The Agreement in Moab
1So Moses finished telling the Israelites what they had to do in order to keep the agreement the Lord was making with them in Moab, which was in addition to the one the Lord had made with them at Mount Sinai.
The Third Speech:
The Lord Is Your God
2-3Moses called the nation of Israel together and told them:
When you were in Egypt, you saw the Lord perform great miracles that caused trouble for the king, his officials, and everyone else in the country. 4-6He has even told you, “For 40 years I, the Lord, led you through the desert, but your clothes and your sandals didn't wear out, and I gave you special food. I did these things so you would realize that I am your God.”
But the Lord must give you a change of heart before you truly understand what you have seen and heard.
7 When we first camped here, King Sihon of Heshbon and King Og of Bashan attacked, but we defeated them. 8 Then we captured their land and divided it among the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh.
Keep the Agreement
9Israel, the Lord has made an agreement with you, and if you keep your part, you will be successful in everything you do. 10-12Today everyone in our nation is standing here in the Lord's presence, including leaders and officials, parents and children, and even those foreigners who cut wood and carry water for us. We are at this place of worship to promise that we will keep our part of the agreement with the Lord our God.
13-15In this agreement, the Lord promised that you would be his people and that he would be your God. He first made this promise to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and today the Lord is making this same promise to you. But it isn't just for you; it is also for your descendants.
16-17When we lived in Egypt, you saw the Egyptians worship disgusting idols of wood, stone, silver, and gold. Then as we traveled through other nations, you saw those people worship other disgusting idols. 18 So make sure that everyone in your tribe remains faithful to the Lord and never starts worshiping gods of other nations.
If even one of you worships idols, you will be like the root of a plant that produces bitter, poisonous fruit. 19You may be an Israelite and know all about the Lord's agreement with us, but he won't bless you if you rebel against him. You may think you can get away with it, but you will cause the rest of Israel to be punished along with you. 20-21The Lord will be furious, and instead of forgiving you, he will separate you from the other tribes. Then he will destroy you, by piling on you all the curses in The Book of God's Law, and you will be forgotten forever.
22The Lord will strike your country with diseases and disasters. Your descendants and foreigners from distant countries will see that your land 23 has become a scorching desert of salt and sulfur, where nothing is planted, nothing sprouts, and nothing grows. It will be as lifeless as the land around the cities of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, after the Lord became angry and destroyed them.
24People from other nations will ask, “Why did the Lord destroy this country? Why was he so furious?”
25And they will be given this answer:
Our ancestors worshiped the Lord, but after he brought them out of Egypt and made an agreement with them, they rejected the agreement 26and decided to worship gods that had never helped them. The Lord had forbidden Israel to worship these gods, 27-28and so he became furious and punished the land with all the curses in The Book of God's Law. Then he pulled up Israel by the roots and tossed them into a foreign country, where they still are today.
29The Lord our God hasn't explained the present or the future, but he has commanded us to obey the laws he gave to us and our descendants.
The Lord is the one and only God, and tolerates no rivals. He longs for his people to know life, and so he reveals the secret of life. If you want life, you will find it in God. If you choose to depart from God and your relationship to God, you will find yourselves and your land destroyed.
This passage re-affirms the covenant between God and his chosen people. It re-establishes who God is and what he has done on their behalf. It remembers what nations without God look like and how his chosen ones are to be set apart and different.
A stark and sober warning is given to the people. A picture is painted of a day when this remarkable land, filled with milk and honey, would be desolate and destroyed; and such a day would be the result of their leaving the Lord.
These are strong words about how life works. God is the source of life and his ways lead to life. To depart from God will lead to death; not so much in the sense of punishment, though that is still true, but rather in the sense that we choose death. Our departure from God’s way is a choice we are making to pursue death.
Here we find the jealousy of God, jealous that we would choose life. A jealousy not rooted in his selfishness (which is what we associate with jealousy), but a jealousy rooted in his steadfast love.
Father, thank you for the new covenant we have been offered in Jesus. This is an invitation to walk in relationship with you. It is an accepting of your steadfast love and provision to us. Thank you for inviting us, and even urging us, to be those who overcome, those who choose abundant life.