New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary


Deu 4:1 Now Israel, listen to the statutes and to the ordinances which I teach you. Do them so that you may live and go in and possess the land which Yahweh, the God of your fathers gives you-
He pleaded with them to "take heed to thyself" (AV- 'you' singular) that they kept God's word and taught it to their children, so that they would enter the land (Dt. 4:1,9). These words are alluded to by Paul in 1 Tim.4:16, where he says that attention to the doctrine of the new covenant will likewise save us and those who hear us.

Deu 4:2 You must not add to the word which I command you, neither must you take away from it, so that you may keep the commandments of Yahweh your God which I command you-
Pharaoh had insisted that nothing should be "diminished" from the quota of bricks he had set (Ex. 5:11), and the same word is later used of how Israel were not to "diminish" ["take away"] from obeying Yahweh's commandments (Dt. 4:2; 12:32). They were being reminded that they had changed masters when they crossed the Red Sea, just as Paul says happens when we are baptized (Rom. 6). And the Red Sea crossing represented baptism into Jesus (1 Cor. 10:1,2). Like us, Israel were not radically free to do as they pleased. What happened was that they changed masters; hence the appeal to Pharaoh to let God's people go, that they may serve Him rather than Pharaoh. We too will only find ultimate freedom through this servitude to God's ways, and will finally emerge into the radical liberty of the children of God in the Kingdom age (Rom. 8:21).

The last message of Jesus, like that of Moses, emphasizes we are not to add to nor subtract from God’s word (Rev. 22:19). The commandments we have been given are designed by God to be a system of living which brings us to Him as He wishes. Jesus was perfect before God not just because He kept the commandments fully, but because the life elicited by that obedience produced a totally God-like person. If we omit some commandments and add others, then this will not be the end result. They are intended to synthesize together to produce a truly spiritual character and way of life. If we ignore some of them and add others then we will actually find obedience to the commandments in toto far more difficult. See on Dt. 11:22.

Deu 4:3 Your eyes have seen what Yahweh did because of Baal Peor; for all the men who followed Baal Peor, Yahweh your God has destroyed them from the midst of you.
Deu 4:4 But you who were faithful to Yahweh your God are all alive this day-
Moses uses the name "Yahweh" over 530 times, often with some possessive adjective, e.g. "Yahweh thy God" or "Yahweh our God". He saw the personal relationship between a man and his God. Jacob reached a like realization at his peak.

AV "you that did cleave to Yahweh". The idea of 'cleaving' to God is also a big theme of Moses in Deuteronomy (4:4; 10:20; 11:22; 13:4,17; 28:21,60; 30:20); the only other time Moses uses the word in his writings is in Gen. 2:24, concerning a man cleaving to his wife. Moses seems to have been suggesting to Israel that their covenant relationship with God meant they were marrying God. This was a real paradigm breaker. We may be used to such things. But against the theological background of the time, not to say the generally low level of spirituality among Israel, this was a shocking idea. It reflected the heights to which Moses had risen.  

Deu 4:5 Behold, I have taught you statutes and ordinances as Yahweh my God commanded me, that you should do so in the midst of the land where you go in to possess it-

The Hebrew mishpat, "ordinances", has a wide range of meaning. The idea is of judgment, as if God and His Angels gave these laws as their considered judgment after considering the human condition, and Israel were to abide by them. But the word also the idea of a right or privilege; and that is how we should see God's laws. They are only felt as a burden because of human hardness of neck towards God's ways. His laws are not of themselves burdensome, but rather a privilege and blessing. The law was indeed "holy, just and good" (Rom. 7:12), designed to inculcate a holy, just and good life (Tit. 1:8), a way in which a man should "walk" in daily life (Lev. 18:4), a culture of kindness and grace to others which reflected God's grace to man. If we dwell upon the idea of "rights" carried within the word mishpat, we note that the law begins in Ex. 21:1,2 (also Dt. 15:12-18) with the rights of a slave- those considered to have no rights in the society of that day. The "rights" to be afforded by us to others are the essence of God's rightness / justice.  
Deu 4:6 Keep therefore and do them, for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations who shall hear all these statutes and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people!-
v. 6-8 The preacher of the Gospel is the Gospel; the man is the message, just as the very same word / message was made flesh in the Lord. Israel of old were taught this. They were to keep and do the commandments of God, and this would be the witness of their wisdom and understanding to the nations around them- who would thereby be brought to Israel’s God (Dt. 4:6-8). The imparting of wisdom and understanding therefore didn’t come so much through specific doctrinal exposition, as through living out those principles in daily life.

