“Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers giveth you.” (Deuteronomy 4:1)
Thirty nine years before, while they at Mount Sinai, God had made a covenant or contract with Israel that if they would obey his laws, he would give them the land and protect them. He also warned them that if the ignored the commandments, they would lose that land,
“Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants. Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you: (For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;) That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you.” (Leviticus 18:24-28.)
The countries occupying the land at the time had defiled it with the ir wickedness, and being vomited out. Perhaps it was something of this nature the twelve spies referred to in Numbers 13:32. “And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof…”
God definitely promised that one of the benefits of obeying his commandments fully would be freedom from disease. Exodus 15:26 quotes him. “And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.” It causes one to wonder how many of the epidemics of history could have been avoided by simply obeying God.
Paul informs Christians, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works,” in II Timothy 3:16-17. II Peter 1:3 proclaims, “…his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:”
“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” (Deuteronomy 4:2)
God had given every instruction that was needed to live peacefully and happily in the land he gave them. Any changes they made would make it less effective. Over the centuries, the Jews developed the Gemara, a collection of commentary and traditional interpretation of the Mishna or text. Today many Talmudic Jews believe it to be as important as the text itself. In Mark 7:8-9, Jesus accused the Pharisees of having replaced the word of God with other things. “For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.”
Since God has given everything the Christian needs to please God, any modifications will also interfere with our relationship with him. Man has no right to add anything to God’s statements, and anything that purports to be from God must be completely aligned with other scripture. Later God will give specific instructions as to how to determine whether they actually came from God or not. Until it has been verified as coming from God, it is not to be accepted. Age was not one of the criteria. Many ancient manuscripts or apocryphal books exist that do not meet the standards God provided and are thus to be excluded.
Commentaries and other religious writings, while they can be helpful in understanding what the scripture says, are not to be the basis for our teaching or practice, nor are the standards of a pastor or religious leader. In I timothy 4:1-3, Paul warned, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.”
Setting our own standards is just as much adding to or detracting from the Word of God as writing another book or rewriting the Bible to leave out or include other doctrines. In Galatians 1:6-8, Paul warned the Galatians, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”
Revelation 22:18-19 warns, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” How much of the teaching about the Second Coming involves either adding to or taking away from God’s word?
“Your eyes have seen what the LORD did because of Baalpeor: for all the men that followed Baalpeor, the LORD thy God hath destroyed them from among you. But ye that did cleave unto the LORD your God are alive every one of you this day.” (Deuteronomy 4:3-4)
The Israelites Moses was speaking to had seen the consequences of disobedience when Israel got involved with the Moabites at Baalpeor about a year before and thousands died as a result. They needed to keep it in mind. Those who followed what God said survived, but those who didn’t think it mattered died.
Ford Motor company’s slogan is “Ford has a better idea.” While Ford might have a better idea than another car company, it’s pretty arrogant to think we have a better way than God’s, although I’ve heard a few preacher say they had a higher standard. You are fooling yourself if you believe it.