Four Reasons to Listen to the Law

Deuteronomy  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  31:43
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This morning, I am going to use the New American Standard Bible for our Scripture reading. I have chosen to do so because there are four words in our text that I believe they translated more accurately than our pew Bible. We begin at vs.1, of chapter four.
Deuteronomy 4:1–8 NASB 2020
“Now, Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I am teaching you to perform, so that you will live and go in and take possession of the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you. You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, so that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I am commanding you. Your eyes have seen what the Lord has done in the case of Baal-peor, for all the men who followed Baal-peor, the Lord your God has destroyed them from among you. But you who clung to the Lord your God are alive today, every one of you. “See, I have taught you statutes and judgments just as the Lord my God commanded me, that you are to do these things in the land where you are entering to take possession of it. So keep and do them, for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and 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 is the Lord our God whenever we call on Him? Or what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole Law which I am setting before you today?
Deuteronomy 4:45 NASB 2020
these are the testimonies and the statutes, and the ordinances which Moses spoke to the sons of Israel, when they came out of Egypt,
May God bless this, the reading of His holy and infallible Word.
Throughout the book of Deuteronomy, we find Moses urging the Israelites to “listen”. Listening is a wonderful gift. One of the more amazing things about it is that God gave us the ability of selective hearing. We can stand in a large, noisy crowd and have a conversation with just one person because we have the ability to focus on the voice of the person we are talking to and “turn down the volume” of all the other voices. One of the most frequent complaints people have about hearing aids is that they do not have this ability. They amplify all sounds equally.
As with all the good gifts God has given us, sin has twisted and perverted it. Selective hearing has also become a great curse, because sin causes us to amplify the voices other than Gods. Jeremiah said this about his generation, “Hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes, but see not, who have ears, but hear not.” (Jer 5:21). Sadly, our generation is just like that of Jeremiah’s. We will listen to every voice, but God’s.
In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses uses four expressions for the revelation God gave at Sinai that highlight why we want to make hearing God’s Torah (or Law), a priority. The first of this is “statutes”.

The Law Contains Loving Statutes

We find this term in verse one, “listen to the statutes”. This Hebrew word is often translated as statutes, ordinances or decrees in our English bibles. It speaks of a piece of legislation that the lord of the covenant gives to his people. God’s are not arbitrary, but rather they out of a relationship of love God has with this people. We see this relationship highlighted in the last two verses of our text:
Deuteronomy 4:7–8 ESV
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?
God’s Laws are given to His people out of love. In love, He wants to protect His relationship with us. God knows what will strengthen our relationship with Him and what will harm it. If you value your relationship with God, you will value God’s Law and will listen to it.
In addition, God gives us His laws in order to protect and bless our lives. As our Creator, He knows better than we do what is good for us. This love is in sharp contrast to the Devil. Satan is the original con artist. Temptation is attractive to us because it always promises something that is “good”, but the “good” is a counterfeit “good”. In John’s Gospel, Jesus exposes both the motivation and the tactics of Satan and his followers by saying:
John 8:44 ESV
You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
Satan’s motivation is to destroy us, and his tactic is always to lie. As you hear other voices calling you to take a different path than the one God has given us in His Word, remember this: Those voices are lies, and that path will always led to self-destruction!
One of Satan’s most murderous lies is to turn God’s Law into a means of self-justification and salvation. People are often confused by Paul’s seemingly negative comments about the Law. When we read and interpret those passages, we need to keep the context in mind. Paul is battling a group of heretics called Judaizers. They taught that it was in conformity to the Law that a person was justified and thus saved.
In response, Paul would point to Abraham, who lived 400 hundred years prior to the giving of the Law, and show from Scripture that Abraham was justified by faith, not be works (Rom 4:1-5). In addition, in Romans 7, Paul would argue that our failure to obey the Law is not from any flaw in the Law, but from our own sin nature. Later in Deuteronomy, we will find Moses teaching the same thing, saying that God must give us new hearts in order to obey the Law.
So let us put to rest the lies of Satan: When used properly, the Law is good and it gives life. The Law given to us by our loving and wise Sovereign, who desires to protect our relationship with Him.

