Deuteronomy 4:2, or “What could be wrong with a little “adding to”…?

We live in a time of incredible deception.  We have a “money system” which is called the “reserve currency” of the whole WORLD, and yet it’s a direct violation of our own Constitution (for more than one reason!)…and it’s called “abomination” by the Bible.  God’s own ordination of marriage just wasn’t good enough either, and now “civil unions” have been “added to” the definition by governments all over “the world” (in spite of the fact He calls that an “abomination” as well.)  Very few self-described “Christians” today understand how the appointed times of YHVH, which He said repeatedly were to be kept “forever” have been utterly replaced by pagan “holy days”.  But there really is “nothing new under the sun”; a great many similar “traditions of men” were condemned by our Savior almost two millenia ago.

You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of YHVH your Elohim which I command you.” Deuteronomy 4:2

“Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.” Deuteronomy 12:32

“… 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…” Revelation 22:18-19

Now, that sounds like a pretty simple, very straightforward command.  And since it is repeated several times, through multiple witnesses, He must be serious about it.  But it you read Genesis 3:3 carefully, you’ll see that it’s been an issue since the garden of Eden.  (Hint:  “nor shall we touch it” was not part of Eve’s instruction.  Perhaps it was an ad-lib, or maybe Adam was just trying to emphasize the point.  Either way, it was a “little addition” that stretched enough for the adversary to end up “driving a truck through it.”  And he has found the technique valuable ever since.)

The problem with outlining what should therefore be a simple concept in a short article is that, well, it’s too simple.  But the TECHNIQUES which have been adopted over the centuries, not to mention the examples, would fill books.  In fact, they have.  Most of “modern Xtianity” is not only full of ’em, but BUILT upon them.  As it turns out, it’s far more difficult to rationalize the evil of “adding to” His Word than it is to DO it, as the real ‘First Couple’ discovered.

Much of the post-Biblical history of ‘the Church’, from before the time of Constantine to the present, is the story of “adding to” and “subtracting from” the straightforward commandments of the Almighty.  His Pesach, or feast of “Passover” was changed — and even re-named — centuries ago to honor a pagan fertility goddess who was deified as an egg-laying bunny.

The Caesar-created, State-licensed, tax exempt 501c(3) corporate “church” position, which preaches what was once called “anti-nomianism (just a fancy word for the lie that “the law is done away with”) has elevated the practice of “adding to” His Word to a Sacrament.  While the practice was originally “sold” as a method of removing “stumbling blocks” which might deter pagans from embracing ‘the Church’ — it has ended up where such violations of His clear commandments always do.  Even most of those ‘churches’ which try to claim that it was only the “Law of Moses” which was “nailed to the cross” ** — but that the Ten Commandments still really do matter — fail to notice that they overlook the ones about making “graven images” and “keep the Sabbath”.

After all, it sounds just so much more “enlightened” to say that the “Law” has been done away with, rather than to make the obviously absurd claim that His “teaching and instruction” no longer applies…as if man was now “too good” for what God might have to teach us!

We’re now “above the Law”.  Oops – sorry; wrong lie.  That one only applies to politicians, armed gangs, and our course Executives of Too Big To Fail Banks.  We are “Not under the Law”.  Now THERE’s a big “addition to” what is actually Written!
Read Matthew 23.  Why did our Savior call the Pharisees “hypocrites”?  (and He wasn’t ‘polite’ about it, either!)  They had made a living from the practice of “adding to” the “torah” (calling it “Law”, or halachah, or the ‘traditions of the elders’) and were without excuse — because they should have known better!

So much more has been written by “scholars” and “church fathers” about Shaul’s (Paul’s) observation that “salvation” is a free gift, which cannot be earned by fallen man, than about our Savior’s relatively simple summary of what that means we should actually DO about it:
If you love Me, keep My commands.” (John 14:15)

Which ones?  How about all of ’em; the ones that He thought were important enough to Write down for us, teach “with authority”, and tell us would not change so long as “heaven and earth” still exist (Matthew 5:17-19).

The key is to make the Big Lie as easy as possible to sell.  But it is still rebellion to Him, regardless of what those who try to “wrest Paul” might claim.  (II Peter 3:15-16)  And the consequences have not changed, either.

“…if you will hear the voice of YHVH your Elohim, to observe and do all that I command you…all these…blessings will come upon you…
but if you wlll not obey the voice of YHVH your Elohim, to observe and do all His commandments and His statutes…then all these curses shall come upon you and overcome you…” (Deuteronomy 28)

Those of us who are led to teach are perhaps particularly vulnerable to the trap.  Perhaps the ideal teaching method is to quote Scripture and ultimately encourage folks, as Acts 17:11 outlines, to be like the Bereans and search out the Truth for ourselves.  But the obvious temptation to go beyond an “explanation” for what a text might mean, and suggest new “commandments” of our own is doubtless an element of how “traditions” end up becoming “doctrines”.

Whether it is changing His “teaching and instruction” about what is “food” – and what is NOT — or of marriage, or rewriting how we are to deal honestly with our neighbors, or His appointed times, or how we are to worship Him, the end result is the same:  curses are the penalty for rebellion.

It starts so easily, so simply…and for such arguably wonderful intentions.  “There is a way that seems right to a man…but the end thereof is death.” When He admonishes us not to “add to” or “subtract from” the Word He has given us, there is a very good reason.

Note:  This article was originally published in the August issue of the newsletter for Crucified Life Ministries, at
**   Read what Paul ACTUALLY wrote, sometime, in Colossians 2:14 — with a concordance if necessary.  It was not, in fact, the “Law”, or “ordinances” which were nailed to the execution stake, but the ‘handwriting against us’; the indictment, in modern parlance, for the crime of rebellion to His Word.  Think of the situation this way:  when a court — or our loving Father — drops the charges for a crime against Him, should we go out and commit rebellion again?  Paul has already answered the question, in Romans:  “God forbid!”

About mark

Semi-retired electronic engineer, turned author and lecturer; occasional radio talk show host, and motivated Torah/Bible teacher. Also an avid private pilot (Private, ASEL, Inst), radio amateur, scuba diver, and aspiring sailor.
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5 Responses to Deuteronomy 4:2, or “What could be wrong with a little “adding to”…?

  1. Ester says:

    Shalom Mark!
    One question-shouldn’t shabbat be inclusive as meod/appointed set-apart times, as under the sign of the moon, according to Gen 1:14, as the
    sign of the sun and moon are for DAYS specifically?
    Only the moon has phases of 7 days, amazingly, giving us a clear guide to shabbat days, surely?
    Your thoughts on this? Thank you,

  2. Mark says:

    I’m not sure if I understand your question, Ester, unless you are asking what I think about the so-called “lunar Sabbath”…

    If so, I certainly have been exposed to those who get quite worked up over the issue, and seen a host of such arguments “from Scripture”. I would have to say that I do not find them compelling, given several obvious observations:

    YHVH said ‘the seventh day’, and both Scripture and even history seem to record that this cycle has reliably persisted. And I can’t help but note that our Savior made a LOT of comments about the Sabbath, and roundly criticized the Pharisees as “hypocrites!” for having taken it upon themselves to “add to” His commandments about it. But He made it His “habit” or regular practice to teach on Sabbath, often at the Temple or other gatherings, and NEVER ONCE told them they had the day wrong.

    Ultimately I’d have to say that the ‘lunar Sabbath’ argument fails the “burden of proof” test.


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