Deuteronomy 4: Lessons Regarding the 14 General Principles or Recitals to God's Covenant with His People

Introduction - - the recitals to the Law: Chapter 4 begins Moses’ sermon on God’s Law that extends through most of the book of Deuteronomy. It is collectively referred to as the “Deuteronomic code”. The code identified what made the Jews unique amongst the nations, God’s covenant, and His Law. The covenant was the Law that God gave at Mount Horeb / Sinai. It was God’s wedding vow to His people. They promised to be faithful to Him, He promised to protect and provide for them. The covenant is the Ten Commandments, which Moses repeats in Chapter 5. Yet, before reciting the covenant, Moses begins with 14 general principles or recitals that apply in keeping the covenant. A written contract will not always specify how the parties are to act in every circumstance. Frequently, a contract will have recitals to express the intent of the parties. This allows the parties to know how to interpret the contract when the contract does not address the exact situation at hand. That is exactly what Moses does in Chapter 4. Through the Holy Spirit, he sets forth 14 general principles or recitals to guide the Jews as they applied the covenant to their lives. These involve either setting the right attitude in order to properly understand and apply the Law or acting upon the Law in some manner with others. These include: (1) obedience; (2) faithfulness to God’s Word; (3) purity; (4) dependence on God; (5) being a witness; (6) being prayerful; (7) being a teacher; (8) loving the Lord; (9) seeking forgiveness; (10) faithfulness to God; (11) being grateful; (12) being reverent; (13) being filled with hope; and (14) practicing justice and mercy.

The purpose behind the Law: Dt. 4:1. Before stating the principles or recitals to the covenant, Moses first states the purpose to the Law. It was not a burden for the people. Rather, it gave instructions for the Jews to find “life” in the Promised Land: “Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I am teaching you to perform, so that you may live and go in and take possession of the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you.” (Dt. 4:1). To emphasize this, Moses repeats his claim at the end of the chapter (Dt. 4:40). Nonbelievers frequently assume that the Bible sets forth burdensome rules and obligations that take all the fun out of life. Yet, God does not hold back that which is good when we walk in His commandments and statutes (Ps. 84:11; 19:7). Jesus also promised not just life but “abundant life” when we follow Him (Jo. 10:10). We are to find life and joy in studying the Law. This is what David found when he wrote the Psalms: “O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.” (Ps. 119:97). “But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.” (Ps. 1:2). Do you love to study the Law? Or, is it a burden for you? Do people see joy in your walk with God? Or, does your attitude confirm non-believers’ beliefs that you have given up something fun?

1. Be obedient.

Dt. 4:1. Moses’ first guiding principle or recital to the covenant was his call for the people to “listen” to God’s Law (Dt. 4:1). Obedience was a command that Moses gave frequently (e.g., Dt. 6:3-4; 9:1; 20:3). He knew that the purpose behind a particular law might not always appear clear to a believer. They were required to be obedient even if they did not understand. God’s thoughts and ways are greater than our own (Is. 55:8). Today, believers are no longer “under the Law” in the sense that they must comply with it to be saved (Gal. 5:18; Ro. 7:6; 8:3). By “fulfilling” the Law, Jesus freed us from the impossible task of trying to obtain salvation through it (Matt. 5:17). Yet, He also says that, if we love Him, we will keep His commandments: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (Jo. 14:15, 21; 15:10; 1 Jo. 5:3; 2 Jo. 1:6). He is the great “I AM” who gave Moses the Ten Commandments (Jo. 8:58; Ex. 3:14). His “disciples” were the “disciplined ones” in keeping His commandments. As bondservants or freed slaves, they were obedient out of love, not obligation. Whether we follow the Law out of love instead of obligation is a test for whether we really know Him: “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.” (1 Jo. 2:3). “Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God.” (1 Cor. 7:19). Obedience is a foundation upon which the covenant stands. If the people will not commit to obeying it, they will breach the contract. They must further obey even when God’s reasoning is not immediately clear. Do you follow the Word only when you understand it? Or, will you faithfully obey and trust God when His reasons are not clear?

