Exclusivity – Deuteronomy 4

Moses gathered the Israelites and spoke to them before they entered the promise land.  Moses reminded them of the many things that they had learned during the 40 years since God had delivered them from pharaoh.

In Deuteronomy 4, Moses reminded the Israelites that they had been taught God’s laws and commands and were required to obey them (5).  They were not ignorant of what God required of them.    They needed to carefully follow God’s commands for several reasons.  Following God’s laws and commands will make them a powerful witness to the nations (6).  The Israelite’s God was the only god that was real and interactive (7) and His laws are righteous and fair (8).

Like the Israelites, Christians today need to be sure that they have learned God’s laws and commands.  A Christian can know God’s commands by reading the Scriptures, attending church and Sunday school, praying and meditating with God, and spending time in devotionals (with a group or by yourself).

After knowing God’s commands, Christians need to follow them.  Imagine a world were Christians turn the other cheek (Matt 5:39) and forgive as Christ commanded (7 X 70, see Matt 18:22).  Or imagine Christians who love their neighbors as themselves (Matt 22:39; Lev 19:18) and bless their enemies (Luke 6:28; Matt 5:44).  Rather than labeling Christians as hypocrites, countless people would be drawn to Christ because of the example we set.

But Christians should also follow God’s commands because God is the one and only real God.  He deserves our allegiance and obedience.  And besides, His laws are righteous and fair.  His commands are there for our benefit.

Moses reemphasizes our need to know and follow Him by passing the knowledge of Him and His commands to others, especially to our children (9).  He tells the Israelites to guard their hearts and their integrity.  Then, they can teach their children without the fear of being called a hypocrite (since they are actually trying to live out what they are teaching).

Many Christians do not teach their children about God.  They leave that job to the church.  But church and Sunday school should be supplemental to the teaching of a parent.  Parents who fail to teach their children are not obeying God’s commands (Deut 6:4-9; Prov 22:6).  Furthermore, children perceive their parents as hypocrites if they routinely disobey God’s commands.

Moses also reminded the Israelites about the danger of idolatry.  They were entering a land filled with many gods.  Moses knew that the people would be tempted to be like those around them and make images that they could worship.  Even though the Israelites might make an image of the true God, it is a small step between worshipping God with an image (like a cross in the sanctuary) to worshipping the image instead of God (like bowing and kissing the feet of a statue of Mary).

Christians today have many idols, but they are not usually made of stone or metal.  An idol is anything that is more important to us than God.  Some idols people use today are money, drugs, cars, spouses and kids.  Even Jesus has been distorted and turned into an idol by some.  They have made Jesus into something that He is not.  When people worship a fictitious Jesus (and not the real Jesus), they are worshipping an idol.

Moses demands that the Israelites make a commitment this day (39) like Joshua does about 40 years later (Josh 24:15).  Moses reminds them of the promises of God if they would obey Him (40).

Today, Christians also need to make a commitment to seek to know God and His commands, obey them, teach them to their children and avoid putting other things ahead of God.

As the Israelites entered the promised land, would they seek to know God and His commands, obey them, teach them to their children and avoid putting other things ahead of Him?  The Bible, and history, tells us that they did not (for the most part).  But we can break the cycle of history, if only we choose for ourselves whom we will serve TODAY.  Don’t let today slip away.

Have a blessed week,
Keith

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