Read Deuteronomy 29
Renewal of the Covenant
29 These are the terms of the covenant the Lord commanded Moses to make with the Israelites in Moab, in addition to the covenant he had made with them at Horeb.
2 Moses summoned all the Israelites and said to them:
Your eyes have seen all that the Lord did in Egypt to Pharaoh, to all his officials and to all his land. 3 With your own eyes you saw those great trials, those signs and great wonders. 4 But to this day the Lord has not given you a mind that understands or eyes that see or ears that hear. 5 Yet the Lordsays, “During the forty years that I led you through the wilderness, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet. 6 You ate no bread and drank no wine or other fermented drink. I did this so that you might know that I am the Lord your God.”
7 When you reached this place, Sihon king of Heshbon and Og king of Bashan came out to fight against us, but we defeated them. 8 We took their land and gave it as an inheritance to the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh.
9 Carefully follow the terms of this covenant, so that you may prosper in everything you do. 10 All of you are standing today in the presence of the Lord your God—your leaders and chief men, your elders and officials, and all the other men of Israel, 11 together with your children and your wives, and the foreigners living in your camps who chop your wood and carry your water. 12 You are standing here in order to enter into a covenant with the Lord your God, a covenant the Lord is making with you this day and sealing with an oath, 13 to confirm you this day as his people, that he may be your God as he promised you and as he swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 14 I am making this covenant, with its oath, not only with you15 who are standing here with us today in the presence of the Lord our God but also with those who are not here today.
16 You yourselves know how we lived in Egypt and how we passed through the countries on the way here. 17 You saw among them their detestable images and idols of wood and stone, of silver and gold. 18 Make sure there is no man or woman, clan or tribe among you today whose heart turns away from the Lord our God to go and worship the gods of those nations; make sure there is no root among you that produces such bitter poison.
19 When such a person hears the words of this oath and they invoke a blessing on themselves, thinking, “I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way,” they will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry. 20 The Lord will never be willing to forgive them; his wrath and zealwill burn against them. All the curses written in this book will fall on them, and the Lord will blot out their names from under heaven. 21 The Lord will single them out from all the tribes of Israel for disaster, according to all the curses of the covenant written in this Book of the Law.
22 Your children who follow you in later generations and foreigners who come from distant lands will see the calamities that have fallen on the land and the diseases with which the Lord has afflicted it. 23 The whole land will be a burning waste of salt and sulfur—nothing planted, nothing sprouting, no vegetation growing on it. It will be like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboyim, which the Lord overthrew in fierce anger.24 All the nations will ask: “Why has the Lord done this to this land? Why this fierce, burning anger?”
25 And the answer will be: “It is because this people abandoned the covenant of the Lord, the God of their ancestors, the covenant he made with them when he brought them out of Egypt. 26 They went off and worshiped other gods and bowed down to them, gods they did not know, gods he had not given them. 27 Therefore the Lord’s anger burned against this land, so that he brought on it all the curses written in this book. 28 In furious anger and in great wrath the Lord uprooted them from their land and thrust them into another land, as it is now.”
29 The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.
Verse 2 of Deuteronomy 29 begins a new literary section that continues in chapter 30. This section is a historical review, commonly called an epilogue, that looks back to God’s faithfulness and looks forward to the possible outcomes of either obedience or disobedience of the Law.
Matthew 11:20 says, “Then Jesus began to denounce the towns in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent.” Here, Jesus echoes the words of Moses in verses 3-4 of Deuteronomy 29. A common misbelief of our day is that if God would do more miracles, then evangelism would be more fruitful. The Bible shows us that disciples are not made only when people witness the supernatural, but when God gives new eyes, ears, and hearts to people so that they may know Christ and understand His grace (Ephesians 1:17-18).
This chapter also outlines the severity of the punishments of abandoning the Law. Verses 22-29 are perhaps the most concentrated expression of God’s wrath in all of Scripture, with six different words for anger used. The strong language used in these verses teach us an important lesson about Israel’s relationship with the Lord. God wants His people to worship Him alone—not the false idols prevalent in the culture. He doesn’t want them to hear His promise and say, “I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way” (v. 19). If God’s people denounce Him and refuse to follow His commands, the “curses of the covenant” will fall on them (v. 21). One of the greatest consequences to idol worship and disobedience of the Mosaic Covenant is that Israel would lose possession of the Promised Land. We see this through the exiles, Roman occupation, and the eventual destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
Romans 3:19 says, “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law.” Through the New Covenant brought to us by Jesus, God offers Himself to receive this wrath, thus fulfilling the Law. Because of Jesus, the warnings for unfaithfulness in this chapter do not apply to us, but the truth is still relevant to our lives. Once we place our belief in Jesus as Lord and Savior, God does not want us to abuse His grace by continuing to willfully live in sin. Romans 6:1-2 explains, “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” The Israelites were motivated to follow the Law because of their fear of the Lord. Today, because Jesus fulfilled the Law for us, God’s grace offers us salvation we can’t earn. His grace also motivates us to say no to sin (Titus 2:11-12). God wants our obedience to come from our hearts of love for Him. May the grace and unconditional love of God motivate us to walk in faithfulness and obedience today.
- Consider who in your life needs eyes to see the truth about Jesus? Take a moment to pray for them by name, asking God to reveal the truth of the gospel to them.
- Why do you think God cares so much if His people worship false gods?
- Read Titus 2:11-14. How does God’s grace teach us to say “no” to ungodliness and worldly passions? What does this passage teach us about the heart of God?
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