Have you ever read something that just slammed you in the face and wedged itself in your mind so that you couldn’t ignore it no matter what you do? That happened to me last week in my Deuteronomy lesson.
Deuteronomy 4 has a heading in my ESV, “Moses Commands Obedience”. I don’t know about you, but my natural self wants to roll my eyes at Moses and say “yea, yea, obey obey, all the rules…” But just take a moment to read through verses 1-10. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
You know what struck me? A person can’t obey the words of God if they have no idea what the words of God are, so getting Scripture accurate and right are huge!
Now was the focus and purpose of that first section just obey, obey, obey? I’m thinking not. Of course, the theme of obedience was evident, but not the main thrust of the passage. I saw a faithful God instructing His children (yet again) on the importance of God’s Word. “The Lord” or “the Lord your God” is repeated 9x in this section. Repetition in Scripture lets us know that something important is being conveyed. The revealed Word of God is to be taken seriously. The people are warned not to add, nor take away from exactly what God has said to them. It is a sacred text, given by God. Unlike the other pagan deities of the day, God revealed to His chosen people exactly who He was and what He expected from them.
You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you.Deuteronomy 4:2
The episode at Baal of Peor gives us a glimpse of the ramifications of not keeping God’s Word as it was given. Numbers 25 describes how the Israelites began to worship with the Moabites, eating and bowing down to their gods. It would also seem as if some form of prostitution was included in this pagan worship as seen in verse 8. If they had remembered the first and second commandments, “I AM the Lord your God, there are no other Gods before me”, and “you shall not make for yourselves idols, neither own down or worship them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God”, they would not have fallen into idolatry and avoided the severe punishment meted out.
God explains why getting His words ‘right’ is a big deal. Keeping God’s word will be their wisdom and understanding as they walk alongside the people of that land. A people steeped in pagan worship and lost in their darkness. Israel is to walk in righteousness to be a beacon of light to those living in darkness. It will be part of their witness and how others come to God. This righteous lifestyle will also show how close God walks with His people, again, a glaring difference to the pagan gods of the time.
The verse that keeps bouncing around in my brain from this passage is verse 9: keep your soul diligently! It beats against my heart because I agree wholly with it. I know what it is to allow your heart to long for the wrong things and how snowballs roll down hill into something catastrophic and uncontrollable.
Only Take care, and keep your soul diligentlyDeuteronomy 4:9a
Do you keep your soul diligently? Do you take the intentional steps to guard it from sin? Maybe this quarantine time is best spent strengthening your resolve and learning how to guard your heart from all the distractions that will return once the quarantine is lifted?