Read the Passage: Deuteronomy 30
In Deut. 6–26 Moses systematically applies the moral law of God to Israel’s cultural context, giving them hundreds of civil laws to implement within their theocracy. Following the giving of the civil laws, in Deut. 27–30 Moses reviews the general blessings and curses that stem from keeping or breaking the law of God. These chapters can be broken down as follows: in Deut. 27, Moses prescribes worship practices related to the law; in Deut. 28, Moses gives a reminder of the blessings and curses that follow obedience or disobedience to the Lord; in Deut. 29, Moses calls the people to renew their covenant with the Lord; and in today’s passage, Deut. 30, Moses reminds Israel of their need to repent of their future disobedience to the law and he encourages the people that restoration is possible, even after God’s curses have been meted out upon them.
In light of Israel’s sinful past, it is perhaps not surprising that Moses anticipates the nation’s future disobedience. Given the likelihood of their forthcoming sins, in Deut. 30:1–6 Moses describes a time when God’s people would be cast out of the Promised Land, would remember God’s moral law, and would repent of their transgressions. Moses writes that God, in His compassion and mercy, would bring the people back to the land and bless them. Moreover, Moses notes that God would bring judgment upon the nations who oppose His people. Of course, the fulfillment of this promise can be seen, in part, in Israel’s return from their Babylonian captivity. However, the language here leads us to believe that Moses is prophesying a future return of all God’s people into His presence, at the Second Coming of Christ, for Moses uses New Covenant language at Deut. 30:4, 6.
In Deut. 30:11–14 Moses reminds the people that the moral laws of God, which He had graciously given and applied to them, were not complex. Moreover, the respective blessings and cursing of either obeying or disobeying the moral law are not difficult to grasp. Indeed, the simplicity of God’s moral law ought to encourage men to seek and to obey God, while concurrently highlighting man’s need of Christ on account of continued sin (cf. Rom. 3:19–20). Note that Paul quotes Deut. 30:12–14 in the book of Romans, following it with the verse, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom. 10:9–10). Moses’ and Paul’s points are the same—the accessibility of salvation.
In the closing verses of this chapter Moses summarizes much of his previous discussion as he lays out a choice for the people either to obey or to disobey. Deut. 30:16 is an interesting verse, as here Moses writes, “I command you today to love the Lord you God, to walk in Him ways, and to keep Him commandments, His statues, and His judgments.” This verse is important, as oftentimes people create a false dichotomy between law and gospel or between commands and love. Yet here, as with elsewhere is Scripture, love is commanded (cf. Josh. 22:5; Mark 12:31; John 13:34; 15:12, 17; 1 John 3:23; 4:21). Moreover, Jesus taught that the inverse is likewise, true—that is, if we love God, we will keep His commandments (cf. John 14:15; 1 John 5:3). The connection here is that God’s moral law is a revelation of Himself, and God is love, thus law and love are not contradictory but complementary concepts.
Recall that God had repeatedly warned His people about the dangers of worshiping false gods, especially the temptation to fall into the idolatry of the former inhabitants of the land. This temptation is the rationale God gave for the Canaanite genocide (cf. Exod. 34:10–16; Deut. 7:4; 20:16–18). Indeed, we must remember that we are predisposed to become like those whom we are around, regardless of their spiritual condition (cf. Prov. 12:26; 13:20; 23:20–21; 1 Cor. 15:33). In Deut. 30:19 Moses calls the creation to witness the authenticity of his teaching to the people. In summary, then, in the previous chapters of Deuteronomy God had clearly given and explained His moral law to the people of Israel. Moreover, since God created us to do what he instructs us to do, Moses has faithfully explained the divine consequences of obeying or disobeying God’s moral law.
- What things has God used in your life to bring about repentance (cf. Rom. 2:4; 1 Cor 15:10; 2 Tim. 2:25)? What are some proofs of repentance (cf. 2 Cor. 7:8–12)?
- Can the effects of past sins always be stored with repentance? Can individuals who have been estranged always be reconciled with repentance?
- In this passage is Moses writing about the return of Israel from Babylon, or is He prophesying a future gathering of God’s people (cf. Jer. 31:31–34; 32:37–42)?
- What is the proper connection between commands and love, or between law and gospel? If love is voluntary, how can God command His people to love?
- How does God’s promise, in this chapter, to circumcise the hearts of the people foreshadow the arrival of the New Covenant (cf. Ezek. 36:24–32; Jer. 31:31–34).