in the process of fulfilling. He made a separate covenant with the generation Moses is addressing in Deuteronomy. 

Deuteronomy reveals the mind of the Eternal. This book shows us how God sees us and sees the world. Want to know how to be holy? Read Deuteronomy. 

God didn’t tell the prophets everything, He speaks to them in visions and dreams. This is not the case with Moses. Moses was unique in all the world since the Almighty told Moses everything plainly and clearly. 

God continues to hammer the point that He doesn’t want us to make any “graven image” to represent Him. Humans do have a tendency to need something to touch and associate with emotionally. This is true across many different religion expressions. 

The most powerful thing that comes out of our mouths are our words. When our words are hateful, they are powerful. Words can destroy a child, a friend or our own lives. Words can also lift up a child, a friend and ourselves. 

Our society is very secular and evolutionary in its process. We are taught that humanity are becoming better with each passing generation. Yet, when someone is depressed or has some other problem, we give them a drug to try to re-wire their brain. Often, those drugs do more harm than good. Rather than going to the Source to resolve our depression, our first inclination is to take a drug. 

“When you become the father of children and children’s children and have remained long in the land, and act corruptly, and make an idol in the form of anything, and do that which is evil in the sight of the LORD your God so as to provoke Him to anger,” (Deuteronomy 4:25 NASB)

When Jacob reached old age, he said his days were “long and evil” yet he carried on. I’ve had ups and downs in my life but I can’t say that my life has been “long and evil.” Jacob never gave up. He was a very brave man. He lived a life of turmoil. 

God might put you in a situation where He gives you a lot of material blessing and then He will take it away, not as a punishment, but to test you out, to find out what you really are inside. He holds back to test our hearts to see if we will do what is just, right and holy when times are rough. 

There’s a direct correlation between the increase in knowledge and a decrease in our love and fear of God. Proverbs says that the knowledge and fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. The increase of knowledge is a decrease in fear of the Lord. The more God blessed the children of Israel while they were in the land, the more complacent they became and the more they desired to go after idols and false gods. The more civilized society got, the more corrupt it got. 

The Apostle Paul warned that knowledge can puff up and look down on people who live up to the word of God as we know it. The fear of God is knowing God. When you aren’t in awe of God anymore and think you can know God from archaeology or linguistic studies, this is a dangerous slope. 

If you don’t love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, the knowledge you received will become a weapon to use against people or even against God. Satan was very smart and good-looking, yet his knowledge destroyed him. 

A wise person is a person who knows how to apply knowledge properly. When you receive knowledge from God, use it for His glory, not your glory. He gives you wisdom through trials. Knowledge leads to wisdom. 

You can tell who the trial is actually for by who is troubled the most by the trial. If you pay attention to other people’s trials, learn from their trials, God won’t have to give that trial to you. 

If you give your life over to idols, whether they are physical or spiritual, God will scatter you. Have you ever felt scattered or sent away? Have you ever had to leave a comfortable place? A scattered person has lost something and becomes an alien. 

We complain about the “aliens” from the South but if God were to evict you from America and send you to another country, you will become a foreigner somewhere else and will not be liked. You will not be in the majority, but a minority and vulnerable. 

That is what happened to the Jews, they were scattered in small pockets into many nations. How would you feel if you lived in a country in which you were a minority and did not have the same rights as the majority? 

If you live in God’s house and refuse to live by His rules, He has no choice but to evict you. He wants us to live with Him but if we despise Him and treat Him with contempt, He can’t allow us to live with Him and has no choice but to kick us out. 

It takes work to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Loving God is not just about emotion but more about action. 

God will have to send them away to countries where they don’t know God or love God. The people will have no choice but to reach out to God or be assimilated. But God doesn’t want His people to assimilate into the pagan cultures around them. 

The reason the children of Israel will return to God is found in Deut. 4:28. 

“There you will serve gods, the work of man’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell.” (Deuteronomy 4:28 NASB)

The children of Israel ended up serving gods who didn’t care about them at all. They served gods who didn’t love them, or even appreciate them. The “principalities of the air” aren’t trying to draw men and women to worship them because they love them. They want power, submission and control over people, they have no interest in mankind’s well being at all. 

The “principalities of the air” won’t give their only begotten son to die for us and to give us eternal life. There is only one God who has that kind of love. 

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 NASB)

God offers love while the “principalities of the air” offer enlightenment and knowledge. That is what the Serpent offered Eve. 

“But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul. “When you are in distress and all these things have come upon you, in the latter days you will return to the LORD your God and listen to His voice. “For the LORD your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them.” (Deuteronomy 4:29–31 NASB)

God will reestablish the 10 commandments. He will establish the covenant that He never forgot. 

“Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the LORD, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other.” (Deuteronomy 4:39 NASB)

God does not have an equal. God is the only one who gave His Son for us. God is the only one who wants a relationship with people and gives more to people than He takes. God wants us to be holy, clean and be like Him. 

God has shown us exactly how He wants us to walk. There’s no mystery there. That’s what the 10 commandments are all about. 

We need to read what God says, not what interpreters say God says. 

“Now this is the law which Moses set before the sons of Israel; these are the testimonies and the statutes and the ordinances which Moses spoke to the sons of Israel, when they came out from Egypt, across the Jordan, in the valley opposite Beth-peor, in the land of Sihon king of the Amorites who lived at Heshbon, whom Moses and the sons of Israel defeated when they came out from Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 4:44–46 NASB)

Why was it important for Moses to repeat God’s law at this particular point and location? This is immediately before they are going to enter the Promised Land. 

Think back to when you were baptized? Why did you want to be baptized? Fear of our past? Acceptance? Obedience? Salvation? 

Why did God want you to be baptized before crossing over? God is bringing them into His world, into His land and He wants them to know what rules they needed to follow to continue to live in the Promised Land. 

God made a covenant with the children of Israel. He fulfilled His end by bringing them out of Egypt. They were to fulfill their end by following his commandments. On the other side of the Jordan was the Promised Land. God cares so much that He killed His Son. That was the price paid so we can cross over. 

We are to count the cost and keep counting the cost to make sure the count is still there. 


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