Deu 4:7 For what great nation is there that has a god so near to them as Yahweh our God is whenever we call on Him?-
 - So near
- s.w. kinsman. God was as a kinsman to Israel. No other God was able to be this close and therefore this close to being human as Yahweh. A relative was seen in those days as one who would provide for you, redeem you, stand up for you, one you could always turn to. And God was Israel's kinsman par excellence. It is thrice emphasized that Israel were a "great nation" because of this closeness of their God (Dt. 4:6-8). The Hebrew term "great nation" is at the foundation of the promises to Abraham which form the new covenant. Through the seed [the Lord Jesus] "I will make of you a great nation" (Gen. 12:2; 18:18). God had earlier told Moses that He would destroy Israel and make of Moses a "great nation" (Ex. 32:10; Num. 14:12); but Moses had successfully pleaded with God not to do so and to continue His attempt to make Israel the intended "great nation". So all Moses' references here to Israel as a "great nation" are a reflection of his own desire that they would come to this status. But their greatness was in having God so close to them. Moses himself had known God very near to him, had spoken with God and heard God's voice- he had experienced the 'greatness' of the relationship God intended with all His people. But Israel preferred not to hear God's voice direct, they moved away from the possible intimacy, and preferred instead a human mediator and system of religion interposing between God and man.

The Lord Jesus speaking of "The Angels of God in Heaven" (Mt. 22:30) suggests that they spend a fair proportion of their time located there physically. God ‘comes near’ whensoever we call upon Him (Dt. 4:7 RV). Perhaps this refers to an Angel literally being sent out from Heaven to come near to us in working out the answer to our prayer. It seems that great stress is placed in Scripture on the Angels physically moving through space, both on the earth and between Heaven and earth, in order to fulfil their tasks, rather than being static in Heaven or earth and bringing things about by just willing them to happen. See on Gen. 18:10.


Deu 4:8 What great nation is there that has statutes and ordinances so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?
Deu 4:9 Only take heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things which your eyes saw and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life; therefore make them known to your children and your children’s children-
 - see on Ex. 23:20.
Take heed- Despite such great love for Israel, Moses knew them so well that he fully appreciated that they were extremely prone to weakness. This is one of the major themes of Moses in Deuteronomy. He did not turn a blind eye to their sins; Deuteronomy is punctuated with reminders of how grievously they had sinned during their journey. Time and again he comments on how easily they will be tempted to disobey commandments. " Take heed" runs like a refrain throughout Moses' speech.

Deu 4:10 Remember the day that you stood before Yahweh your God in Horeb, when Yahweh said to me Assemble me the people and I will make them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days that they live on the land and that they may teach their children-
The LXX uses the word ekklesia eight times in Deuteronomy, but not once in Moses' other words (Dt. 4:10; 9:10; 18:16; 23:1,2,3,8; 32:1). Responsibility for the whole family God had redeemed was a mark of his maturity. It is observable that both as a community and as individuals, this will be a sign of our maturity too. 

The very process of teaching or explaining something to others makes us fully conscious of the material we are teaching; and so preaching or teaching our children God’s principles enables us to be the more conscious of them and to ourselves remember them. The whole concept of evangelization is partly for our benefit.

Deu 4:11 You came near and stood under the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire to the heart of the sky, with darkness, cloud and thick darkness-
(see A. V. mg. ) states that the Mount burning with fire when Moses ascended it was due to the pillar of fire standing there, appearing to reach to the "midst of Heaven", showing Heaven and earth were connected through this manifestation. The Angel led them through the wilderness, and elsewhere we read that the pillar of fire led them; the conclusion is therefore that the pillar of of fire was where the Angel dwelt. Thus the Angel literally "went before" them  as God promised it would, in the form of the pillar. Angels are elsewhere associated with pillars of fire, e. g. the one which came to Manoah, and not least in that God came down in a pillar of fire to speak to Moses. Ex. 14:19 conclusively shows the pillar of fire/cloud and the Angel to be identical: "the Angel of God which went before the camp of Israel removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud (the Shekinah glory) went from before their face, and stood behind them".

