Today Moses continues to encourage the Israelites to be obedient to the Lord. He recalls God’s faithfulness when He brought them out of Egypt and provided for them these forty years in the wilderness. He reminds them how He overtook their enemies, Sihon and Og, and gave their land to the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. However, Moses says if the people disobey the Lord, then He will bring curses upon the land and uproot the people into another land.
Then Moses interrupts the call to obedience by saying – “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.” Later in the story, the Lord will say – “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways… 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). No man can fully understand God’s ways, but He has provided us with what we need to know regarding salvation and following Him through His word in the Bible.
God knows that once the people are settled in the promised land they are going to turn their backs on Him and worship foreign gods. Then the Lord’s anger will blaze against His people and He will allow them to be devoured by their enemies. So Moses tells the Israelites that after they rebel against the Lord and are sent to foreign lands, “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, 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.. 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… 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… For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off… But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.”
Moses is saying that it is not too mysterious for them to know how to follow the Lord; God has told them, but it will require their obedience to His word. Therefore, Moses calls the people to choose life by obeying the Lord – “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.” The Lord knows that no one can do this perfectly; that is why He established the sacrificial system to atone for the sins of the people and point them to the Savior to come. Our salvation is not based on our obedience; our salvation is based on our faith in the Lord. However, there are always consequences for disobedience. The Lord desires for His people to walk in obedience to His word and to repent when we disobey Him.
The psalmist will later say, “The Law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple” (Psalm 19:7). In order to ensure that the people will remember His Law, Moses commands that every seven years the law shall be read in the hearing of all of Israel. In addition, the Lord instructs Moses to “write down this song for yourselves, and teach it to the children of Israel; put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for Me against the children of Israel. When I brought them to the land flowing with milk and honey, of which I swore to their fathers, and they have eaten and filled themselves and grown fat, then they will turn to other gods and serve them; and they will provoke Me and break My covenant… for I know the inclination of their behavior today, even before I have brought them to the land of which I swore to give them.” God knows the hearts of the people, and He knows they are going to turn from Him. However, the Lord is still on a pursuit to save them by sending His Son, the Savior, and establishing a new covenant with the people through Him. We see Moses’ anticipation of the coming Savior and the new covenant as he says, “Yet the Lord has not given you a heart to perceive and eyes to see and ears to hear, to this very day.” But one day God will!
Paul will later say that “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). The Lord is going to create a new covenant with His people through His Son, Jesus Christ. And under the new covenant, Jesus will serve as the Mediator between the Lord and the people. After Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension to heaven, He will send the Holy Spirit upon the ones who believe in Him, who will give them a new heart and all sins will be washed away under the blood of Jesus – “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and I will write them on their minds… Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more” (Hebrews 10:16–17 from Jeremiah 31:31-34).
But before that day arrives, Moses writes a song for the children of Israel to exhort them to obedience and to warn them of the dangers of disobedience. Then the Lord inaugurates Joshua as the new leader of Israel and tells him, “Be strong and of good courage; for you shall bring the children of Israel into the land of which I swore to them, and I will be with you.”
Tomorrow we will read the song Moses wrote to the children of Israel, so keep reading. (Deuteronomy 29:2-31:29)