We are nearing the end of Deuteronomy. By extension, that means we are also near the end of the Pentateuch and soon to move out of the books of Moses. Deuteronomy 30 is actually the end of the covenant message from YHWH through Moses to the people. The remaining chapters are Moses’ final charge and blessing to the people and the account of his death.
A belief in the inspiration of Scripture guides to me to recognize that even those chapters are part of God’s Word. If we were doing Old Testament History and Theology, though, we would cutoff God’s covenant with Israel with the end of chapter 30.
What is in Deuteronomy 30? The summary of the blessings that will come from obedience, and the solemn warning that the Lord God Almighty is serious about this situation. Some of the promises here can be misapplied, as God promises a level of prosperity to the obedient Israelites, to mean that believers in Jesus will never have problems. That is unsupported in this text, as these promises are clearly related to covenant Israel in that era.
If you want to take it literally, you’ll have to be satisfied with cattle and life on a farm. That’s the prosperity in view here: olives for you and all the sheep you can sacrifice.
Laying that aside, Deuteronomy 30:11-14 is our focus for the day. What do we find here?
First, we see the challenge of covenant keeping. V. 11 tells the Israelites that the covenant is not too difficult for them. This verse should be kept in mind as we look back at the Old Testament: it was not an impossible task, for God was in their midst. Covenant abandonment by Israel was willful on their part, not fated.
Second, we see the challenge of covenant knowledge. Vv. 12-13 remind the Israelites that they do not have to travel to the ends of the earth or the heights of the heavens to find out what God has to say. They have that knowledge, right there in front of them.
Third, we see the challenge of covenant clarity. V. 14 shows us they could see and understand the covenant. God’s Word was near to them—it was their choices that would decide this.
Practically, the same three things echo to us today: covenant knowledge, covenant clarity, and covenant keeping.
First, we know the covenant of God. For us, it is that Jesus has said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me.” (John 14:6). That knowledge is readily available to many of us—and most of us that have such knowledge are aware of our responsibility to spread it! Have you learned of God’s great love for you and His sacrifice? If you have…who have you told lately? One cannot keep a covenant one does not know!
Second, we have the covenant clarified for us in Scripture. It is not about sheep or goats or even about land. It is all about Jesus, the One who died for us. Are we walking with Him as He clearly commands us?
Third, we have the covenant to keep. The Holy Spirit dwells within all believers in Jesus—but we continue to claim the covenant is too hard for us! It is not impossible, for Christ in us makes it attainable that we might obey!
A brief note: the calling of “heaven and earth” as witnesses seals the covenant treaty. These witnesses are called again in Prophets when the Israelites are not keeping the covenant! Isaiah 1 and Micah 1 are good examples of this.