Deuteronomy 29-30
(Call to Commitment)
March 2nd

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

Today you are standing in the presence of the LORD your God, all of you — your leaders and officials, your men, women, and children, and the foreigners who live among you and cut wood and carry water for you. You are here today to enter into this covenant that the LORD your God is making with you and to accept its obligations, so that the LORD may now confirm you as his people and be your God, as he promised you and your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. You are not the only ones with whom the LORD is making this covenant with its obligations. He is making it with all of us who stand here in his presence today and also with our descendants who are not yet born.

- Deuteronomy 29:10-15 (GNB)

Summary of Chapters

These two chapters record the entire text of the third and final farewell speech by Moses. In this terse talk he tells the Israelites to make a choice: Either accept God’s covenant and demonstrate your obedience or go your own way and accept the consequences and curses.

Moses begins chapter 29 with a very brief summary of their history in the wilderness, reminding the people that God had rescued them from Egypt, provided all their needs in the desert, and protected them from dangerous nations. The people are addressed as you in the English translations but the original Hebrew pronoun was atem (אַתֶּם), which is the second person plural because Moses was addressing the entire population and their ancestors. All of the people who escaped Egypt as adults had since passed away, except for Moses, Joshua, and Caleb. Moses then tells the people to “carefully follow all the terms of this covenant (29:9 - NIV).” Moses is referring to the covenant that God formed with them at Mt. Sinai, near the beginning of their journey. If they don’t follow those terms, then they will experience a calamity not seen since the days of Sodom and Gomorrah and will be an example to later generations and other nations.

The chapter closes with a mysterious statement, which is shown below in two different translations:

    The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.

    - Deuteronomy 29:29 (NIV)

    God, our God, will take care of the hidden things but the revealed things are our business. It's up to us and our children to attend to all the terms in this Revelation.

    - Deuteronomy 29:29 (MSG)

Moses begins chapter 30 with words of encouragement. He tells the people that even if they are cursed they can change course by returning to God and he will show them mercy. This is also addressed to the national audience because some of the people who are cursed will perish, but the remnant of survivors will have the opportunity for mercy. Moses recognizes that all of the laws he has shared may seem difficult to follow, but he tells the people that all if it is actually within their reach “the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it (30:14 - NIV).”

Moses then reminds the Israelites of their choice between life and prosperity or death and destruction. In the final verses, he advises them to “choose life so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him (30:19-20 - NIV, italics added).”

Reflection and Application

In this speech God re-news his pledge with regard to the covenant through the words of his servant Moses. This is not an entirely new covenant, different from the one at Mount Sinai, as recorded in Exodus. Instead, it is a confirmation to the people that he still abides by his word to them. An English word used in the NIV to describe this action is one that is familiar to us: Confirm.

    You are standing here in order to enter into a covenant with the LORD your God, a covenant the LORD is making with you this day and sealing with an oath, to confirm you this day as his people, that he may be your God as he promised you and as he swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

    - Deuteronomy 29:12-15 (NIV)

Anyone who makes reservations to travel receives a confirmation from the airline, hotel, or other parties involved in transportation and logistics. The confirmation from the travel provider is a restatement of their pledge to do what they have promised to do. Granted, in some cases they have over-booked and have to renege on their pledge, and they may offer their customers a voucher as compensation, but that rarely can replace the cost of lost time and effort. The irony and frustration of these situations was artfully captured in a scene from a television situation comedy:

    (Scene: A car rental office somewhere in New York City)

    Car Rental Agent : I'm sorry, we have no mid-size available at the moment.

    Jerry Seinfield: I don't understand, I made a reservation, do you have my reservation?

    Agent: Yes, we do, unfortunately we ran out of cars.

    Jerry: But the reservation keeps the car here. That's why you have the reservation.

    Agent: I know why we have reservations.

    Jerry: I don't think you do. If you did, I'd have a car. See, you know how to take the reservation, you just don't know how to hold the reservation and that's really the most important part of the reservation, the holding. Anybody can just take them.

    Agent: Let me, uh, speak with my supervisor...(1)

    (Laugh track emits a long snickering chuckle)

    Seinfield ends up accepting a Ford Escort instead of the mid-size car that had been promised by the car rental agency.

By contrast, God never breaks his promise.

However, in order to receive the promised blessing the people have to listen to God and obey his words, as explained by Moses. We are the ones who have reneged on God. We promise to hold our hearts and minds for him and then find ourselves overbooked, so we give that space in our heart and mind to someone else. God can be patient and forgiving, but if we fear him then we do not want to test his patience. Instead, when we recognize how we have failed to uphold our end of the agreement we should seek forgiveness and will be granted a fresh start. How do we recognize our failures? There may times in our lives that we are so busy giving our hearts to earthly matters that we may not even realize that we have been given God the equivalent of an old bicycle when we promised him a brand new car.

He wants the best from us and expects us to fulfill our promises the way he has fulfilled his. Yet, he may seek us and send messages to remind us of his word. The message may come as a gentle nudge from an old friend or in the form of a lightning bolt from the creator that knocks us off our horse. We might be tempted to argue back that "we know how to hold a promise for you, God," and he might respond "No you don't. You know how to make a promise, but you don't know how to hold it, and that's the most important part." Listen to these messages and renew the covenant.

Although God withholds many mysteries, as noted at the end of chapter 29, he has told us enough and has re-stated it over and over. Therefore, when we disobey it’s due to an act of will, not a lack of knowledge. The wisdom of the Bible is intended to be read, discussed, and shared with our children and others so that we remember the parts that we can understand. A 19th Century author from Connecticut once wisely observed, “It’s not the parts of the Bible that I don’t understand that worry me. It’s the parts I do understand (Mark Twain 1835-1910)." Wise words from a pragmatic humorist.

Reservations a scene from "Seinfield"

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. Can you recall a situation in which your reservation was not upheld by a hotel, airline, or other party (or where you held a reservation and the customer didn't follow through)?
    2. When have you failed to hold something for God?
    3. What messages from God have you heard lately and how did they arrive?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father in heaven, please help us to hear you, and if we do hear you, helps us to hold onto your words, cherish them, and follow them.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns
    People who make us laugh


    (1) "The Alternate Side," Seinfield Scripts, written by Larry David and Bill Masters; season 3, episode 11, original broadcast date December 4, 1991,

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading:Deuteronomy 31-34 (Last Word)

    Comments and Questions
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