Life-Study of Deuteronomy, by Witness Lee

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In 3:23-29 we see that Moses was refused in the matter of entering into the God-promised good land and that Joshua was assigned to bring the people to possess the land as their inheritance.

A. Showing God’s Righteous
Governmental Administration

Moses being refused by God in this matter showed God’s righteous governmental administration. In Numbers 20 Moses had made a serious mistake, a mistake which God could not tolerate because it touched His administration. God’s governmental administration is righteous, and even though He loved Moses, He could not for this reason fail to exercise His administration. Moses served God faithfully for forty years, but because his mistake involved God’s governmental administration, he lost the right to enter into the good land.

B. Causing the Children of Israel
to Have More Fear of God’s Righteous Dealing

The way God dealt with Moses in not allowing him to enter into the good land caused the children of Israel to have more fear of God’s righteous dealing. To be sure, God is a loving God, but His love is a perfecting love, not a spoiling love. God’s dealing with Moses helped to perfect the children of Israel. They should have learned from this how fearful the righteous God is in His governmental dealings. The punishment Moses suffered was a perfecting to the children of Israel.


In Deuteronomy 4:1-40 we have Moses’ hearty advice to the children of Israel. As one who was experienced and who had been disciplined by God, he was qualified to give this advice.

A. Like an Aged,
Loving Father to His Beloved Children

Moses had experienced the seriousness of God’s dealing hand. So in giving his hearty advice, he was like an aged, loving father speaking to his beloved children.

B. Charging the Children of Israel
to Keep God’s Statutes and Judgments,
Especially Not to Make Idols and Worship Them

Moses charged the children of Israel to keep God’s statutes and judgments, especially not to make idols and worship them (vv. 1, 16-19, 23-25, 39).

There is a difference between statutes and judgments. The Old Testament often speaks of God’s commandments (laws), statutes, and ordinances. The Ten Commandments are the basic law. Because these commandments are not complete, they are supplemented by the statutes. For this reason, after the commandments in Exodus 20, there is in Exodus 21—23 a record of many statutes, which are the details of the Ten Commandments and which are supplementary to these commandments. These statutes, however, are without judgments. Once a judgment is added to a statute, the statute becomes an ordinance. For instance, one of the Ten Commandments concerns the keeping of the Sabbath (Exo. 20:8-11). The statutes which supplement this commandment give some details as to what can be done on the Sabbath. One statute may speak of travel and another of cooking (Exo. 35:3). Such statutes do not become ordinances unless judgments are added to them. Later we are told that the one who does not keep the Sabbath should be put to death (Exo. 31:14-15). This is not a commandment or a statute but an ordinance with a judgment. Therefore, the commandments are the basic law, the details of the law are the statutes, and the statutes with judgments are ordinances. In Deuteronomy 4 Moses charged the people to keep God’s statutes and judgments.

Moses especially charged the children of Israel not to make idols and worship them. God’s law concerning idol worship is a commandment, the details of this commandment are statutes, and the addition of judgments causes the statutes to become ordinances.

C. Warning Them with God’s Judgment

"I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that surely you will soon perish from off the land into which you are crossing over the Jordan to possess it; you will not extend your days upon it, but you will be utterly destroyed. And Jehovah will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations to which Jehovah will drive you" (Deut. 4:26-27). Here we see that Moses warned the children of Israel with God’s judgment.

D. Assuring Them with God’s Mercy and Blessing

Moses not only warned the people with God’s judgment but assured them with God’s mercy and blessing (vv. 30-31, 40).

(Life-Study of Deuteronomy, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)