Friday, August 25, 2017

Always Obey God!

Moses:  5 “Look, I now teach you these decrees and regulations just as the LORD my God commanded me, so that you may obey them in the land you are about to enter and occupy. 6 Obey them completely, and you will display your wisdom and intelligence among the surrounding nations. When they hear all these decrees, they will exclaim, ‘How wise and prudent are the people of this great nation!’ 7 For what great nation has a god as near to them as the LORD our God is near to us whenever we call on Him? 8 And what great nation has decrees and regulations as righteous and fair as this body of instructions that I am giving you today? . . . 39 So remember this and keep it firmly in mind: The LORD is God both in heaven and on earth, and there is no other. 40 If you obey all the decrees and commands I am giving you today, all will be well with you and your children. I am giving you these instructions so you will enjoy a long life in the land the LORD your God is giving you for all time.” Deuteronomy 4:5-8, 39-40 (NLT)

In Deuteronomy chapter 4, Moses continues his history lesson he began to teach a new generation of Israelites in chapters 1 through 3. Moses was God's prophet and Israel’s greatest leader (see Deuteronomy 34:10-12). Sadly, the first generation of Israelites leaving Egyptian slavery rebelled and repeatedly sinned against the living God (e.g., see Exodus 32:1-35; Numbers 14:9-12; Numbers 25:1-9; Deuteronomy 1:28; Deuteronomy 9:23-24; Deuteronomy 32:8-14; Acts 7:49-43). Because of their disobedience and rebellion, the first generation of Israelites wandered the wilderness desert for 40 years and eventually died in the wilderness (see Numbers 14:21-23, 28-30; Deuteronomy 1:35-38; Deuteronomy 32:13; Joshua 5:6). Now, a new generation of Israelites listened to Moses’ farewell address as they prepared to enter God’s Promised Land (Deuteronomy 1:1-3, 5, 39-40).

Moses began Deuteronomy 4 by instructing Israel to listen and carefully obey all the living God’s laws (see Deuteronomy 4:1, 5). God’s laws given through Moses consisted of various decrees, regulations, ordinances, statutes, and commands given by the living God to His servant Moses to give to His people Israel (see Deuteronomy 4:5). The heart of God’s laws is found most famously in the Ten Commandments (see Deuteronomy 5:6-21), and most succinctly in the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). All other laws of God are interpretations and applications of these primary principles. Jesus Christ our Savior also urged His disciples to keep the Ten Commandments and the demands of the Shema (see Matthew 5:17-20; Matthew 22:37-40) — not to have eternal life but as an expression of commitment and faithfulness to His Father, the living LORD God (see John 14:15, 20-21, 23; John 15:9-10; 1 John 2:3-5; 2 John 1:6).

The essences of the entire Law and the Prophets are to love, obey and worship exclusively the LORD God first and to love one another (Deuteronomy 4:3; see also Leviticus 19:18; Exodus 20:4-6; Deuteronomy 5:7; Matthew 7:12; Matthew 22:34-40; Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:13-14). Loving God and loving others reflect the very nature of God’s Son, Jesus (e.g., see Philippians 2:1-11). Thus, God’s laws are just as applicable today as first given to Israel at Mount Sinai, repeated by Moses in Deuteronomy, and reaffirmed in the New Testament (see Exodus 20:1-17; Deuteronomy 5:6-21; Matthew 19:16-19; Matthew 22:34-40; Romans 12:9-21; Romans 13:8-10). Jesus Christ extended this all-important law to the church – worship His Father, the LORD God (see Matthew 22:37). Israel was never to worship other gods or idols but to seek and worship wholeheartedly the living God (Deuteronomy 4:3-4; see also Amos 5:4-6; Micah 6:6-8; Zechariah 1:3-4). God’s Son Jesus is our primary example to follow because He alone perfectly obeyed all God’s laws and modeled the laws true spiritual intent. Obedience to God’s laws leads to life and possession of God’s good promises (e.g., see Deuteronomy 4:1, 4; Deuteronomy 5:32-33; Deuteronomy 6:24-25; Deuteronomy 8:1; Joshua 1:7-9).

