THE CONDITIONAL COVENANT RENEWED
Verse I speaks of a covenant the Lord commanded Moses to make with Israel in the land of Moab, "Beside the covenant which He made with them in Horeb." This covenant is not different in its terms, but is really a renewing of the covenant in Horeb. For it is conditional, in contrast to the "New Covenant" of Jeremiah 31:31-34, which is unconditional, for it speaks only of what God will do for Israel in greatly blessing them, with nothing added as to what Israel should do.
This covenant in Moab begins with Israel having seen all the great trials and the great signs and wonders connected with God's deliverance. God had not given them a heart to perceive, eyes to see and ears to hear "to this very day" (v.4). In contrast to this, the New Covenant promises that God will put His law in their minds and write it on their hearts (Jer 3:33).
Israel is reminded of God's leading them forty years in the wilderness, not allowing their clothing to wear out, nor their sandals (v.5). They had not eaten bread, but manna from heaven, nor had they drunk wine, but water.
Arriving near the borders of Canaan, where they were now camping, they conquered Sihon king of Heshbon and Og king of Bashan, when these came to attack Israel. They took their land and gave it to the tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half tribe of Manessah (v.28). All of this proved the faithfulness of God toward Israel, which was consistent and unfailing.
"Therefore," Moses says, "keep the words of this covenant and do them" (v.9). The covenant was based on what God had already done since He had made with them the covenant at Horeb. Thus, they were given added incentive to keep the covenant, which is evidently the reason that it is spoken of as a second covenant now made at Moab.
In verses 10-11 Moses made every individual responsible as they stood before God, their leaders, their tribes, their elders, their officers, their little ones and their wives, including also the stranger who had entered their camp, and those who acted only as menial servants, cutters of wood or drawers of water. Any such identification with Israel made them responsible to obey Israel's laws. It is likely that the covenant relationship that God had established with them at Horeb had become a more or less nebulous matter, so that it meant almost nothing to many Israelites. Now that they were to enter their land, the covenant with them is strongly reaffirmed, that Israel might realize they were a people "for Himself," in accordance with God's promise to Abraham (vs.12-13).
The covenant was to extend also to all Israel, those not sanding there at the time which would include all who were later born into the nation (vs.14-15). Israel had seen and known the idolatry of the nations, from Egypt and all the way to their present location, and they are warned of the danger of any of their number desiring such idols and turning from the living God to these vanities (v.18).
Verse 19 refers to the danger of one acting so perversely as to hear the words of these curses pronounced against evil, yet to bless himself in his own heart, feeling that the curses cannot apply to him in spite of following "the dictates of his own heart." Thus a drunkard thinks he is no different than a sober person! but the Lord would not spare him (v.20), but would vent His righteous anger and jealousy against him in bringing these curses to bear with terrible force on him, to blot out his name from under heaven, separating him from all the tribes of Israel (v.21).
With such curses coming on Israel, their children and foreigners also would be shocked to witness the whole land given over to brimstone, salt and burning, with no sowing of seed and no grass growing, a reminder of the terrible overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah (vs.22-23). The nations would ask why the Lord had caused such devastation in the land of Israel, and would be given the reply, "Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord God of their fathers which He made with them when He brought them out of the land of Egypt" (vs.24-25).
Because of this and their consequent worship of idols, it would be declared that God's anger was aroused against Israel to do just as He promised to do if they disobeyed Him, devastating their land and scattering them in other lands (vs.26-28).
Verse 29 at this point declares a significant fact for Israel. There were secret things that belong to the Lord alone, but things God had revealed belonged to Israel and their children. God was not revealing to them, for instance, what He would do when they were in a state of rebellion. But now it is revealed that God is taking out of the Gentile nations a special people called "the Church of God." This was a mystery "hid in God" (Ephesians 3:9) and only revealed through Paul after the death and resurrection of Christ. But Israel was responsible only for the revelation God had then given them, therefore to obey the law.
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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 29". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week after Epiphany