Deuteronomy 30 – The Choice
A. Restoration for a repentant Israel.
1. (1) When all these things come upon you.
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,
a. Now it shall come to pass, when all these things come upon you: Under the inspiration of the LORD, Moses carefully explained the blessings and curses that would come upon an obedient or disobedient Israel. Under the same inspiration, Moses knew that all these thingswouldcome upon Israel.
i. From the height of blessing during the reigns of David and Solomon, to the depth of cursing at the fall of Jerusalem, Israel’s history has been a legacy of either being blessed or cursed under the terms of the Old Covenant.
b. And you call them to mind among all the nations where the LORD your God drives you: God knew that Israel would be scattered and exiled, and here through Moses, God calls the Diaspora (Israel dispersed among the nations) to remember the promises of the blessing and the curse.
2. (2-5) God’s promise to restore Israel in the Promised Land.
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, 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. 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. 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.
a. Return to the LORD your God: As Israel would return to the LORD, God would bless them and bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you.
i. Of course, this was fulfilled in part by the return of the Babylonian exiles during the times of Ezra and Nehemiah. But the ultimate fulfillment of this would await the Twentieth Century, when God would regather Israel in the Promised Land. This modern regathering is a larger, broader, more sovereign, and more miraculous restoration than that recorded in Ezra and Nehemiah.
b. From all the nations where the LORD your God has scattered you: The modern restoration of Israel more accurately fulfills this promise than the return from the Babylonian exile. Today, Israel is populated from Jews from virtually every country in the world. The breadth of this promise is important because God repeats the idea in verse 4: If any of you are driven out to the farthest parts under heaven, from there the LORD God will gather you.
i. Adam Clarke, writing in 1811, recognized that this regathering had to be fulfilled in a future time: “As this promise refers to a return from captivity in which they had been scattered among all nations, consequently it is not the Babylonish captivity which is intended; and the repossession of their land must be different from that which was consequent on their return from Chaldea.”
c. Then the LORD your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it: The restoration had to happen in the land of Israel. The modern restoration of Israel more accurately fulfills this promise than the return from the Babylonian exile. In the return from the Babylonian exile, Israel was still a vassal state of the Persians. But in the modern restoration of Israel, you shall possess it is literally fulfilled.
i. At one time, in the early days of the Zionist movement, the British offered the country of Uganda to the Jews as a place to establish a Jewish state. If that would have happened, and if Jews from all over the world had flocked there to establish a Jewish state, it would not fulfill the promise of restoration stated here and in other Old Testament passages. The promise here is plain: The land which your fathers possessed.
d. He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers: This promise is fulfilled only in the modern restoration of Israel, not in the return from the Babylonian exile. In the days of the return from the Babylonian exile, the Jewish community was small, weak, and poor. But today, under the modern restoration of Israel, the state of Israel does indeed prosper and the promise to multiply you more than your fathers is fulfilled. Israel, as a nation, is larger, stronger, and richer than at any time in Biblical history.
3. (6) The spiritual restoration of Israel.
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.
a. And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart… to love the LORD your God with all your heart: As remarkable and as prophetically meaningful the modern restoration of Israel is, it is incomplete. The spiritual dimension of the restoration has not yet been accomplished.
i. Today Israel is a largely secular nation. There is respect for the Bible as a book of history and national identity, but there is not, and has not been, a true turning to the LORD God, particularly as a nation.
ii. We can say that in a sense, not even the religious or Orthodox Jews have completely turned to the LORD. Though they have had an important and precious part in God’s plan for Israel in helping a spiritual consciousness for the Jewish people to survive through the centuries of the Diaspora, they have not truly turned to the LORD. We can say this because the character and nature of the LORD is perfectly expressed in His Messiah, Jesus. Jesus said, He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. (John 12:44-45) Since the Jewish people, except for a precious remnant, reject Jesus, they are rejecting the LORD God.
iii. But God’s promise still stands. As the final aspect of the promise to restore Israel, God will restore them spiritually. He promises to circumcise your heart. This is an idea repeated in the promises of the New Covenant, in passages like Ezekiel 36:26-27: I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Indeed, Paul promised that all Israel will be saved (Romans 11:26). Jesus said that He would not return until Israel embraced Him as Messiah: For I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!” (Matthew 23:39)
iv. Some have thought that because the modern restoration of Israel has not yet demonstrated this spiritual dynamic that it has nothing to do with these prophesies. But the spiritual dynamic is properly listed in Deuteronomy 30:2-6 as the last of the blessings of restoration. Also, the picture of restoration in Ezekiel 37 – the vision of the dry bones – shows Israel restored, and strong, before the LORD breathed the breath of His Spirit on the restored Israel. We regard the modern restoration of Israel as a remarkable sign, and an extremely significant – but thus far only partial – fulfillment of these prophesies.
