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We come to the conclusion of Moses’s charge to Israel and to the last sermon in the series Faithfulness for the Next Generation. An appropriate question to ask is what does God want from his people? Faithfulness. Even with the majority of the book devoted to explaining the Ten Commandments, God does not want a nation a box-checkers. The Law reveals God’s desire for the hearts of his people. Faithfulness to God begins with loving God with your whole heart. That is what the law reveals about God. But the law also reveals man and his unfaithful heart.
In his final sermon, Moses expounds the gospel truths that God is faithful even when his people are not. And God will do for his people what they can not do for themselves––circumcise their hearts and the hearts of their children. This is possible because the word, the Word, is very near to them and to you.
The Heart that Cannot See or Hear (Deut. 29:1-4)
Why can’t Israel be faithful? It’s easy to think that “If we had front row seats to seeGod’s wonders in Egypt and at the Red Sea and in the wilderness, and if we have heard God speak from the cloud and heard the words of the Law, then we would have been really obedient. So what’s their problem?” Moses says that God didn’t give them a heart to see or to hear.
Listen to what Moses says in 29:2-4, “Now Moses called all Israel and said to them: ‘You have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land––the great trials which your eyes have seen, the signs, and those great wonders. Yet the Lord has not given you a heart to perceive and eyes to see and ears to hear, to this very day.” Israel’s ears were hard of hearing because their heart was hard. There eyes were blind because their heart was blind. Israel’s problem was their heart. They don’t have the right heart because God has not given them the right heart.
The Heart of Man
This is not merely Israel’s problem, but mankind’s problem, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Your heart is a hypocritical, to others and to yourself. Moses warns again deceiving yourself with covenant presumption, “When he hears the words of this curse, that he blesses himself in his HEART, saying, ‘I shall have peace even though I follow the dictates of my HEART’” (Deut. 29:19). How simple it is to view your life through Instagram #blessed, when you are really cursed. While you and your heart may be deceived, God is not. He sees, he hears, he knows the heart of man. He knows your heart. He is not fooled.
The Lord Circumcises the Heart (30:1-6)
The Lord knows that his people will turn and fall away and would be unfaithful to their covenant. He knew this not only for his covenant people of Israel, but also that his covenant people of Christ Church would be unfaithful. But the Lord is faithful. And he is already planning to forgive. To restore. To show compassion. To return home. To change hearts. “And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God will all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live” (Deut. 30:6). The glorious gospel promise is that God does for man what man can not do for themselves. Earlier in Deuteronomy 10, God told Israel to “Circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer” (Deut. 10:18). A faithful Israelite would be wondering, “How do I apply this one?” What is impossible for us––whole-hearted obedience––God gives.
The Obedient Heart (30:7-10)
The heart circumcised by the Lord is the heart that loves the Lord. That’s the first and greatest commandment. And this obedience keeps spreading (verse 8). You can obey the Lord and turn to the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul, because the Lord has turned your heart.
The Word is Near (30:11-20)
In Romans 10, Paul quotes Deuteronomy 30:11-14 and shows how this is about Jesus. Paul begins, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” Paul then outlines two options for righteousness––self-righteousness or Christ’s righteousness. You enter heaven either through yourrighteousness or Christ’srighteousness. It’s not a deep mystery whose righteousness will get you there.
But Paul shows how Jesus brings near the Word of this covenant. You can’t say that this covenant is not too hard or mysterious because Christ has fulfilled the law and graciously gives you his righteousness. Don’t say that the covenant is too far away, because Jesus is Immanuel. Jesus has come and has come to take on your curse. Christ conquered death and evil and now brings life and goodness for his people.
Moses says, “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, his statutes, and his judgments, that you may live and multiply” (Deut. 30:15-16). Moses sets life and good and blessings before them by placing before them the law. And the law really can be life and good and blessing when you believe that Jesus is your Law, your Righteousness, your Savior, your Lord. Therefore choice Jesus.