In this Torah section, Moses rehearses the encounter between God and Israel at Mt. Sinai. Here we learn about the intent of God concerning the commandments. If Israel obeyed His commandments it would make them “wise”. They would prosper and live long lives in the land that He was giving to them.
“You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that) you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” (Deuteronomy 4:2)
It appears to me that both Israel and the Church have ignored this commandment. In Israel, the Oral Tradition evolved as an interpretative body of work of the commandments. This was eventually written in the form of the Mishnah. Commentaries were added to the Mishnah to form the Talmud. For all practical purposes, these added to the commandments by being more restrictive than the original commandments.
In Christianity, it is acceptable to simply ignore any commandment which does not fit into Christian theology. One of the best examples of this is Shabbat. The Shabbat as well as others of the Lord’s festivals (Leviticus 23:37) are ignored and new festivals have been developed in their place.
The commandments define a lifestyle which is pleasing to the Lord. We might call it a “Biblical Lifestyle”. In Israel this would be seen as a “Torah Lifestyle”. Christianity denies the use of the word “Torah”, so it would be called a “Biblical Lifestyle”. God declared that this is wisdom.
“So keep and do them, for that 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.’” (Deuteronomy 4:6)
In the animal kingdom, the creatures act for their own survival and well-being. This is classified as instinct. I believe what we call instinct is God speaking directly to animals. This process is confused in mankind due to the confusion introduced at the time of the fall. This confusing communication comes from the evil one who challenges every commandment given by God. The Torah becomes our “instinct”. As we live lives in the pattern of Torah, we appear to be wise because we are following the pattern defined by God consistent with His original design for human existence. There is a multiplication of knowledge today, but wisdom is a rare commodity.
At Mt. Sinai, Israel was fearful due to the awesome presence of the Lord on the mountain. Each heard God speak what we call the “ten commandments”. I believe that they each experienced the same phenomena later experienced by Elijah at this same place – the small, silent voice of the Lord. As a result, they feared for their survival and asked Moses to interact directly with the Lord on their behalf. Moses assumed the position of Messiah, effectively interacting with God on behalf of the people. He was a Messiah.
“All the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood at a distance. Then they said to Moses, ‘Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die.’” (Exodus 20:18-19)
God heard their request and declared that they had done well.
“The Lord heard the voice of your words when you spoke to me, and the Lord said to me, ‘I have heard the voice of the words of this people which they have spoken to you. They have done well in all that they have spoken.” (Deuteronomy 5:28)
Finally, one of my favorite activities is to speculate about the nature of heaven.
“And you came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire to the very heart of the heavens; darkness, cloud and thick gloom. Then the Lord spoke to you from the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of words, but you saw no form – only a voice.” (Deuteronomy 4:11-12)
“Out of the heavens He let you hear His voice to discipline you; and on earth He let you see His great fire, and you heard His words from the midst of the fire.” (Deuteronomy 4:36)
If we think of heaven as a multi-dimensional universe distinct from the space-time continuum, then this event reveals a coupling of these two universes at Mt. Sinai. Note the term, “to the very heart of heaven”. This means something like “deep within the region of heaven”. Israel experienced this at Mt. Sinai and recorded it. Please see my book “Israel – God’s Interdimensional Portal” (available at Amazon) for more development of this subject.