Bible - Inspiration & Authority

Rightly Handling the Only Supernatural Book: 8 Imperatives

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott
God through Moses gave Israel eight vital principles for the proper handling and correct understanding of His Word. They apply just as much to Christians and the Church in our time.

From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase

Part one of a series.

God through Moses gave Israel eight vital principles for the proper handling and correct understanding of His Word. They apply just as much to Christians and the Church in our time.

The book of Deuteronomy contains the record of God's final instructions to the nation of Israel, given through Moses, before they entered the Promised Land. Most of Deuteronomy is an extended explanation and further exposition of the Law of God that Moses had received at Mount Sinai, and during his ongoing communion with Jehovah in the tabernacle of meeting in the wilderness.

In the first three chapters of Deuteronomy, Moses reminds the people of Israel of God's gracious and mighty acts on their behalf: He freed them from bondage in Egypt, led them through the wilderness for forty years, and gave them mighty victories over numerous pagan enemies.

Despite Israel's repeated violations of God's Law, He had been gracious to them. He had brought them to the very border of the "land flowing with milk and honey" that He was about to give them, the land in which He had chosen to make His dwelling place among them on earth.

The Condition Upon God's Blessing

But in the book of Deuteronomy, God made it clear through Moses that if the people of Israel were to dwell peacefully and contentedly in the land, it was imperative for them to continually understand and obey the Word of God. They must do so not only at this time, but in all succeeding generations.

And so, in Deuteronomy chapter 4, God spoke through Moses to give the people of Israel eight principles for the proper handling and correct understanding of the Word that He had supernaturally given to them:

Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I teach you to observe, that you may live, and go in and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers is giving you.

You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you. Your eyes have seen what the Lord did at Baal Peor; for the Lord your God has destroyed from among you all the men who followed Baal of Peor. But you who held fast to the Lord your God are alive today, every one of you.

Surely I have taught you statutes and judgments, just as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should act according to them in the land which you go to possess. Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, "Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.

For what great nation is there that has God so near to it, as the Lord our God is to us, for whatever reason we may call upon Him? And what great nation is there that has such statutes and righteous judgments as are in all this law which I set before you this day?

Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren, especially concerning the day you stood before the Lord your God in Horeb, when the Lord said to me, "Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children." (Deuteronomy 4:1-10)

The Eight Imperatives

God through Moses gives eight imperatives in this passage concerning His holy Word:

  1. Listen to the Word of God
  2. Preserve the Word of God
  3. Learn the Word of God
  4. Observe the Word of God
  5. Treasure the Word of God
  6. Hold fast to the Word of God
  7. Pass on the Word of God
  8. Fear the God of the Word

Our Study Method 

In a series of articles to follow, the Lord willing, we are going to examine each of these vital imperatives - and indeed they are not merely principles or suggestions, they are imperatives, commandments of God.

We are going to examine how key words and phrases state these imperatives in the original language. We shall also examine other passages in the Word of God that bear upon and reinforce them.

We shall examine how these imperatives applied to the nation of Israel both in the wilderness and in the Promised Land, in view of their chosen position, repeated failures, resulting exile, rejection of their Messiah, and eventual dispersion.

We shall also examine how each of these imperatives regarding the Word of God applies to Christians, and to the church of Christ as a body. We shall examine the lack of obedience that prevails among so many professing Christians and self-described Bible-believing churches in our time, and its results.

Finally, we are going to examine each of these imperatives with this question in mind: What must be done in order for God's people and Christ's church to have His blessing?

We pray that this study will be of spiritual profit to our readers.

Next: Listen to the Word of God


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