These are the words of the covenant, which the LORD commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab…
Every act of obedience is a step of the soul upward. It leads us into clearer light and into purer air. The man is braced by the exercise. On the other hand, the neglect of a great occasion of blessing is an irreparable loss.
I. NOTE GOD'S GRACIOUS ACTIVITY ON BEHALF OF HIS COVENANT PEOPLE. Ancient Israel was sadly prone to forget what God had done for them. Ingratitude is base. It injures greatly the man who is guilty of it. We lose immensely by our obliviousness of God's kindness. For the Hebrews, God had exerted his power and pity in methods unprecedented. Almost every act of his for their deliverance was a miracle. The crops of Egypt were blasted in order to rescue the sons of Abraham. The firstborn of Egypt, of man and of beast, were slain to emancipate Israel. The king, his courtiers, and Egypt's military were submerged in the sea to deliver the Hebrews. For forty years they had been miraculously led and miraculously fed. For forty years their clothes had resisted all decay, and their sandals had not yielded to wear. Without ordinary bread - without wine - they had been kept alive; yea, had become robust and irresistible. Conquest over foes was already theirs, and Canaan itself was, in part, possessed. Never before - never since - has God so set aside his ordinary methods of providing for men, and revealed himself as the personal Friend of his people.
II. THIS GRACIOUS ACTIVITY CONTAINED PREGNANT PLEDGE OF HIGHER GOOD. Wondrous as were these acts of Divine kindness, they did not terminate in themselves. They were the earnests of something more - something higher. Every gift in the desert and every conquest in Canaan contained a kernel of spiritual promise. These events through which the Hebrews passed, both prosperous events and adverse, were "temptations," or tests, by which to develop their faith and fortitude. Every carnal battle was drill and discipline for spiritual conflict. Very instructively are the miraculous deliverances here called "signs" (ver. 3). For signs and symbols they were of realities in the spirit-realm. The redemption from Egypt was the sign of a better redemption for the soul. Sinai foreshadows Calvary. The smitten rock prefigured Christ. The desert life was a type of the earthly pilgrimage. The brazen serpent symbolized the remedy for sin. By new and singular methods was the host of God's elect daily fed, and Moses plainly indicates the gracious intention of the plan, viz. that "Ye might know that I am the Lord your God." The descending manna was an object-lesson. Every meal was a revelation of God. Within the food for the body was to be found richer food for the soul.
III. WE SEE MAN'S INSENSIBILITY TO THE GRACIOUS INTENTION OF GOD. In this address of Moses we discover an apparent contradiction. "Ye have seen," he says, "all that the Lord did" (ver. 2). "Yet," he adds, "the Lord hath not given you eyes to see" (ver. 4). But the contradiction is only on the surface. They saw, and yet they did not see. They saw the external event; they did not perceive the interior meaning. They had no eye for spiritual penetration. They had not the pureness of heart by which they might have seen God. And the blame of non-possession does not rest on God. Some gifts he bestows unasked. "He sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." But the higher gifts for the soul he grants only to the meek and the prayerful. "Ask, and ye shall receive." "Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it." The Hebrews saw the cloud, but did not see the God within the cloud. They saw the splendid coruscations of his glory, and they entreated that the vision might not be repeated. Their mouths were filled with material food, but they had no eye to discern the love which supplied it. They remained deaf to the soft whispers of the Divine voice - the voice within the human voice. They were too carnal to perceive the illustrious vocation to which they were called, or the magnificent destiny that lay in their path. Jehovah offered to be "their God."
IV. WE SEE A FRESH OPPORTUNITY FOR COMPLETE CONSECRATION. On the threshold of the Promised Land God summoned a halt. He reviews, by the mouth of Moses, their past history, reminds them of their mistakes, reproves their obtuseness of mind, and invites them to a renewal of the sacred covenant. Another chance was given them for spiritual reformation. Here was the commencement of a new epoch. Again, as in Horeb, God bids for man's allegiance. He renews his pledge to be in Canaan what he had been in the desert - their special Friend, their God. In this compact all the resources of God were secured to Israel. His power, his glory, his life, his home, were conveyed to them. All was to be theirs; but on one condition - and that condition was a necessity - that they should be loyal and true to him. What a splendid opportunity was there for a new beginning - for a fresh departure!. So ever and anon God comes near to us, and offers to make a covenant with us - to be our Friend and God forever. On the morning of every day - on every returning Sabbath - he appeals to us afresh to make consecration of ourselves. If we will be indeed his people, he will be most truly our God. We too may "enter into his oath." - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: These are the words of the covenant, which the LORD commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, beside the covenant which he made with them in Horeb.