Deuteronomy 4

* Earnest exhortations to obedience, and dissuasives from

idolatry. (1-23) Warnings against disobedience, and promises of

mercy. (24-40) Cities of refuge appointed. (41-49)

1-23 The power and love of God to Israel are here made the

ground and reason of a number of cautions and serious warnings;

and although there is much reference to their national covenant,

yet all may be applied to those who live under the gospel. What

are laws made for but to be observed and obeyed? Our obedience

as individuals cannot merit salvation; but it is the only

evidence that we are partakers of the gift of God, which is

eternal life through Jesus Christ, Considering how many

temptations we are compassed with, and what corrupt desires we

have in our bosoms, we have great need to keep our hearts with

all diligence. Those cannot walk aright, who walk carelessly.

Moses charges particularly to take heed of the sin of idolatry.

He shows how weak the temptation would be to those who thought

aright; for these pretended gods, the sun, moon, and stars, were

only blessings which the Lord their God had imparted to all

nations. It is absurd to worship them; shall we serve those that

were made to serve us? Take heed lest ye forget the covenant of

the Lord your God. We must take heed lest at any time we forget

our religion. Care, caution, and watchfulness, are helps against

a bad memory.
24-40 Moses urged the greatness, glory, and goodness of God.

Did we consider what a God he is with whom we have to do, we

should surely make conscience of our duty to him, and not dare

to sin against him. Shall we forsake a merciful God, who will

never forsake us, if we are faithful unto him? Whither can we

go? Let us be held to our duty by the bonds of love, and

prevailed with by the mercies of God to cleave to him. Moses

urged God's authority over them, and their obligations to him.

In keeping God's commandments they would act wisely for

themselves. The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom. Those who

enjoy the benefit of Divine light and laws, ought to support

their character for wisdom and honour, that God may be glorified

thereby. Those who call upon God, shall certainly find him

within call, ready to give an answer of peace to every prayer of

faith. All these statutes and judgments of the Divine law are

just and righteous, above the statutes and judgments of any of

the nations. What they saw at mount Sinai, gave an earnest of

the day of judgment, in which the Lord Jesus shall be revealed

in flaming fire. They must also remember what they heard at

mount Sinai. God manifests himself in the works of the creation,

without speech or language, yet their voice is heard, #Ps

19:1,3|; but to Israel he made himself known by speech and

language, condescending to their weakness. The rise of this

nation was quite different from the origin of all other nations.

See the reasons of free grace; we are not beloved for our own

sakes, but for Christ's sake. Moses urged the certain benefit

and advantage of obedience. This argument he had begun with,

ver. #1|, That ye may live, and go in and possess the land; and

this he concludes with, ver. #40|, That it may go well with

thee, and with thy children after thee. He reminds them that

their prosperity would depend upon their piety. Apostacy from

God would undoubtedly be the ruin of their nation. He foresees

their revolt from God to idols. Those, and those only, shall

find God to their comfort, who seek him with all their heart.

Afflictions engage and quicken us to seek God; and, by the grace

of God working with them, many are thus brought back to their

right mind. When these things are come upon thee, turn to the

Lord thy God, for thou seest what comes of turning from him. Let

all the arguments be laid together, and then say, if religion

has not reason on its side. None cast off the government of

their God, but those who first abandon the understanding of a

man.
41-49 Here is the introduction to another discourse, or sermon,

Moses preached to Israel, which we have in the following

chapters. He sets the law before them, as the rule they were to

work by, the way they were to walk in. He sets it before them,

as the glass in which they were to see their natural face, that,

looking into this perfect law of liberty, they might continue

therein. These are the laws, given when Israel was newly come

out of Egypt; and they were now repeated. Moses gave these laws

in charge, while they encamped over against Beth-peor, an idol

place of the Moabites. Their present triumphs were a powerful

argument for obedience. And we should understand our own

situation as sinners, and the nature of that gracious covenant

to which we are invited. Therein greater things are shown to us

than ever Israel saw from mount Sinai; greater mercies are given

to us than they experienced in the wilderness, or in Canaan. One

speaks to us, who is of infinitely greater dignity than Moses;

who bare our sins upon the cross; and pleads with us by His

dying love.
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