Deuteronomy 4:2, You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor shall you subtract/diminish from it. YHVH warns his people against adding or subtracting from his written word elsewhere as well (Deut 12:32; Rev 22:18–19). Men seem inclined to ignore YHVH’s command in this regard. In fact, whole religions have been founded based on disregarding this prohibition. Some claim to be Bible-based (e.g. Mormonism with their Book of Mormon and rabbinic Judaism with its Talmud), and some have supplanted the entire Bible with their own book (Islam with its Quran). This doesn’t even include the numerous unbiblical traditions and man-made doctrines that many traditional churches and denominations have constructed out of whole cloth and patched into the teachings of the Bible. This cannot be pleasing to Elohim!
Who is the author of and real power behind adding to and subtracting from or twisting YHVH’s Word? It is Satan the serpent. (See Gen 3:1ff and Matt 4:3ff.) Make no mistake, adding or subtracting from the Word of Elohim is to fall for the lie that the devil told the first humans at the tree of knowledge that the Word of Elohim can be molded and formed to fit men’s ways of thinking instead of Elohim’s.
What did Yeshua warn the religionists of his day against in this regard? He said, “Thus have you made the commandment of Elohim of none effect by your tradition” (Matt 15:6) and, “Howbeit in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Mark 7:7). What are some examples of traditions and theologies in the modern-day Christian and Jewish religions where YHVH’s word has been superseded by man’s traditions? What are some traditions and doctrines of men you have turned away from in order to bring yourself into greater alignment with YHVH’s Word? How is your life better for it? What has been the reaction of those around you in response to your aligning your life more closely with the truth of YHVH?
Finally, the Bible ends with a warning to those who would add to the word of Elohim.
For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, Elohim will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, Elohim shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. (Rev 22:18–19)
When this passage says “this book,” which book is it talking about? The Book of Revelation or the entire Bible? To be on the safe side, it is prudent to assume John is referring to the whole Bible. I personally don’t care to experiences any of Elohim’s curses; life is already difficult enough as it is!
Deuteronomy 4:2, Observe the commandments of YHVH. The word observe (RNA/shin-mem-resh)is a common Hebrew verb meaning “to keep, guard, give heed, watch, protect, have charge of.”In its noun-form, shamar means “a watchman.” According to TWOT, the basic meaning of shamar is “to exercise great care over something.” One of the most frequent uses of this verb in Scripture is how it is used in this verse. YHVH commands his people to shamar his Torah-commandments some 30 times in the Torah alone. What does this mean to you? Are you learning to not only “hear,” but “to do” his commands? How has your life changed and what are the resulting blessings? Though YHVH clearly commands his people “to keep” or “to guard,” what is commonly taught in most Christian churches in regard to “the law”?
Deuteronomy 4:6, Keep. Keeping Torah (YHVH’s instructions in righteousness) was the means for YHVH’s chosen people to be salt and light to the surrounding nations. Torah is literally a “witnessing tool.” What kind of righteous witness are you (via your Torah lifestyle) to those around you who are lost in spiritual darkness?
Wisdom [Heb. chokmah] and understanding [Heb. biynah]. What is the biblical definition of wisdom and understanding? Let’s explore this subject to see what we can learn from the word of Elohim.
Chokmah means “intelligence, skill (in war); wisdom (in administration); shrewdness, wisdom; prudence (in religious affairs); wisdom (ethical and religious). It derives from the verb chakam meaning “to be wise, to be or become wise, act wisely; to make wise, teach wisdom, instruct; to show oneself wise, deceive, show one’s wisdom.” According to The TWOT, chokmah and it’s root verb represents a manner of thinking and attitude concerning life’s experiences including matters of general interest and basic morality. These concerns relate to prudence in secular affairs, skills in the arts, moral sensitivity, and experience in the ways of YHVH. In the Tanakh, chokmah is used in relationship to the whole gamut of human experiences whether it be technical artisan skills, military tactics or political and administrative leadership. It is expressed in shrewdness as opposed to foolishness or silliness. Prudence is another aspect of chokmah as it relates to how one speaks, uses his time carefully and in the practical affairs of life. The Bible reveals that Elohim is the source of all wisdom, and wisdom is not to be found in human speculation. Elohim alone provides wisdom for man’s guidance, so that he can live the best possible moral and ethical life (ibid.).
Biynah means “discernment or insight” or “the ability to understand something, comprehension, the power of abstract thought, an individual’s perception or judgment of a situation.” According to The TWOT, biynah refers to knowledge that is superior to the mere gathering of data. It is necessary to know how to use the knowledge one possesses. This is where perception or judgment comes into play. One must properly interpret the data and make wise and discerning decisions as to how to act.
Torah is your wisdom in the sight of the nations. Consider the following:
- Your life may be the only Bible some people read.
- Torah is light. Light quietly does, it is silent. It doesn’t talk about doing, it does! YHVH is looking for doers, not talkers.
- What kind of reputation do you have in the community?
- People may not be turning to the light of Torah as a result of your example YET, when times get tough in this country (“when you are in tribulation … in the latter days, Deut 4:30), they may well turn to you for the answers because they remembered that there was something different about you—something pure, pristine and holy. That’s when they’ll be looking for answers.