Let obedience be the fruit of your faith1

2. Be faithful to God’s Word.

Dt. 4:2. As Moses’ second guiding principle or recital, he warns against those who would add or take away from God’s Word. We must be faithful to the Word as it is written, not as we want it to be written: “You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” (Dt. 4:2). God will not tolerate anyone who changes, adds to, or takes away from His Word (Dt. 12:32; Prov. 30:6; Gal. 3:15). In case any believer feels freed from this Law, John repeats this commandment in the book of Revelation (Rev. 22:18-19). Jesus also warned that those who annul the commandments or teach others not to follow them will be called “least” in heaven: “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:19). Adding to God’s Word can lead to legalism, oppressive and needless rules that only “quench the Spirit” (1 Thess. 5:19). Or, it leads to false doctrines, cults, or false religions (2 Pet. 2:1-3). We should turn down anyone who claims that their prophet received an “extra” gospel. Likewise, taking away from God’s Word causes us to pick and choose only those portions of Scripture that we agree with. Rather than seeking to serve God, we look to create a god that will serve our desires. Thomas Jefferson, for example, is famous for having cut out the miracles from his Bible because he did not believe in them. We should also act with caution when we are told to ignore something in the Old Testament. For example, before telling someone that they can ignore the sacrificial laws of the Torah, we should look at how we can fulfill them through “spiritual sacrifices” directed toward Christ out of gratitude (1 Pet. 2:5). Are you selectively choosing only parts of the Bible to follow?

Be faithful the way God is faithful to you2

3. Be pure and holy.

Dt. 4:3. Moses’ third general principle or recital is stated in the form of a historical reference. He exhorted the people to remain pure or unstained by the world by reminding them of the destruction that fell upon them when they were seduced by temple prostitutes sent by Baal-peor: “Your eyes have seen what the LORD has done in the case of Baal-peor, for all the men who followed Baal-peor, the LORD your God has destroyed them from among you.” (Dt. 4:3). Baal-peor tried to curse the Jews without success (Nu. 22:23-33). Just like the devil, Baal-peor knew that the only way God’s people could be destroyed was if they voluntarily broke God’s Law. Having them join with temple prostitutes was one law he figured he could entice them to break (Ex. 34:14-15; Dt. 23:17; Judg. 2:17; 1 Kgs. 14:22-24). Thus, he came up with a plan to have the Jews defile themselves with the Moabite and Midianite women, who together formed an alliance against Israel (Nu. 22:4). He instructed King Balak to send his most attractive women to invite the Jewish men to Moabite banquets (Nu. 31:16). The women then seduced the men through acts of temple prostitution. The men would have had free sex with the prostitutes in exchange for their agreement to first eat foods sacrificed to Baal-peor, the Canaanite fertility god, and then to worship him (Nu. 25:2-3). God later killed 24,000 men who had fallen to these sins (Nu. 25:9). Jesus later condemned the church of Pergamum for leading believers into the same kind of sin: “you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.” (Rev. 2:14). Pergamum symbolized the union of the Church and the world. Have you stayed pure from the things of the world? (Jam. 1:27). Do you watch all the same T.V. shows and movies that nonbelievers do?

Be pure and holy because God is holy3

4. Be dependent on God.

Dt. 4:4. Moses’ fourth guiding principle or recital was his command that the people “hold fast” or “cling” to God in reverent fear: “But you who held fast to the LORD your God are alive today, every one of you.” (Dt. 4:4). You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve Him and cling to Him, and you shall swear by His name.” (Dt. 10:20). The word “hold fast” in Hebrew “davak” was first used in Genesis 2:24. There, Moses stated that a “man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined “davak” to his wife.” Believers are also commanded to be joined with God: “But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” (1 Cor. 6:17). To those who never held fast to Jesus, He will respond when they approach Him: “I never knew you;” (Matt. 7:23). When we cling to Him, the Spirit can speak to us and direct us. When we are independent, it is harder for Him to direct us. Do you cling to Jesus? Or, does He merely occasionally occupy your thoughts?

