Deuteronomy 4

God's covenant with his people

1 Israel's people, listen to the rules and laws that I will now teach you. If you obey them, you will live. You will go into the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving to you. The land will belong to you, for you to live in. 2 Do not add anything to these rules. Do not remove anything from them. You must obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving to you.

3 You saw for yourselves what the Lord your God did at Baal-Peor. He killed every person among you who worshipped Baal there. 4 But each of you who continued to trust the Lord your God is still alive today.

5 Look! I have taught you rules and laws, as the Lord my God told me to do. Now you must obey them when you go into the land where you will live. 6 Obey them carefully. That will show people of other nations that you are wise. They will hear about all your laws. Then they will say, ‘The people of this great nation are very wise and clever!’

7 No other nation has a god who is near to them like the Lord our God. Even great nations have no god like that. But when we pray to the Lord our God, he listens! 8 And no other great nation has rules and laws that are as fair as ours. That is God's Law that I am giving to you today.

9 But be very careful! Never forget the things that you yourselves have seen. Remember these things for as long as you live. Tell your children and your grandchildren about all the things that God has done.

10 Remember when you stood in front of the Lord your God at Mount Sinai. He said to me, ‘Bring all the people here to me so that I can tell them my commands. Then they will learn to respect me and obey me. They will do this for as long as they live and they will teach my commands to their children.’ 11 At that time, you came and you stood at the edge of the mountain. You saw that the fire on the mountain reached up to the sky. But the sky was full of black clouds and it was dark. 12 Then the Lord spoke to you from the middle of the fire. You heard him as he spoke, but you did not see him. You only heard a voice. 13 He told you about his covenant and the ten commands that he wrote on two flat pieces of stone. He commanded you to obey them. 14 At that time, the Lord commanded me to teach you his rules and his laws. You must obey them in the land that you will now go in to live there.

Idols

15 Remember when the Lord spoke to you at Mount Horeb from the middle of the fire. You did not see him in any shape. So be very careful about everything that you do. 16 Do not make any image to be your god. That would be a sin. Do not make an image in any shape as your idol. Do not copy the shape of a man or a woman, 17 or the shape of any animal or bird. 18 Do not copy the shape of anything that moves along the ground, or any fish that swims in the deep water. 19 When you look up at the sky, you see the sun, the moon and the stars. They all shine up in the sky. But do not bend down low to them or worship them. They are there because the Lord your God has made them. He has given them to people everywhere in the world.

20 But you belong to the Lord. He brought you out of Egypt, which was like a hot oven where you had much pain. He rescued you, to be his own special people, as you are today.

21 The Lord your God became angry with me, because of you. He told me very strongly that I would not go across the Jordan river. He said that I would not go into the good land that he is now giving to you. 22 So I will die here. I will not cross the Jordan river. But you will soon cross over. That good land will belong to you as your home. 23 Be careful! Do not forget the covenant that the Lord your God has made with you. Do not make for yourselves any kind of image as your idol. That is the command that he has given to you. 24 That is because the Lord your God wants you to belong to him alone. He is like a fire that destroys all bad things.

25 One day, you will have lived in the land for a long time. You will have children and grandchildren. Remember that you still must not make any kind of image as your idol. That would be a sin. Do not do any evil things that will cause the Lord your God to become angry. 26 I am warning you today, as everyone on earth and everyone in heaven hears what I say. If you do not obey this command, you will soon die. You will not live long in the land that is your home on the other side of the Jordan river. You will die very soon. 27 The Lord will send you out of that land to live among other nations. Only a few of you will continue to be alive. 28 Among those nations, you will worship gods that men have made from wood and stone. Those gods cannot see or hear or eat or smell anything.

29 But even in those places, if you look for the Lord your God, you will find him. If you want to serve him with everything that you think and with everything that you do, you will find him. 30 When trouble happens to you in the future, you will turn back to him. When all these bad things happen to you, you will obey God again. 31 That is because the Lord your God is very kind. So he will not leave you alone. He will never destroy you. He will never forget the covenant that he made with your ancestors. That was a serious promise that he made to them.

The Lord is God

32 Find out what happened many years ago. Think about everything that has happened since God created people to live on the earth. Go to anybody in the world and ask them. You will realize that nothing as great as this has ever happened before. People have never heard of anything like this. 33 Only you, the nation of Israel, have heard the voice of God that spoke to you from the middle of the fire. Only you have heard God speak and you still live! 34 No other god has tried to rescue a nation from the power of another nation. The Lord your God did this for you when you were in Egypt. You saw how he used his great authority and strength to punish the Egyptians. He did powerful miracles. He brought war and illness that made them very afraid.

35 The Lord has shown you all these things. So you know that he is the only true God. There is no other God. 36 God spoke to you from heaven so that he could teach you. Here on earth he let you see his great fire. He spoke from that fire and you heard him. 37 He chose you as his special people because he loved your ancestors. You are their descendants so he rescued you out of Egypt. He himself showed you his great power. 38 Now he is chasing out other nations so that you can take their land to live in. They are greater and stronger nations than you are, but he has given their land to you.

39 Remember today that the Lord is God. He rules in heaven above and on the earth below. Think about that! There is no other God. 40 Obey his commands and his rules that I am giving you today. If you do that, everything will be well for you and for your descendants. You will continue to live for a long time in the land that the Lord your God is giving to you. It will belong to you for ever.

Safe cities

41 Then Moses chose three special cities on the east side of the Jordan river. 42 If someone killed another person when he did not mean to do it, he could hide there safely. If he had not hated the other person as his enemy, he could run to one of these cities. Then he would be safe. 43 Moses chose these cities: For Reuben's tribe, he chose Bezer, in the high land of the desert. For Gad's tribe, he chose Ramoth, in Gilead. For Manasseh's tribe, he chose Golan, in Bashan.

Moses starts to teach God's Law to the Israelites

44 This is God's Law that Moses explained to the Israelites. 45 These are the rules, the teaching and the commands that Moses taught the Israelites after they had left Egypt. 46 At that time they were in the valley near to Beth-Peor, on the east side of the Jordan river. That was in the land of Sihon, king of the Amorites, who ruled in Heshbon. Moses and the Israelites had attacked him after they came out of Egypt. 47 They took power over his land, as well as the land of Og, king of Bashan. These two Amorite kings ruled on the east side of the Jordan river. 48 Their land went from Aroer, on the edge of the Arnon valley, as far as Mount Sirion (that is Mount Hermon). 49 This land included all the Jordan valley on the east side of the river, as far south as the Salt Sea, near Mount Pisgah.

4:49The Salt Sea is called the Dead Sea today.