The Covenant Renewed in Moab
1 These are the words of the covenant which the LORD commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant which He made with them in Horeb.
2 Now Moses called all Israel and said to them: "You have seen all that the LORD did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land"Ãƒ"€šÃ‚" 3 the great trials which your eyes have seen, the signs, and those great wonders. 4 Yet the LORD has not given you a heart to perceive and eyes to see and ears to hear, to this very day. 5 And I have led you forty years in the wilderness. Your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandals have not worn out on your feet. 6 You have not eaten bread, nor have you drunk wine or similar drink, that you may know that I am the LORD your God. 7 And when you came to this place, Sihon king of Heshbon and Og king of Bashan came out against us to battle, and we conquered them. 8 We took their land and gave it as an inheritance to the Reubenites, to the Gadites, and to half the tribe of Manasseh. 9 Therefore keep the words of this covenant, and do them, that you may prosper in all that you do.
10 "All of you stand today before the LORD your God: your leaders and your tribes and your elders and your officers, all the men of Israel, 11 your little ones and your wives"Ãƒ"€šÃ‚"also the stranger who is in your camp, from the one who cuts your wood to the one who draws your water"Ãƒ"€šÃ‚" 12 that you may enter into covenant with the LORD your God, and into His oath, which the LORD your God makes with you today, 13 that He may establish you today as a people for Himself, and that He may be God to you, just as He has spoken to you, and just as He has sworn to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
14 "I make this covenant and this oath, not with you alone, 15 but with him who stands here with us today before the LORD our God, as well as with him who is not here with us today 16 (for you know that we dwelt in the land of Egypt and that we came through the nations which you passed by, 17 and you saw their abominations and their idols which were among them"Ãƒ"€šÃ‚"wood and stone and silver and gold); 18 so that there may not be among you man or woman or family or tribe, whose heart turns away today from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations, and that there may not be among you a root bearing bitterness or wormwood; 19 and so it may not happen, when he hears the words of this curse, that he blesses himself in his heart, saying, "I shall have peace, even though I follow the dictates of my heart'"Ãƒ"€šÃ‚"as though the drunkard could be included with the sober.
20 "The LORD would not spare him; for then the anger of the LORD and His jealousy would burn against that man, and every curse that is written in this book would settle on him, and the LORD would blot out his name from under heaven. 21 And the LORD would separate him from all the tribes of Israel for adversity, according to all the curses of the covenant that are written in this Book of the Law, 22 so that the coming generation of your children who rise up after you, and the foreigner who comes from a far land, would say, when they see the plagues of that land and the sicknesses which the LORD has laid on it:
23 "The whole land is brimstone, salt, and burning; it is not sown, nor does it bear, nor does any grass grow there, like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, which the LORD overthrew in His anger and His wrath.' 24 All nations would say, "Why has the LORD done so to this land? What does the heat of this great anger mean?' 25 Then people would say: "Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD God of their fathers, which He made with them when He brought them out of the land of Egypt; 26 for they went and served other gods and worshiped them, gods that they did not know and that He had not given to them. 27 Then the anger of the LORD was aroused against this land, to bring on it every curse that is written in this book. 28 And the LORD uprooted them from their land in anger, in wrath, and in great indignation, and cast them into another land, as it is this day.'
29 "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
The Blessing of Returning to God
1 "Now it shall come to pass, when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the LORD your God drives you, 2 and you return to the LORD your God and obey His voice, according to all that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul, 3 that the LORD your God will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the nations where the LORD your God has scattered you. 4 If any of you are driven out to the farthest parts under heaven, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you. 5 Then the LORD your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it. He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers. 6 And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.
7 "Also the LORD your God will put all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you. 8 And you will again obey the voice of the LORD and do all His commandments which I command you today. 9 The LORD your God will make you abound in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your land for good. For the LORD will again rejoice over you for good as He rejoiced over your fathers, 10 if you obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this Book of the Law, and if you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
The Choice of Life or Death
11 "For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, "Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' 13 Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, "Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' 14 But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.
15 "See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, 16 in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. 17 But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, 18 I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess. 19 I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; 20 that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them."Ãƒ"€šÃ‚"
A Way Back to God
30:6 And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.
The covenant agreement that God offered Israel provides an amazing portrayal of the full extent of sin- impact upon the human race. It also portrays the amazing grace of God. Every imaginable blessing is promised by God as a gracious response to His people as they did the right thing.
The fact is: God is under no obligation to give to us anything simply because we do the right thing any more than a policeman is under obligation to pay money to drivers who obey traffic laws. But God promises to prosper all that we do as His people if we keep the wisdom of His Word (29:9). And God- grace is revealed even further. When God- people turn their back on His Word, worship idols, and commits countless forms of sin against Him, there still is an offer of hope. If they repent, He will not only forgive"Ãƒ"€šÃ‚"He will restore the blessings they have lost.
