Deuteronomy 4

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Editor's Note

As we start this new book, here is a head’s up that we’ll be going back to our normal six chapters per week rhythm as we read through Deuteronomy. Sundays will go back to being a rest (or catch-up) day. For an overview (or refresher) on Deuteronomy, click here.

We want this to continue to be a helpful resource, so invite someone to read along with you! To sign up and receive the BRP daily in your inbox, go to and scroll to the bottom of the page! 

Read Deuteronomy 4

Obedience Commanded

Now, Israel, hear the decrees and laws I am about to teach you. Follow them so that you may live and may go in and take possession of the land the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you.

You saw with your own eyes what the Lord did at Baal Peor. The Lord your God destroyed from among you everyone who followed the Baal of Peor,but all of you who held fast to the Lord your God are still alive today.

See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the Lord my God commandedme, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdomand understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lordour God is near us whenever we pray to him? And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.10 Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when he said to me, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teachthem to their children.” 11 You came near and stood at the foot of the mountain while it blazed with fire to the very heavens, with black clouds and deep darkness. 12 Then the Lord spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice. 13 He declared to you his covenant, the Ten Commandments, which he commanded you to follow and then wrote them on two stone tablets. 14 And the Lord directed me at that time to teach you the decrees and laws you are to follow in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess.

Idolatry Forbidden

15 You saw no form of any kind the day the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. Therefore watch yourselves very carefully, 16 so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an image of any shape, whether formed like a man or a woman, 17 or like any animal on earth or any bird that flies in the air, 18 or like any creature that moves along the ground or any fish in the waters below. 19 And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars—all the heavenly array—do not be enticedinto bowing down to them and worshiping things the Lord your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven. 20 But as for you, the Lord took you and brought you out of the iron-smelting furnace, out of Egypt, to be the people of his inheritance, as you now are.

21 The Lord was angry with me because of you, and he solemnly swore that I would not cross the Jordan and enter the good land the Lord your God is giving you as your inheritance. 22 I will die in this land; I will not cross the Jordan; but you are about to cross over and take possession of that good land. 23 Be careful not to forget the covenant of the Lord your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the Lord your God has forbidden. 24 For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

25 After you have had children and grandchildren and have lived in the land a long time—if you then become corrupt and make any kind of idol, doing evilin the eyes of the Lord your God and arousing his anger, 26 I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you this day that you will quickly perish from the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess. You will not live there long but will certainly be destroyed. 27 The Lord will scatteryou among the peoples, and only a few of you will survive among the nations to which the Lord will drive you. 28 There you will worship man-made godsof wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or eat or smell. 29 But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. 30 When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the Lordyour God and obey him. 31 For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors, which he confirmed to them by oath.

The Lord Is God

32 Ask now about the former days, long before your time, from the day God created human beings on the earth; ask from one end of the heavens to the other. Has anything so great as this ever happened, or has anything like it ever been heard of? 33 Has any other people heard the voice of Godspeaking out of fire, as you have, and lived? 34 Has any god ever tried to take for himself one nation out of another nation, by testings, by signs and wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, or by great and awesome deeds, like all the things the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?

35 You were shown these things so that you might know that the Lord is God; besides him there is no other. 36 From heaven he made you hear his voice to discipline you. On earth he showed you his great fire, and you heard his words from out of the fire. 37 Because he loved your ancestors and chose their descendants after them, he brought you out of Egypt by his Presence and his great strength, 38 to drive out before you nations greater and stronger than you and to bring you into their land to give it to you for your inheritance, as it is today.

39 Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other. 40 Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the Lord your God gives you for all time.

Cities of Refuge

41 Then Moses set aside three cities east of the Jordan, 42 to which anyone who had killed a person could flee if they had unintentionally killed a neighbor without malice aforethought. They could flee into one of these cities and save their life. 43 The cities were these: Bezer in the wilderness plateau, for the Reubenites; Ramoth in Gilead, for the Gadites; and Golan in Bashan, for the Manassites.

