Deuteronomy 4 part 1: Statutes Need a Story

Here’s the deal, Deuteronomy has some long chapters. And it would be one thing if those chapters were full of boring stuff. But chapter 4 was so rich! Every sentence seemed to give me a ton of things to think about and lots of ideas of what I could write about.

So I am going to take my own advice and go slowly when I need to through Deuteronomy.

I made it about half way before I needed to stop.

And it is getting late so I’m a little tired.

Obedience = Life and Land

If you look at my “How I do it” page, you will notice a list of things I look for when I’m studying. One is repetition. One is repetition. Another is looking for connectors like “since” and “so” and “therefore.” Check this sentence out!

“give heed to the statutes and ordinances that I am teaching you observe, so that you may live to enter and occupy the land that the LORD, the God of your ancestors is giving you.”

Not a lot of repetition, but this sentence basically happens three times in the chapter.

The “so that” caught my eye.

Obedience to God’s commands (statutes and ordinances) is what gets people into the land and lets them stay there. The fact that this is repeated three times makes me think Moses really wanted the people to know that.

Laws and Story

Moses is giving the people a big set up to reteaching the law. Rather than jumping in, he reminds them of their story. He reminds them of the first time they got the law. I’ve talked about this before. None of the people he is talking to were there when it happened.

But he could have just told them the law.

Why does he tell the story?

Why do we need to know that God spoke the commands on the mountain after God brought the people out of Egypt?

Why did he wait 3 chapters before getting to the law? Why spend so much time telling the story?

I think that should tell us something about laws and propositional statements: Statutes need a story.

None of the things that Moses is about to tell the people will make any sense unless they are within the context of God rescuing his people from slavery and establishing them as his own holy nation.

Story comes first. Then they get to hear what to do about it.

Egypt: The Iron-Smelter

There is a really interesting phrase in Deuteronomy 4 that I haven’t seen yet in the Bible.

But the LORD has taken you and brought you out of the iron-smelter, out of Egypt, to become a people of his very own possession, as you are now

My first thought was that the Israelites were smelting iron in Egypt. But then I read something that made me rethink it.

What if it is a metaphor?

What if God was using Egypt to create his people?

If so, the people of God were forged in slavery, oppression, marginalization and despair.

Then they were rescued. Then they were given an identity, a culture, life, and now, land.

Yes, they need to remember this.

We all ought to remember where we came from.

9 responses

  1. I love every single thing about this post! The Lord has been teaching me a huge amount about the importance of the where we have been and how His hand may be seen even in the despair – forging away! and how important ther story is… wow! I needed this one today… Deuteronomy is going to be great!! 🙂 Thanks

  2. I love the idea that God was intentionally forging the Israelites into His people while they were in Egypt. I’ve never thought of it that way before. It makes perfect sense, though. So many times in Scripture we’re told that we’ll suffer, that we’ll be persecuted, and that those things are intended to draw us closer to Him, to make us more holy, to purify our hearts – so of course the Israelites as a nation had to go through a smelting process before they could be God’s holy people! They were being refined, and all at the same time, the Lord was setting them up so that He could be the rescuer for His beloved.


  3. It’s like, later on in Deuteronomy, when God calls the Israelites not to oppress others. He was addressing a new generation that had not experienced the oppression of Egypt and who had forgotten where they had been and risked becoming the oppressor as opposed to the oppressed.

  4. You are right about Deuteronomy being so rich, I recently finished reading it and loved it. It gets to the heart of the law so well, Jesus quotes it left and right, and it is a great recapture of their story like you said. Part of the reason we need story with statutes is the story gives us real desire and motivation to follow those statutes. God isn’t interested in keeping his people in slavery, he wants them to freely choose him, but to do this they must know the story. Looking forward to these posts!

  5. Awesome awesome awesome. Great job. Loved this chapter. Felt it all well up inside of me… pictured Moses as MLK preaching this God given message and was taken in by it! Great job recreating it. We all need to remember where we came from.. gave me goose bumps.

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