And He promises not only restoration but also to provide divine help to turn our rebellious hearts toward Him. To help us love Him. He will "circumcise"Ãƒ"€šÃ‚" our hearts to love Him (30:6). Added to this, He also promises to write His Word upon our hearts.
It is this amazing backdrop of God- gracious love draws our sinful hearts back to God that makes His love so real. Today make it your aim to honestly face anything that would draw you away from Him. Come to Him and stay with Him who promises to cover you and to enable you to abound in all that you do (30:9).
The Covenant Renewed in Moab
v. 1 In The Land Of Moab-The first part of this chapter contains a summary of the events which led to God- deliverance of Israel from Egypt, followed by the events which led up to the children of Israel finding themselves at Moab, ready to enter the Promised Land.
v. 4 The Lord Has Not Given You-The children of Israel had seen all of the miracles which God performed to deliver them from Egypt, and supply them with water from a rock and manna from the sky, yet they had not discerned with their hearts the power, faithfulness, and goodness of God. They refused to believe His promises and enter into the Promised Land, not trusting that He would provide the victory for them to displace their enemies and take the Land. The difficulty with this verse, however, is that it sounds as if it was God- fault that they were not given the heart to discern all that He has done. Some commentators rather read this verse as a question, as in, "has God not given you a heart to perceive and eyes to see and ears to hear?"Ãƒ"€šÃ‚" If this reading were correct, it would place the burden on Israel to utilize the hearts, eyes, and ears that God had given them, and serve as a rebuke when they did not. Others infer from this verse that God wanted to bless them with hearts that could perceive Him and His ways, but that He was not able because they had grieved His Spirit so repeatedly that He could no longer speak to them. However one reads this verse, it is clear to us from the entirety of God- Word that He desires to give us spiritual eyes, ears, and hearts that can perceive His ways, but that He is also bound by the condition and desires of our hearts.
v. 7 Sihon King Of Heshbon And Og King Of Bashan-Sihon means "fierce and tempestuous,"Ãƒ"€šÃ‚" and Og means "man of gigantic stature."Ãƒ"€šÃ‚" These were representative of the ferocity of the opposition that Israel faced on their way to the Promised Land, and the faithfulness of God in delivering them and giving them the victory.
v. 8 The Reubenites, Gadites, And Half The Tribe Of Manasseh-The lands of Jazer, Gilead, and Bashan were given to the two and a half tribes that chose to remain and settle on the far side of the Jordan rather than crossing over and dwelling in the Promised Land. See Numbers 32 for their story.
v. 11 The One Who Cuts Your Wood To The One Who Draws Your Water-A reference to the class of aliens who lived amongst the Israelites; to whom were assigned the menial tasks of servanthood. Joshua 9:21-27 tells the story of many of them. It is noteworthy here that God desires to make a personal covenant with them as much as with natural Israel, as He "desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth"Ãƒ"€šÃ‚" (1 Tim. 2:4).
v. 17 Abominations-A word meaning "filthy or detestable things;"Ãƒ"€šÃ‚" signifying the idols held in esteem by the pagans which the Israelites traveled past on their way to the Promised Land. The word is also translated as "dung"Ãƒ"€šÃ‚" in other places, and the false gods of idolaters were known as "dunghill gods"Ãƒ"€šÃ‚" by the Israelites. This is not only because they represented false gods, but also because many of those idols represented detestable practices such as human sacrifice, including the burning of live babies.
v. 18 Root Bearing Bitterness Or Wormwood-Both speak of bitterness, either in interpersonal relationships or in a condition of intense, continual regret over one- actions. It is also possible to become bitter against the Lord or His commands, as is implied here. The word "bitterness"Ãƒ"€šÃ‚" is also translated "hemlock"Ãƒ"€šÃ‚" in other places, which was a plant which bore an unusually tenacious root system that was a continual source of trouble for Israel agriculturally. If a hemlock root was allowed to grow without being removed, it eventually became nearly impossible to remove and was extremely invasive, threatening to overtake a vineyard or field. It was also a poisonous plant. God uses that descriptive term here because that is also the nature of bitterness in a human heart, and that is why we are exhorted in Hebrews 12:15 to make sure that a root of bitterness is never allowed to start growing in us without being confronted and removed.
v. 19 That He Blesses Himself In His Heart-It is very dangerous to hear the Word of God and learn of the destruction that is caused by sin and rebellion, but then to harden one- heart and think that we can still be blessed even if we knowingly disobey the Lord.
v. 20 His Jealousy-The Lord is described in His Word as a "jealous God"Ãƒ"€šÃ‚" (Ex. 20:5, 2 Cor. 11:2). The word "jealous"Ãƒ"€šÃ‚" comes from the same root word as "zeal,"Ãƒ"€šÃ‚" meaning an intense desire for someone or something. God- jealousy is not to be confused with our sinful jealousy, as He is always focused on our good, and because His jealousy is only aroused because He desires to have us for Himself, rather than share our affections with those forces that seek to destroy us.