Introduction to the Law

44 This is the law Moses set before the Israelites. 45 These are the stipulations, decrees and laws Moses gave them when they came out of Egypt 46 and were in the valley near Beth Peor east of the Jordan, in the land of Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon and was defeated by Moses and the Israelites as they came out of Egypt. 47 They took possession of his land and the land of Og king of Bashan, the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan. 48 This land extended from Aroer on the rim of the Arnon Gorge to Mount Sirion (that is, Hermon), 49 and included all the Arabah east of the Jordan, as far as the Dead Sea, below the slopes of Pisgah.

Go Deeper

Spoiler alert: the very next chapter in Deuteronomy is one of the most important in the entire Old Testament. Since that’s the case, it only increases the necessity for us to understand today’s reading. Deuteronomy 4 is a set up to the giving of the 10 Commandments and explains why they will be so important for the people of God. These are not given just so that the Israelites follow rules to make sure God isn’t mad at them. His commands will give them order so that others might see that they live with divine wisdom and understanding. As Moses says in verse 40, these instructions are given so that it might go well for the people of God. Furthermore, these directions aren’t an example of God distancing Himself from His people, but rather moving toward them (v. 7). He wants to show them the way of life that will not only honor Him, but benefit them.

The problem is that Moses reminds the people that if they are not careful, they will forget what God has said and done. He says multiple times, “Only take care, lest you forget”. While the people might initially feel like the commands are a blessing, they can become a burden without the proper context. This is why Moses instructs the old to teach the young about the faithfulness of the Lord. He has been their savior and sustainer time and time again, and they must retell the story so they don’t forget. He didn’t leave them in slavery, but delivered them from it. In a similar way, these commands are given so that the people of God don’t fall slavery to sin. These instructions will serve as a guardrail so that they don’t forsake the Lord to follow other gods.

We must also remind ourselves that the law of the Lord is for our benefit. He is not just out to make sure we follow rules, but He wants to give us the path that leads to life. Take great care to not forget what He has done for you! If you believe in Him, He has saved you from the death that you deserved so that you might have a life of abundance. Follow his decrees, and remind others of his faithfulness so that it might go well for you!



  1. What most stood out to you about this passage?
  2. Where have you seen God’s faithfulness in your life?
  3. What are some ways that you can remind yourself of God’s faithfulness? Who in your life is God putting on your heart to remind of His faithfulness?

Keep Digging

Moses mentioned in this chapter that God was not allowing him to enter into the promised land. Do you know why? Check out this article from for an explanation.

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2 thoughts on “Deuteronomy 4”

  1. How do we respond to God? When He speaks do we hear Him? Hearing God is not just with our ears but with our whole being, mind, heart, soul, and will. Hearing what He says in His word but then obeying it. There are 8 references to having ears to hear in the gospels. We must know what God commandments are so that we can believe them and obey. Obeying God is a joyful privilege, assurances of His strength, opportunities to grow in His love and to bring Him glory. We have the privilege of fellowship and love beyond imagination. 1 John 5:3-5 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. 4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

    God thank You for sending Your only son for me!! Thank You for Him being willing to be obedient to save me. Thank You God that I can have ears to hear and a heart to understand to obedience. Thank You for Your LOVE in Jesus name amen

  2. It seems Moses gave the secret to abundant life in the opening verses of this chapter. It’s simple but so profound. He uses 3 active verbs to instruct the people: hear, follow, & keep God’s laws. Whatever honors God benefits man. Moses reminds the people of who God is in these 4 verses that we need to recall as well:
    “For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.”(v24) He demands our loyalty as the one true God.
    “But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your mind and with all your soul.”(29) God will be known to one with a devoted heart.
    “For the Lord your God is merciful, he will not abandon you or destroy you or forget the solemn covenant he made with your ancestors.”(v31) That’s the ultimate kindness.
    “So remember this and keep it firmly in mind, the Lord is God both in heaven and on earth, and there is no other god!”(v39) He has supreme authority over our lives.
    Today I will meditate on these verses with a grateful heart and use them to challenge and encourage others.

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