- Torah makes us a great people. YHVH measures greatness differently than the world does. Are you great by the world’s standards or YHVH’s standards?
- How does YHVH measure greatness? Love, faith, truth, obedience, servanthood, giving, selflessness, self-sacrifice.
- Comparatively speaking, how does the world measure greatness? Money, power, fame, possessions, intellect, physical appearance, good sounding words.
- Which type of greatness will last into eternity?
Never forget this: The Bible reveals that Yeshua the Messiah is the spiritual light of the world (John 8:12) that came from heaven to guide men through the spiritual darkness of this world and lead them to his Father in heaven (John 1:7–9). He is not only the Light, but the Word of Elohim made flesh (John 1:1, 14). In other words, he is the Living Torah Word of Elohim. He was the exemplification and personification of the Written Torah. Only through him living in us through is Set-Apart Spirit can we properly obey YHVH’s Torah commandments (1 Cor 9:21, the saint is “under/in/subject to the Torah-law toward Messiah”). This we will do by his power in us and out of a loving relationship with him (Jer 31:31–33 cp. Heb 8:10; John 14:15; 1 John 2:2–6; 3:24; 5:2–3; Rom 13:8–10). The Testimony of Yeshua makes these truths very clear for those who have eyes to see, ears to hear and hearts to comprehend! The rewards and blessings are incomprehensibly awesome for those who walk according to the instructions of Elohim.
“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. (Rev 22:12–14)
Deuteronomy 4:10; 5:29; 6:2, 13, 24, Learn to fear me.The concept of fearing YHVH has become almost a taboo subject in many churches. Why is this? Probably because it’s a hard message for people to swallow and therefore not a popular one. The fear of YHVH is an important subject because it is the beginning of both knowledge and wisdom (Prov 1:7, 9:10). It seems that most believer’s approach to YHVH become so casual and commonplace that there is no room for a healthy fear (i.e. dread of sin and the resulting consequences before a just and set-apart or kadosh Elohim) in a one’s life. The church has emphasized the love and grace of the saint’s relationship with their Creator and overlooked the fear aspect of it. Is this not a disastrous and foolish path? Is the church suffering for this lack of regard for YHVH and his instructions?
Deuteronomy 4 :9, Keep you soul diligently lest you forget.
- Don’t forget the awesome things that YHVH has done for you: the miracles, the answered prayers, the healing, the joy and hope that he gave you when there was no way out, delivering you from your enemies, setting you free.
- Remembering the past miracles—keeping your testimony strong and alive of the great things YHVH has done for you—keeps your faith alive in the reality of WHO HE IS and in his very existence
- Remembering will keep you from falling away when the times get tough, when the doubts come, when the voice of the lying enemy comes knocking on the door of your heart and mind to lead you astray.
Deuteronomy 4 :15, Take careful heed.
Let’s explore the warning in this passage about the perils of idolatry and its consequences (Deut 4:15) and not seeking after the gods of the people’s around us (Deut 6:14).
- What about idolatry in your life?
- What takes precedence over your love and devotion for YHVH?
- Do you spend the time in worship and prayer that you should? What idols edge their way in to interfere with your relationship with YHVH?
- YHVH is a consuming fire and is jealous over you. (Deut 4:24)
Deuteronomy 4:25–32, Apostasy, exile, enslavement, repentance and regathering of lost and scattered Israel to the Promised Land in the last days. This passage deals with the exile and return of the Israelites. Because of syncretism with the idolatrous practices of the nations around them, YHVH prophesied that the Israelites would be scattered among the nations of the world. Conversely, YHVH prophesies that “in the end of days” (verse 30)—a metaphor for “the last days” or “the end of the age”—he would hear their pleas for help, have mercy on his people, and remember his covenant with them. According to some noted Jewish sages, “the end of days” refers to the period just before the coming of Messiah, and this repentance is the same as that which Moses mentions later in 30:1–2 (The ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash, p. 965). Here are some additional quotes from some noted Jewish scholars on the subject of Israel returning to YHVH from its exile among the nations:
The future King Messiah (Messiah Son of David) will not only redeem the Jews from exile, but will restore the observance of the Torah-commandments to its complete state, which will only be possible when the Israelites are living in the Land of Israel. At this same time, “there will be an ingathering of the dispersed remnant of Israel. This will make it possible for the Davidic dynasty to be reinstated and for the observance of the Torah and its mitzvot [commandments] to be restored in its totality” (I Await His Coming Every Day, p. 35, [see also p. 38 quoting Rambam] by Menachem Schneerson, emphasis added). According to the Rambam (also known as Maimonides) in his Thirteen Principles of the Jewish Faith the resurrection of the dead will occur just after the coming of the Messiah and that the resurrection of the dead is a key element of the Final Redemption (ibid., p. 59).
The Jewish sages recognize that the ingathering of the exiles including the ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom, will also return, be reunited with Judah and that the whole house of Israel will serve YHVH together (Ezek 20:32–37, 40–42) (Mashiach—the Principles of Mashiach and the Messianic Era In Jewish Law and Tradition, pp. 20-22, by Jacob Immanual Schochet quoting from Sanhedrin 110b; Bamidbar Rabba 16:25).