The Lord Shall Blot Out His Name From Under Heaven-He would have no posterity, nor would he have a name in Heaven, nor in Israel, nor among any of the people of God. It would be as if he never existed, because he would, in effect, be excommunicated from all of the remembrance of God- blessed people.
v. 22 So That-The purpose of God- intense acts of chastening described in this section was that future generations would see and learn from the disasters brought upon previous generations for their rebellion. The Lord is always interested in using us to teach future generations, and if necessary our calamity can at least be turned into a blessing for them if they look at us and see the destructive fruits of our backsliding. The emphasis of this whole section, though, is that God would much rather use us as examples of blessing and prosperity than of cursing. That is why He so carefully lays out these principles for them here in these chapters, making sure they understand the consequences of obedience and rebellion.
v. 23 Brimstone-A word which most likely refers to "sulfur,"Ãƒ"€šÃ‚" a mineral often left over after a great fire, and found in particular abundance at the base of many volcanoes. Sulfur, or brimstone, is also plenteous at the borders of the Dead Sea, which many historians feel may be the former site of Sodom and Gomorrah. It is usually associated in the Bible with the judgment of God. Admah and Zeboiim were cities also located near the South end of the Dead Sea, near Sodom.
v. 29 That We May Do All The Words Of This Law-This is a powerful verse which emphasizes our ability to understand and perform all that God commands us to do in His Word. There are things which are secret, described as the counsels of the Lord in areas of scripture such as Romans 11:33, which we cannot and will not understand until we get to Heaven. However, there are many other things that God has told us plainly, which are for the most part easily understood and can be followed. It is those things that we are held accountable before God to do, and that we need to keep in our focus as His people. It has been said that God- commands are His enablements. In other words, God has never asked us to do something that He will not give us the grace to perform. Here in this verse, the Spirit of God through Moses is emphasizing that God has not asked the children of Israel to do anything that is too hard for them; and that if they believe God and desire His blessing upon their lives and their nation, they will obey the commands which they have agreed to in the covenant which they were making on that day.
The Blessing of Returning to God
v. 1 It Shall Come to Pass-This statement demonstrates that everything which God has spoken to Israel through Moses has been prophetic. God knows that they will follow Him for a short time and experience the blessings which He has promised them in the past few chapters of Deuteronomy, but He also knows that they will disobey and break His commandments, and that they will experience the curses as well. They will experience a time of captivity, as discussed in Chapters 28 and 29, and then they will return to the Lord and be gathered from everywhere that the Lord had scattered them. Therefore, the first part of this chapter is meant to encourage them again with the promised blessings of returning to God.
You Call Them To Mind-The first step in returning to the Lord as a nation will take place when they begin to remember that they are in captivity because of their backsliding and rebellion against God.
v. 2 You Return-The second step in their restoration will be that they repent of their disobedience and choose to walk in His precepts once again. This is the essence of repentance: to experience a change of heart about sin, and to actively turn from it and pursue the Lord by walking in the right direction (2 Cor. 7:9-11).
v. 3 The Lord Will Bring You Back From Captivity-The Lord promises that when Israel repents, He will move into action on their behalf and take steps of restoration, just as they had taken steps to be restored unto Him. The first action He promises to take is to bring them out of captivity and back into the land He had given them. This can be understood both in a physical and a spiritual sense. They will be brought out of the physical, emotional, and spiritual ramifications of their backsliding and returned to a place of fruitfulness and relationship with the Lord.
v. 4 To The Farthest Parts Under Heaven-During the various captivities and exiles of the Jews, many of them were driven to the farthest parts of the known world, including what is known today as Great Britain. However, no place on earth is out from under the watchful gaze of God, and He promises that no matter how far they are driven, He will bring them back to Israel again.
v. 5 He Will Prosper You And Multiply You More Than Your Fathers-These prophecies and promises will ultimately be fulfilled at the Second Coming of Jesus, when He will gather all of Israel from every nation back into the Promised Land once again, and will rule and reign the earth from Jerusalem. The land of Israel and the Jews will then be the central focus for all the world- activities, mainly because Jesus the Messiah will be there on the throne. Hosea 1:10 also tells of how God will cause them to multiply as the sand of the sea, as is promised here.
v. 6 Circumcise Your Heart-Circumcision was always meant to be an outward picture of an inward reality. The cutting away of the flesh represented the fact that God was dealing with the fleshly tendencies of the heart which is submitted to Him in spirit and in truth. Prophetically, when Israel enters into her New Covenant relationship with God (Jer. 31:31), God will fill all of them with His Spirit, and change their hearts from stone to flesh (Eze. 36:26-27). All of them and their children will then find a new strength and ability to serve and follow the Lord, and Israel will never again backslide away from God in rebellion.
