The Word Made Fresh
1“You must love the LORD your God and from this day forward obey all the rules and laws and instructions the LORD has given you. 2Remember, your children did not witness the testing the LORD put you through. You are the ones who must testify to the LORD’s greatness and might and far-reaching power. 3You are the ones who witnessed the mighty deeds the LORD did in the land of Egypt and to Pharaoh their king. 4You saw the LORD sweep away Pharaoh’s army in the Red Sea, along with their horses and chariots, and saw how the waters swept them away as they pursued you. 5You are the ones who were witnesses to the way the LORD brought you through the wilderness to this place. 6You saw what the LORD did to Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab from the tribe of Reuben. Remember? The ground opened up and swallowed them whole, along with their tents and their families and everything they owned. 7You have seen with your own eyes what the LORD has done.
8“Obey all the instructions I am giving you today so that you will be able to go in and take over the land you are going to live in, 9and be able to live there a long time. It is the land the LORD promised your ancestors you would possess. It is a land with plenty of food and resources – 10nothing like the land of Egypt, where you scattered your seed and then had to carry water to make it grow. 11But you are going to a land of hills and valleys watered by rain falling from the sky; 12a land the LORD your God is watching over, always watching year by year, beginning to end.
13“If you will keep the laws I am giving you today to the letter – if you love the LORD your God and serve the LORD with all your heart and soul – 14then I promise the early and later rains will come in the proper season. You will harvest your grain. You will press your wine and your oil. 15And I promise there will be plenty of grass in the fields for your animals and plenty for all of you to eat. 16But be careful, or you will be lured into serving and worshiping other gods, 17and then the LORD will be angry with you, and the sky will be closed and will send no rain, and the land will yield no crops and you will soon die on the good land the LORD is giving you.
18“Put these words in your heart and soul and obey them as if they were tied to your hand or marked as an emblem on your forehead. 19Teach your children all these things; talk about them whether you are at home or away, and while you’re on your back at rest or standing on your feet. 20Write them on the doorposts of your houses and your gate posts. 21If you do these things your days and the days of your children will be secure in the land the LORD promised your ancestors, as long as there is a sky over the earth.
22If you do everything I have taught you, and love the LORD, and faithfully do the LORD’s bidding, 23the LORD will drive out all these nations before you and you will dispose of nations larger and stronger than yourselves. 24Every piece of land you set your foot on will belong to you, and your territory will reach from the wilderness to the Lebanon and from the Euphrates to the Western Sea. 25No one will be able to stand against you. The LORD your God will see to it that the people who live on the land you are entering will be afraid of you and dread the day you appear. That is a promise from the LORD.
26“Look, you have a choice. One is a blessing; the other is a curse. 27The blessing will be yours if you obey all the laws of the LORD that I am giving you today. 28The curse will be yours if you do not obey– if you turn away from the path I am ordering you to follow, or if you bow down to other gods you have never known before.
29“When the LORD your God brings you into the land, and you settle there, announce the conditions of the LORD’s blessings from Mt. Gerizim, and the LORD’s curses from Mt. Ebal. 30You know where they are – beyond the Jordan away to the west in Canaanite territory in the Arabah area across from Gilgal near the oak grove at Moreh.
31“When you cross the Jordan and take over the land the LORD your God is giving you, 32you must be careful to keep all the rules and regulations I am giving you today.”
1-7: There is a great deal of repetition in this chapter – a sign of how important the Israelites held these rules to be:
Moses reminds them that they are responsible for keeping the memory of God’s mighty acts, and to keep the Law. Their task is to keep. Remember, Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden with the charge to “till it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15).
8-12: Moses tells them that the land they are entering is not like Egypt. In Egypt they had to irrigate the land. The land God is giving them is “a land that the Lord your God looks after.”
13-25: Over and over Moses warns them that if they forsake the Law dire consequences will follow. If they turn away from God, God will turn away from them. The heavens will be shut up and the rains will not come, and they’ll starve. Moses is definitely repeating himself in this chapter. Obey the commandments, he tells them again and again, and you will live long and prosper; but turn away from them and you will perish. Over and over, he draws the correlation between faithfulness and survival. People today don’t generally believe there is a connection between the two, and over the course of a single human life the connection is not always obvious. But over the course of multiple generations of a community that connection seems to be borne out throughout human history.
26-28: The blessings and curses on Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal will be described in great detail in chapter 27. These hills are located about 30 miles north of Jericho, where the people eventually cross over the Jordan. (You can find a map at https://www.bible-history.com/geography/ancient-israel/mount-gerizim.html and photographs of the two hills can be found by googling “Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal.”)
31-32: Once again he tells them to obey the laws and rules and commandments God is giving them through Moses, and live.
What God wants of God’s people is straightforward enough: show that you revere, respect, and rely on the LORD, and love the LORD with all your heart. Isn’t it the same with us today?