God’s laws and commandments were not burdensome (see Matthew 11:30; 1 John 5:3). However, Israel often broke and disobeyed God and His righteous laws (e.g., see Exodus 32; Jeremiah 11:10-11; Jeremiah 34:18; Malachi 2:8). God wrote His laws given to Moses on stone tablets and not on the human heart. Thus, the old system of the law on stone tablets was powerless to purge away our sins and transform our heart and minds from within (2 Corinthians 3:3, 7; see also Exodus 24:12; Exodus 31:18; Exodus 32:15-16; Exodus 34:1; Deuteronomy 9:10; Romans 8:3). However, the new covenant instituted at Jesus’ sacrificial death brings a new and transformed heart and mind by the Holy Spirit and declares everyone righteous who believe and obey Jesus and the Gospel message (2 Corinthians 3:6-9, 11-12; see also John 3:3-8; Romans 3:28; Romans 5:1-5; Galatians 3:2-5). Through faith in God’s Son Jesus, God has now given all believers of Jesus the Holy Spirit to help us obey His goods laws from our hearts (e.g., see Jeremiah 31:31-34; Jeremiah 32:37-41; Ezekiel 11:19-21; Ezekiel 36:24-27; Hebrews 8:8-12; Hebrews 10:16). In other words, the God’s transforming Spirit gives believers new hearts to obey God and His good Law through our faith in His Son Christ Jesus (e.g., see Acts 1:4-5; Acts 11:16; Romans 1:16-17; Romans 3:30-31; 2 Corinthians 3:17; Philippians 2:12-13). Under God’s new covenant, God’s same laws and statutes are now engraved inwardly onto believers’ hearts and minds and it is no longer an external set of rules and principles (2 Corinthians 3:3-4; e.g., see also Jeremiah 31:31-34; Jeremiah 32:37-41; Ezekiel 11:19-21; Ezekiel 36:24-27). The Holy Spirit works inside believer to activate our consciences, influence our motives and desires, and make us want to obey God (see Romans 8:2, 5). Now doing God’s will is something believers genuinely desire with all our heart and mind (see 2 Corinthians 4:4-6).

Even more, Moses instructed Israel not to add other laws or subtract from theses laws but to obey and do these laws for they are from the living LORD God (Deuteronomy 4:2; see also Matthew 5:17-20; Deuteronomy 12:32; Revelation 22:18-19). God’s laws are righteous, good, and holy because they come from Him (Deuteronomy 4:8; see also Psalm 119:39; Romans 7:12; 2 Corinthians 3:7, 10-11; 1 Timothy 1:8). All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the people of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work for God’s glory (see 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Sadly, during Jesus’ years on earth, the Jewish religious leaders were guilty of taking away from God’s laws by replacing God’s laws with their own traditions and rituals that were not given by God through Moses (e.g., see Matthew 15:3-9; Mark 7:1-13). Jesus rebuked these religious leaders for adding to God’s laws (see Matthew 23:1-4).

Moreover, Moses instructed Israel that listening, keeping, and doing God’s laws would reveal Israel’s wisdom, understanding, and intelligence to the nations (see Deuteronomy 4:6-8). Moses as well as elsewhere in the Holy Scriptures repeatedly teaches the importance of doing, obeying, and keeping God’s laws (Deuteronomy 4:1, 5-6; see also Deuteronomy 5:1; Deuteronomy 6:3-4; 1 Kings 2:3; Matthew 7:21, 24-27; Luke 8:21; Romans 2:13; James 1:22-23). True wisdom is always linked to obedience to God – obeying the LORD God is the essence of wisdom (e.g., see Deuteronomy 4:6; Joshua 1:8; Psalm 19:7; Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 28:7; 2 Timothy 3:15). In listening and doing God’s laws, the people of Israel would not only receive God’s promises and blessings but they would also model God’s wise and righteous Kingdom on earth to the world (see Deuteronomy 4:6-8). True wisdom is the fear and honor of the living God and turning away from evil (e.g., see Job 1:1, 8; Job 2:3; Job 28:28; Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 9:10).

Also, Moses reminded a new generation of Israelites that the living God graciously rescued and redeemed Israel from Egyptian slavery so Israel would be His special people and His own inheritance (see Deuteronomy 4:20). God’s repeated call to Israel to remember His past redemptive acts – especially how He delivered Israel from Egyptian slavery – is a common theme in Deuteronomy (e.g., see Deuteronomy 5:15; Deuteronomy 7:18; Deuteronomy 8:2; Deuteronomy 24:9, 18, 22). The living God graciously delivered and redeemed Israel from Egyptian bondage by His “strong hand and powerful arm” because He wanted a personal relationship, wholehearted love, and faithfulness from Israel (see Exodus 3:20; Exodus 6:7; Deuteronomy 4:34; Deuteronomy 5:15; Deuteronomy 6:20-22). The LORD God redeemed Israel and brought Israel out of the iron-smelting furnace of Egypt to be the people of his inheritance (see Deuteronomy 4:20). Israel was God’s firstborn son (see Exodus 4:22-23). God promised Israel that if they obeyed Him and kept His laws, Israel would be His own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth and His “kingdom of priests” and God’s “holy nation” (Exodus 19:5-6; see also Isaiah 61:6). With the coming of His Son Jesus the Messiah (Christ), the LORD God has extended His kingdom to all believers in Jesus – Jews and Gentiles (see 1 Peter 2:5, 9-10). All faithful believers in Jesus have been grafted into God’s family and descendants of Abraham (see John 1:12-13; Romans 4:11; Romans 8:2, 5-6, 14, 16, 21; Galatians 3:14; Galatians 4:6-7). Furthermore, all faithful and obedient believers in Jesus are “royal priests,” “a holy nation,” and “God’s very own possession” (1 Peter 2:5, 9; see also Romans 12:1-2; Revelation 1:6; Revelation 5:10).

