Deuteronomy 29:1. The words of the covenant; from co, con, or com; a social prefix; and venio, to come; the coming of two parties into one compact. The vendor gets the best terms he can, and the buyer aims at a bargain. Just the reverse of this is the divine covenant: frail sinful man is not exalted into co- partnership with the Almighty. The covenant is all grace to man, and dictated by the donor; man has but to consent to it with all his heart, and all his soul. The blessings and curses of this covenant are confirmed with sacrifice and with blood: they are ratified with an oath. The parties, Deuteronomy 29:10, were princes, captains, wives, children and little ones, absentees and strangers; in short, the whole nation, without a single exception. The Lord avouched them for his people, and they avouched him for their God. In Jeremiah 34. we read, that they walked between the parts of the victims, consenting to be cut in pieces like their sacrifices, if ever they violated that covenant. All these blessings were confirmed in happy ages, and all these curses inflicted in apostate times. The covenant is evidently frail with man, but sure with the Lord.
Deuteronomy 29:29. Secret things belong unto the Lord our God. Some think Moses here meant that God took upon him the punishment of all secret sins and acts of idolatry against his covenant, but that he required the people to punish all the crimes against his covenant which came to light. LUTHER renders the words, “These things were secrets known to God alone; but now they are revealed to us and to our children.” Others understand this text in a sense similar to Romans 11:33, that the secrets of providence are inscrutable; and consequently, that we should not waste our time on prophetic calculations and mysteries; but profiting by the truths plainly revealed, give up ourselves to piety, and the practice of righteousness.
Moses having charged Israel what to do on passing the Jordan, and recited the blessings and curses of the covenant contracted with their fathers at Horeb, could not die till he had renewed the covenant with their children. So all worthy men are wont to charge their families to keep the way of the Lord before they leave the world. With these most sanctifying views, and views becoming his high character and mission, he reserved this highest duty till nearly the last day of his public ministry. What pencil is able to trace the worth, what eloquence can describe the excellence of this venerable prophet, adorned with every virtue, and loaded with every honour heaven can give to man. Before he closed his eyes in death, he wished once more to see all Israel gathered before his face, to hear his voice, and receive his dying commands. See him ascend the throne and smile on the people, with heaven in every look and grace in all his words. See him surrounded with elders, but none so old as he. See ten thousand fathers attending with their families, as far as the eye can reach; but scarcely a grey hair, except his own, the old men having fallen for their sins. See the whole nation eager to look, and eager to hear. See them hold up their little infants, that their eyes might be blessed by a sight of Moses before he died. And oh if the sight of a prophet and a great man be so sanctifying, what must heaven be when we shall see all the patriarchs, prophets and apostles, in the kingdom of God.
Moses commenced by reciting to the young generation the words which their fathers had heard at Horeb. They occur in Exodus 19. 20. 21. &c. And while Moses recited the substance of the covenant, it is highly probable that Eleazar prepared a full oblation of victims unto God, sprinkling the blood upon the people, and causing the elders to pass between the parts. Jeremiah 34:18. The oath of the covenant was next confirmed; for as the Lord sware to Abraham to bless and multiply him, so the people sware fidelity to God, saying, all that the Lord hath spoken, that will we do. How awful the nature, how solemn the ratification of the Hebrew covenant. This was in fact the christian covenant, being rounded on the promised Messiah, who was to bless all nations, to possess the gates of his enemies, and to vanquish sin and death. It is called indeed a New covenant, because the gospel realized the shadows of the law; for our High-priest, our sacrifice, our altar, our holy place, and our sprinkling of blood, far eclipse the glory of Aaron, with the blood of bulls and goats. Besides, the christian covenant is guarded with sanctions and terrors far superior to those of Sinai; for the Lord shall be revealed from heaven in flaming fire, with his mighty angels, taking vengeance on them that know not God. Moses denounced a curse against every transgressor of the law; but the gospel, richer in proclamations of pardon, anathematizes every one who loves not the Lord Jesus Christ.
Christian families, christian communities and nations, should most solemnly and frequently renew their covenant with God. This may be done in the closet, as well as on sacramental occasions. To review the promises and threatenings, deeply impressed with our defects, has a most sanctifying effect on the soul.
We should also devote our little ones in covenant to God by baptism, as succeeding circumcision. Colossians 2:11-12. By prayer likewise, and by a course of instruction and discipline, Ephesians 6:4; for the Lord has promised to circumcise the heart of our seed.
This glorious and everlasting covenant, as we are everywhere told, has its conditions. If a man went after other gods; if he suffered the root bearing wormwood and gall to grow, and poison all his good impressions; if he presumptuously added drunkenness to thirst, and blessed his soul with the hopes of impunity, it is said, the Lord would blot out his name from under heaven, and bring upon him all the curses of this book. And it should be well remembered, that St. Paul has given christians the same caution against this bitter root of apostasy and sin. Hebrews 12:15. Let us therefore beware lest any man fail of the grace of God, and come short of the promised rest.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 29". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
Second Sunday after Epiphany