Deu 4:12 Yahweh spoke to you out of the midst of the fire; you heard the voice of words, but you saw no form; you only heard a voice-
The fact they saw no similitude is sandwiched between two statements that they heard God's word. The idea surely is that they were the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:26) and God's intention was to fashion them through His word into His moral image. Instead, they rejected this closeness to God by wanting to turn Him into a similitude, an idol, creating Him as a "likeness" of something familiar (:16-18). God's likeness is to be found in us who are made in His physical image and transformed by His word into His moral image. He has no other likeness apart from in and through us. His closeness to us is amazing.

Deu 4:13 He declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, the Ten Commandments, and He wrote them on two tablets of stone.
Deu 4:14 Yahweh commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and ordinances that you might do them in the land you go over to possess.

Deu 4:15 Take therefore good heed to yourselves, for you saw no kind of form on the day that Yahweh spoke to you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire-

Paul warned the new Israel that after his death ("after my departing", Acts 20:29) there would be serious apostasy. This is the spirit of his very last words, in 2 Tim. 4. it is exactly the spirit of Moses' farewell speech throughout the book of Deuteronomy, and throughout his final song (Dt. 32) and Dt. 31:29: "After my death you will utterly corrupt yourselves". Paul's "Take heed therefore unto yourselves" (Acts 20:28) is quoted from many places in Deuteronomy (e.g. Dt. 2:4; 4:9,15,23; 11:16; 12:13,19,30; 24:8; 27:9).

Deu 4:16 Do not corrupt yourselves and make yourself an engraved image in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female-
God’s people are to accept Him as He is in His word, rather than try to create God in a form which seems attractive to us. As we read His word, it is not for us to say ‘I don’t think God would be like that, He will be like this, which is how I imagine He ought to be’. And it is not for us to work around those words of His which are inconvenient to us by forced, out of context interpretation, dismissing their inspiration or using other tricks of the human intellect. By doing so we are effectively making a graven image, fashioning God as we want Him to be rather than accepting Him as He is.

Deu 4:17 the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the sky,
Deu 4:18 the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water under the earth.
Deu 4:19 Do not lift up your eyes to the sky and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the army of the sky, be drawn away and worship them and serve them, which Yahweh your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole sky-
4:19 - warns Israel not to worship the stars, because God has shared them with “all the peoples under the whole heaven” (RV)- but He Has shared Himself only with Israel. Because of this unique and awesome entrance into their lives by God, they ought to have naturally separated themselves from any other god. The positive separation unto naturally resulted in the negative separation from.

Deu 4:20 But Yahweh has taken you and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be to Him a people of inheritance, right up to this day-
In the eternity of the Kingdom, we will be God's inheritance (Dt. 4:20; 9:29), and He will be ours (Ps. 16:5). This mutuality between God and His people is a common theme. "The ashes of the furnace" which created the plague of boils (Ex. 9:8) may have been a reference to the furnaces used for the brick kilns, where the Hebrews were made to slave away making bricks. The result of this abuse was to come down upon the Egyptians as boils (Ex. 9:9). Egypt is therefore likened to a furnace of oppression to Israel (Dt. 4:20; Jer. 11:4). The Lord describes condemnation as being cast into a furnace (Mt. 13:42,50). He is not speaking literally, but rather using the figure of Egypt as a furnace- for the condemnation of the unworthy in God's Israel is to be sent back into Egypt / the world (Hos. 8:13; 9:3), and share their judgments.

Deu 4:21 Furthermore, Yahweh was angry with me for your sakes and swore that I should not go over the Jordan, and that I should not go in to that good land which Yahweh your God gives you for an inheritance-
- see on 1:37.

The love of Moses for Israel is reflected in his final address to them in Deuteronomy, his knowledge of them, his sensitivity to their weakness, his constant desire for them to be spiritually strong and to enter the land; God's respect of him at the end of his life, shown in his burial and in subsequent comments about him. Although Moses is at a spiritual peak in Deuteronomy, he does repeatedly comment- almost under his breath as it were- that he was not going to enter the land “for your sakes”, and that he was thereby bearing the anger of God against Israel (e.g. Dt. 4:21 etc.). Whilst in a sense this was true, God’s anger was against Moses personally regarding the sin of striking the rock. Given that “that rock was Christ”, his inappropriate striking of it was some kind of symbolic crucifixion of Christ. He was in the wrong- the record of the event makes that clear. And yet at the end of his life, Moses is blaming Israel for his sin and his exclusion from the land. Perhaps he was indicating his understanding of how his prayer to not enter the land for their sakes was being answered. On the other hand, one could argue that even on the last day of his life, Moses never came to terms with that sin, sought to justify himself in the eyes of Israel, to shift the blame… and yet even then, God’s grace was big enough to accept him. Quite how to score Moses on this point will always be debatable, but the exercise certainly provokes a lot of introspection about our own attitudes to public confession of sin, both in ourselves and in others, and its relationship to God’s ultimate acceptance of a person.

