Nav Menu

Author: Ron Graham

Upholding Law

Don't Add To or Take From
—the word of God

There are certain solemn warnings at the beginning, middle, and end of the Bible. They warn against adding to the word of God or taking away from it.

When we consider these three "signposts" in our Bibles, it can come as quite a shock to see how much digression there has been from God's word and God’s way.

1 At the Beginning of the Bible.

Deuteronomy 4:2 NKJV

"You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you."

As the Israelites were about to enter the promised land (a great turning point in history) Moses gave them this warning not to add to, or take from, God's word. Instead they were to "keep" his word and not change it. They were to obey his commandments just as he had given them through Moses.

The LORD had reason to mention this because people had been changing his word since creation.

Cain and Noah

For example Cain offered vegetables as a sacrifice to God. He took away the proper sacrifice and added a sacrifice of his own devising (Genesis 4:1-7).

Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD because Noah did not change the word of God. "Thus did Noah: according to all that God commanded him, so he did" (Genesis 6:8,22).

Moses and Aaron

Moses himself changed the word of God. Moses was told how to provide water for the people to drink in Kadesh. Moses and his brother Aaron were told to"speak to the rock before the congregation's eyes, and it will yield its water". Instead Moses struck the rock twice with his rod (Numbers 20:1-12).

Moses was denied entry into the promised land because he used his rod as he had previously done in Rephidim (Exodus 17:5-6). In Kadesh however, he was not authorised to do that. So he erred in taking away God's word, "speak to the rock" and adding instead "strike the rock" (Numbers 20:11).

Nadab and Abihu

Even the sons of Aaron who were priests changed God's word. They used fire in their sacrifices which was "strange fire", not the sacred fire God commanded. They took away from God's word and added instead what was not commanded. As a result, Nadab and Abihu "died in the presence of the LORD when they offered unauthorized fire before the LORD in the Wilderness of Sinai" (Numbers 3-4)

2 In the Middle of the Bible

Proverbs 30:5-6 NKJV

"Do not add to [God’s pure] words, Lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar."

Solomon, the son of David, and the third king of Israel, collected those words attributed to Agur the son of Jakeh (Proverbs 1:1, 30:1). However, Solomon did not abide in those words.

David and Solomon

David and Solomon established a glorious kingdom. However, Solomon spoiled it all by his many departures from the word of God. For example, he took away God's ban on intermarriage with foreigners, and he added other gods to his worship instead of loving only the LORD God of Israel (1Kings 11:1-8).

Solomon "did not keep what the LORD had commanded" As a result of this, the kingdom was to be divided (1Kings 11:9-12).

Elijah and Elisha

The kings that ruled after Solomon mostly departed from God’s word, although there were some good kings. There were prophets who preached and obeyed the word of the LORD. Among these were Elijah and his disciple Elisha.

Typical of their ways is this simple comment on Elijah: "So he went and did according to the word of the LORD..." (1Kings 17:5). Elijah and Elisha did not add to God’s word or take from it. They just went and did it.

3 At the End of the Bible

Revelation 22:18-19 NASB

"I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."

In the fullness of time Christ came and after his death, resurrection, and ascension, he established his kingdom of heaven. One of his disciples, John, wrote the book of Revelation, concluding it with the warning quoted above.

Jesus and John

At the beginning of John’s book we are told that John wrote the word that God gave to Jesus, and Jesus gave to his angel, and the angel gave to John, and John gives to us.(Revelation 1:1-3)

Neither Jesus, nor the angel, nor John, added anything to the word they were given. Neither did they take anything from it. It has come to us just as it was given to Jesus.

Jesus said, "I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak" (John 8:28, 12:49-50 NKJV).


Webservant Ron Graham

Copyright on print