Deuteronomy 29-31: Covenant Renewed
March 23, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
And so with the drama from chapter 28 of the “curses and blessings” before them, and with the choice that it represents to God’s people to choose life, not death, Moses now renews the covenant, this time at Moab (Deut. 29). In the same way that congregations of New Testament churches form, often making a “covenant” with each other to remind each other of the gospel and their commitment to follow God together in community, so Moses now forms this covenant renewal moment to teach God’s Old Testament people to be faithful to God. Moses reminds them of God’s remarkable faithfulness all the way through their wandering in the desert—their clothes have not worn out, their sandals have not worn off their feet (29:5)—but they still do not have a heart to truly understand or eyes to see, despite seeing all the wonders God performed (29:2-4). They are to watch that they do not just go through the motions with this covenant and in their heart do not commit to it, for God knows the heart and will hold them accountable for such double-dealing, and it will taint the whole community with falsehood. There is a sovereign purpose behind all, but that sovereign purpose is God’s, not theirs, for the “secret things belong to God, the things revealed belong to them” (29:29). Their task then is to trust God’s Word and obey God.
In chapter 30, rebellion is not only warned against, it is positively predicted. It is “when” they rebel, not “if” they rebel (30:1). This will come to remarkable expression in the song of Moses that we will look at tomorrow in chapter 32. God’s people had shown their rebellious hearts, and they will rebel again. If they turn back to God, he will turn back to them and restore them from exile. “The LORD will again take delight in prospering you” (30:9).
The word that Moses is preaching to them is not too hard for them: it is being delivered right to them, and it requires simple trust and obedience. “The word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so you can do it” (30:14). Paul picks up on this promise in Romans 10, arguing that the law is pointing to its fulfillment in Christ and faith in Christ (Romans 10:8-9). The choice before them (30:11-20)—life and death, blessings and curses—is fulfilled in Christ who took the curse we deserve that we might receive the blessing of God himself.
And indeed Joshua (Yeshua, the Hebrew name for “Jesus”) shall succeed Moses (31:1-8). It is Joshua who will actually take them into the Promised Land, fulfill the promises given to Moses, and it is Jesus who fulfills the law and redeems God’s people from their rebellion and takes them to life and life eternal. Joshua is commissioned publicly by Moses and by God with his visible presence (31:14-29). The law of Moses is put by the ark of the covenant (31:25-26), given to the priests to guard, and is to be read out at the Feast of Booths (31:9-13). Joshua is commissioned to “not fear” as he leads God’s people into the Promised Land (31:7-8).
Be wise then to keep God’s covenant, to obey God’s law, and to trust in the Savior, Jesus, through whose life and death we may enter the Promised Land.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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