In Dt. 9:18 he says that his prayer of Ex. 32:32 was heard- in that he was not going to enter the land, but they would. Hence his urging of them to go ahead and enter the land- to experience what his self-sacrifice had enabled. In this we see the economy of God, and how He works even through sin. Moses truly was made spiritually strong out of weakness. His faith fluctuated, until at last he came to a spiritual height at the end of his life. We have seen something of the intensity and passion of his love for Israel, to the point where he was willing to give his physical and eternal life for Israel's salvation. In a sense, his desire was heard. Because of the sin of a moment, caused by the provocation of the people he loved, God decreed that he could not enter the land of promise. For their sakes he was barred from the land; this is the emphasis of the Spirit (Dt. 1:37; 3:26; 4:21); and Ps. 106:32,33 says that Moses was provoked to sin because Israel angered God, and that therefore "it went ill with Moses for their sakes". Truly, God works through sinful man to achieve His glory. Ez. 20:38 says that the rebels in the wilderness “shall not enter into the land”, with reference to how when Moses called the people “rebels” and beat the rock, he was disallowed entry into the land. Because he called them rebels, i.e. unworthy of entry to the Kingdom, he also was treated as a rebel. If we condemn others, we likewise will be condemned. On another level, he was simply barred for disobedience; and on yet another, his prayer to the effect that he didn’t want to be in the land if his people weren’t going to be there was being answered; and on yet another and higher level, his offer to be blotted out of the book of inheritance for Israel’s sake was also being heard. Thus God works within the same incident in so many ways! Thus Moses says that he must die “Because ye [plural] trespassed against me” (Dt. 32:51 AV). This all helps explain why Christ had to die, apart from the fact that he was mortal. He died the death of a sinner for our salvation, he felt all the emotions of the rejected, the full weight of God's curse; for "cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree" in crucifixion (Gal. 3:13). Moses was a superb and accurate type of the Lord Jesus. Therefore Moses in his time of dying must grant us insight into the death of our Lord, the prophet like him (Dt. 18:18). As Christ declared God's Name just before his death (Jn. 17:26), so did Moses (Dt. 32:3 LXX).


Deu 4:22 but I must die in this land. I must not go over the Jordan; but you shall go over and possess that good land-

"Drive out" is s.w. "possess". We must note the difference between the  Canaanite peoples and their kings being "struck" and their land "taken" by Joshua-Jesus; and the people of Israel permanently taking possession. This is the difference between the Lord's victory on the cross, and our taking possession of the Kingdom. Even though that possession has been "given" to us. The word used for "possession" is literally 'an inheritance'. The allusion is to the people, like us, being the seed of Abraham. The Kingdom was and is our possession, our inheritance- if we walk in the steps of Abraham. But it is one thing to be the seed of Abraham, another to take possession of the inheritance; and Israel generally did not take possession of all the land (Josh. 11:23 13:1; 16:10; 18:3; 23:4). The language of inheritance / possession is applied to us in the New Testament (Eph. 1:11,14; Col. 3:24; Acts 20:32; 26:18; 1 Pet. 1:4 etc.). Israel were promised: "You shall possess it" (Dt. 30:5; 33:23). This was more of a command than a prophecy, for sadly they were "given" the land but did not "possess" it. They were constantly encouraged in the wilderness that they were on the path to possessing the land (Dt. 30:16,18; 31:3,13; 32:47), but when they got there they didn't possess it fully.

Deu 4:23 Take heed to yourselves, lest you forget the covenant of Yahweh your God which He made with you, and make you an engraved image in the form of anything which Yahweh your God has forbidden you-

Like Paul in his time of dying, Moses in Deuteronomy saw the importance of obedience, the harder side of God; yet he also saw in real depth the surpassing love of God, and the grace that was to come, beyond Law. This appreciation reflected Moses' mature grasp of the Name / characteristics of God. He uses the name "Yahweh" in Deuteronomy over 530 times, often with some possessive adjective, e.g. "Yahweh thy God" [AV- i.e. you singular], or "Yahweh our God". He saw the personal relationship between a man and his God. Jacob reached a like realization at his peak.

