Deuteronomy 4

Moses tells the Israelites to remember God's Rules

1 Listen, Israel's people, to the rules and decrees that I am going to teach you. If you obey them, you will live. You will march into the country and then it will belong to you. This is the country that the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving to you. 2 Do not put anything new into these rules and do not remove anything from them. But obey the rules of the Lord your God that I am giving to you.

3 You saw with your own eyes what the Lord did at Baal-Peor. The Lord your God killed every one of you who obeyed Baal there.

4:3At Shittim in the country called Moab, the men of Israel had sex with the women from Moab. These women taught the Israelites to kill animals for their own gods. The Israelites ate meals with the people from Moab and they obeyed Baal, the god of Peor. God was very angry. He told Moses to kill all the leaders of the Israelites. They had taught the Israelites to do bad things. We can read about this in Numbers 25:1-9.

4 But every one of you who obeyed the rules of the Lord your God is still alive today.

5 Look! I have taught you the decrees and rules as the Lord my God told me to. Now you must obey them when you go into your country.

4:5Every time that Moses says ‘your country’, he is speaking about Canaan. God had promised to give that country to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We can read about this promise in Genesis 15:18.

6 Obey them carefully. They will show people in other countries that you understand right and good ways. These people will hear about all your rules. Then they will say, ‘These great people really do understand right and good ways.’

7 But the Lord our God is always near to us when we pray to him. It is not like that for the people in other countries. 8 And people from other countries do not have the good rules that you have in this Law. This is the Law that I am putting in front of you today.

9 But be careful. Always think about what you do. Do not forget the things that your eyes have seen. Remember these things for as long as you live. Tell your children and your grandchildren about the things that God has done. 10 Remember when you stood in front of the Lord your God at Mount Horeb. He said to me, ‘Bring all the people to me to hear what I say. Then they will learn to think and speak well about me. They will do this as long as they live in their country. And they will teach my words to their children.’

11 You came and stood at the edge of the mountain. You saw that it was on fire. The sky was full of black clouds and there was no light. 12 Then from the fire, the Lord spoke to you. You heard him speak but you did not see any shape. There was only a voice. 13 He explained to you his 10 special rules and he wrote them on two flat pieces of stone. He commanded you to obey them. 14 At that time, the Lord told me to teach you all his rules. When you cross the River Jordan, you must obey his rules in your new country.

God says that the Israelites must not have false gods

15 You did not see any shape at all when the Lord spoke to you from the fire. So you must be very careful about everything that you do. 16 Do not change to do very bad things. Do not make a false god for yourselves, because that is wrong. 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. Do not copy the shape of any fish that swims in the water. 19 When you look up at the sky, you see the sun, the moon and the stars. They are all shining in the sky. But do not worship them. They are things that the Lord your God has given to everyone on the earth. 20 But you are different. The Lord took you out of Egypt, which was like a place of fire. He took you out, to be his own people. Now you belong to him because he has chosen you.

21 The Lord was angry with me, because of you. He told me again and again that I would not cross the River Jordan. I cannot go into the good country that the Lord your God is giving to you. 22 I will die in this country. I will not cross the River Jordan. But you will soon cross over and God will give to you that good country. 23 Be careful! Do not forget the covenant that the Lord your God made with you. Do not make for yourselves a false god in any shape. The Lord says that you must never do that. 24 That is because the love of the Lord your God is like a burning fire. He cannot let you go away from him. He cannot let you love another god.

25 Even when you have lived in the country for many years, be careful. Do not start to do wrong things. When you have children and grandchildren, do not make a false god in any shape. This would make the Lord your God angry. 26 I want everyone on earth and in heaven to hear what I am saying against you today. If you do not obey me, you will soon die. You will not live long in your country across the River Jordan. The Lord will let people from other countries kill you. 27 He will send you away to live in other countries. Only a few of you will stay alive in the countries where the Lord sends you. 28 There you will obey gods that men have made from wood and stone. These gods cannot see or hear. They cannot use their mouths or their noses. 29 But even then, if you look for the Lord your God, you will find him. You must really want to find him. If you do, you will certainly find him. 30 When trouble happens to you in future days, you will return to him. When all these bad things have happened to you, you will obey him again.

31 This is because the Lord your God is kind and good. He will not leave you or kill you. He will not forget the promise that he made to your ancestors This is a serious promise and God will not forget it.

The Lord is God

32 Ask me now about the things that happened many years ago. Ask about the days before you were alive. Ask how God made men and women on the earth. Ask people from every country in the world. Nothing as great as this has ever happened. People have never heard of anything like this. 33 Only you, the Israelites, have heard the voice of God and have not died. You have heard him speaking to you from the fire. And you have still lived! 34 No other god has tried to take one special nation for himself out of another country. The Lord your God did this for you in Egypt. You saw how he used his powerful authority there. He brought bad troubles and war. He did great and frightening things in Egypt.

35 The Lord has shown you all these things. They show you that he is the only God. There is no other God. 36 God let you hear his voice. He spoke to you so that he could teach you. Here on earth he let you see his great fire. He spoke to you from that fire. 37 He brought you out of Egypt because he loved your ancestors. He chose you, their descendants, and he brought you out of Egypt. He did this by himself. He is great and powerful. 38 He sent away the people of other countries who are greater and stronger than you. He sent them away in front of you. He did this to give you their country. This country now belongs to you.

39 Remember today and never forget that the Lord is God. He is God in the sky above you and on the earth below it. There is no other God. 40 Obey his decrees and his rules that I am giving you today. If you do that, everything will be well for you and for your children after you. You will continue to live in your country. The Lord your God is giving it to you for all time.

Safe cities

41 Then Moses chose three special cities to the east of the River Jordan. 42 These were safe places for any person who killed another person. But only if he did not want to kill him. If the killer was not the enemy of the man, the killer could run into one of the cities. There he would be safe from death. 43 Moses chose Bezer, in the flat desert, for the tribe of Reuben. He chose Ramoth, in Gilead, for the tribe of Gad. And he chose Golan, in Bashan, for the tribe of Manasseh.

Moses teaches the Law to the Israelites

44 This is the Law that Moses explained to the Israelites. 45 These are the rules, the decrees and the commands. Moses explained them to the Israelites when they left Egypt. 46 At that time they were in the valley, near to Beth-Peor. That is east of the River Jordan. This was the country of Sihon, king of the Amorites. He ruled in Heshbon. Moses and the Israelites beat him when they came out of Egypt. 47 They marched into his country, which then became their own country. They also marched into the country of Og, king of Bashan. These two kings of the Amorites lived east of the River Jordan. 48 This country was from Aroer, on the edge of the River Arnon, to Mount Sion (that is Mount Hermon). 49 This country included all the land east of the River Jordan. To the south, it was to the Dead Sea and to Mount Pisgah.