No other nation, great or small, had a God that lived among them and willingly helped them when they called (see Deuteronomy 4:8). The living God is close and hears the prayers of those who faithfully obey Him (Deuteronomy 4:7; see also Psalm 34:15-16; Proverbs 15:8; Proverbs 28:9; Proverbs 15:29; John 9:31; James 4:8; James 5:16-18). So, Moses instructed Israel to make sure they diligently stayed alert and not let their hearts be led away into sin and disobedience against the living God and His covenant (Deuteronomy 4:9, 23; see also Proverbs 4:23; 1 Thessalonians 5:6; 1 Peter 5:8).

Furthermore, Moses warned Israel not to forget God’s miraculous signs, powers, and wonders the living God did on behalf of Israel against the Egyptians (see Deuteronomy 4:9). The living God graciously rescued and redeemed His people Israel from Egyptian slavery by sending terrible plagues, mighty miracles, war, and terror against the Egyptians, right before Israel’s very eyes (see Deuteronomy 4:32). The LORD God was Israel’s Redeemer and Divine Warrior that fought for and protected Israel (e.g., see Deuteronomy 1:30-31; Deuteronomy 6:21-23; Deuteronomy 7:1-2, 20-24; Deuteronomy 8:14-16; Deuteronomy 11:2-7; Deuteronomy 26:6-9; Deuteronomy 31:4).

The living and gracious God promised Israel that if Israel would turn from their sins and diligently seek Him with all their heart and soul, Israel would find Him (see Deuteronomy 4:29-30).  The living God graciously rescued and redeemed Israel from Egyptian slavery by His great power, glory, signs, miracles, and wonders, and then Israel heard the voice of God speaking from the fire at Mount Sinai (see Deuteronomy 4:20, 33-34, 36-37). The LORD God revealed His power and glory to Israel so that Israel would always know He is the only true and living God of heaven and earth (see Deuteronomy 4:35, 39). The God of Israel is the Great King, Redeemer, and Creator (see Deuteronomy 4:32; Deuteronomy 5:6, 15; Deuteronomy 6:12, 21-23; Deuteronomy 9:26, 29). Because of God’s gracious redemption, Moses instructed Israel to faithfully love and worship God and obey His righteous commands (see Deuteronomy 4:39-40). There is only one God, the Father of Jesus Christ (Deuteronomy 4:39; see also 1 Corinthians 8:4-6). Love and obedience to the living God would bring Israel and their children God’s blessings, and all will go well with Israel and their children (see Deuteronomy 4:40). Obedience to God brings life (see James 1:12).

Even more, Moses instructed Israel to tell their children and children’s children about God’s glorious miracles, signs, and powers He did in saving Israel (see Deuteronomy 4:9). Israel was to tell their children and grandchildren about the day they stood before the living LORD God at Mount Horeb, also called Mount Sinai (Deuteronomy 4:10; see also Exodus 19:9, 16). Mount Sinai is the mountain of God (see Exodus 3:1). At Mount Sinai, the living God called Israel before Him, and He proclaimed to Israel His righteous laws so that Israel would always fear and honor Him (Deuteronomy 4:10; see also Exodus 20:20). Also, the living God commanded Israel to teach His righteous laws to their children and children’s children (Deuteronomy 4:9-10; see also Deuteronomy 6:7; Deuteronomy 11:19; 2 Timothy 2:2).

Moreover, Moses reminded this new generation of Israelites that their fathers stood at the foot of Mount Sinai and visibly witnessed the awesome and glorious Presence of the living God (Deuteronomy 4:11; see also Exodus 19:17-18; Exodus 20:18. 21; Exodus 24:16-17). At Mount Sinai, the living God appeared to Israel with fire, flames, black clouds, and deep darkness (Deuteronomy 4:11; see also Exodus 19:9, 11, 18, 20; Exodus 20:21; Exodus 24:15-16; Matthew 17:5). Biblical scholars called the living God’s appearance on Mount Sinai a Theophany (see also Exodus 3:2; Exodus 13:21). Also, the LORD God spoke to Israel from the fire, and Israel heard God’s Words but did not see God’s form (Deuteronomy 4:12; see also Exodus 20:1, 22). From Mount Sinai, the living God proclaimed His covenant to Israel through His servant Moses that Israel must obey, which included the Ten Commandments (Deuteronomy 4:13; see also Exodus 20:1-Exodus 23:19). God’s finger personally wrote the Ten Commandments on two stone tablets, which is the essence of God’s covenant with Israel (Deuteronomy 4:13; see also Exodus 31:18; Deuteronomy 9:10).