Deu 4:24 For Yahweh your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God-
This is quoted about us in Heb. 12:29 with a slight change of pronoun; “Your (Israel’s) God” becomes “our God”. The God of the Christian believers is the Old Testament Yahweh God of Israel; in this we see the significance of studying the accounts of how our God revealed Himself in the Old Testament.

Israel is so often set up as the bride of God (Is. 54:5; 61:10; 62:4,5; Jer. 2:2; 3:14; Hos. 2:19,20). This is why any infidelity to God is spoken of as adultery (Mal. 2:11; Lev. 17:7; 20:5,6; Dt. 31:16; Jud. 2:17; 8:27,33; Hos. 9:1). The language of Israel 'selling themselves to do iniquity' uses the image of prostitution. This is how God feels our even temporary and fleeting acts and thoughts of unfaithfulness. This is why God is jealous for us (Ex. 20:15; 34:14; Dt. 4:24; 5:9; 6:15)- because His undivided love for us is so exclusive. He expects us to be totally His. Just as Israel were not to be like the Egyptians they were leaving, nor like the Canaanites into whose land they were going (Lev. 18:1-5; 20:23,24). We are to be a people separated unto Him.

Deu 4:25 When you father children and children’s children and you have been long in the land and corrupt yourselves and make an engraved image in the form of anything, and do that which is evil in the sight of Yahweh your God, to provoke Him to anger-
God can be grieved [s.w. 'provoke to anger']. He has emotions, and His potential foreknowledge doesn't mean that these feelings are not legitimate. They are presented as occurring in human time, as responses to human behaviour. This is the degree to which He has accommodated Himself to human time-space limits, in order to fully enter relationship and experience with us. As He can limit His omnipotence, so God can limit His omniscience, in order to feel and respond along with us. 

Deu 4:26 I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that you shall soon utterly perish from off the land you go over the Jordan to possess; you shall not prolong your days on it, but shall utterly be destroyed.
Deu 4:27 Yahweh will scatter you among the nations and you shall be left few in number among the nations where Yahweh shall lead you away-
Israel were indeed disobedient and were scattered throughout the provinces of the Assyrian and Babylonian empires. “There you will serve gods...” (:28) - but the prophets (especially Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel) condemned them for this. There is a downward spiral in spirituality, whereby if people choose to go to false gods, the true God confirms them in their delusions.  This is why followers of false religions are so totally convinced they are right, everything makes sense to them within the theological system they adopt- because God confirms them in the delusion they have chosen (2 Thess. 2:11).

"Left few in number" could suggest they were few in number at that time, but would remain like this instead of multiplying. This affects how we read the "thousands" with which they apparently left Egypt; see on Ex. 12:37.

Deu 4:28 There you will serve gods, the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell.
Deu 4:29 But from there you shall seek Yahweh your God and you will find Him, when you search after Him with all your heart and with all your soul-
v. 29-31 We're wrong to think that God passionlessly waits for us to repent or pray to Him, and then He will forgive or act for us. He loves us, simply so; and with all love's manipulation of circumstances, seeks to pour out His love upon us. Thus repentance itself is a gift which God gives and is not totally upon human initiative (Dt. 4:29-31; 30:1-10; 1 Kings 8:58).

The judgment will be the time when God 'requires' of us our behaviour. And yet the Hebrew word is used about our enquiring / searching to God in prayer now (Gen. 25:22; Ex. 18:15; Dt. 4:29; 12:5; 1 Kings 22:5), as well as His 'requiring' / searching of us at the last day (Dt. 18:19; 23:21; Josh. 22:23; 1 Sam. 20:16; 2 Chron. 24:22; Ez. 3:20; 33:6,8). There is a mutuality between a man and his God.

Time and again in Deuteronomy, Moses speaks of the state of the heart. He warns them against allowing a bad state of heart to develop, he speaks often of how apostasy starts in the heart. Moses makes a total of 49 references to the heart / mind of Israel in Deuteronomy, compared to only 13 in the whole of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers. This was perhaps his greatest wish as he faced death; that God’s people should develop a spiritual mind and thereby manifest the Father and come to salvation. He saw the state of our mind as the key to spiritual success. But do we share this perspective? There is so much in our modern world which is mind-corrupting. Perceiving the importance of spiritual mindedness is a sign of our spiritual maturity.


