What God Takes Seriously: Idolatry Deuteronomy 4:15-31 I. God Takes Idolatry Seriously; 4:15-20. 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 enticed into 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. Moses elaborates on the general prohibition of idolatry by listing four classes of forbidden creaturely representations of divinity: large land creatures, flying creatures, crawling dirt creatures, and creatures of the sea-categories borrowed directly from Genesis 1. Moses then turns to a second form of religious perversion: the worship of the sun and moon and stars. An idol may be defined as anything that competes with God—anything we serve in place of God himself. The sun, moon, and stars are good. Wood, stone, and physical things are good and useful for projects and tasks. But when we pervert their function and treat them as ultimate things on which our well-being depends, they compete with God, and that makes them an idol. II. Idolatry Has Personal Consequences; 4:21-24. 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. Moses digresses momentarily to express his frustration over Yahweh's refusal to let him enter the land. He recognizes that this exclusion arises from Yahweh's anger toward him, but he blames the people for that anger. There are personal consequences to putting anything before God, including ourselves. III. Idolatry Has Corporate Consequences; 4:25-31. 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 evil in the eyes of the LORD your God and provoking him to anger, 26 I call heaven and 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 scatter you 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 gods of 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 look for 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 LORD your 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 forefathers, which he confirmed to them by oath. Moses lists five consequences of infidelity that await the Israelites: (1) they will certainly and quickly be removed from the land; (2) they will be utterly destroyed, ending their dream of long life in the land; (3) Yahweh will scatter them among the peoples, driving them to another place like a shepherd drives his flock; (4) a few will survive in the lands where Yahweh has driven them; (5) in the lands where the worship of senseless gods is the norm, they will have their fill of idolatry. The privilege of relationship with God must be answered with grateful obedience to His will, as revealed in the context of His Word. When people forget the grace of God in redemption, revelation, and His promises, they become ungrateful, have no fear of God, and act selfishly. Whatever we are unwilling to give up for the sake of the kingdom have become idols, and God is robbed of the exclusive worship He deserves.
April 29, 2018 • Monty Mullenix
Deuteronomy 4:1-14 • April 22, 2018 • Monty Mullenix
What God Takes Seriously: His Word Deuteronomy 4:1-14 I. We are to Listen to His Word; 4:1. 1 Hear now, O Israel, 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 that the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you. Moses functions as a pastor-teacher, reiterating earlier revelation, applying that revelation specifically to life in the land, declaring the essence of covenant relationship, and highlighting the importance of a correct response to the revealed will of God. Moses offers not theoretical speculation but practical instruction for life demonstrated through obedient action. In order to function as God’s people, they must listen to Him and His Word. For us to live God’s people, we must listen to God’s Word. II. We are to Obey His Word; 4:2-8. 2 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. 3 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, 4 but all of you who held fast to the LORD your God are still alive today. 5 See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the LORD my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. 6 Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, "Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people." 7 What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him? 8 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? Obedience to Yahweh is a matter of life and death. God destroyed all who “followed” after Baal of Peor. The people standing before Moses are alive today because they “held fast" to God. They are living testimony to the importance of obedience to God’s will. The people's faithfulness will be tested every day once they have entered the Promised Land. Moses declares that the nation's greatness does not derive from her own qualities, but from Yahweh their God. The Israelites are uniquely privileged because their God is near to them and He answers their prayers. When other people pray to their gods, they remain silent. Through obedience to Jesus Christ we demonstrate our love of him, but we also display to the world the privilege of salvation, divine presence, knowledge of His will, and blessing. Delighting in obedience to the revealed will of God represents the key to fulfilling the divine mission of reaching the world with His grace. III. We are to be Vigilant with His Word; 4:9-14. 9 Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip 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 teach them 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. Moses concludes his report of the events at Horeb by adding that Yahweh commanded him to teach the Israelites "decrees and laws," which they were to put into practice in the land that they were to enter and possess. We remember God’s Word and work to pass it along to the next generation. If it doesn’t get to the next generation, we have failed to make it a priority. Christians, as individuals and as the church, are increasingly dismissed by outsiders as irrelevant, hypocritical, and self-serving. But in His own farewell address to His disciples, Jesus reminded His followers of the relationship between spiritual statements and life: If you love me you will obey my commands (John 14: 15). If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as l have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love (John 15:10).