Deuteronomy 29 – Renewal of the Covenant
A. God’s mighty works for Israel.
1. (1) The covenant in the land of Moab.
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.
a. These are the words of the covenant: Some 40 years before this, at Horeb (Mount Sinai), Israel made a covenant with God: Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the LORD has said we will do, and be obedient.” And Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people, and said, “This is the blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you according to all these words.” (Exodus 24:7-8)
b. Besides the covenant which He made with them in Horeb: For the most part, the people who had the blood of the covenant sprinkled upon them had died in the wilderness. The generation of unbelief had died, now it was an opportunity for the generation of faith. So, Moses will reconfirm the covenant with the new generation.
2. (2-4) Israel saw wonders, but they did not see them.
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; the great trials which your eyes have seen, the signs, and those great wonders. Yet the LORD has not given you a heart to perceive and eyes to see and ears to hear, to this very day.
a. You have seen all that the LORD did before your eyes: Israel saw great wonders from the hand of God since coming from Egypt. They saw the plagues, they saw the death of the firstborn, they saw the Red Sea parted, they saw the Egyptian armies destroyed, they saw victories won by prayer, they ate the manna, they drank the miraculously provided water, and they saw miracle after miracle.
b. Yet the LORD has not given you a heart to perceive: The miracles in and of themselves could not accomplish anything in the heart of Israel. If God did not send His Spirit to change their hearts, then the greatest wonder imaginable would not make a difference.
i. Some people today think the greatest help to evangelism would be to see more miraculous events. After all, who could not believe in the face of such displays of spiritual power? But seeing great wonders accomplishes nothing apart from a supernatural work of God in someone’s heart.
3. (5-9) God’s great works for Israel in the wilderness.
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. You have not eaten bread, nor have you drunk wine or similar drink, that you may know that I am the LORD your God. 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. We took their land and gave it as an inheritance to the Reubenites, to the Gadites, and to half the tribe of Manasseh. Therefore keep the words of this covenant, and do them, that you may prosper in all that you do.
a. And I have led you forty years in the wilderness: During their forty years in the wilderness, their clothes did not wear our, their sandals did not wear out, and though they had no bread to eat or wine to drink, their needs were provided for. Israel conquered over their enemies, and they took their land.
i. Plainly, these are remarkable miracles. Clothes and sandals simply do not last 40 years of hard marching in the wilderness apart from a miracle. The wilderness does not provide enough food and water to meet the needs of some two million people apart from a miracle. A nation of slaves for 400 years does not conquer standing nations and take their land apart from a miracle.
ii. Each of these great wonders (each proof in themselves of God’s power and love for Israel) has a spiritual counterpart in our lives.
· In the wilderness of this world, God provides clothes for us (Revelation 3:18).
· He gives us shoes (Ephesians 6:15).
· He gives us bread and wine to drink (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).
· In Him we conquer our enemies (Romans 8:37).
· We can take the land of our spiritual enemies (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).
b. Therefore keep the words of this covenant: Seeing these great works of God, there is one logical response. Knowing the greatness of God’s love and power should make Israel more committed than ever to His covenant.
B. Renewing the covenant.
1. (10-15) The parties to the covenant.
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, your little ones and your wives; also the stranger who is in your camp, from the one who cuts your wood to the one who draws your water; that you may enter into covenant with the LORD your God, and into His oath, which the LORD your God makes with you today, 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. I make this covenant and this oath, not with you alone, 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
a. All of you stand today before the LORD your God: This means that the covenant was made with the entire nation. This included the leaders, the men, the women, the children, and even the servants.
b. That He may establish you today as a people for Himself: All of Israel was included in God’s desire to enter into covenant, to be the people for Himself. He wasn’t just looking for a few prominent and talented people, or for just one spiritual tribe like the Levites. God wanted the whole nation to be this people for Himself.
c. As well as with him who is not here with us today: But the covenant extended beyond those who stood before the LORD and Moses on that day. It also included him who is not with us here today. The descendants of this nation assembled before the LORD and Moses were also included in the covenant.
i. “The covenant demand is here extended to those who were yet to be born. Future generations were one with that early Israel who took the oath at Sinai.” (Thompson)
2. (16-20) The promise of judgment against the covenant-breaker.