Deu 4:30 When you are oppressed and all these things have come on you, in the latter days you shall return to Yahweh your God and listen to His voice-
This is one of many indications that just before Christ returns, at least some Jews will repent and turn to the Father and His Son in truth. We should therefore always given special attention to witnessing the Gospel to Jewish people, because their repentance will be one factor which brings about Christ’s return.

Deu 4:31 for Yahweh your God is a merciful God; He will not fail you neither destroy you, nor forget the covenant of your fathers which He swore to them-
- see on 31:17.

Deu 4:32 For ask now of the days that are past, which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, and from the one end of the sky to the other, whether there has been anything like this great thing, or has been heard like it?
Deu 4:33 Did a people ever hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire as you have heard, and live?-
No other God came so close to His people to speak to them directly. The tragedy was that Israel asked that God not do this, and speak with them through Moses. They wanted to interpose a religious system between God and themselves for fear of facing up to the awesome reality of personal relationship with God. And so it has ever been amongst 'religious' people.

Deu 4:34 Or has God tried to take a nation for Himself from the midst of another nation by trials, by signs and by wonders, by war and by a mighty hand, by an outstretched arm and by great terrors, according to all that Yahweh your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?-
- The Hebrew word means just that. God tried, He attempted, to take Israel out of Egypt and make them His own loyal people- just as He tries, unsuccessfully, with so many today. In this we see the limitation of God, albeit self-imposed, due to His huge respect for human freewill. No other God tried [and tries] so hard to bring His people out from Egypt [the world] to be solely His. Every Red Sea / baptism deliverance of an individual is the sum of a huge amount of work from God. Those who were raised as believers need not think this to be irrelevant to them.
:40 Prolong your days- So was long life promised to the obedient Israelite under the Old Covenant? Solomon observed that a just mad perished young and "a wicked man who prolongs his life in his wickedness" (Ecc. 7:15). Ez. 12:22 suggests that faithless Israel cynically observed that "The days are prolonged" and God's prophetic word of condemnation had failed- implying they thought that prolonged days were being experienced by them despite their disobedience. The Hebrew phrase 'to prolong days' is found in Is. 53:10, where it is applied to how Messiah would 'prolong His days' not in this life, but in the resurrection. The repeated promises recorded in Deuteronomy of prolonged days upon the land of Israel would therefore hint at the eternity of the Kingdom rather than this life. Indeed, Dt. 4:40 says they would prolong their days "for ever". For an individual Israelite might be faithful but not prolong his or her days in the land because the whole people were to be carried away captive for their sins and the land given to a Gentile power. The opposite of 'days being prolonged' was 'utter destruction' (:26)- which would then speak of condemnation in the second death. This is one of many examples of where eternal life was possible under the Old Covenant- there were multiple different possibilities and plans God could have worked by. Israel could have accepted the Lord Jesus as their Messiah and not killed Him, and so forth. It seems the closer we probe God's word, the more open He is revealed as being.

4:34-40 Israel stood at Sinai and were told that if they were obedient, then they would be God's people. But then they were told that actually, God accepted them anyway as His people. And only then was the Law given to Moses- with the message that it was to be kept out of gratitude for what God had already done by grace in saving them just "simply so", because he loved them and had chosen their ancestors by grace (Dt. 4:34-40). Likewise it was because God sanctified Israel that they were to keep the Sabbath (Ex. 31:13,14; Dt. 5:15). It wasn't that any human obedience made them holy- the laws were simply an opportunity to respond to the grace shown them. For God's salvation of them from Egypt, like ours from this world, was nothing but grace.

It is stressed that Israel were taken out from the "midst of Egypt" (Dt. 4:34; 1 Kings 8:51). The plagues and wonders were done in "the midst of Egypt" (Ex. 3:20; Dt. 11:3). The midst of Egypt appears to be defined in Ps. 135:9; Is. 19:3; Ez. 29:3 as being Pharaoh and his servants. The narrative therefore stresses so much his response to the plagues. God's especial focus had been upon his conversion, and yet he refused. Israel were taken out right from under his nose, from the very heart of Egypt. Ez. 20:8 reveals what is not recorded in the historical record; that because the Israelites were so devoted to Egyptian idolatry still, His thought had been to destroy them "in the midst of the land of Egypt" (Ez. 20:8). But God's pole of grace overcame the pole of necessary judgment. He tolerated them and saved them, with enthusiasm, by the grace which comes from love- love taken to its ultimate, saving term. The whole narrative speaks as if the Hebrews were all at one place at one time and left "the midst of Egypt" together. Although unrecorded in the historical narrative, this would have meant that they gathered together "in the midst of Egypt" with Moses, who was not in Goshen but in the locality and presence of Pharaoh.   

