Deuteronomy 29:1 There is much scholarly debate if this verse looks backward to the beginning of Deuteronomy or forward to what proceeds. Arguments can be made to support both positions, but it seems likely to be looking back. One of the strongest arguments in my opinion, is that v 1 here is the closing verse of chapter 28 in the Hebrew Bible which seems to link it to the covenant given at Mt. Sinai. Moses here is giving this new generation who were 19 years old and younger at Mt. Sinai an enlargement of the Covenant at Sinai given 40 years earlier (Num. 32:11). The older generation was almost all dead because of their rebellion against God when they refused to enter the land, even Moses would not be permitted to enter the Land because of his sin (Num. 20:12).
There were three parties involved in the renewing of the Sinai covenant: God, Israel, and Moses, who as chief Levite stood between God and the people as mediator. Moses is a type of Yeshua, the Mediator of the new covenant. Here on the plains of Moab The Lord is giving additional terms of the covenant made at Mt. Sinai 40 years earlier. What is added is the restoration of Israel. Some students of Scripture describe this as the Palestinian Covenant. This includes the prophetic vision of Israel’s complete failure and dispersion to all the nations of the world as predicted (28:63–68; Ezk. 36:16-21). But what we see is the promise of Israel’s regathering back to the Land. The complete restoration will include their repentance (Deut. 30:1-10; Rom. 11:1-36).
Deuteronomy 29:2-4 There are two kinds of sight that the Lord gives to us physical and spiritual. Moses reminds Israel of the events that led to their release from slavery in Egypt. This new generation were eyewitnesses of those miraculous acts by their God and Savior. Despite their experience, they lacked spiritual eyes to understand what it meant for them. Israel needed the Lord to give them a mind and heart to enable them to see and understand. This echoes what we find in both the Old and New Covenants about the consequences of hardening our hearts. (Ps. 95 and Heb. 4) “Today, if you would hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, As in the day of Massah in the wilderness, “When your fathers tested Me, They tried Me, though they had seen My work. “For forty years I loathed that generation, And said they are a people who err in their heart, And they do not know My ways. “Therefore I swore in My anger, Truly they shall not enter into My rest.”
Deuteronomy 29:5-6 These verses reinforce the truth of God’s provision for His people over the 40 years that they were in the wilderness on their journey to the Promised Land. A land where there was no visible means of support where God miraculously provided for all their needs and He still does today. Since there were no Walmart or Amazon, God made sure their clothes and sandals did not wear out. They thrived without earthly bread or wine. God supplied everything so that they would know that His eye was and is always upon them.
Deuteronomy 29:7-9 He not only provided for their food and clothing, but he also fought for them against their enemies. God had given them victory over Sihon king of Heshbon and Og king of Bashan who attempted to resist them from entering the Land promised to them. Because of their unprovoked attacks their lands were added to the Promised Land and became the property of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of the tribe of Manasseh. God always gives above and beyond what his people could even imagine. So, in light of God’s provision, blessing and protection Moses calls Israel to keep the covenant. If we think, we will thank and flowing from that is the motive we need to joyfully obey.
Deuteronomy 29:10-11 The covenant embraced every person who stood in the presence of the Lord. All Israel stood before God as Moses proclaimed the terms of the covenant to them. Standing there were the leaders, elders, officers, men, children, wives, and foreigners. We are witnessing here a formal ceremony and worship service where they are renewing their covenant with God. Three million plus are on the plains of Moab near the Jordan River renewing their commitment and covenant with God. The word today is stressed five times in verses 10-15 signifying the importance of this moment for not just today but forever. It is reminiscent of the similar call given in Hebrews 3:15 to Jewish Believers in the New Covenant “today if you hear his voice do not harden your voice.”