(for you know that we dwelt in the land of Egypt and that we came through the nations which you passed by, and you saw their abominations and their idols which were among them; wood and stone and silver and gold); 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; 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”; as though the drunkard could be included with the sober. 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.
a. You saw their abominations and their idols which were among them: Israel had seen the abominations and… idols of their pagan neighbors. God promised that anyone who turns away from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations, should never presume on a sense of peace in his heart.
b. He blesses himself in his heart, saying “I have peace”: Perhaps one who has turned from the LORD and to idols hears the curses against the covenant-breaker, yet thinks he has escaped any penalty. So, he blesses himself in his heart, saying “I have peace.” He may have an immediate sense of peace at the moment, but it is the peace of the blind, the peace of the ignorant, who cannot see the peril of coming judgment.
i. A rank sinner may feel confident in his own heart, having a marvelous sense of “peace.” But this peace is an illusion. It is the peace of the blind, of the unknowing. If a bomb is on a plane, most everyone on the plane is at peace the moment before the bomb explodes. But their peace is based on their ignorance. In the same way, a sinner may be completely untroubled in his heart. But this is only because he is blind.
ii. As though the drunkard could be included with the sober: The drunkard may be happy when he is drunk, but his happiness is based on a illusion. God warns against including the peace of the righteous with the peace the wicked might seem to have.
c. The LORD would not spare him: This truth is plain “There is no peace,” says the LORD, “for the wicked.” (Isaiah 48:22) The score may be settled on either side of eternity, but it will be settled. No one can forsake the LORD and escape the consequences.
3. (21-28) The purpose for judgment against the covenant-breaker.
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, 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: “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 Zeboim, which the LORD overthrew in His anger and His wrath.” All nations would say, “Why has the LORD done so to this land? What does the heat of this great anger mean?” 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; for they went and served other gods and worshiped them, gods that they did not know and that He had not given to them. Then the anger of the LORD was aroused against this land, to bring on it every curse that is written in this book. 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.”
a. And the LORD would separate him from all the tribes of Israel for adversity: There is an obvious reason to punish the covenant-breaker for his own sake. But God has a purpose beyond the reason of individual covenant.
b. So that the coming generation of your children who rise up after you, and the foreigner who comes from a far land: God’s purpose in bringing judgment against a covenant-breaking Israel was also for the sake of the coming generation of your children… and the foreigner. When they see the devastation that comes from breaking God’s covenant, when they see what happens to the land which the LORD overthrew in His anger and wrath, they will be warned to obedience.
i. We can also learn from the calamity that comes on the lives of others when they break God’s covenant. We can learn that the price of disobedience is not worth it. We can learn that the commands of God are good, and protective in our lives.
c. All nations would say: God’s purpose in bringing judgment against a covenant-breaking Israel was also for the sake of all nations. When they see what happens to a nation who forsakes the LORD, they will be warned to obedience.
4. (29) God’s revelation to Israel.
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.
a. The secret things belong to the LORD our God: In the midst of this encouragement to obedience, Moses pauses to give a principle of how God speaks to us. First, God never declares everything to man:. There are secrets God has, and will always have. He has the right to have secrets, because He is God.
i. God is bigger and smarter than us and always will be. We must simply accept this. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
b. Those things which are revealed: Second, God does reveal some things to man. Since God is there, and He is not silent, we must do all we can to pay close attention to Him.
c. Those things which are revealed belong to us: Third, God’s revelation is meant to say something to us. God did not speak just to blow our minds or to amuse us; there is a message which belongs to us. While we cannot perfectly understand God’s revelation, it is perfectly understandable.
d. To us and to our children: Fourth, God’s revelation is trans-generational. Yes, God had a specific message for Moses’ generation, but the message goes beyond its original audience to speak to all generations which follow.
e. To us and our children forever: Fifth, God’s revelation is eternal. His word not only lasts forever, it is forever relevant. God’s word is more relevant than any new fad or interest which might sweep through the world or the church.
f. That we may do all the words of this law: Finally, God’s revelation must matter to us. He has not spoken to us merely to satisfy our curiosity about spiritual things. He has spoken to us to affect the way we live. If we are only hearers of the word, and not doers also, then we have not really received His word.
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission