Keeping God’s Word: Deuteronomy 3:21-4:9

Deuteronomy 3:21‑4:9  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 9
Deuteronomy 3:21-4:921And I commanded Joshua at that time, saying, Thine eyes have seen all that the Lord your God hath done unto these two kings: so shall the Lord do unto all the kingdoms whither thou passest. 22Ye shall not fear them: for the Lord your God he shall fight for you. 23And I besought the Lord at that time, saying, 24O Lord God, thou hast begun to show thy servant thy greatness, and thy mighty hand: for what God is there in heaven or in earth, that can do according to thy works, and according to thy might? 25I pray thee, let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon. 26But the Lord was wroth with me for your sakes, and would not hear me: and the Lord said unto me, Let it suffice thee; speak no more unto me of this matter. 27Get thee up into the top of Pisgah, and lift up thine eyes westward, and northward, and southward, and eastward, and behold it with thine eyes: for thou shalt not go over this Jordan. 28But charge Joshua, and encourage him, and strengthen him: for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which thou shalt see. 29So we abode in the valley over against Beth-peor. 1Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers giveth you. 2Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you. 3Your eyes have seen what the Lord did because of Baal-peor: for all the men that followed Baal-peor, the Lord thy God hath destroyed them from among you. 4But ye that did cleave unto the Lord your God are alive every one of you this day. 5Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the Lord my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. 6Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. 7For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for? 8And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day? 9Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons' sons; (Deuteronomy 3:21‑4:9)
When the children of Israel had conquered these nations, with their walled cities and gates and bars (and many of the men were giants too), then the nations across the Jordan in Canaan were afraid, for no matter what great boasts men may make of their power, there is always a fear and trembling underneath it all. God told the children of Israel not to fear their enemies, for it was He who was giving them the victory. When we are walking to please God, the world is far more afraid of us than we ever need to be of them. Let us always fear God, but not men! “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.”
At this time Moses requested that he might go over and see the goodly land of Canaan which God had promised to His people, but God would not allow him to do so because of his failure in losing his patience with the people at Meribah. It is a serious thing to lose one’s patience with the people of God, no matter how much they try us. They are God’s people and He loves them. Moses was told, however, to encourage and strengthen the hands of Joshua who was to be used of the Lord to lead the people into the land, and this he did. It is sweet to find one who has come under the government of God for failure, not smarting under it, but submitting, and still seeking to encourage others in the path. This was truly an evidence of the grace of God in Moses’ heart.
Full Obedience to God’s Word
Once again the Lord reminded the people of the need of full obedience to Him and His Word. Moses told them that they were not to add to the Word God had commanded, nor to take away from it, for God had already shown His solemn judgment upon those who did so. Of course we know that this is law and not grace, but a similar message is given in Revelation 22:18-1918For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 19And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. (Revelation 22:18‑19), warning of the solemnity of adding to or taking away from God’s Word. I do not believe any real Christian would do this, but if we fail to obey it, or add our own thoughts to it, are we not doing much the same thing? This is very searching, is it not? And so here, the children of Israel were told to keep and do the commandments of God. He also told them that this would be their wisdom and understanding in the sight of the nations around, and it is indeed our wisdom to walk in obedience to the Word of God too. Even a child who walks in simple, unquestioning obedience to the Word of God is kept. He need not learn about all the evil things in the world in order to escape them, but by reading his Bible and just doing what God has said, he will be preserved.
How foolish the “prudence” of unbelief, for what is sweeter and more simple than to know that an all-wise Father, who loves us perfectly, has not left us to take one step according to our own wisdom. He who loved us enough to give His blessed Son to die in our guilty stead has not only provided for our eternal salvation through His shed blood, but has graciously marked out the pathway too.
God warned them of the different ways by which they might lose the Word which He had given them. They might add to it, or take from it, or they might willfully fail to walk in it. Then, too, they might forget it, or perhaps lose heart-interest in it. Moreover if they did not fail in these things themselves, they might neglect to teach them to their children and grandchildren. Alas how often this has been done!
Further Meditations
1. Why was Moses not allowed to enter the land of Canaan?
2. How do we escape the evil that is around us in the world?
3. Simple daily obedience is part of the secret to a happy Christian life. You can find more on the subject in The Secret to a Happy Fruitful Christian Life: Part 1 by B. Anstey.