Deuteronomy 4 (The Message)

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1 Now listen, Israel, listen carefully to the rules and regulations that I am teaching you to follow so that you may live and enter and take possession of the land that God, the God-of-Your-Fathers, is giving to you. 2 Don't add a word to what I command you, and don't remove a word from it. Keep the commands of God, your God, that I am commanding you. 3 You saw with your own eyes what God did at Baal Peor, how God destroyed from among you every man who joined in the Baal Peor orgies. 4 But you, the ones who held tight to God, your God, are alive and well, every one of you, today. 5 Pay attention: I'm teaching you the rules and regulations that God commanded me, so that you may live by them in the land you are entering to take up ownership. 6 Keep them. Practice them. You'll become wise and understanding. When people hear and see what's going on, they'll say, "What a great nation! So wise, so understanding! We've never seen anything like it." 7 Yes. What other great nation has gods that are intimate with them the way God, our God, is with us, always ready to listen to us? 8 And what other great nation has rules and regulations as good and fair as this Revelation that I'm setting before you today? 9 Just make sure you stay alert. Keep close watch over yourselves. Don't forget anything of what you've seen. Don't let your heart wander off. Stay vigilant as long as you live. Teach what you've seen and heard to your children and grandchildren. 10 That day when you stood before God, your God, at Horeb, God said to me, "Assemble the people in my presence to listen to my words so that they will learn to fear me in holy fear for as long as they live on the land, and then they will teach these same words to their children." 11 You gathered. You stood in the shadow of the mountain. The mountain was ablaze with fire, blazing high into the very heart of Heaven. You stood in deep darkness and thick clouds. 12 God spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but you saw nothing - no form, only a voice. 13 He announced his covenant, the Ten Words, by which he commanded you to live. Then he wrote them down on two slabs of stone. 14 And God commanded me at that time to teach you the rules and regulations that you are to live by in the land which you are crossing over the Jordan to possess. 15 You saw no form on the day God spoke to you at Horeb from out of the fire. Remember that. Carefully guard yourselves 16 so that you don't turn corrupt and make a form, carving a figure 17 that looks male or female, or looks like a prowling animal or a flying bird 18 or a slithering snake or a fish in a stream. 19 And also carefully guard yourselves so that you don't look up into the skies and see the sun and moon and stars, all the constellations of the skies, and be seduced into worshiping and serving them. God set them out for everybody's benefit, everywhere. 20 But you - God took you right out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to become the people of his inheritance - and that's what you are this very day. 21 But God was angry with me because of you and the things you said. He swore that I'd never cross the Jordan, never get to enter the good land that God, your God, is giving you as an inheritance. 22 This means that I am going to die here. I'm not crossing the Jordan. But you will cross; you'll possess the good land. 23 So stay alert. Don't for a minute forget the covenant which God, your God, made with you. And don't take up with any carved images, no forms of any kind - God, your God, issued clear commands on that. 24 God, your God, is not to be trifled with - he's a consuming fire, a jealous God. 25 When the time comes that you have children and grandchildren, put on years, and start taking things for granted, if you then become corrupt and make any carved images, no matter what their form, by doing what is sheer evil in God's eyes and provoking his anger - 26 I can tell you right now, with Heaven and Earth as witnesses, that it will be all over for you. You'll be kicked off the land that you're about to cross over the Jordan to possess. Believe me, you'll have a very short stay there. You'll be ruined, completely ruined. 27 God will scatter you far and wide; a few of you will survive here and there in the nations where God will drive you. 28 There you can worship your homemade gods to your hearts' content, your wonderful gods of wood and stone that can't see or hear or eat or smell. 29 But even there, if you seek God, your God, you'll be able to find him if you're serious, looking for him with your whole heart and soul. 30 When troubles come and all these awful things happen to you, in future days you will come back to God, your God, and listen obediently to what he says. 31 God, your God, is above all a compassionate God. In the end he will not abandon you, he won't bring you to ruin, he won't forget the covenant with your ancestors which he swore to them. 32 Ask questions. Find out what has been going on all these years before you were born. From the day God created man and woman on this Earth, and from the horizon in the east to the horizon in the west - as far back as you can imagine and as far away as you can imagine - has as great a thing as this ever happened? Has anyone ever heard of such a thing? 33 Has a people ever heard, as you did, a god speaking out of the middle of the fire and lived to tell the story? 34 Or has a god ever tried to select for himself a nation from within a nation using trials, miracles, and war, putting his strong hand in, reaching his long arm out, a spectacle awesome and staggering, the way God, your God, did it for you in Egypt while you stood right there and watched? 35 You were shown all this so that you would know that God is, well, God. He's the only God there is. He's it. 36 He made it possible for you to hear his voice out of Heaven to discipline you. Down on Earth, he showed you the big fire and again you heard his words, this time out of the fire. 37 He loved your ancestors and chose to work with their children. He personally and powerfully brought you out of Egypt 38 in order to displace bigger and stronger and older nations with you, bringing you out and turning their land over to you as an inheritance. And now it's happening. This very day. 39 Know this well, then. Take it to heart right now: God is in Heaven above; God is on Earth below. He's the only God there is. 40 Obediently live by his rules and commands which I'm giving you today so that you'll live well and your children after you - oh, you'll live a long time in the land that God, your God, is giving you. 41 Then Moses set aside three towns in the country on the east side of the Jordan 42 to which someone who had unintentionally killed a person could flee and find refuge. If the murder was unintentional and there was no history of bad blood, the murderer could flee to one of these cities and save his life: 43 Bezer in the wilderness on the tableland for the Reubenites, Ramoth in Gilead for the Gadites, and Golan in Bashan for the Manassites. 44 This is the Revelation that Moses presented to the People of Israel. 45 These are the testimonies, the rules and regulations Moses spoke to the People of Israel after their exodus from Egypt 46 and arrival on the east side of the Jordan in the valley near Beth Peor. It was the country of Sihon king of the Amorites who ruled from Heshbon. Moses and the People of Israel fought and beat him after they left Egypt 47 and took his land. They also took the land of Og king of Bashan. The two Amorite kings held the country on the east of the Jordan 48 from Aroer on the bank of the Brook Arnon as far north as Mount Siyon, that is, Mount Hermon, 49 all the Arabah plain east of the Jordan, and as far south as the Sea of the Arabah (the Dead Sea) beneath the slopes of Mount Pisgah.
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