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Deuteronomy 4:1

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Hearken - unto the statutes - Every thing that concerned the rites and ceremonies of religion; judgments - all that concerned matters of civil right and wrong.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

The general entreaty contained in this chapter is pointed by special mention and enforcement of the fundamental principles of the whole covenant Deuteronomy 4:9-40, the spiritual nature of the Deity, His exclusive right to their allegiance, His abhorrence of idolatry in every form, His choice of them for His elect people. Compare further Moses‘ third and last address, Deuteronomy 2730.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The power and love of God to Israel are here made the ground and reason of a number of cautions and serious warnings; and although there is much reference to their national covenant, yet all may be applied to those who live under the gospel. What are laws made for but to be observed and obeyed? Our obedience as individuals cannot merit salvation; but it is the only evidence that we are partakers of the gift of God, which is eternal life through Jesus Christ, Considering how many temptations we are compassed with, and what corrupt desires we have in our bosoms, we have great need to keep our hearts with all diligence. Those cannot walk aright, who walk carelessly. Moses charges particularly to take heed of the sin of idolatry. He shows how weak the temptation would be to those who thought aright; for these pretended gods, the sun, moon, and stars, were only blessings which the Lord their God had imparted to all nations. It is absurd to worship them; shall we serve those that were made to serve us? Take heed lest ye forget the covenant of the Lord your God. We must take heed lest at any time we forget our religion. Care, caution, and watchfulness, are helps against a bad memory.
Ellen G. White
Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, 301

The statutes and judgments given of God were good for the obedient. “They should live in them.” But they were not good for the transgressor, for in the civil law given to Moses punishment was to be inflicted on the transgressor, that others should be restrained by fear. 3SG 301.1

Moses charged the children of Israel to obey God. He said unto them, “Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers giveth you.” 3SG 301.2

The Lord instructed Moses definitely in regard to the ceremonial sacrifices, which were to cease at the death of Christ. The system of sacrifices foreshadowed the offering of Christ as a Lamb without blemish. 3SG 301.3

The Lord first established the system of sacrificial offerings with Adam after his fall, which he taught to his descendants. This system was corrupted before the flood by those who separated themselves from the faithful followers of God, and engaged in the building of the tower of Babel. They sacrificed to gods of their own [making] instead of the God of Heaven. They did not offer sacrifices because they had faith in the Redeemer to come, but because they thought they should please their gods by offering a great many beasts upon polluted idol altars. Their superstition led them to great extravagances. They taught the people that the more valuable the sacrifice, the greater pleasure would it give their idol gods, and the greater would be the prosperity and riches of their nation. Hence human beings were often sacrificed to these senseless idols. Those nations had laws and regulations to control the actions of the people which were cruel in the extreme. Their laws were made by those whose hearts were not softened by grace, and while they would pass over the most debasing crimes, a small offense would call forth the most cruel punishment from those in authority. 3SG 301.4

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Ellen G. White
Prophets and Kings, 294

“Now therefore hearken,” Moses had instructed Israel, “unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers giveth you. Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish aught from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.... Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” Deuteronomy 4:1-6. PK 294.1

The Israelites had been specially charged not to lose sight of the commandments of God, in obedience to which they would find strength and blessing. “Take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently,” had been the word of the Lord to them through Moses, “lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons.” Verse 9. The awe-inspiring scenes connected with the giving of the law at Sinai were never to be forgotten. Plain and decided were the warnings that had been given Israel against the idolatrous customs prevailing among the neighboring nations. “Take ye ... good heed unto yourselves,” was the counsel given; “lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure,” “and lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the Lord thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven.” “Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the Lord your God, which He made with you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of anything, which the Lord thy God hath forbidden thee.” Verses 15, 16, 19, 23. PK 294.2

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Ellen G. White
Spiritual Gifts, vol. 4a, 53

Moses had written in a book all the laws and judgments given him of God, and had faithfully recorded all his instructions given them by the way, and all the miracles which he had performed for them, and all the murmurings of the children of Israel. Moses had also recorded his being overcome in consequence of their murmurings. 4aSG 53.1

All the people were assembled before him, and he read the events of their past history out of the book which he had written. He read, also, the promises of God to them if they would be obedient, and the curses which would come upon them if they were disobedient. 4aSG 53.2