The Law Contains Wise Judgments

This is the second term we find in verse one, “listen to the statutes and the judgments that I am teaching you”. This Hebrew word is translated as rules, ordinances, laws or judgments in our English bibles. Although it sounds awkward, “judgments” is the best translation, because this word it speaks of God wisely determining what is the appropriate behavior of His subjects. In other words, God has examined all the options and He has chosen the very best one!
As sinners, we have an inflated opinion of ourselves and of our ability to choose the right course of action. What we do not realize, is that sin has turned us into moral fools. The Apostle Paul writes of all fallen humanity, “claiming to be wise, they became fools” (Rom 1:22). This is why the Proverbs urges us, “Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.” (Prov. 3:7).
If you want to live the best life possible, listen to the wisdom of God’s judgments.
Psalm 19:7 ESV
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
Did you notice in our text this morning that Moses says that when the people of God do this, the world takes notice!
Deuteronomy 4:6 ESV
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.’
However, when a people chose to rely upon their own judgement rather than God’s the results are disastrous. Rather than live, there is death. Rather than blessing, there is a curse. This brings us to the next word.

The Law Contains Authoritative Commandments

The third term is “commandments”, this term is found in vs. 2. This Hebrew word simply means to give an order to do something, however, there is nothing simply or common about these commandments—they are the commandments of the Lord of Heaven and Earth! The authority of these commandments are expressed in this way:
Deuteronomy 4:2 ESV
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.
The command not to add or subtract anything from a code of laws, is to say they cannot be improved upon—they are perfect and complete. We find a very similar passage at the end of the book of Revelation:
Revelation 22:18–19 ESV
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
Because God’s Word is so authoritative and perfect, there is a promise of blessing and curse that comes with it. To depart from God’s Word in even a small way will bring a curse upon us. However, to remain true to it will bring us great blessing. The next two verses in our text remind us of this:
Deuteronomy 4:3–4 ESV
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.
As you can see, obeying God’s Word is literally a matter of life and death!
Imagine yourself in a minefield. There is only one path of safety through that minefield, and there is only one person who can guide you along that path. You would listen very carefully to that person!
When it comes to God’s Law, so much more is at stake. We could be fools not to listen carefully to God’s authoritative commandments!

The Law Contains Faithful Testimonies

The final term that Moses uses to describe the revelation of Sinai is “testimonies”. This word is not found in our text this morning, but does occur later on in chapter four.
Deuteronomy 4:45 ESV
These are the testimonies, the statutes, and the rules, which Moses spoke to the people of Israel when they came out of Egypt,
This is a confusing term in English, because we tend to think of witness testimony in a law court, but there is another way of using testimony—something that testifies to a covenant. We can see this very clearly in Exodus 25:
Exodus 25:16 ESV
And you shall put into the ark the testimony that I shall give you.
We commonly refer to the ark as “the ark of the covenant”, but the most common way Moses refers to it as the “ark of the testimony”. The Law testifies to God’s covenantal love and faithfulness, in the same way a wedding band testifies to the love and faithfulness of the one who gives it. The Law is like a box of love letters.
Lorna and I lived three hours apart while we were dating and engaged. We would write each other daily. I kept all her cards and letters in a box and I would frequently take that box down to read of her love for me. Those cards and letters were a testimony of her love and faithfulness to me.
Do you not see that this is what God’s laws are for us? They are a testimony of His love and faithfulness to us. They are His love letters!
This morning, I chose as our closing hymn He Leadeth Me.
He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
By His own hand He leadeth me:
His faithful follower I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.
The statutes, judgements, commands and testimonies of the Lord are His loving hand that leads us safely through the dangers of this present evil age. Therefore, listen!
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