Feb. 28 Reading: Deuteronomy 3-4 Commentary

Below is our Deuteronomy 3-4 commentary from our Beginning to End Bible reading program. You can find an email link at the end of this page to share your thoughts or comments with us.

Key Verse(s):

You have seen with your own eyes all that the Lord your God has done to these two kings. The Lord will do the same to all the kingdoms over there where you are going. Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you” (vv. 21-22).

Deuteronomy 3

commentaryAfter Israel defeated Sihon king of Heshbon (Deut. 2:26-37), they “turned and went up the road to Bashan” to meet Og, king of Bashan (see Numbers 21:33-35). For reference sake, Bashan was located just east of the Sea of Galilee.

Og is another heathen king standing in Israel’s path. God told Moses and the people not to fear him, “for I have delivered him and all his people and his land into your hand” (v. 2). What a comfort that must have been for all those men going into battle, to know victory was already achieved.

Israel did to Og what they had done to Sihon. The account of the battle is brief and the consequences for Og and his people the same. No survivors were left (v. 3) and all the cities were taken. Additionally, they fortified the cities with gates and high walls (v. 5) and took all the livestock and spoils of the city for themselves (v. 7).

One interesting note about Og. He must have been an impressive figure. Verse 11 tells us that he was the last remnant of a race of giants. His “bedstead” (perhaps translated sarcophagus) was “nine cubits in length and four cubits wide” (v. 11). That equals 13 ft. long by 6 ft. wide.

Once this area of land was secure, Moses granted the tribe of Gad, Reuben and half the tribe of Manasseh land to the east of the Jordan River. These tribes had requested the land instead of getting their inheritance on the west side of the Jordan. God’s only condition was that their fighting men cross over and fight with their brethren until all the land had been conquered. Then they could return to their inheritance east of the Jordan (vv. 18-20).

Moses Forbidden to Enter Canaan

The fight for Canaan would be great. But God reassured Moses and Joshua saying,

You have seen with your own eyes all that the Lord your God has done to these two kings. The Lord will do the same to all the kingdoms over there where you are going. Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you” (vv. 21-22).

Unfortunately, Moses wouldn’t be going with the people. He had disobeyed God in Numbers 20 by striking the rock twice to get water instead of speaking to it like God commanded. Moses didn’t accept God’s punishment lightly. He pleaded with and prayed to the Lord in hopes to change his mind.

Why wouldn’t he? He had prayed before on multiple occasions for the people and had seen God hold back punishment. So Moses must have hoped God would do the same for him.

Nevertheless, in this case, God did not alter his plans for Moses. In fact, it looks like God may have become tired of Moses asking saying in verse 26: “Enough of that! Speak no more to Me on this matter.”

But in the end, God did show mercy to Moses. He led Moses to the top of Pisgah and let him look west into the land (v. 27). In that way, Moses was allowed to see what the people would inherit.

Deuteronomy 4

There are some passionate speeches in the Bible. In Deuteronomy 4, Moses gives one to the people. The message is simple: obey God and your lives will be fruitful. He challenges them to remember everything they have seen and stay the course by living in conjunction with the commands of the Lord.

And, of equal importance, he implores them to not fall prey to idolatry. They were to worship God and God alone. They would be tempted to turn away, and if they did, God’s blessing would not be with them. Above all Moses wanted them to live for God and diligently serve him. And in his opening remarks, he reminds them of two important events. 

Two Important Events

“Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you. You saw with your own eyes what the Lord did at Baal Peor. The Lord your God destroyed from among you everyone who followed the Baal of Peor, but all of you who held fast to the Lord your God are still alive today.” (vv. 2-4)

These verses discuss Israel’s first encounter with the sexually-centered worship of the false god Baal. At Beth Peor, the women of Moab enticed the people to sin. God brought judgment and 24,000 people died of a plague (Numbers 25:1-18). The people had to realize they could not add to God’s Word things it did not contain nor rationalize away their sinful behavior (see Rev. 22:18-19).

Moses also draws the people back to Mt. Sinai. He writes:

Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when he said to me, ‘Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land…’ You came near and stood at the foot of the mountain while it blazed with fire to the very heavens, with black clouds and deep darkness. Then the Lord spoke to you out of the fire…He declared to you his covenant, the Ten Commandments, which he commanded you to follow...” (vv. 10-13)

Even though most of them would have been children at the time of this event, they surely still remembered it. The sight of God descending on the mountain with fire and dark clouds would have been etched into their memories. And they were beneficiaries of and responsible to obey the same covenant stipulations their parents received.

Beware of Idol Worship

Moses includes a large section dedicated to warnings about idol worship. At Mt. Sinai, the people never saw God. He had no form, just smoke and fire (v. 1). So the temptation was to create or find an image to worship that represented God. That could be in the form of a carved human-looking image, any type of animal (bird, fish, snake, etc.) or celestial objects (sun, moon and starts). Moses highlighted these as things the people would use for false worship (vv. 16-19) and warned against it:

“Be careful not to forget the covenant of the Lord your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the Lord your God has forbidden. For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” (vv. 23-24)

If they went down the idol worship path, they would provoke God to anger (v. 25). They would perish from the land and would be utterly destroyed (v. 26). They would be scattered among other people groups (v. 27).

But, when that happened:

“…if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the Lord your God and obey him. For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors…” (vv. 29-31)

So in conclusion, Moses writes:

“Therefore know this day, and consider it in your heart, that the Lord Himself is God…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.”

Blessing, prosperity and long life came to those who followed the Lord.

Questions to Consider:

The Word of God is enough. We need not add anything to it. All we need to do is obey it and our lives will be fruitful.

Moses’ speech in Deut. 4 is one of the most passionate you will read. His theme? Remember all God’s done, serve him and you will thrive. It’s that simple. So why do we complicate our spiritual life by thinking success with it involves so much more than that?

Are you living for God today or for your own selfish motives? How do you keep on the straight path and not get pulled away by things that would dishonor your walk with the Lord? 

What other points would you want to know about in our Deuteronomy 3-4 commentary? Email us here with questions or comments.