Deuteronomy 4:15-31 (Part 1) – The Tale of the Tied Up Clothing

Posted: December 8, 2016 in 05-Deuteronomy

Deuteronomy 4:15-31 (Part 1 of 3)

A Warning Against Idolatry

As a parent, which is worse? When your kid does something wrong because you never addressed that particular issue because you thought they knew better or when there was a family rule and they straight up ignored it and did what was against the rules anyway? I am sure that you, as a parent, would have to say the latter is what would make you angrier – when a kid knows the rule and breaks it anyway.


I remember when I was a teenager and in those last years of living at home before I got married, I was a busy guy. I went to school at Travelers Rest High School during much of the day. After school, I would immediately go to work at the Furman University’s Public Safety Department as a dispatcher for the campus police. The nice thing about that job (unless things were crazy busy) was that I could do my homework while working. Then, I would come home around midnight and go to bed. This was my routine Sunday nights through Thursday nights. On Fridays and Saturdays, I would be spending time with my girlfriend, Lisa (who went on to become my first wife). So, I was rarely home for any length of time as a teenager. School, work, girlfriend – that did not leave much time for doing stuff around the house. Pretty much all I did was sleep there. Although my parent’s recognized that I had a busy schedule, that did have family rules that I must obey at home and when I was away from home. One of the rules around the house was that my brother and I had to keep our rooms clean. Dirty clothes were to be put away in the clothes hamper. The room had to be kept free of clutter. Restrictions, the death knell of a teenager, would ensue if we did not obey the rules. The rules had been repeated enough where it was clear. We knew the rules. They were imbedded in our brains. However, I was the messy one of the two brothers. My brother, Ralph III, was a clean freak. His room was always spotless. My room was always a disaster. As long as I could get in and out of my closet and that I could sit at the card table that served as my desk, my room was fine to me. In one particular week, the mess had gotten pretty bad in my room. Dirty clothes were everywhere. Empty glasses were on the night stand. Sandwich plates with dried up crumbs were on top of the dresser. It was just a nuclear wasteland in my room. Dad had been harping on me for days about getting it cleaned up and keeping it cleaned up. You know as a teenager, you blow things off. I would say to dad, “I will get it done later when I have time. Relax! Don’t worry!” If I was a teenager today, I would have said, “Chill-ax dad, I got this!” Later never came though.


I remember it well to this day. It was a Friday night. I came home after a date with Lisa. Dropped her off around 11:45pm so that I could just squeeze into the driveway at like 12:05am, just after my curfew. Yes, I had a curfew even as a senior in high school. I did my best to sneak into the house since I was slightly late. Taking my shoes off before I tip-toed down the hall by my parent’s room and to my room. When I started opening the door, I noticed that it was tough to get the door open. That should have been my first clue. I had to push to get the door to fully open. When I turned the light on in my room, I found out why the door was hard to open. My dad had tied all my clothes to furniture in my room. Clothes were tied between bedposts, between the bedposts and drawers of my chest o’ drawers. Clothes tied between every piece of furniture in my room multiple times. My dad must have worked on this project the entire time I was gone on my date. I left before dark and returned home slightly after midnight. I was audibly cussing as I tried to make space for me to go to bed by untying my dad’s maze of tied up dirty clothes. To be able to do what he did, you realize that there must have been a LOT of dirty clothes strewn in my room. As I was audibly cussing at my predicament, I could hear my dad chuckling in their bedroom across the hall. Score – Dad 1, Mark 0. It was a fitting punishment that I can laugh about now but was infuriating to me then. Lesson was learned though. After that, I kept my room clean. Rule kept and observed.


That story of knowing the rules but blatantly disobeying them from my youth was the first thing that came to mind when I read today’s passage, Deuteronomy 4:15-31, for the first time. We will visit this passage again in my next two blogs also. For today, let’s look at it from the perspective of my illustration for today, knowing the rules and breaking them anyway:


15 You saw no form of any kind the day the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. Therefore watch yourselves very carefully, 16 so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an image of any shape, whether formed like a man or a woman, 17 or like any animal on earth or any bird that flies in the air, 18 or like any creature that moves along the ground or any fish in the waters below. 19 And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars—all the heavenly array—do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshiping things the Lord your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven. 20 But as for you, the Lord took you and brought you out of the iron-smelting furnace, out of Egypt, to be the people of his inheritance, as you now are.


21 The Lord was angry with me because of you, and he solemnly swore that I would not cross the Jordan and enter the good land the Lord your God is giving you as your inheritance. 22 I will die in this land; I will not cross the Jordan; but you are about to cross over and take possession of that good land. 23 Be careful not to forget the covenant of the Lord your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the Lord your God has forbidden. 24 For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.


25 After you have had children and grandchildren and have lived in the land a long time—if you then become corrupt and make any kind of idol, doing evil in the eyes of the Lord your God and arousing his anger, 26 I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you this day that you will quickly perish from the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess. You will not live there long but will certainly be destroyed. 27 The Lord will scatter you among the peoples, and only a few of you will survive among the nations to which the Lord will drive you. 28 There you will worship man-made gods of wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or eat or smell. 29 But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. 30 When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the Lord your God and obey him. 31 For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors, which he confirmed to them by oath.


Here in this passage, God was not excusing the other nations for their idol worship. He was saying that their judgment will come in due time, His timing. However, for Israel, His people, who knew His laws, the judgment would be swift and complete because they knew His laws. They were without excuse. We must remember that idol worship was more than worshiping lifeless statues but it was also a commitment to other evil qualities as well such as murder, prostitution, homosexuality, child sacrifice, cruelty in war, and so on. When nature is worshiped or celestial bodies are worshiped or wooden figures or bronze statues or you name it and there is no references or reverence to the one true God who made such things, we have created idol worship. Because God had so clearly revealed Himself in Israel’s history, the Israelites had no excuse for worshiping anything other than God himself. Have you ever broken with God’s Word and chased after a desire of yours that was wrong but you did it anyway?


When we chase after that which is not of God and we know it, we can expect swift and complete judgment from God. We know better than those who are far from God. Just as I knew better. I knew that the rule was to keep my room spotless when I lived at home. I knew the rule. I could make up excuses that I was too busy but the bottom line is that rule was there and I needed to not flaunt my disobedience before my dad. He would repay my disobedience with punishment.


How are you rebelling against God today? What are the ways of God that you know that you are disobeying but that you are justifying? Is there a pet sin that you are harboring that you know is against God’s Word but you are doing it anyway? Are you justifying it as OK because your Father in heaven is just old-fashioned or is just trying to keep you under His thumb? Judgment is certain for those who know the Law and break it.


Let us examine ourselves against the measure of God’s Word. Where are we violating God’s commands? Let us take these things to the Lord in repentance and return to His ways. Let us seek forgiveness for these harbored sins through the grace of the only one who can take our judgment upon Himself – Jesus Christ. Let us repent of our sins. Judgment will come if we do not. Just like the web of tied up clothing all through my room when I was a teenager. That was my judgment for disobeying the rules of my Father. God does not make rules for us just to keep us from doing what we want. He gives us rules so that we can live in peace, joy and live in an orderly fashion. God does not want chaos for us. He wants us to obey Him because He is a Father who knows what is best for us.


Amen and Amen.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s