We saw in yesterday’s reading that the purpose of Moses’ speeches recorded in Deuteronomy is to explain this law, the Torah that Israel received. In today’s reading, he says:
“Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I teach you to observe, that you may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers is giving you.” Deu 4:1
“You shall therefore keep His statutes and His commandments which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which the LORD your God is giving you for all time.” Deu 4:40
Moses is not only explaining the Torah, which he will begin to do as soon as he concludes his introductory remarks (his introductory speech runs from Deu 1:6-4:40; this entire section is in quotes), but he is also explaining why obedience to the LORD’s statutes and commandments are so important. Here he repeats twice that Israel is to observe the LORD’s commandments, so that they will live, that “it” will go well with them and with their children, and that their days may be prolonged.
That they may live: the LORD God destroyed from among Israel those who committed idolatry at Baal Peor (Deu 4:3). This is referring back to the idolatry with the women of Moab at Acacia Grove (Num 25:1-9). They applied the blood of the Passover lamb to their doorposts. They were delivered from Egypt. They passed through the Red Sea in a type of baptism. But because they did not adhere to the LORD’s commandments, they did not continue alive in this life.
That “it” may go well with them: what is the “it”? I believe it is life. That their life may go well with them, that their circumstances may go well with them, that their situation and family and work and all that concerns them, may go well with them. And not with them only, but with their children after them. There is an inheritance of blessing that the generation of the fathers cause their children to inherit by obedience to the LORD’s commandments.
That they may prolong their days: that they may have a long life. Moses is still talking about blessing for this life. We have seen that many of the commandments we have read so far have practical health benefits: the dietary laws, the washing after touching uncleanness laws, even rest from labor on the seventh day. Observing the LORD’s commandments promotes the health of the body, for this life.
For further study: God’s paragraph divisions for these first four chapters of Deuteronomy reveal chiastic structures and make some interesting connections. Mark the paragraph divisions (the Hebrew Bible in English has them) and outline these chapters by their paragraph topics. Do the two repeats of the purpose of obedience in Deu 4:1 and 40 form two element pairs of a chiastic structure?
Finding Messiah: The final paragraph of this reading is a strong paragraph, Deu 4:41-49. Deu 4:41-43 is about the three cities of refuge on the east side of the Jordan. Deu 4:44-45 begins, “This is the law …”. Deu 4:46-48 is about the land on the east side of the Jordan of which Israel took possession (I think I just found a mini chaistic structure). All of this is in a single paragraph according to God. To our minds, there are three topics. To God’s mind, there is one topic.
We already saw that the cities of refuge are a sign of Messiah (there are three of them in this paragraph, hello!), a type of salvation from certain death. So Scripture places a picture of Messiah in the same paragraph with “This is the law (torah) … testimonies, statutes, and judgments …”.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. Joh 1:1,14
Is His law, testimonies, statutes, and judgments, His Word? Yes! He spoke His commandments to Israel! One of the most common phrases in the first five books of the Bible, is, “Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying …”. When Jesus our Messiah was born a little baby in Bethlehem, He was the Word of God made flesh, full of grace and truth. Amen? The written Word of God was the Old Testament. The New had not been written yet. Jesus was the Old Testament made flesh, full of grace and truth.
Not only does John teach us that the Old Testament is full of grace and truth, but Scripture itself is teaching us, by placing the picture of Messiah with “This is the torah” in one single strong paragraph, that Torah itself is Messiah – Torah itself is full of grace of truth! Jesus is the Living, breathing Law of God made flesh!
I know this surprises us! But really, why should it? Jesus told us that Moses wrote about Him, and that if we believed Moses, we would believe Him (Joh 5:46)! Moses and Jesus are in perfect agreement – both full of grace and truth! The enemy has lied to us long enough about the obsolete Old Testament, and we can see why today: his goal is to steal from us, destroy us, and kill us (Joh 10:10), and the purpose of obedience to the Law is to keep us alive in this life and to bless us!