Do not add to or subtract from these commands I am giving you. Just obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you (v.2).
Kim Peek, the megasavant who inspired the film Rain Man, once went to a performance of a Shakespearean play. As the performance was ending, Peek stood up and shouted, “You’ve got to stop it, stop it, stop it.” Why? An actor had skipped the second to last verse of the play. The actor apologized and said, “The verses are so much alike, I didn’t think it would matter.” Peek is quoted as saying, “It mattered to Shakespeare, and it should matter to you.”
Similar to Peek warning an actor of the dangers of abridging and tampering with Shakespeare’s words, Moses warned Israel of the danger of amending God’s Word (Deuteronomy 4:2). Because of God’s mercy, faithfulness, and judgment in their recent history, God reminded them of the importance of listening to and unconditionally obeying His Word. If they were obedient, they would continue to enjoy the blessings of life and land (vv.1,4). If they disobeyed, however, God would discipline them like He had done at Baal-Peor (v.3).
Thus, their very lives depended on obeying God’s Word. It was vital for them to pursue lives of faithfulness to God, especially by not amending any part of His instruction. Every command and regulation mattered to God, and it should matter to His people. Even the apostle John reminded the people in his day of the dangers of amending God’s Word (Revelation 22:18).
Tampering with God’s Word was a serious issue to Moses and John, who sought to follow God in obedience. Now, as followers of Jesus, we don’t worship the Bible; we worship the God of the Bible. We can demonstrate our faithfulness to God by handling His Word with care and great respect, and by listening to and obeying it. To reverence God’s Word is to reverence God Himself. No tampering allowed.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is God’s Word to you? What does this say about your view of God?