Deut 4.10-24 is a portion that still applies today for example. The Lord tells them to remember that they stood before him at Mount Sinai so that they could hear for themselves the very voice of God and the commandments. So they came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire to the heavens: darkness, cloud and thick gloom (v 11).
Then the Lord spoke to them from the midst of the fire, and they heard the sound (“voice”) of words, but they saw no form, only a voice. Notice they “saw” a voice (v 12). And then the Lord declared to them his covenant, the “Ten Words” or commandments, and he wrote them on two tablets of stone (v 13). Moses was commanded to teach these statutes and judgments so that they would perform them in the land where they were going (v 14).
Then he tells them to “watch yourselves carefully since you did not see any form (of God) on the day the Lord spoke to you at Horeb from the midst of the fire (v 15), lest you act corruptly and make a graven image for yourselves in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female (v 16). the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird (like a dove for the Holy Spirit) that flies in the sky (v 17), the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters below the earth (v 18).”
Then he tells them in Deut 4.19, “And beware, lest you lift your eyes to heaven and see the stars, all the host of heaven and be drawn to worship them and serve them, those which the Lord your God has allotted to the peoples under the whole heaven.” In other words, watch out or you will start making idols and graven images of these things. This is what is called a “preventative law” which is given to avoid the possibility that people will mistakenly come to worship the image as God himself.
There are no “intermediaries” because our relationship with God is direct. It is a perversion of the spiritual order if we try to control spiritual forces using graven images or idols. We are to submit to God himself and him alone. The Lord did not give us “props.” Idolatry is wrong because it is false and we do not fashion God in our image, but we are to fashion ourselves in the image of God. We are to teach our children not to make the same mistakes that first generation did coming out of Egypt.
Moses says he is going to die and shall not cross over the Jordan with them, but they were going to go in and take possession of the land. He tells the people to obey the covenant and to not make graven images in the form of anything they have seen on earth or in heaven. The Lord is a jealous God and a consuming fire. Jealous can also mean “zealous” and he will not share his glory with false gods. They are a waste of time. The Lord will stand up for himself and speak the truth.
The truth is, we don’t believe he is a “zealous God” and we think he is “full of grace and mercy” and that is unlimited. This God “has changed” in the minds of many. People have created an idol in their hearts, a God after their own image. For example, people are taught that jealousy is a bad fruit, and they will say, “My God is not “jealous.” They will also say, “I don’t like sacrifices, so my God did away with them.” You will hear it said, “I don’t like the Torah, so my God did away with it.” Some will say, “I don’t like Jews, so my God has replaced them with the Church.” Some believe and have even said that “Jesus was not a Jew, he was a Christian.” They say that about Peter and the writers of the Gospels and Epistles, and that Paul was the founder of Christianity! We need to guard against this type of idolatry in our hearts.
Deut 4.25-30 is a prophecy and it is read on the Ninth of Av, the traditional day that the First and Second Temple were destroyed, among other bad events in the history of the Jewish people. It has a counterpart in Heb 12.18-29, Rev 10.1-11 and Psa 29.3-9. Will Israel hear the voice of God again like at the mountain? Yes, when they are in distress, in the latter days, when they are back in the land (v 30).
Deut 4.31 reassures Israel when that happens, he is not trying to kill them. Deut 4.32-33 says that the greatest event in human history up to that point was when a whole nation heard the voice of God and survived (v 12). Deut 4.34-40 asks if any false god has ever taken a whole nation for himself by trials, by signs and by war and a mighty hand, by great terrors as God did for them in Egypt? This was for them to know who the Lord was and that there is no other God.
This is the issue today, and will be in the latter days, “Who is really God?” This building in the world right now. Is it Yehovah or Allah? Is it Yehovah or Buddha? Is it Yehovah or Krishna? Is it Yehovah or Ba’al? This won’t be settled by America because America has other gods in the land. Moses is saying “Choose the Lord of heaven and earth. He has proven he is bigger than all the other gods, so don’t even fool with them, they are useless It will go well with us if we choose the right God (v 40).” They must “know” (yada) the Lord and so must we. The question will not be in that day “Did you keep the commandments” but it will be “Did you know the Lord.”
This “knowing” is a spiritual knowledge (not a head knowledge) that goes very intimate. It is like the difference of you knowing a woman, and her husband knowing her. They are two different things. Adam “yada” (knew) Chava and she gave birth (Gen 4.1). We are to be betrothed to the Lord and then we will “know the Lord” (“yada’at” in Hos 2.20). The people were destroyed because they had a lack of “the knowledge (“ha da’at” in Hebrew in Hos 4.6). Yeshua will reject those who did miracles, cast out demons and prophesied in “his name” because he never “knew” (yada) them because they were “lawless” (Greek “anomos” or “no Torah”…rejected the Torah as valid) in Matt 7.21-23. John says in 1 John 2.3-4 that if we say we know (yada) the Lord but do not keep the commandments (Torah) we are a liar and the truth is not in us.
In Part 6 we will pick up in Deut 5.1-21.