Summary: But - praise be to God - God has already come down in the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ.


Deuteronomy 30:9-14.

The Book of Deuteronomy as a whole, and Deuteronomy 29-30 in particular, are written in terms reminiscent of Ancient Suzerainty treaties. Under certain terms and conditions outlined in the pronouncement of curses and blessings, a more powerful Empire would enter into a covenant to take a lesser nation under its wings, providing that that nation would not make any treaties with anyone else. Thus the Suzerain would proclaim his love and ask nothing but love and loyalty in return.

Despite the Nearness of the word of God suggested here in Deuteronomy 30:14, the LORD has already established that, up to this point, the LORD has not given His people a heart to understand it (Deuteronomy 29:4). The Old covenant consists in ‘this do and live’ (Leviticus 18:5; cf. Romans 10:5), and a time is envisaged (prophesied, indeed) when the anger of the LORD will have been kindled, and He has rooted His people out of the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 29:27-28). However, there is a hint of something new and different yet to be revealed to those who will hear (Deuteronomy 29:29; cf. Matthew 13:11 - read Matthew 13:9-17).

In their captivity, the people have the opportunity for a change of heart (Deuteronomy 30:1-3; cf. Deuteronomy 30:19). I find it reassuring that God’s restorative love reaches even beyond the Space Station (Deuteronomy 30:4) and it is His love which enables us to love Him (Deuteronomy 30:6; cf. Romans 2:28-29). His people return to the land (Deuteronomy 30:5) and the curses fall upon their enemies (Deuteronomy 30:7).

This return is a return to Obedience (Deuteronomy 30:8; Deuteronomy 30:10). It is a return to Prosperity (Deuteronomy 30:9; cf. Deuteronomy 28:11-14). However, it is only possible because of the accessibility of the word of God (Deuteronomy 30:14).

It seems strange to speak of the accessibility of the word of God in ancient Israel, because there was only one copy: and that was kept shut away in the Tabernacle. Yet their fathers had heard it at the mouth of Moses, and they were hearing it again (the name ‘Deuteronomy’ means ‘the second giving of the law’). The network of synagogues which arose out of the Exile were not without their own copies of the word of God (cf. Luke 4:17).

Yet what excuse have we in our age and generation, when the Bible is still one of the bestselling volumes in the world? People may complain that they do not understand it (cf. 2 Peter 3:15-16), but do they really make the effort? All too often the Bible is just another ‘must have’ volume to adorn our shelves!

The ‘Israelites' - whom the Apostle Paul describes as those to whom pertains, among other things, ‘the giving of the law’ (Romans 9:4) - learn the Scriptures by rote. The argument of Deuteronomy 30:11 is that the word of God is not beyond our comprehension. Neither is it beyond our grasp, certainly in these days, in terms of relevance and availability (cf. Romans 16:25-27).

The Apostle alludes to Moses when he speaks of the nearness of God’s word. The law was not inaccessible (Deuteronomy 30:11). Neither is the gospel (Romans 10:6-8).

The idea of men trying to reach God through their own efforts is typified in the Tower of Babel. Even our best efforts at keeping the law have failed. But - praise be to God - God has already come down in the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ (Deuteronomy 30:12; John 1:14; John 3:13).

Moses speaks of the law not being beyond the sea (Deuteronomy 30:13). In the Greek, Paul interprets this as “the abyss” (Romans 10:7) - a possible pseudonym for Hades (cf. Acts 2:31). We don’t need to search for salvation there, for Jesus ‘is not dead, but risen’ (Matthew 28:6).

For Moses, the word was “nigh thee, in your mouth and in your heart, THAT YOU MAY DO IT” (Deuteronomy 30:14). The Apostle Paul makes a new application of this as ‘the word of FAITH which we proclaim’ (Romans 10:8). This is not a word that we “do” as was the law, but a word that we ‘BELIEVE’, as Paul goes on to expound.

“In your mouth and in your heart” (Deuteronomy 30:14; Romans 10:8) finds its match in Romans 10:9, where the Apostle pronounces: ‘If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.’ Amen.

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