Book of Deuteronomy Chapter Thirty Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
Verses 1-3: "So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind in all nations where the Lord your God has banished you, 2 and you return to the Lord your God and obey Him with all your heart and soul according to all that I command you today, you and your sons, 3 then the Lord your God will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you." In so many times and places, men and women in their grief have decided, "I have done too much... I am too great a sinner... I did it... It's too late for me..." But it's not too great or too late. It never was. What is called "sin" in Scripture is indeed our enemy, which can misdirect us at any moment. All have been enticed by the lure of some aspect of sin, only to discover too late that what looked beautiful, what felt great, was really a trap designed by the enemy to destroy us. God is indeed our Judge, but He is also infinitely merciful, and at just the right time, the Son of God died on our behalf, rescuing those who simply trust in Him. As it is written in 2 Corinthians 5:21, "He (the Father) made Him who knew no sin (the Son) to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." He has "compassion on you," no matter what you have done or thought in the past, and He "will have compassion" and "will gather you," bringing men and women of faith, ordinary folks like you and me, out of the clutches of sin. Will you choose life by trusting in Him?
Verses 4-5: "If your outcasts are at the ends of the earth, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you back. 5 The Lord your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers." Looking back on the fifteen years I ran away from the Lord in my 20's and 30's, I have wondered: What if I had died during that time? Would He have abandoned me forever because I left Him? The fact is, He was and is faithful to you and me, even when we are not faithful. He gathered me and brought me back, prospering me with His Spirit in ways I did not expect or deserve. Don't go, but if you do, "He will bring you back." He will.
Verse 6: "Moreover the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live." Here is another look at Israel, a real, historical people who were also God's parable, His message to humanity. Israel was instructed, through Abraham, to circumcise all male children at eight days of age, as an outward sign of God's covenant with His people (Genesis 17:9-14), but there is obviously more... What is this command to "circumcise your heart?" As it is described here in Deuteronomy, it is also seen in places like Romans 2:29—"He is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God." What you cannot do, God can—changing you, enabling you to "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live." He will give you His Holy Spirit and make you new—inside—where it counts.
Verse 7: "The Lord your God will inflict all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you." When Jesus said, in Matthew 5:44, "love your enemies," it's reasonable to ask, "How is that possible?" You will have enemies—they come from our mistakes in life, but enemies also hate your trust in the Lord and acceptance of His will. When they dislike you and do hateful things to you, how can you possibly love them? Jesus told us WHAT to do in that verse when He continued that we are to bless them, do good to them and pray on their behalf. But how on earth do we even WANT to do it? The answer is—through faith in the Lord, expressed by accepting His will for us and praying for the ones who can't stand us. Note in this verse in Deuteronomy that we are to have faith in Him that HE will set things right. If our enemies are to be judged by the Lord, let HIM do it. He is better at judgment than we are anyway, and it may be that our response of mercy will be the touch that enables our enemy to find the faith that he or she needed all this time.
Verses 8-10: "And you shall again obey the Lord, and observe all His commandments which I command you today. 9 Then the Lord your God will prosper you abundantly in all the work of your hand, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your cattle and in the produce of your ground, for the Lord will again rejoice over you for good, just as He rejoiced over your fathers; 10 if you obey the Lord your God to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of the law, if you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and soul." God instituted a specific series of commands for Israel, and these verses touch the 613 or so commandments that God had for the nation as His will for each of its citizens. He has a specific will for all Jews who have ever lived, which includes national laws for all His people, and laws that are precise for each person. He has commands for you and me that are uniquely designed for each one, no matter who we might think we are, and He does have a corporate plan for all citizens everywhere, that specifically that fits us and any organization we belong to. It's time to trust in Him and in His will for your life.
Verses 11-14: "For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’ 13 Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’ 14 But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it." Commandments make sense. Without traffic rules, driving would soon become impossible; without God's commandments we would have destroyed humanity millennia ago. In places like James 1:6, we find a strong authentication that faith in the Lord is a necessary adjunct to everything, including prayer: "Ask in faith, with no doubting..." But James also continued in 2:18—"Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works." True faith in the Lord will change us so that we find ourselves unexpectedly doing the right thing. We find an urgency within ourselves to help others through the gifts that God has given to us. His commands are not "out of reach," for He is with us and in us, revealing His faith in us by the good works we now want and are surprisingly able to perform.
Verses 15-16: "See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; 16 in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the Lord your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it." The Lord has given us everything, and we love Him because we have discovered His great love for us. In finding this treasure who is our God, we long to please Him, and here He is, enabling us to do, to obey, to perform the good that previously seemed somewhere between unlikely and impossible for us.
Verses 17-18: "But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. You will not prolong your days in the land where you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess it." Almost everyone who has been captured by some form of idolatry in this world, whether it is giving allegiance to cocaine, alcohol, sex, money, power or whatever the enemy may toss at us—will eventually see that what was pleasurable, what numbed the pain, became a great trap enslaving us. That which appeared beautiful becomes an ugly monster that destroys our lives. Just like Israel would lose the land, we lose, for a time, the incredible, beautiful awareness of the Lord in our lives.
Verses 19-20: "I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, 20 by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them." What came first—the faith or the love? The answer is that those godly wonders arrive simultaneously in us as we feebly push open the gates and let the Lord into our lives. It's His faith in us and His love, and we, out of His store of gifts, find ourselves able at last to respond to His commands as many in Israel did. It's simple, really. "By loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him," you find everlasting joy. Otherwise you miss the blessing and become horrified by the "curse" your life has become. So choose life and LIVE like never before, as you discover the joy of the Lord.
Lord, I am Yours. Please forgive me for the times I have strayed away from You. I am Yours anew. I surrender and thank You, Lord, that You are here for me. I praise Your Holy Name. In Jesus Name. Amen.