Deuteronomy 29:12-13 While their future would be touched by what they did here it is the Lord who has chosen them. God made this clear in Deut. 7:7-8 “The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, 8 but because the LORD loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers.” He was renewing the covenant based on his oath he swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Deuteronomy 29:14-15 The terms of the agreement would be binding not just for this generation but all future generations. This was the renewal of Israel’s marriage to the Lord. Later because of her infidelity God would separate from Israel and then because she did not repent the Lord divorced her (Is. 50:1; Jer 3:8). However, the Lord did not remarry and promised through Jeremiah that she would remarry Israel and invite the nations to be part of His bride as well (Jer. 31:31-33). There are three lessons here. 1) God keeps His promises to us. Every promise will be fulfilled. God is faithful (Mt. 5:18, Lu. 21:33).2) We must be faithful to our vow to God. When we first accepted Yeshua as our Redeemer, we too made a covenant with God to follow and obey Him. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven willenter (Mt. 7:21). 3) The genuine believer is accepted by God and becomes a child of God and is fully grafted into Israel and becomes a part of His covenant people.
Deuteronomy 29:16-18 The focal point of the covenant was that Israel cling solely to the Lord their God (Deut. 6:4-5). Their motivation will be the continual remembrance of the idols of Egypt and its effect on them as well as the other nations that they had encountered on their way to the Land. This was the reason God imbedded in His Law the Holy Days beginning with Passover as well as the various offerings in the Tabernacle and later the Temple. The people needed to make sure that no one among them be drawn to idolatry or worship the gods of the nations they had passed through. Any person drawn to idolatry would be grow a root of bitterness that would lead to the destruction of the nation of Israel (Heb. 12:15) See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.
Deuteronomy 29:19-21 In case anyone might think that the Lord’s covenant with Israel guaranteed safety regardless of behavior Moses warns them that is not the case. If a person persists in going their own sinful way, he will bring disaster on the whole nation, even on those who were obedient. The one attempting to obey is described as watered land while those who were not are described as dry. This was the case when Achan sinned in the aftermath of the victory at Jericho (Josh. 7). Moses warns that The Lord would never be willing to forgive such a person. His wrath would burn against their rebellion against him and bring on them the curses outlined in Deut. 28. If that persons continues in rebellion, the Lord will blot out his name from under heaven. The Lord would single out that person from all the tribes of Israel for disaster as was the also the case of Korah in the wilderness and Ahab king of Israel and his idolatrous wife Jezebel.
Deuteronomy 29:22-23 The consequences of rebellion would affect Israel’s reputation in later generations. Foreigners who would pass through the land would see the calamities that had come to the Land and her people because of God’s judgment on them. Israel would resemble the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah more than a land flowing with milk and honey. We see this fulfilled partially in the removal of the 10 Northern tribes in 722 BC then later in the Babylonian captivity in 586 BC and still again in 70 AD with the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersion of the Jewish people to all the nations of the world as Ezekiel predicted in 36-37. Those chapters speak of that judgment but also include the promise of their return first in unbelief and then their salvation and restoration. Paul complements Ezekiel’s prophecy in Romans 11:25:32.
Deuteronomy 29:24-26 So dreadful was the judgment that the pagan nations surrounding would ask, why has the Lord done this? The answer is given that it was the result of Israel’s forsaking the covenant of the Lord. They had forsaken the God of their fathers who had brought them out of Egypt. They turned away from His love, grace, provision, and kindness, and bowed themselves to gods who could give them nothing.
Deuteronomy 29:27-28. The answer to why all this judgment is due to the Lord’s anger. The nations would learn of God’s righteous wrath against the land and his people with the promised curses for His children’s rebellion. The nations would learn that God’s character will not tolerate unrepentant sin and rebellion even from His own chosen people. They would be removed from their land and sent into other lands as captives.
Deuteronomy 29:29 This prediction by Moses of God’s judgment is said to be secret known only by Him. The judgment of Israel would happen just as God revealed it in Scripture. When these events were revealed for the first time in the days of Deuteronomy, they were secret. The fact that they would happen, especially to those standing before Moses, was incomprehensible. But today, history shows that they did happen. But it is significant that Moses declares here that the things revealed in God’s Word belong to us. God revealed them so that we may learn and keep His commands. Later Israel would study these words and receive later Scripture and the prophets pointing to a New Covenant and the messenger of that covenant (Deut. 18:18-19; Jer 31:31-33; Mal. 3:1; Mat. 11:10). All this should serve as a warning of the consequences for turning away from the Lord for it will affect not just us but our children as well.