There’s a one and only God
Obey the rules, or else…1 People of Israel, I need you to listen to me. Pay attention to the laws and rules I’m going to review with you. I’m doing this because you have to obey them if you want to live in the land that the God of your ancestors is giving you. 2 You can’t change anything I’m about to tell you. You can’t rewrite the laws and add your own rules. And you can’t delete any rules I’m giving you. No edits. No rewrites. These commandments come from the LORD your God.
3 You saw how God handles disobedience. You saw what he did to the Israelite men who worshiped Baal of Peor. He killed them right there in front of you. 4 But those of you who stayed true to the LORD your God lived to talk about it—all of you here today.
5 Listen, I’ve already taught you the laws and rules because the LORD my God told me to. If you want to capture the land and live there, you have to live by these rules. 6 If you keep these laws, others will notice. They’ll see your wisdom at work. They’ll say, “My goodness, what a nation. Those people consistently show good judgment.” 7 In this world is there such a thing as a god who is closer to his people and more engaged in their lives than the LORD our God? When we call him, he’s right there with us. 8 Have you ever heard of a nation with good laws that are this fair? I’m going to review them for you today—the complete package of laws.
Don’t forget what you saw9 You know what you saw with your own eyes. Don’t forget it. Keep those memories fresh in your mind. But don’t keep them to yourselves. Share them with your children and grandchildren. 10 Tell them about the day the LORD your God talked to you at Mount Sinai. That’s the time when the LORD said to me, “Call the people together. I want them to hear my voice. This way, they’ll treat me with respect for the rest of their lives and teach their children to do the same.” 11 You huddled together at the foot of a mountain blazing with fire. Flames soared into the sky as billows of dense smoke shrouded the mountaintop.
12 The LORD spoke to you with a voice from inside the fire. You heard him. You understood him. But you couldn’t see him. 13 He personally told you what you had to do to keep your part of the agreement he made with us. He wrote your obligations on two stone tablets and then gave them to you: the Ten Commandments. 14 That’s also when the LORD told me to teach you the laws and rules you need to obey when you settle in the land he’s giving you.
Don’t make idols, not even of God15 For your sake, try to remember that when the LORD spoke to you, he didn’t reveal what he looked like. 16 So, don’t sculpt any idols. No image of a man or a woman, 17 a wild animal or a soaring bird, 18 a crawling critter of the earth or a fish from below. 19 And don’t look to the lights in the sky as objects of worship: sun, moon, or stars. These are God’s gifts to everyone. 20 But you are unique. You are the people the LORD freed from Egypt’s iron grip of slavery. He freed you and then he chose you as his own. Today, you are still his people.
When God got mad at Moses21 The LORD got mad at me because of what you people did. He won’t let me cross the Jordan River. I can’t go into the land the LORD your God is giving you.
22 I’m going to die here, east of the Jordan. I won’t cross that river. But you will. You’re going to take that wonderful land and settle there. 23 So don’t forget your part of the agreement that the LORD made with you. Don’t sculpt any images to worship. You know that would break the agreement. 24 The LORD your God has a fiery and passionate devotion to you. 25 I’m warning you now. When you settle in this land, you’ll raise children and grandchildren. But if you turn bad, and you start sculpting idols to worship, you’re going to see what it’s like when God gets mad.
26 I’m putting heaven and earth on notice; they are to testify against you if it comes to that. Then you’ll quickly disappear from the land—wiped out, mopped up, and erased. 27 The LORD will scatter any survivors among you. You’ll get assimilated into neighboring nations. 28 There, you’ll worship gods created by humans. These idols are nothing but sculpted wood or stone. They can’t see you, hear you, smell you, or eat the sacrifices you bring. 29 Scattered abroad, you’ll eventually start looking for ways to connect to the LORD. If you look for the LORD with all your heart and soul, you’ll find him. 30 When you’re suffering through this misery after losing your homeland, you’ll eventually come back to the LORD and obey him again. 31 The LORD your God is kind and caring. He won’t toss you away, abandon you, or destroy you. He’s not going to forget the formal agreement he made with your ancestors.
Who can top God’s miracle of Creation?32 Now think about an ancient time long before you were born. Think about when this world was born. In all human history, can anything top what God did when he created the world? 33 Has anyone else heard the voice of God speaking from a fire, and lived to talk about it?
34 Has any other god picked a nation as his own, the way the LORD your God chose you? And have any other gods proven their devotion by doing the kinds of incredible miracles and battlefield wonders that the LORD your God did when he freed you from Egypt? You saw it with your own eyes. 35 The LORD your God did this to show you that he’s the one and only God.
36 He let you hear his voice from the sky and his words from the fire. That’s how he began teaching you. 37 He loved your ancestors, so he chose their descendants to become his people. That’s why he personally freed you from Egypt and escorted you here. 38 Then he cleared the land for your arrival, driving out nations bigger and stronger than you. He did it to bring you to this land that you’re inheriting from your ancestors, because of his promise to them. 39 Know this and believe it to the bone: the LORD is God in heaven and on earth. He is it. Period. There is no God but him. 40 So, obey the laws and rules I’ll tell you about today. Do it so you and your children can live a long time in the land the LORD your God is giving you.
Cities of safe haven41 Moses chose three cities east of the Jordan River. 42 These are the three towns people can go to for justice after they accidentally kill someone they didn’t hate or have reason to kill. 43 The cities:
- Bezer in the desert plateau and in the tribe of Reuben;
- Ramoth in Gilead, in the tribe of Gad;
- Golan in the territory of Bashan, in the tribe of Manasseh.
45 This is the collection of laws, rules, and declarations that Moses gave to the people of Israel after they left Egypt. 46 They were camped at Beth-Peor, in the Jordan River Valley. That’s on land once ruled by Amorite King Sihon, who lived in the capital city of Heshbon. Israel conquered him. 47 They took his land along with the land of King Og of Bashan. Those were the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River. 48 Israel conquered land from Aroer in the south, near the Arnon canyon, and all the way north to Mount Sion, also known as Mount Hermon. 49 This covered all the east bank of the Jordan River Valley, clear to the foot of the Pisgah mountains by Dead Sea.
Background story is in Numbers 25.
This scene is reminiscent of the first encounter Moses had with God, at a burning bush. The bush was on fire, and the fire didn’t seem to be going out. So, Moses approached the bush to see what was going on. God spoke to him with a voice from inside the fire (Exodus 3).
There were eventually six cites of safe haven, usually called “cities of refuge.” The six cities will be Kedesh in Galilee, Shechem in the central hills, and Hebron (Kiriath-arba) in the southland—all in Canaan. East of the Jordan River: Bezer, Ramoth, and Golan (Joshua 20).
Beth-Peor was a city near Mount Nebo in the Pisgah mountains. The valley Moses mentioned may have been what is described elsewhere as the “plains of Moab,” on the east side of the Jordan River, across from Jericho.
- Sorry, there are currently no questions for this chapter.