5. Be a witness.

Dt. 4:5-6. Moses’ fifth recital was to inform the Jews that they were given a gift that was to be used for a specific purpose. The Law has given them wisdom throughout the ages. As a result, they have excelled as a people throughout history. Yet, this wisdom and understanding was meant to serve as a beacon to the rest of the world: “So keep and do them, for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, 'Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” (Dt. 4:5-6). According to Paul, the advantage in being a Jew was that God had blessed them with the Law (Ro. 3:1-2). God intended for the Jews to be a light to the nations (Is. 49:6). All those who responded by blessing God’s people would in turn be blessed (Gen. 12:3). Jesus is the light of the world today (Jo. 8:12). His light burns inside us as a beacon for those around us (Matt. 5:14). We are further commanded to share the hope that lies within us with gentleness (1 Pet. 3:15; Matt. 28:19-20). Does your obedience to God make you stand out to others as a beacon of love and compassion? Do you share your faith with others? Do you support missionaries? Do people look at you and wonder how you stay content under stress? Or, do you blend in and complain like those around you?

6. Be prayerful.

Dt. 4:7-8. Moses’ sixth principle or recital was to remind the people that they were blessed to have a God “near them” who could answer their prayers. They needed to take advantage of this by constantly searching out His will through prayer: “For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the LORD our God whenever we call on Him?” (Dt. 4:7). Their God was not only near, He is also righteous: “Or what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole law which I am setting before you today?” (Dt. 4:8). By being “near” this meant that He was present to answer their prayers, direct them, protect them, and provide for them. We also can have our prayers answered if we confess our sins and live righteously: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” (Jam. 5:16). If we sin, God will not forsake us or leave us (Heb. 13:5). Yet, when you openly sin, your prayers may be “hindered” (1 Pet. 3:7; Jo. 9:31; Ps. 66:18; Prov. 28:9; Isa. 1:15). The reason for this is that sin cannot be in God’s presence and He “cannot look on wickedness.” (Hab. 1:13). We are similarly blessed today because the Holy Spirit dwells within us (1 Cor. 3:16; 2 Tim. 1:14). Are you taking advantage of the Holy Spirit by seeking out God’s will in prayer? (Jam. 1:5). If any of your prayers are going unanswered is there any sin in your life that you need to repent of?

7. Be a teacher.

Dt. 4:10. Like the requirement that they be a light through their conduct, Moses’ seventh principle or recital stated a separate obligation that came with the Law. As beneficiaries of God’s Law, the Jews were obligated to teach it to their children and grandchildren: “. . . but make them known to your sons and your grandsons . . . and that they may teach their children.” (Dt. 4:9-10). “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” (Dt. 6:7). “You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up.” (Dt. 11:19). “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Prov. 22:6; Ps. 78:4-6). In case any Christian feels freed of this requirement, Paul is clear that it still applies: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Eph. 6:4). Do you know God’s Law well enough to teach it? Do you teach your children God’s Law? Do you talk about the Bible as a family?

8. Be faithful to God.

Dt. 4:11-19. In addition to being faithful to the Word, Moses commanded that the Jews be faithful to God. While the first form of fidelity governed the Jews’ actions, the second form governed their hearts. Moses reminded the Jews that God gave them the Ten Commandments at Mount Horeb as His “covenant” with them. “11 You came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire to the very heart of the heavens: darkness, cloud and thick gloom. 12 Then the Lord spoke to you from the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of words, but you saw no form—only a voice. 13 So He declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, that is, the Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone.” (Dt. 4:11-13). This was God’s wedding covenant with His people. Yet, because the Jews repeatedly broke the covenant, Moses had to repeatedly remind the Jews of their covenant with God. “14 The Lord commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, that you might perform them in the land where you are going over to possess it.” (Dt. 4:14). As part of their wedding vows, Moses reminded them not to corrupt their faith as they had done previously: “15 So watch yourselves carefully, since you did not see any form on the day the Lord spoke to you at Horeb from the midst of the fire, 16 so that you do not act corruptly and make a graven image for yourselves in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female, 17 the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the sky, 18 the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water below the earth.” (Dt. 4:15-18). Just as a spouse commits to forsaking all others, Moses commanded the Jews to forsake all other gods. Moses specifically reminded them not to worship the things that God created, including the stars, the sun, or the moon. “19 And beware not to lift up your eyes to heaven and see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, and be drawn away and worship them and serve them, those which the Lord your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.” (Dt. 4:19). We too must be faithful to God in our hearts, not just our actions. In other words, we must do more than go through the motions in our walk with God. Although you may not be tempted actively today to “worship” the creation, you might be tempted to leave God out of your thoughts and deliberations. Some might be tempted to simply rely upon themselves or their money. All are equally blasphemous in God’s eyes. “For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” (Eph. 5:5). Isaiah warned against those who proclaimed: “‘I am, and there is no one besides me.’” (Is. 47:8-10). Do you rely upon your money or your own abilities to get you through tough times? If so, you are depending upon yourself, not God.

9. Be grateful.

Dt. 4:20-28. One way to be faithful in your heart is to be appreciative for what you have been given. In order to remind the Jews of their reasons to be grateful, Moses reminded them of God’s multiple acts of mercy and grace. First, they had reason to be grateful because God had delivered them from the “iron furnace” of suffering and bondage in Egypt: “But the LORD has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, from Egypt, to be a people for His own possession, as today.” (Dt. 4:20). Second, they had reason to be grateful that they did not share in Moses’ fate in being barred from the Promised Land. Moses lost his right to enter the Promised Land after he overreached to their constant rebellions. “21 Now the Lord was angry with me on your account, and swore that I would not cross the Jordan, and that I would not enter the good land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance. 22 For I will die in this land, I shall not cross the Jordan, but you shall cross and take possession of this good land. 23 So watch yourselves, that you do not forget the covenant of the Lord your God which He made with you, and make for yourselves a graven image in the form of anything against which the Lord your God has commanded you.” (Dt. 4:21-23). Without God’s mercy and grace, their fate would be no different. Yet, Moses warned them that God’s grace had a limit. If the Jews continued to rebel through ungrateful hearts, God would be forced to discipline them out of love: “For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. When you become the father of children and children's children and have remained long in the land, and act corruptly, and make an idol in the form of anything, and do that which is evil in the sight of the LORD your God so as to provoke Him to anger, I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that you will surely perish quickly from the land where you are going over the Jordan to possess it. You shall not live long on it, but will be utterly destroyed.” (Dt. 4:24-26). Moses further warned that their punishment for future rebellions would include being sent into exile, a prophecy that was fulfilled both by their Babylonian exile and by the Diaspora after Jesus’ death: “The LORD will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the LORD drives you.” (Dt. 4:27; same 28:64). In Babylon, the Jews would be forced to bow down as slaves to the idols that they felt superior to God: “There you will serve gods, the work of man's hands, wood and stone, which neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell.” (Dt. 4:28). We have lessons to learn from Moses’ warnings. If we are grateful and remember Jesus’ deliverance, we will obey the Law out of love. If we take Christ for granted, we will drift into spiritual adultery and rebellion. God will eventually hand us over to our sins (Rom. 1:26). Only when we realize what we have given up and repent will God bring us back. Are you testing the limits of God’s mercy and grace in any area?

10. Love the Lord.

Dt. 4:29. Legalism or ritual was not a path that would lead to God. Instead, Moses advised that the person needed to search for God with all their heart and soul: “But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.” (Dt. 4:29). Moses repeated this commandment many times (Dt. 6:5; 10:12; 11:13; 13:3; 30:6). The Psalmist exhorted the people to actively seek God (Ps. 105:4; 63:1; 42:1-2). So did the prophets (Is. 55:6-7; Amos 5:6). Jesus restated this with His commandment as well: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul . . . ” (Lk. 10:27). For those who do, He also promises: “He who seeks, finds.” (Lk. 11:10). Are you diligently seeking the Lord with all your heart and in all that you do? Or, are most of your thoughts each day unrelated to Him? Do you only call out when something is wrong?

