Obedience And Blessing
Deuteronomy Chapter 4
By Pastor Josh Oestriech
The chapter opens with verse one as follows, "Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I teach you to observe [to do, to accomplish], that you may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers is giving you."
Early in my walk with Christ, I heard a pastor make this statement and it has stuck with me ever since: "Obedience is the pathway to blessing." As time has passed, and the more I read, study, and teach the scriptures, the more I see this principle to be true throughout the Bible. Here, in this opening verse alone, we see this truth put forth. As Moses is commanding obedience from the children of Israel, he adds the purpose clause, and tells them the result of their doing and accomplishing the statutes and judgments of the LORD. Moses says, "listen to the statutes and the judgments which I teach you to observe [that is, to do, to accomplish], THAT you may live..." The "that" could read, "SO that you may live." The LORD, being God, could just have commanded obedience without the "that." But, because He is good and gracious, and because He knows our nature, He condescends and gives us more than we deserve. He tells them, that as they observe what is being commanded, it will bring the blessing of life, and the fulfillment of God's promise to possess this blessed land.
In verse 4, Moses points out to the people, for added emphasis, that those among them who held fast to the LORD their God, as opposed to the people who had followed Baal of Peor, are alive today, every one of them. Again, the blessing of being obedient and not rebelling against the LORD and His word.
Our heavenly Father delights in blessing us, but He cannot and will not bless disobedience, because we could then see that as Him condoning rebellious behavior. This is illustrated in verses 25-28 of this chapter. Moses explains to the people the consequences if they choose to disobey God's command to abstain from idolatry. The result of making and worshiping idols would be "that you will soon utterly perish from the land," that "you will not prolong your days in it [the land]," and that "the LORD will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number..." Proverbs 11:19 puts it this way, “As righteousness leads to life, so he who pursues evil pursues it to his own death.” Clearly, we see that we reap what we sow and that obedience is important to the Lord, but also that obedience keeps our communion and relationship with our Lord unhindered (cf. 1 John 1:6-7.)
All that being true, God is not without mercy and grace. Deuteronomy 4:29 says, "But [a word of grace!] from there [your place of discipline due to idolatry] you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul." And verse 30 and 31 say, "when you turn to the LORD your God and OBEY His voice (for the LORD your God is a merciful God), He will not forsake you nor destroy you, nor forget the covenant..." When we return in repentance, God is faithful to hear, to forgive, and to cleanse us (cf. 1 John 1:9).
Grace and peace.