Remember and Don’t Forget

Deuteronomy 4

Jerry A Collins




Ø      What does it mean to add to or subtract from God’s Word?

Ø      What kind of idol-making can we do today?

Ø      What should we remember today and not forget later?


I am going to contend that one of the basic motivations for sinning is that we forget about God. Once we do that and God is out of the equation then it is really very simple to cross the line and execute our sinful strategy. When you forget God—either His commands or His character or expectations you really answer the wrong question. It is not ‘what can I get away with’ but ‘what is closest to the heart of God’ that should determine which direction you will go. The less you know God—from an anemic knowledge of the Word of God—the more susceptible you are to ask the first question when tempted to follow thru on your sinful strategy. If you believe God does not care or will give you a break or will forgive you anyway then it is logical to conclude that this sin is no big deal. So Moses decides to clarify things right away with the Israelites who are on the verge of entering the land they were promised. That is, remember and never forget, who your God is, what He expects, what He has done for you or you will have to live with the consequences.


Obey it all 1-2 We learn here that Israel must listen to the permanent rules and the laws on the books God gave them. This is crucial because their full enjoyment of life in that land will depend on their obedience to this law. This will be the only way to take possession of their new position. To do that means to listen to the Word of God—not changing it at all—either by adding to it and thus weakening and diluting it’s influence nor willingly subtracting from it to accommodate prejudices, opinions, or other perspectives. We can do this by adding things like sacred traditions, icons, rosary beads, sacred buildings or Mariology—it becomes the Word of God and something else and these something else’s take on an equal authority to God’s Word. We also do this by subtracting from it like Christ being the one and only way to God. Opinions not taught in the Bible become binding upon us because of what is going on in our culture or what seems to be predominately taught among scholars or leaders. For Israel that meant not accommodating the surrounding nations once they entered their land but remaining distinct and unique among them.

3-8 Keep and do First, they were eyewitnesses to the God behind the Law 3-4 the specific incident recorded in Num 25:1-9 where 24000 died for disobeying. So let this motivate you to stay true to God vs 4. Second, they have been taught this law so keep it. This is what makes you wise and understanding people like the parable of soils Mt 13 where Jesus said the difference between good soil and others is understanding. Exposure to Bible will not change your life. It is application of it. Step between hearing and doing is understanding. That takes time and seeking and studying and desire for it. Not just hanging around that gong to do that. People hung around Jesus and not changed but some made it to understanding and that was the difference. Third, this law keeping was not to be a burden for them 7-8. But it was to distinguish Israel from all others by making them wise people and pleasing to their God. The church today is also to be set apart, distinguished by our wise living and lives that are lived to please our heavenly Father. Even tho a Jewish peoplue today who are lost and not following God—the memory of Mosaic Law has made them a wise (practical tools for living) people throughout the ages.


Don’t pass on your opinions about God or your traditions. Don’t pass on the prejudices of your culture’s view of God. (1) Make sure you know God’s Word yourself. Make sure you are understanding and applying it to your life all of your days vs 9 because you may forget what you know about God when you pursue strategies for living. (2) Teach understanding of God’s Word to your children and then grandchildren—extended family. You teach your children understanding of God’s Word as you set priorities, make decision, resolve conflict, manage difficulties in a godly and righteous manner. You can commit family adultery by not living out the reality of Jesus Christ in your home, your marriage, your life. You do that by ignoring understanding of God’s Word and replace it with your ways—sinful strategies. Kids pick up on this and so the Word’s influence negated. Notice, twice says all the days of your life vs 9-10. Every day is crucial to godly living. You get one life to live. Dont blow it because you forgot to remember the Word. You will live to regret it and leave a trail of relational and personal baggage that will make it more difficult to pursue a godly life. You can never get those days back again nor can you ever remove the consequences of what you did or did not do. For Israel that meant prosperity in the land vs 14.


No matter how much you have seen god work in your life by answered prayer, ministry fruitfulness, faithful watchcare—you are prone to forget all of that and take on a different view of God. For Israel, since they had not literally seen God but had seen what he had done vs 11-14, the abstract nature of God and the absence of any form or literal image vs 12 and 15, imposed great difficulty on them. So Moses warns them to exert great care on their view of God vs 15. Otherwise they would corrupt themselves vs 16 by limiting God’s transcendence calling into question His uniqueness practicing idolatry 16-24. They should change understanding of their God by any image on earth or in the stars vs 19. Moses reminds them that he will not be there vs 21 to enforce this prohibition against idolatry. But the Lord would as a consuming fire to purify what is precious and destroy the worthless. He is also a jealous God—he will not allow honor be diverted from Him to idols who are nothing vs 28. They are still nothing today. Idolatry is deciding who you want God to be and then creating loyalty to that. It is what all world religions and cults do. It is fake and false and unreal to do. God has made a covenant with them and that is what is real. So Moses gives the first prophecy of the nation and this warning proved prophetic: (1) They will remain long in the land 25 (1400-600BC). (2) They will act corruptly and do evil in god’s site—forget God 25 (during time of Judges and Kings). (3) They will perish quickly from land 26 (both Assyrian 722 and Babylonian exiles 604). (4) Lord will scatter them 27. Most never returned and while there they will serve nations gods—will have what they want as form of judgment 28 (from 604-1947?). (5) They will finally seek the Lord 29-31 (1000 kingdom). Jews return from Babylon temporary (scattered again in ad70). Northern kingdom returned in 1947 but this not even a return today but Moses says when in distress (Trib of Rev 6-19 and Matt 24-25) then they will return to Lord and listen to His voice and remember once again. You can never forget God, authorize sinful strategy and not pat consequences. (6) God will not forget His covenant wit them 31. God will be faithful to His promise because he loved their fathers personally obligated Himself to see to it 32-40.

1. In order to possess your position don’t add to or take away from Word and that includes anything it teaches.

2. Remember God’s work and teach it to your children. You have responsibility. 

3. Maturity realizes you are set apart as possession of God not for God to be a possession of yours (idolatry). Maturity is to understand that God is not doing this for you but for Himself like why doesn’t God give me what I want when I pray—because it is not about you and what you want. It is about what God wants.

4. When you sin and live a worldly life, if you repent and return, you can find God if you seek after Him with all your heart like Israel will.

5. Don’t forget who God is as He has revealed not as you want Him to be vs 7 near 24 consuming fire, jealous 31 compassionate 35 unique one of a kind 39 only one there is.