Moses was to stretch forth his hand to cause the waters of the Red Sea to part and return, not his rod; because he was manifesting the hand of Yahweh which was to deliver Israel (s.w. Ex. 7:5). The repeated references to the stretched our arm or hand of Yahweh to save His people invite us to recall this incident, and to perceive that Yahweh's hand had been manifest through the hand of Moses (Dt. 4:34; 5:15; 7:19; 11:2; 26:8). That stretched out, saving arm and hand of Yahweh was and is stretched out still, to save His people (1 Kings 8:42; Ez. 20:34; Dan. 9:15 "as at this day") and bring about a new creation in human lives (Is. 45:12). For the deliverance through the Red Sea is intended to be experienced by all God's people, and is now seen through His saving grace at baptism (1 Cor. 10:1,2). What happened there was but the beginning of the work of God's outstretched arm (Dt. 3:24). Yet the stretched out arm / hand of God is also a figure for His judgment (1 Chron. 21:16; Is. 9:12; 10:4). His hand is at work in our lives- either to our condemnation or our salvation. And it is for us therefore to humble ourselves beneath that mighty hand (1 Pet. 5:6).

Deu 4:35 It was shown to you so that you might know that Yahweh is God and that there is none else besides Him.
Deu 4:36 Out of heaven He made you hear his voice so that He might instruct you, and on earth He made you see His great fire and you heard His words out of the midst of the fire.
Deu 4:37 Because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their seed after them and brought you out with His presence, with His great power, out of Egypt-

“You did not choose me, but I chose you… out of the world” (Jn. 15:16,19) corresponds to the oft repeated theme of Moses that God has chosen Israel “out of all peoples” (Dt. 7:6 RVmg.), by grace (Dt. 4:37; 10:15; 14:2).

Deu 4:38 to drive out nations from before you greater and mightier than you, to bring you in, to give you their land for an inheritance, as at this day-
Our separation from this world isn’t merely negative. We are separated from the world ["brought you out", :37]  so that we might be separated unto the things of God ["to bring you in"]. These two ideas are found together in the Hebrew word for ‘holiness’.

Deu 4:39 Know therefore this day and lay it to your heart, that Yahweh He is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is none else-
Time and again, Moses speaks of the state of their heart. He warns them against allowing a bad state of heart to develop, he speaks often of how apostasy starts in the heart. Moses makes a total of 49 references to the heart / mind of Israel in Deuteronomy, compared to only 13 in the whole of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers. This indicates the paramount importance which our Lord attaches to the state of our mind. This was perhaps his greatest wish as He faced death; that we should develop a spiritual mind and thereby manifest the Father and come to salvation. Moses likewise saw the state of our mind as the key to spiritual success. But do we share this perspective? Do we guard our minds against the media and influence of a mind-corrupting world? It's been observed that the phrase "The God of [somebody]", or similar, occurs 614 times in the Old Testament, of which 306 are in Deuteronomy. Our very personal relationship with God was therefore something else which Moses came to grasp in his spiritual maturity. Statistical analysis of the word "love" in the Pentateuch likewise reveals that "love" was a great theme of Moses at the end of his life (Moses uses it 16 times in Deuteronomy, and only four times in Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers).


Deu 4:40 You must keep His statutes and His commandments which I command you this day, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which Yahweh your God gives you forever.

Deu 4:41 Then Moses set apart three cities beyond the Jordan toward the east-
The emphasis was very much upon them making the cities of refuge, and defining the paths which led to them from all settlements in the land (Dt. 19:3): "I command you, saying, You must set apart three cities for yourselves" (Dt. 19:7). Yet the record in Joshua 18-20 shows that Israel didn't do this, because they didn't even capture all the cities which were to be cities of refuge. Moses attempted to arrange it all for them; for Moses set apart cities of refuge. But arrangements for personal salvation cannot be done by someone else.

