The Blessing of Obeying God
The positive aspects of fidelity the blessings were isolated for Israel. We note first that there was a conditional aspect to those blessings. (Verse 1) Second the blessings were comprehensive and encompassed the whole life. (Verse 2-6) Third the blessings also touched on areas such as defeat of one’s enemies, (Verse7) one’s barns and all of his endeavors, (Verse 8) the relationship of Israel to other people and to the Lord, (Verses 9-10) the bounty of cattle and the fruit of the ground, (Verse 11) the rains in the time of need, (Verse 12) and the general exaltation as long as the nation remained faithful to the Lord. (Verses 13-14)
The Curse of Disobeying God
At first the writer uses a causal relationship between disobedience and the curses experienced in life. (Verse 15) The nature of the curse constituted a second element in the charge, whether one was in the city or in the field, (Verse 16) every aspect of life would be cursed. (Verses 18-19) The curses also included the calamity of nature, (Verses 20-24) conflict in war and its horror, (Verses 25-35) confliction of good, (Verses 36-46) the horrors of conquest and siege, (Verses 47-57) and a summary of other calamities. (Verses 58-68)
As it was in ancient Israel so it is in contemporary life. There is a blessing in following the Lord with fidelity, just as there are curses for those who abandon the Lord. The blessings and curses may vary but covenant believers agree that there are inherent blessings in fellowship with the Lord. There is also an equal barrenness of life apart from that communion.
Daily Dedication of Oneself to God
The third speech of Moses introduced an emphasis on covenant renewal. The covenant had been made at Sinai, (29:1) but at the passage of time there was need for covenant renewal. Just as in contemporary life there remains the constant need to renew one’s covenant relationships, so on the plains of Moab Moses led the Israelites to reaffirm their faith. But the passage here moved beyond Moab to include covenant renewal ceremonies which occurred following Israel’s occupation of the land. Indeed, beyond the words of the text one hears a word that clamors for covenant renewal as an ongoing experience for the people of God. Again, the polarities of proclamation and exhortation were intertwined. Deuteronomy 29:1-15 forms a confessional statement of God’s action in history, counterbalanced by a moving call to commitment and obedience. (29:16 to 30:20) As suggested throughout the study of Deuteronomy, the book is one of preached law and general exhortation that the people live out of covenant relationships and their demands.
Confessing What God has Done
What are the bases that one should accept the stipulations of the covenant? We see in these passages that the clear answer is because of what God has done in the life of the follower. (Verses 1-8) Secondly it is because of what God had done from the time they left Egypt to the time on the plains of Moab. (Verses 1-8) “So keep the words of this covenant to do them, that you may prosper in all that you do.” This base of covenant obedience remains the same through all generations. We are to consider what the Lord has done in our life and respond towards Him against the background of His grace. The relationship is always the greater concern than the stipulations themselves. Just as God’s grace precedes that law, even in ancient Israel. Now Israel stands on the threshold of the Promised Land promised long ago to their forefathers and Moses reminded them that God had fulfilled His promise. (Verses 10-15) God is faithful and true and requires fidelity from those who are in a covenant relationship with Him.
Committing Oneself to Obedience
We see that Moses called his people to a renewed commitment to God in five distinct ways. First there was not be no hypocrisy within the covenant. People were to be faithful in their relationships. (Verses 19:16-28) In the case of such hypocrisy that Lord would not be forgiving, “The LORD shall never be willing to forgive him, but rather the anger of the LORD and His jealousy will burn against that man, and every curse which is written in this book will rest on him, and the LORD will blot out his name from under heaven.” Second they are to remember the mystery and the challenge of the revelation. (Verse 29) Here we read, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.” The people are to live out the demands of the revelation which God has made clear to them. They also are to learn to live in the mystery of God which God has buried in impenetrable mystery.