Today’s reading was supposed to be chapters 3-4 but I treated chapter 3 along with chapters 1-2 in yesterday’s reading. I really read through chapter 6 today but I’ll reserve commend on that for tomorrow when I should be commenting on chapters 5-8. Confused yet? I hope not. Anyway…
Deuteronomy 4:1-4 — How does Moses urge Israel to follow the LORD’s commands? By reminding them of what happened to everyone who followed Baal of Peor. God destroyed them but let everyone who held fast to him live. Idolatry was obviously very serious back then. It actually still is today but a lot of folks don’t like to think about that.
Deuteronomy 4:5-14 — There is a heavy emphasis on remembering God’s actions and his decrees in this passage. There is also a heavy emphasis on God’s covenant relationship with his chosen people. Look at v. 7 when Moses asks, “What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him?” Again, the LORD’s uniqueness is in view. When Israel prays, the LORD answers. When pagans pray, their impotent gods don’t (just see Elijah’s escapade with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel in 1 Kings 18). There’s a closeness; an intimacy between the LORD and Israel that doesn’t exist between the nations and their gods.
But Israel has to be in constant remembrance of the great and mighty acts of God that they have seen; they have to constantly remember the Law spoken forth by God, because again, they relate to him through what he does and says. And to keep hammering the point home; the nations have no such relationship with their gods because their gods don’t say or do anything!
Deuteronomy 4:15-31 — God forbids idolatry in the plainest terms. Don’t make statues of anything you see in heaven or on earth. Don’t worship any god other than me. Why? Because God is a jealous God. And jealously again speaks to the relational issue. Because of the intimate relationship God has with his people he requires their exclusive devotion; their complete allegiance. To give it to another brings out God’s consuming fire (v. 24; cf. this to v. 20 where we see God’s as a refiner rather than a consumer; he allowed Israel to go through the iron-smelting furnace (Egypt) in order to pull them out as the people of his inheritance).
Deuteronomy 4:32-40 — This is really an elaboration on the question Moses asked in Deuteronomy 3:24. He’s again appealing to God’s many wondrous acts, i.e., creating, redeeming, delivering. Have the other gods done this? Of course not! And why has God revealed himself to Israel through such acts? So that they’d know of his uniqueness; besides him there is no other (vv. 35, 39). Again, Moses isn’t concerned with monotheism as we generally think of monotheism with regard to the existence of other gods. For Moses there can be a number of “real” gods; but there is only one “true” God, the LORD, and he’s proven himself true again and again through his words and deeds.