11. Seek forgiveness.

Dt. 4:30-32. We can never expect to fully comply with the Law (Ro. 3:9-20). If that were the case, Christ’s death was not necessary: “if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.” (Gal. 2:21). Thus, we must always repent and seek the Lord when we sin (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 17:11). Once we repent, God will again hear our prayers and petitions: “30 When you are in distress and all these things have come upon you, in the latter days you will return to the Lord your God and listen to His voice. 31 For the Lord your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them. 32 “Indeed, ask now concerning the former days which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, and inquire from one end of the heavens to the other. Has anything been done like this great thing, or has anything been heard like it?” (Dt. 4:30-32; Jonah 4:2; Neh. 9:31; Joel 2:13). Jesus invited us to seek daily forgiveness as part of the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:12). He also warned that if we do not forgive those who have caused us harm, our Heavenly Father will not forgive us (Matt. 6:14-15). Are you seeking Jesus’ forgiveness on a daily basis? Have you forgiven those who have sinned against you?

Forgive others the way God forgives you4

12. Be reverent.

Dt. 4:33-36. Moses also advised the people to be reverent toward God’s awesome power: “Has any people heard the voice of God speaking from the midst of the fire, as you have heard it, and survived? Or has a god tried to go to take for himself a nation from within another nation by trials, by signs and wonders and by war and by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm and by great terrors, as the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? To you it was shown that you might know that the LORD, He is God; there is no other besides Him. Out of the heavens He let you hear His voice to discipline you; and on earth He let you see His great fire, and you heard His words from the midst of the fire.” (Dt. 4:33-36). “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” (Ps. 19:1). The beginning of all knowledge is the “fear of the Lord” (Prov. 1:7; 9:10; Ps. 111:10). And fearing God is defined as hating evil. “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil;” (Prov. 8:13(a)). Jesus started off the model prayer by stating: “hallowed be your name” before stating anything else (Matt. 6:9). Do you ever use words of majesty to describe God in your prayers? Do you ever look at the stars or nature and marvel at God’s creative power? Are you reverent in your worship?

13. Be hopeful in God’s love.

Dt. 4:37-38. Moses’ second to last guiding principal was his exhortation to the people to be filled with the hope that comes from knowing that God loves them. When life at times seem desperate, it is easy to give up hope. Yet, hope in God cannot be taken away by bad circumstances. By contrast, worldly hope has no expectation that things will turn out well. It is nothing more than wishful thinking. Because God loved the Jews, He would never forsake them: “Because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their descendants after them. And He personally brought you from Egypt by His great power, driving out from before you nations greater and mightier than you, to bring you in and to give you their land for an inheritance, as it is today.” (Dt. 4:37-38). In giving the Law, Moses repeatedly reminded the Jews that they could have hope because God loved them (e.g., Dt. 7:8-9; 5:10; 10:15; 23:5). Each person was to “take it to your heart, that the LORD, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other.” (Dt. 4:39). As Moses said when he began, the God who loved them entrusted them with His covenant and laws not to burden them, but so that they “may live long on the land which the LORD your God is giving you for all time.” (Dt. 4:40). As Christians we also have God’s promise that He loved us enough to send His only son to die for us (Jo. 3:16; 1 Jo. 4:16). God will never leave us or forsake us (Dt. 31:6; Heb. 13:5). Our hope is an anchor in turbulent times: “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil,” (Heb. 6:19). Our hope is also based upon that which cannot be seen: “For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees?” (Ro. 8:24). Our hope is also a helmet that protects the mind from depression, despair, and self-loathing: “But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation.” (1 Thess. 5:8). Have you lost hope in your circumstance or in a family member? If so, meditate on God’s love and His promise that all things work together for good for those who are called according to His purpose. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Ro. 8:28).