4. (7-10) Blessings upon repentant Israel.
Also the LORD your God will put all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you. And you will again obey the voice of the LORD and do all His commandments which I command you today. 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, 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.
a. Also the LORD your God will put all these curses on your enemies… The LORD your God will make you abound: In part, these prophecies are fulfilled now in the modern restoration of Israel. But perhaps their ultimate fulfillment will happen in the millennium, when Israel has restored as a people truly turned to the LORD and His Messiah, Jesus.
B. Moses concludes his great sermon: choose life!
1. (11-14) Israel’s capability to keep the covenant.
For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off. 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?” 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?” But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.
a. For this commandment which I command you today: The covenant which God made with Israel – the Old Covenant – was not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off. Israel could indeed keep this covenant. God was not expecting the impossible from Israel when He expected them to keep this covenant.
b. But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it: However, this is not intended to mean that the Mosaic Law could be perfectly kept, and that a person could be sufficiently obedient to the Mosaic Law to earn a righteous standing before God.
i. Remember that the law was only one aspect of the Old Covenant. There were also the aspects of sacrifice and the choice. God never expected Israel to perfectly obey the law and find righteousness through law-obedience. That is why He provided for the sacrifice – the punishment of a perfect, innocent victim in the place of the sinner. God did not expect an Israelite to trust in his obedience to the Law to save Him (though God wanted Israel to love His law). God expected an Israelite to trust in the atonement made by sacrifice to make him righteous, and to understand that this sacrifice pointed towards a perfect sacrifice God would one day make through the Messiah. In this, a godly Israelite, in the Old Covenant, trusted in the work of Jesus the Messiah to save him even before the time of Jesus.
c. That you may do it: Yet the Old Covenant, as a whole, including the aspects of law, sacrifice, and choice could be kept. It wasn’t beyond Israel’s capability to keep.
2. (15-18) The choice.
See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, 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. But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, 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.
a. See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil: Under the terms of the Old Covenant, Israel had a choice: life or death, good or evil. It was up to them. God was going to glorify Himself through Israel one way or another. How it would happen was really their choice.
b. The LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess: Under the terms of the Old Covenant, Israel, if obedient, would see blessing. If disobedient, then Israel would surely perish. It was up to Israel and based on their conduct.
i. It is essential for us to understand that we, in Jesus Christ, do not relate to God on the terms of the Old Covenant, but on the terms of a better covenant: The New Covenant. Under the New Covenant, my relationship with God is not based on what I do for God, but on what Jesus has done on my behalf. There is, of course, more to the New Covenant than this, but this is one crucial distinction between the two covenants.
ii. If this Old Covenant is inferior to the New Covenant, and if there was a high price to pay for rejecting the Old Covenant, should we not know there is an even greater penalty for rejecting an even greater covenant? (Hebrews 10:28-29)
3. (19-20) Choose life.
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; 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.
a. I call heaven and earth as witness today against you: In these most solemn words, Moses set the choice before Israel. They had to choose between life and death, blessing and cursing.
b. Therefore choose life: At the same time, though the choice belonged to Israel, God cared about what they chose. When Moses pled with Israel, crying out choose life, we know he reflected the heart of God toward Israel. How God glorified Himself through Israel was up to them, but it was obviously God’s preference that He glorify Himself through an obedient, blessed Israel. So He pled, choose life!
i. Man today, even outside the Old Covenant, is confronted with the choice. But the choice focuses first not on “Will I obey God or not?” but on “Will I trust in Jesus for my standing before God?” Jesus said, He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters. (Luke 11:23) Jesus is still asking the question, who do you say that I am (Matthew 16:15), and our choice in answering that question determines our eternal destiny.
c. That you may love the LORD your God: To love God this way, to really trust Him, is explained well in Deuteronomy 30:20. To love and trust God means to obey His voice, for a child who really loves and trusts their father will obey him. It means to cling to Him, for if we really love and trust Him, we will be attached to Him. It means to regard Him as our life and the length of your days, because if we love and trust Him, He is not part of our life, He is our life.
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission