We are getting to the heart of Moses’ final message as we read Deuteronomy 4. He is about to die, this is his urgent last exhortation. Soon this nation, which he had endured for 40 years as they travelled to the promised land will cross the Jordan without him. Moses’ words are a powerful message to believers of every age.
The leaders (elders) of the nation are now those who had been teenagers when they escaped from Egypt. They had seen all their parents and older relatives die. As teenagers they had witnessed the wondrous evidence of divine power and presence. They had seen the astonishing lack of faith in parents and relatives leading to their untimely deaths in the wilderness.
Moses reminds them, “I have taught you statutes and rules as the LORD your God commanded me that you should do them in the land that you are entering …” (4:5). “Keep them and do them for that will be your wisdom and understanding in the sight of the people … who will say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people” (verse 6). Later he says, “know therefore today, and lay it to heart, that the LORD is God in heaven above and on earth beneath: there is no other” (verse 39).
This is the key point, not to simply know a matter, but to lay it to heart! These leaders who had been teenagers 40 years previously went across the Jordan with Joshua as their leader and took possession of most of the land. After Joshua died the people “served the LORD … all the days of the elders who had outlived Joshua who had seen all the great work the LORD had done” (Judges 2:7).
Then came disaster; those who had been teenagers at the time Moses had spoken the words of Deuteronomy, failed to take his message to heart! In the final verse of Judges we read “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (21:25): just as bad, they failed to teach their children to follow in their footsteps.
The spirit in the world today is worse than this. This is the key question for today – does the word of God guide our lives – or do you do that which is right in your own eyes? When you read God’s word – do you lay it to heart? We must, it is the only way to please God and His Son.