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©John Yerkes

Chapter 4:1-14 (ESV)

Posted on February 03, 2024  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 4:1-14 (ESV) - “And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the rules that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you. You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you. Your eyes have seen what the Lord did at Baal-peor, for the Lord your God destroyed from among you all the men who followed the Baal of Peor. But you who held fast to the Lord your God are all alive today. See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?

“Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children's children— how on the day that you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, the Lord said to me, ‘Gather the people to me, that I may let them hear my words, so that they may learn to fear me all the days that they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children so.’ And you came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, while the mountain burned with fire to the heart of heaven, wrapped in darkness, cloud, and gloom. Then the Lord spoke to you out of the midst of the fire. You heard the sound of words, but saw no form; there was only a voice. And 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. And the Lord commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and rules, that you might do them in the land that you are going over to possess.

Question to consider: Why did Moses tell the people to adhere to God’s statutes and rules in the sight of the peoples?

If you went through my study in Exodus, you may remember that Baal was the Canaanite word for lord which was used to describe their pantheon of gods. One example was at the Red Sea ordeal where there was a temple to Baal-Zephon or “lord of the sea”. While the Egyptians had their own pantheon of gods, they also recognized the Canaanite gods, and after the God of Israel toppled the gods of Egypt in the plagues, Pharaoh hardened his heart against them at the thought that they were trapped on the shores of the Red Sea by Baal-Zephon.

Of course, Baal-Zephon was no match for the God of Israel, for God divided the sea for the Israelites to cross on dry land, and then used the sea as a weapon to drown the Egyptian chariots. The event that Moses described at Baal Peor is written in Numbers 25. While there is not a lot of information on the Baal of Peor, it is evident in Numbers 25, that the worship of this god was through temple prostitutes. Those who engaged with the temple prostitutes were said by God to have yoked with the Baal of Peor, and God sent a plague that killed 24,000 men before Eleazor, son of Aaron, speared an Israelite who brought a Midianite woman into his tent.

Moses used this as an example for the people to fear the Lord and keep His commandments. Keeping went beyond following. Keeping required knowledge of the Law and passing it on by teaching it to others. In living out the Law of God among the peoples of the lands they were inhabiting, the idea was that the Gentiles would see the wisdom and goodness of God and how near He was to Israel.

This is scriptural proof that God’s desire was for the nations of Canaan to repent and turn to Him to avoid being destroyed just like the Ninevites did at the warning of Jonah. The heart of God is that all people would repent and come to Him. This message did not change at the coming of Christ but was magnified and commanded by Him. As Peter told the early church which was scattered throughout Asia Minor, “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:11-12)

In addition to preaching God’s Law to the nations, Moses told them to diligently teach them to their children and grandchildren. If you are a parent, especially a father, a study such as this one is beneficial to raising your children up in the faith and knowledge of the Lord. Even if you are not an expert in the scriptures, this is an opportunity for you to grow along with your family. The spiritual well-being of your family should be the top priority in your household.


Dear heavenly Father, we lift our families up to You. Help us to train up our children in the faith and seek to follow Your rules and statutes among the people of our day. When we fail, please help us to demonstrate humility, repentance and grace so that others may see Your great mercy and how near You are to us. Amen.