v. 7 The Lord Will Put All These Curses On Your Enemies-Descriptions of this event can be found in the passages that deal with the Millennium (the 1,000 year reign of Jesus on earth from Jerusalem), such as Zechariah 14:16-21. Also, this may be applied to the future time in which the wrath of God will be poured out on the earth, as well as at Armageddon (Rev. 19:11-21) and the final rebellion against Jesus after the Millennium (Rev. 20:9-10). When Israel receives Jesus at His Second Coming, those nations which still hate her and which will attempt to make war against her will be subject to the fury of God- vengeance.
v. 9 Will Make You Abound-Descriptions of this time are again found in all of the Old Testament prophecies surrounding the 1,000 year rule of Jesus from Jerusalem. See Zechariah 14:6-9; Ezekiel 47:1-9; Zechariah 8:3-12; Isaiah 11:6-10; Isaiah 65:19-23; and Micah 4:1-4, among others.
The Lord Will Again Rejoice Over You-The desire of the Lord is to take joy in His people, and in fact He rejoices over the same things that make us rejoice. All of the descriptions of the Millennium are a cause for hope and rejoicing, as the earth will be returned to a perfect state, most likely resembling the conditions of the earth before the fall of man in Genesis 3. Here, God says that if those things cause us to rejoice, they cause Him to rejoice even more, because He rejoices to bless humanity. Zephaniah 3:17 even says that God will rejoice over His people with singing on that day.
v. 11 This Commandment Is Not Too Mysterious For You, Nor Is It Far Off-Another reminder that none of the commands of God in Deuteronomy are too difficult to understand or too hard for God- people to keep. First John 5:3 tells us that the commands of the Lord should not be burdensome to us, because we know that they are for our good. Moses is once again reminding the children of Israel here that not only can they keep God- commands if they choose to, but that they should keep them if they believe the Lord- promises and understand that He is for them, not against them.
v. 12 It Is Not In Heaven-The words of this book were formed in Heaven, and sent from Heaven, but they were delivered to His people on earth in a way that they could comprehend and follow if they chose. Moses is again reminding the children of Israel here that the commands of God have been spoken very clearly, and are able to be understood and obeyed. Paul quotes these verses in Romans 10:6-13 to demonstrate that the way of salvation was always through God- grace and by our faith.
v. 15 I Have Set Before You Life And Good, And Death And Evil-Moses is setting before them the very real choice which they were being given: to either obey or disobey the commands of God. The prospect of our free choice as humans is staggering, and yet it is presented to us as reality all through the Bible, starting in Genesis 2 with the introduction of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. From Genesis on, the Scriptures paint for us the picture of a God who has created humanity with the absolute free will to choose its own paths. And the consequences of obeying or disobeying the Word of God have always been life and good, or death and evil.
v. 16 I Command You This Day To Love The Lord Your God-The next amazing revelation in this progression is that, in the midst of our free will, the highest option we can choose is to love the Lord our God. Moses is not attempting to force the people to love God as much as he is revealing that if they desire to experience life and good over death and evil, the path that leads to that end is a love relationship with God. If we love God with all of our hearts, minds, souls, and strength we will find the ability that comes from Him to keep His commands, and they will lead us to life. God desires a love relationship with humanity above all else, and that is why He gives us free will in the first place. Love cannot be forced or coerced; it must be chosen, and so free will is necessary. There must also be a genuine decision made, and so there must be more than one option to choose from. Here, God is appealing to His people Israel to choose Him, and then to choose to obey His commands, which are for their good and which lead to life.
v. 19 I Call Heaven And Earth As Witness This Day Against You-Most likely, Moses is referring to the inhabitants of Heaven and earth who are viewing this ceremony and the vow that Israel is taking to God. Both the people standing there that day on earth, and the angels who are watching from Heaven have seen and will bear witness that God has spoken to Israel in plain words, and that Israel has agreed to live or die by God- standards.
v. 20 Cleave Unto Him-The word cleave means to become one with. It is used in Genesis 2:24 to speak of a husband and wife becoming one in the sacrament of marriage, and also in Deuteronomy 28:21 to describe how a disease can enter into the system of a person and actually become part of them. This is the level of relationship God desires to have with us as His people. He desires an intimacy with us so great that we become one with Him and He with us. In John 6:35-58, Jesus describes Himself as the Bread of Life, and intimates that we must eat and drink of Him in order to have eternal life. This eating and drinking is a symbol of He Himself being invited to enter into us and become one with us on the deepest, most intimate level possible. Also see John 17:21-23 to read more about Jesus' desires for us.