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The covenant treaty found in this book ends on a very bleak note. Unfortunately its dismal warnings are not heeded. The people of Israel are unfaithful to the Lord. They worship other gods; and as a result, their land is conquered and they are carried away into exile. However, the covenant God has made with their ancestors is unconditional. Even though the people have broken the specific covenant He has made with them at Mount Horeb, forfeiting the blessings it promised, the Lord is still bound to His covenant relationship with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their descendants forever. And so He enters into a new covenant with them, to replace the one that has been broken.

29 These are the terms of the covenant the Eternal commanded Moses to make with the people of Israel in the land of Moab, in addition to the covenant He made with them at Horeb.

Moses (summoning all of Israel): You saw with your own eyes what the Eternal did in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh and all his servants and his whole country. You saw with your own eyes how He tested them with the great plagues He sent against them and the amazing signs and wonders He did to demonstrate His reality and power. But to this day, He hasn’t given you a mind that understands or eyes that see or ears that hear.

Spiritual insensitivity is its own punishment. It’s not that the Lord doesn’t want the people to be able to see and understand how His great works disclose His character and purposes, it’s just that such insights are only available to those who will humbly acknowledge and obey Him in response. Spiritual perception is a special gift from God, and it isn’t given to those who stubbornly resist. Instead, they are allowed to continue having eyes that don’t see, ears that don’t hear, and minds that don’t understand.

Eternal One: I’ve led you through the wilderness for 40 years. The clothes on your back and the sandals on your feet haven’t worn out. You haven’t had bread to eat or wine or strong drink to consume, but I’ve fed you each day with manna so you’d know that I, the Eternal, am your God who protects you and provides for you.

Moses: When we arrived here in the territory east of the Jordan, Sihon the king of Heshbon and Og the king of Bashan attacked us, but we defeated them in battle. We took their land and gave it to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and half of Joseph’s children—the tribe of the Manassites—as their families’ perpetual land. If you carefully obey all the terms of this covenant, then you’ll be successful in everything you do.

10 You’re all standing here today in the presence of the Eternal your God: your leaders, your tribes, your elders, and your representatives, all you men of Israel, 11 with your children and wives, and even the foreigners who are living with you and working for you—who chop your wood and draw your water— 12 you’re all standing here to take an oath and become part of the covenant He is making with you today. 13 He’ll establish you as His people; and He’ll become your God, just as He told you He would, and just as He promised your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

14 But I’m not making this covenant only with you who are here taking this oath; 15 it’s with you who are standing here with us today in the presence of the Eternal our God, and also with those who aren’t with us here today.

16 You know what life was like in the land of Egypt, and you saw how other nations lived when you traveled through their territories. 17 You saw the detestable things they had with them, their idols of wood, stone, silver, and gold. 18 There could be a man or a woman among you, or even a whole clan or tribe, that might be willfully turning away from the Eternal this very day to go worship the gods of those nations! They’d be like a root that would bear bitter, poisonous fruit among you. 19 Even when they hear the words of the covenant oath, they’ll exult, “We can keep going our own way, and we’ll be just fine!” They will end up destroying everything in the country. 20 He will never forgive them; He’ll be furious with jealousy, and they will be struck with all the curses written in this book. He will wipe away every trace of them under heaven. 21 He’ll single them out for misery from all the tribes of Israel and bring disaster on them according to all the covenant curses recorded in this book of the law.

22 Future generations of your descendants and foreigners who come from distant countries will see how the Eternal has struck the land and sickened it, and they’ll say, 23 “This whole place is a burned-out wasteland of sulfur and salt! No one plants anything here because nothing grows here—not even grass! It’s like what happened when He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah,[a] Admah and Zeboiim, when He was so furious with those cities.” 24 People from the surrounding nations will say, “But why did the Eternal do this to this land? Why did He get so furiously angry?” 25 And bystanders will answer, “Because they abandoned the covenant the Eternal, the God of their ancestors, made with them when He brought them out of the land of Egypt. 26 They went and worshiped other gods. They bowed down to gods they’d never known that He didn’t allow them to worship. 27 That’s why He was furiously angry with that land and struck it with all the curses recorded in this book. 28 He was so incredibly angry that He uprooted the people from the land in his wrath and tossed them away into other countries, where they still are today.”

29 Only the Eternal knows the secret things. But we and our descendants are always responsible for what has been revealed to us, and we need to obey every word of this law.

Footnotes

  1. 29:23 Genesis 19

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