The chapters in this portion are loaded with concepts and instruction, and there is a theme of “seeing” and “hearing.” It contains the Ten Commandments and the Shema. There is no way to improve on the words of this portion. Yeshua quotes from this section without changing a word, and that is a very important concept to remember. Why do believers think they can change the words? They change the Sabbath to Sunday, or they think they can keep the festivals outside of Jerusalem and a Temple, or they change what a graven image is or is not?
In Deut 3.25 Moses pleads with the Lord to “cross over” and see the “fair land that is beyond the Jordan, that good hill (mountain) country and Lebanon.” But in Deut 3.26 the Lord responds with “Enough” (ravlach), which means “enough for you.” In the peshat (literal), God is saying, “Stop asking and accept my judgment on you.” But there is more to this.
God reassures Moses that there will be a reward enough for him later. He had the privilege of leading Israel out of Egypt, and he met the Lord “face to face” on the mountain and received the Torah. They are enough, and more, even if he doesn’t enter the land right now. This teaches us not to give up in prayer. When you think about it, when we return with Yeshua at the end of the Birth-pains it will be the first time Moses will enter the land. God is merciful and Moses did not give up asking, even when it looked bad. It’s like the old saying, “It’s not over till it’s over” but there does come a time and Moses has reached that point.
How did Moses comprehend God’s justice and how he administered it? What is our comprehension of it? The Lord never punishes except to correct the effects of sin and to rehabilitate the sinner. Whatever God decreed as a consequence for the sin of striking the rock instead of speaking to it was necessary to correct the damage done by Moses. Like a child to a parent, Israel looked to Moses for their needs, not God. By striking the rock Moses reinforced their belief that Moses was their mediator and God would not hear them. The Lord had to correct this by teaching the people to relate directly to him, not through Moses or his family. His non-entry into the land was for their benefit.
Deut 4.1-8 is a very important portion of Scripture because it tells us that no commandments ever given were better than these. That means Rabbinic Judaism and the Oral Law, and Replacement Theology Christianity and their teachings that the “Law has been done away with” and replaced by church doctrine is really a belief system that that calls God a liar. Those man-made laws are not better than those recorded here in Deuteronomy, according to the Lord (v 8). Israel was the founder of modern civilization. Benjamin Disraeli, a British statesman in the 19th Century, responded to an anti-semitic remark by saying, “When the ancestors of the right honorable gentleman (Parliamentarian Daniel O’Connell) were brutal savages, mine were priests in the Temple of Solomon.”
Should a believer obey the Lord? Are these the commandments of the Lord? Should we observe them as they apply? That is where we get into trouble. In Replacement Theology Christianity, they don’t keep them because they say they have been done away with and replaced by man-made laws, and despite any positive aspects that the Rabbinic Oral Law may or may not have in “clarifying” the principles of scriptural cases, Yeshua criticized the traditions and additions of the Oral Law and these additions were prohibited here in Deut 4.2 anyway. The Oral Law may have some useful guidelines, but human judges make errors. We are not to change the “tavnit” (blueprint, pattern). People would rather be “religious” than understand the truth.
There are a handful of laws concerning the Sabbath, but there are over 1500 Rabbinical laws concerning it, and that goes for just about any other law in the Torah. No wonder the Jewish people don’t believe in Yeshua, they don’t don’t even believe Moses (John 5.39-47). There is nothing in the Gospels and Epistles that will take issue with Moses and the Torah. The Gospels and Epistles amplify and help explain the Torah to believers. They are commentaries on how the Torah applies to Jewish and non-Jewish believers in Yeshua.
What kind of a person says these commandments don’t apply anymore? How do they reach that conclusion? what path in their mind do they take to come up with that in the face of all the verses that say otherwise in this portion, and in the Scriptures themselves? Deut 4.9 tells us to “give heed to yourself and keep your soul (heart, mind, spirit) diligently.” In other words, “Renew your mind” (Rom 12.2). How do we renew our minds? Deut 4.9 gives us the answer, “but make them (Torah/Moses) known to your sons and your grandsons.” Go back to what Moses taught. Don’t forget, the same teaching Moses gave applies today, only the situations have changed (no Temple, not in the land, etc).
We will pick up in Deut 4.10-24 in Part 5.