The ArtScroll Bereishis/Genesis Commentary, vol. 1(b) states in its commentary on Genesis 48:19 regarding Ephraim: “R. Munk explains: ‘while it is true that the dispersion [of the descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh] was caused by the unfaithfulness and sinfulness of Ephraim’s descendants (Hos 7:8ff), Jacob’s blessing was not in vain for “they will return to God” and will have their share in the world to come (Talmud Sanhedrin 110b).’ And R. Eliezer adds: ‘Even the darkness in which the Ten Tribes were lost will one day become as radiant as the day’ (according to the version of Avos d’Rabbi Nosson 36). And in the perspective of history, did not these exiled children of the Patriarchs enlighten the nations among whom they were scattered? They did so by teaching their conquerors the fundamental ideas of the knowledge and love of God, ideals they had never forsaken. Hence they too have a messianic vocation and their Messiah the Maschiach ben Yosef, Messiah son of Joseph (Talmud Succah 52a), also called Messiah son of Ephraim (Targum Yonasan on Exodus 40:11), will play an essential role in humanity’s redemption, for he will be the precursor of the Maschiach ben David, Messiah Son of David. It is therefore not surprising to find that the prophet Jeremiah (3:12) speaks affectionately of Ephraim. In this light, Jacob’s words, ‘his offspring will fill the nations,’ assume the significance of blessing” (pp. 2121–2122).
The regathering of not only the Jewish people (largely from the tribe of Judah), but Israelites from the other eleven tribes is predicted by Yeshua and the apostolic writers as well (see Acts 3:21; Matt 10:6; 15:24).
Now note how the following phrases or concepts are used in Scripture, who they relate to, and how this relates to the statements of the Jewish sages and to our text under consideration as pertaining to Israel (including both the houses of Israel (i.e. Ephraim/Samaria or the Northern Kingdom and Judah or the Southern Kingdom) being scattered among the nations for their disobedience to YHVH, and then their being regathered and restored as a united kingdom and obedient people under the rule of King Messiah:
Dispersed: The house of Judah was dispersed out of the Land of Judah into Babylon because of her spiritual adultery (Isa 11:12; 56:3, 6–8; Ezek 37:21; John 7:35).
Far and Near: Solomon prophesied the Israelite/Ephraimic exile, that Judah would be exiled to a near country (Babylon) and Ephraim would be exiled to a far country (Assyria) (1 Kings 8:46; see also Dan 9:7). Paul makes reference to the purpose of his ministry being to preach peace to those who were afar off and them that are near that through Yeshua both may have access through the Spirit unto the Father (Eph 2:16–17).
Gather/Regather(ing): Ezek 34:13; 36:24; Isa 56:8
Israel, Assimilated Into the Nations: Isa 7:8: Hos 1:10; 4:1,6; 5:3; 2:23; Deut 28:64;
“Lost” (assimilated, but not lost): Hos 8:8; Amos 9:9; Deut 28:64; Hos 5:3
Mixed With the Nation: Ephraim mixes himself with the nations: Hos 7:8; 8:8
Outcasts: The House of Israel are outcasts (YHVH cast them out of the Land of Israel for their spiritual adultery, Isa 11:12; 56:8)
Return: In the last days, the sons/children of Israel (both Ephraim and Judah) shall return to YHVH and his Torah (Hos 3:5).
Scattered/Sown (Jezreel): YHVH would sow or scatter the descendants of the House of Israel (Ephraim) (throughout the nations, Hos 1:4).
Scattered Sheep of Lost Israel to Return By YHVH’s Hand: Ezek 34:11,16
Scattered: Ephraim scattered over the face of the whole earth, Ezek 34:6,12; 36:19; 37:21; John 11:52. In regards to Deuteronomy 32:26 which says, “I said, I would scatter them into the corner …” The ArtScroll Stone Edition Tanach Chumash comments, “This refers to the exile of the Ten Tribes who were scattered to an unknown place where they have never been heard from again. On the phrase of the same verse, “I would make the remembrance of them to cease from among men…” the same Chumash states, “This is a reference to the exile of Judah and Benjamin, the Davidic kingdom from which today’s known Jews are descended.” It goes on to say that though nations would seek to destroy Israel entirely YHVH would never allow Israel to become extinct or disappear. Israel’s perpetual existence is constant reminder of YHVH’s plan and eventually Israel will thrive and fulfill YHVH’s intention for it” (pp. 1105–1106). Samson Raphael Hirsch in his commentary on the Pentateuch on the same verse translates the phrase, “I would scatter them into the corners …” as, “I would relegate them into a corner…” and then says that the Hebrew here refers to the “extreme end of a surface, the side or corner …” He, too, relates this fate to the Ten Tribes who would be scattered “to some distant corner of the world, where, left entirely to themselves, they could mature towards serious reflection and ultimate return to Me …” (p. 650).
Swallowed Up Among the Nations (Gentiles): Hos 8:8