Importantly, Moses warned a new generation of Israelites that they must NEVER worship or seek other idols or gods (Deuteronomy 4:23; see also Exodus 20:1-7; Deuteronomy 5:9). Moses reminded a new generation of Israelites that their fathers did not see any form of God on Mount Sinai as He spoke to Israel from the fire (see Deuteronomy 4:12, 15, 33). Thus, Moses warned Israel not to sin against the living God by making any statue, idol, or image of the living God — whether of a man, woman, animal, beast, or bird (Deuteronomy 4:16-18; see also Exodus 20:3-5). No image could capture the transcendent glory and power of the invisible and living LORD God (see also John 4:24; Romans 1:20; Colossians 1:15; 1 Timothy 1:17). Idols and images would lead Israel to worship the creature rather than the Creator (see Romans 1:23-25). Moreover, Moses warned Israel not to look up into the sky and sin against the living God by worshipping the sun, the moon, or stars (see Deuteronomy 4:19). The sun, moon, and stars were not objects of worship but only creations from the living God (see Genesis 1:14-19).

Moses warned the people that the living LORD God is a devouring fire and a jealous God (Deuteronomy 4:24; see also Hebrews 12:29). The LORD God commanded Israel and Jesus later commanded the church to worship His Father, the living God first and exclusively (see Exodus 20:3; Deuteronomy 6:4-6; Matthew 22:7; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27). The LORD God of Israel alone is God, and all else is His creation (see Deuteronomy 3:35, 39; Acts 17:22-29; Romans 1:25). Worshipping other idols and other gods anger and sin against the living God (see Deuteronomy 4:25). Even worse, Moses instructed Israel that worshipping idols and other gods will lead to Israel’s destruction and banishment from His good promises (see Deuteronomy 4:3, 26). God promised to banish Israel from His land and scatter Israel among the nations if they worshipped and served other gods and idols (see Deuteronomy 4:26-28).

Sadly, Moses predictions in Deuteronomy 4 came true, and God banished Israel from His God’s Promised Land because of Israel’s repeated wickedness and worship of others gods. During the closing years of King Solomon’s reign, Solomon introduced idolatry into Israel (see 1 Kings 11). In 722 BC, the Assyrians captured and destroyed the ten tribes that formed the Northern Kingdom of Samaria, and Babylon destroyed and exiled the Southern Kingdom of Judah in 586 BC. Even worse, Israel’s rejection of God’s Son Jesus Christ led to Israel dispersion and Jerusalem’s Temple destruction in AD 70. From AD 70 until May 14, 1948, when the modern nation of Israel was recognized, the Jewish people were dispersed throughout the world and had no national homeland. However, God will fully restore Israel at the second coming of Jesus Christ!

Finally, Moses reminded the people that the LORD God is merciful, and He will never abandon or forget anyone who turns from their sins and seek Him with their whole hearts (see Deuteronomy 4:29-31). The living LORD God is gracious (Deuteronomy 5:10; Deuteronomy 7:9, 12), loving (Deuteronomy 1:31; Deuteronomy 7:7-8, 13), righteous and fair (Deuteronomy 4:8; Deuteronomy 10:17-18; Deuteronomy 32:4), merciful (Deuteronomy 4:31; Deuteronomy 13:17), all-powerful (Deuteronomy 4:34, 37; Deuteronomy 6:21-22), holy (Deuteronomy 5:11), glorious (Deuteronomy 5:24-26), and always faithful (Deuteronomy 7:9, 12). As the only God of heaven and earth, the true and living God deserves our wholehearted love, worship, and honor (see Deuteronomy 4:24; Deuteronomy 13:2-10; Deuteronomy 29:20). Even more, the LORD God is the Lawgiver (see Deuteronomy 4:2, 8, 10, 14, 40), Warrior (see Deuteronomy 1:4, 30, 42; Deuteronomy 2:15, 21-22; Deuteronomy 7:1-2, 22-24), and final Judge of and Rewarder for evil (see Deuteronomy 1:17; Deuteronomy 4:27; Deuteronomy 8:19-20; Deuteronomy 9:19-20, 25-26). You can always place your trust in the living God!

Life Application Study Bible (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub., 2005).
NLT Study Bible (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub., 2008).
The Living Bible Paraphrase (Tyndale House, 1971).
Merrill, Eugene H. New American Commentary: Deuteronomy (Nashville, TN: B and H Publishing Group, 1994).
Mounce, Robert H. The Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1998).
Wiersbe, Warren W. Bible Exposition Commentary – Old Testament (Victor Books, 1989).

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