DEUTERONOMY 30 and 31
the Lord immediately reveals what will become of Israel: they will in fact inherit both the blessings and the curses; for a time they will obey the Lord and be blessed in every way, and then they will rebel as an entire nation and be cursed and dispersed. In chapter 30 verses 1-10, God emphasises that if the dispersed nation later repents, they will be reinstated and be made more prosperous and numerous than their forefathers. How? “The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live” – this verse (v6) is key, and it looks ahead mainly to the New Covenant when external obedience to the Law is no longer the defining factor, but rather an inward obedience of faith.
Look up Jeremiah 31:31-34 and see how that explains Deuteronomy 30:6 in more detail and shows what that verse is really pointing to. The physical return of Israel as a sovereign nation is not really the fulfilment of either passage and certainly, the Old Covenant is now declared as obsolete, outdated, and soon to disappear (see Hebrews 8:13) – “soon” meaning around 70 AD, I personally think. If you are a Jew now and you want to please God and get right with him, there is only one covenant that will work: the New one – and only one mediator: Jesus. (Along with the Gentiles, in the one church.)
In the remainder of chapter 30, God makes it clear to Israel that they have a simple choice to make, not difficult to understand, and it is a choice between life and death. Just in case anyone is still slow on the uptake, God more than hints that the right choice would be ‘life’! On the Great Day of Judgment, no-one will be able to say that they didn’t know or understand what they were choosing – and God will be vindicated.
In the next chapter, Moses speaks publicly to Israel tells them that he is about the leave them – i.e., to die. He tells them that that is OK, since the Lord himself will lead Israel and fight their battles in the new land. “Be strong and courageous – not afraid or terrified – for he will never leave you nor forsake you”. Moses then presents Joshua as the new leader to Israel and tells him publicly to “Be strong and courageous – not afraid or terrified – for he will never leave you nor forsake you” also. God then calls on Moses to present Joshua to God at the Tent of Meeting for God to commission him; and God commanded Joshua: “Be strong and courageous, for you will bring the Israelites into the land I promised them on oath, and I myself will be with you”.
Are you beginning to see a pattern here? Everyone needs to:
– Be strong and courageous
– Not to be afraid or terrified or discouraged
– Since the Lord is with us all the time!
Matthew 28:18-20 rather spells this out for us too!
Then the Lord has a private word with Moses and tells him that he will be ‘resting with his forefathers’ (which probably meant a long sleep until at least 30 AD). He also confides in Moses that Israel will indeed rebel and fall away – making the wrong choice – but that ‘two witnesses’ are to be left as a reminder of the choice that God gave them. One is the written copy of the first five books of the Bible (the ‘Pentateuch’), and the other is a song that they will have learned from Moses himself. More about the song and its meaning shortly.