He related to the people his great sorrow because of his fault at Meribah. “And I besought the Lord at that time, saying, O Lord God, thou hast begun to shew thy servant thy greatness, and thy mighty hand; for what God is there in Heaven or in earth, that can do according to thy works, and according to thy might? I pray thee, let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon. But the Lord was wroth with me for your sakes, and would not hear me. And the Lord said unto me, Let it suffice thee; speak no more unto me of this matter. Get thee up into the top of Pisgah, and lift up thine eyes westward, and northward, and southward, and eastward, and behold it with thine eyes; for thou shalt not go over this Jordan. But charge Joshua, and encourage him, and strengthen him; for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which thou shalt see. Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers giveth you. Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish aught from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” 4aSG 53.3

Moses told them that for their rebellion the Lord had several times purposed to destroy them. But he had interceded for them so earnestly that God had graciously spared them. He reminded them of the miracles which the Lord did unto Pharaoh and all the land of Egypt. He said to them, “But your eyes have seen all the great acts of the Lord which he did. Therefore shall ye keep all the commandments which I command you this day, that ye may be strong, and go in and possess the land, whither ye go to possess it.” 4aSG 53.4

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Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 4 (EGW), 1155

7. Birds Respond More Quickly Than Men—The swallow and the crane observe the changes of the seasons. They migrate from one country to another to find a climate suitable to their convenience and happiness, as the Lord designed they should. But God's people sacrifice life and health by seeking to gratify appetite. In their desire to accumulate treasure, they forget the Giver of all their blessings. Their health is abused, and their God-given powers are used to carry out their unsanctified, ambitious projects. Their days are filled with pain of body and disquietude of mind because they are determined to follow wrong habits and practices. They will not reason from cause to effect, and they sacrifice health, peace, and happiness to their ignorance (Manuscript 35, 1899). 4BC 1155.1

8 (Matthew 15:9; 22:29). Rejection of Truth Has Produced Present Condition—The prevalence of sin is alarming; the world is being filled with violence as in the days of Noah. Would the world be in its present condition if those who claim to be the people of God had reverenced and obeyed the law of the Lord? It is the rejection of the truth, man's dispensing with the commandments of God, that has produced the condition of things which now exists. God's Word is made of none effect by false shepherds. The decided opposition of the shepherds of the flock to the law of the Lord reveals that they have rejected the Word of the Lord, and have put their own words in its place. In their interpretation of the Scriptures they teach for doctrines the commandments of men. In their apostasy from the truth they have encouraged wickedness, saying, “We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us.” The words of Christ to the Pharisees are applicable to them. Christ said to these teachers, Ye are both ignorant of the Scriptures and of the power of God.... 4BC 1155.2

The condition of our world today is just as the prophet has represented that it would be near the close of this earth's history (Manuscript 60, 1900). 4BC 1155.3

22. See EGW on Exodus 15:23-25, Vol. 1, p. 1102. 4BC 1155.4

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Ellen G. White
Fundamentals of Christian Education, 508

Many other scriptures on the sacredness of God's law have been presented before me. Scene after scene, reaching down to the present time, passed before me. The word spoken by God to Israel was verified. The people disobeyed, and only two of the adults who left Egypt entered Canaan. The rest died in the wilderness. Will not the Lord today vindicate His word if the leaders of His people depart from His commandments? FE 508.1

I was referred to the fourth chapter of Deuteronomy. The whole of this chapter is to be studied. Notice particularly the statement: “Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the Lord He is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else. Thou shalt keep therefore His statutes, and His commandments, which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days upon the earth, which the Lord thy God giveth thee, forever.” FE 508.2

The eighth and eleventh chapters of Deuteronomy also mean much to us. The lessons that they contain are of the greatest importance, and are given to us as verily as to the Israelites. In the eleventh chapter God says: FE 508.3

“Behold I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; a blessing if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day: and a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.” FE 508.4

I have been instructed, as God's messenger, to dwell particularly upon the record of Moses’ sin and its sad result, as a solemn lesson to those in positions of responsibility in our schools, and especially to those acting as presidents of these institutions. FE 508.5

Of Moses God's word declares, “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.” Long had he borne with the rebellion and obstinacy of Israel. But at last his patience gave way. They were on the borders of the promised land. But before they entered Canaan, they must show that they believed God's promise. The supply of water ceased. Here was an opportunity for them to walk by faith instead of by sight. But they forgot the hand that for so many years had supplied their wants, and instead of turning to God for help, they murmured against Him. FE 508.6

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