Deu 4:42 that the manslayer might flee there, who kills his neighbour unawares, and didn’t hate him in time past, and that fleeing to one of these cities he might live:-
We are all in the position of the man who unintentionally committed manslaughter and must therefore die. We are under sentence of death by reason of being human, as well as for our actual sins. The avenger of blood could be seen as God, for it is He alone who has the right to execute judgment for sin. And we must note that the word ga'al translated "avenger" is also that translated "redeemer" or 'ransomer'. The cities of refuge are therefore understood in Heb. 6:18 as looking ahead to refuge in the Lord Jesus: "Who have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us". The allusion is to how the person who found they had committed a sin worthy of death, yet without as it were wishing to have done so, could flee to a city of refuge and be saved there by the death of the high priest. The curse upon Levi was that the members of this tribe were to be scattered in Israel (Gen. 49:7). However, this resulted in the cities of the Levites being scattered throughout the land, thus providing accessible cities of refuge to all who wished to escape the consequences of sin. Those cities were evidently symbolic of the refuge we have in Christ. Again and again, the curses and consequences of human sin are used by the Father to mediate blessing. It is the sure hope before us which is our refuge. "Hope", elpis, is a confident knowledge of a future reality, rather than a hoping for the best. We should be confident in our salvation. The 'guilty' person was made free totally through the death of the High Priest, clearly looking forward to the significance of the death of the Lord Jesus. 

Moses was so sensitive to Israel’s weakness. He often reminds them that he knows that they will turn away from the Covenant he had given them (e.g. Dt. 30:1; 31:29). He knew that one day they would want a king, even though God was their king (Dt. 17:14). He foresaw how they would see horses and chariots and get frightened (Dt. 20:1-4). He knew that there would always be poor people in the land, even though if the Law was properly kept this would not be the case (Dt. 15:4mg, 11). He knew they would accidentally commit murder and would need a way of escape; therefore he twice repeats and explains the law concerning the cities of refuge (Dt. 4:42; 19:5). These being a symbol of the future Messiah (Heb. 6:18), this emphasis would suggest that like Paul and Jacob, the mind of Moses in his time of spiritual maturity was firmly fixed on the Lord Jesus Christ. See on 5:22

Deu 4:43 Bezer in the wilderness, in the plain country for the Reubenites; Ramoth in Gilead for the Gadites; and Golan in Bashan for the Manassites-
But Ramoth Gilead passed in and out of Israelite possession; and it is doubtful whether Manasseh ever bothered securing Golan from the local inhabitants. Likewise Kedesh, a city of refuge on the west of Jordan, was listed in Josh. 19 as a city not yet taken by Naphtali; yet it was commanded to be given by them to the Levites as a city of refuge (Josh. 20:7). So their refusal or 'being slack' to take the city meant they had no wider vision, of providing a place of refuge for the needy within Israel as a whole. And there is no real evidence that this wonderful system of salvation and justice ever really worked in practice.

The cities were generally in the wilderness or mountainous areas; perhaps the idea was that they should not be used casually, but the person had to make quite some effort to get there.

Deu 4:44 This is the law which Moses set before the children of Israel;
Deu 4:45 these are the testimonies, the statutes and the ordinances, which Moses spoke to the children of Israel when they came forth out of Egypt-

"Came forth" is s.w. "brought forth". Israel were "brought forth" from Egypt by God; they had been unwilling to leave Egypt, preferring to serve the Egyptians rather than Yahweh (Ex. 14:12). God had as it were forced through His project of saving Israel by bringing them out of Egypt. And He had done so largely for the sake of Moses, by whose faith the Red Sea parted and they were delivered (Heb. 11:28,29). Therefore Yahweh's bringing Israel out of Egypt was what He did for Moses, and only thereby for His people. We too are brought out of this world towards God's Kingdom by His grace alone, with His consistently taking the initiative in our hearts and life circumstances, in accord with the loving intercession of the Lord Jesus [represented by Moses]. Thus Yahweh brought Israel out of Egypt (Ex. 18:1; 19:1; Lev. 23:43; 25:55; Num. 26:4; 33:1,3,38; Dt. 4:45,46), but Moses did (Ex. 3:10,11).

Deu 4:46 beyond the Jordan, in the valley over against Beth Peor, in the land of Sihon king of the Amorites, who lived at Heshbon, whom Moses and the children of Israel struck, when they came forth out of Egypt.
Deu 4:47 They took his land in possession, and the land of Og king of Bashan, the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan toward the sunrise,
Deu 4:48 from Aroer, which is on the edge of the valley of the Arnon, to Mount Sion (the same is Hermon),
Deu 4:49 and all the Arabah beyond the Jordan eastward, even to the sea of the Arabah, under the slopes of Pisgah.