Deuteronomy 4:7–8 (HCSB)
7 For what great nation is there that has a god near to it as the Lord our God is to us whenever we call to Him? 8 And what great nation has righteous statutes and ordinances like this entire law I set before you today?
In this passage, Moses exhorts the Israelite people to be obedient to the law which has been given them, from God, through Moses. There are a number of things Moses conveys.
Keeping God’s commands will allow the Israelites to enter, control, and live in Canaan. It should not go unnoticed that Moses, the man urging the Israelites to be obedient to God’s law, without adding to it, or taking away from it, will not be entering Canaan because he was disobedient. And notice how obeying God’s law as given, given in a state that was perfect, requiring no modification, results in a blessing, the acquisition of the land promised the Israelites. I would not go so far as to claim that by being obedient we will avoid trials, but certainly our lives become more fertile for God’s blessings when we are.
The Israelites are apparently the only real threat to themselves. Deut 4:9 only lists themselves as those they need to watch and be on guard about. The issue is not that God might forget, nor is it that God might not be able to protect His people, the issue is that we, when we are not diligent about keeping close to God, are susceptible to fall away from Him. Moses reminds the people what they have seen, how they have experienced God first-hand, just as we can recall times when we felt God, or heard Him. Those are anchors to latch on to in order to always be on guard and diligent, lest we turn away and forget about God.
I really like Deut 4:7-8. The first verse, Deut 4:7, is a wonderful statement of God’s relational aspect. Moses is not suggesting there are other legitimate, or real, gods here. Instead, he is simply referring to the false gods and idols that other religions worship. And what is cool is how Moses describes God as being so close to us, listening to and for us, and responding to our calls to Him. What an encouraging truth to know that our God is not an impersonal, distant, disinterested God, but One who is nearby, hearing us, and responsive! And then the second part almost seems an extension of such a God, one that is intimately familiar with, and concerned about us: a law that is righteous and complete. There is no other system that is its equal, because it has been designed by the perfect One. And even though we fall short of this perfect law, due to our fallen nature, our sin, we should find comfort and gratitude in the knowledge that one person did not fall short, and He hung on a cross to pay the debt we could not. Christ, the perfect fulfillment of God’s perfect law, is our perfect and sole hope.
Lord, thank You for reminding us, through this scene with Moses and the Israelites, that we have a part to play in this life, and it is comprised of obedience to You. I pray for the will to be obedient to You, rather than chase after the world, and clarity to hear and understand Your call in our lives. Amen.