14. Practice justice and mercy.

Dt. 4:41-43, 44-49. Before giving the concluding verses where Moses explained where the Jews stayed as they prepared to enter the Promised Land (Dt. 4:44-49), Moses gives a final responsibility that came with being entrusted with the Law (Dt. 4:41-43). In addition to being a light to others and teaching the Law, the Jews were to practice justice and mercy in dealing with each other. Moses reminded them that God had set apart. “41 Then Moses set apart three cities across the Jordan to the east, 42 that a manslayer might flee there, who unintentionally slew his neighbor without having enmity toward him in time past; and by fleeing to one of these cities he might live: 43 Bezer in the wilderness on the plateau for the Reubenites, and Ramoth in Gilead for the Gadites, and Golan in Bashan for the Manassites.” (Dt. 4:41-43). God gave the Levites a total of 48 cities (Nu. 35:7). Yet, six of these cities were designated as cities of refuge, three within Canaan and three to the east of the Jordan river (Nu. 35:13). The 42 general cities were spread throughout Canaan (Josh. 21). They corresponded to the 42 stations in the wilderness between Egypt and Jordan (Nu. 33:3-49). They also corresponded to the 42 names in the genealogy from Abraham to Jesus (Matt. 1:1-17). The six cities of refuge provided locations where a right of “due process,” similar to what is found in the United States’ Constitution, for those accused of murder. The six cities of refuge symbolized our duty to be a source of refuge and comfort to our fellow mankind (God created man on the sixth day) (Gen 1:26-31). The six cities of refuge were spread both within and outside the Promised Land. This symbolizes our duty to be a source of light and refuge to people in distress wherever they are (Matt. 25:36). The three cities on each side of the Jordan river symbolized the full presence of God (the Trinity) whether a person seeking refuge was a believer or not. God is everywhere. He also does not want any to perish (2 Pet. 3:9).

Application today to the poor, the needy, and oppressed. The Bible repeatedly tells us to advocate for the poor, the disadvantaged, and against social injustice (Prov. 28:5; Jer, 22:3; Eze. 18:21; Micah 6:8; Zeck 7:9; Matt. 23:23). For example, Jesus taught that, on the Day of Judgment, God will ask what each person did for the poor and the needy: “I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matt. 25:40). In James 1:27, we are also told that “pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” Likewise, in Micah 6:8, we are told that God expects us to: “do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” In Isaiah 1:17, we are further told to “learn to do good, seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, [and] plead for the widow.” This is not limited to public officials, law enforcement officials, and judges. In fact, one of the dangers in a modern society with social safety nets is that we assume that it is the sole responsibility of others or the government to deal with other people’s problems. Many elderly, for example, are placed in nursing homes and forgotten. While the social safety nets are important, they should never be viewed as the only solution for the poor, needy, disabled, and the elderly. When Jesus asks you what you have done with your talents to help the poor, the oppressed, and the disadvantaged, what will you say? If all you can say is that you paid taxes, do you expect him to say “well done good and faithful servant”? (Matt. 25:23). Have you helped anyone find their refuge in God’s eternal city? (Ps. 46:1; 91:2).

Believe in faith in God’s Word. Just as this account began, it concludes with a reaffirmation that this was God’s Word given to Moses: “44 Now this is the law which Moses set before the sons of Israel; 45 these are the testimonies and the statutes and the ordinances which Moses spoke to the sons of Israel, when they came out from Egypt, 46 across the Jordan, in the valley opposite Beth-peor, in the land of Sihon king of the Amorites who lived at Heshbon, whom Moses and the sons of Israel defeated when they came out from Egypt. 47 They took possession of his land and the land of Og king of Bashan, the two kings of the Amorites, who were across the Jordan to the east, 48 from Aroer, which is on the edge of the valley of Arnon, even as far as Mount Sion (that is, Hermon), 49 with all the Arabah across the Jordan to the east, even as far as the sea of the Arabah, at the foot of the slopes of Pisgah.” (Dt. 4:44-49). Like the Jews, we also need to constantly be reminded of God’s Word so that we may have faith in it. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Ro. 10:17). Are you constantly in the Word to boost your faith?

Conclusion: look for wisdom in all parts of the Law. It is tempting in the modern world to skip the Law that follows in the rest of the book of Deuteronomy. Most churches ignore it. Many parts of the Law are also not followed today by modern Jews because they applied in different times and under different circumstances. The most common message in a church today is to celebrate that Christ fulfilled the Law. This is true. Yet, if this is the only message that is taught, the Law has little value for most people in studying it. Even the fulfilled Law is still valuable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;” (2 Tim. 3:16). As you read through the remaining chapters, test each law to see how it can help to raise you up in Christ’s righteousness.