Historians serve an important role in our society. While historians might not save lives or arrest criminals, they play a key role in our current and future success. Historians remind us of our past. They explain how people and societies came to be. They remind us of efforts that led to great success and others that resulted in devastating failure.
History played an important role for God’s people as well, which is why in Deuteronomy 29, Moses spent time reminding them of the past. First, Moses led Israel in a renewal of the covenant. The setting is the same as yesterday—the nation was camped in Moab, near the border of the promised land (v. 1).
Moses began by reminding them that their history proved God’s faithfulness and power (vv. 2–8). This list included the signs and wonders God performed on their behalf in Egypt and their ultimate liberation from bondage. He had provided for them and guided them during the wilderness years and gave them victories east of the Jordan River. They couldn’t take any credit for these things, for they’d been spiritually hardhearted and dull (v. 4).
God’s reaffirmation was taking place in this historical context (vv. 9–15). God’s promises, many dating back to the patriarchs, were about to be fulfilled. This was a solemn and sacred occasion! The Israelites’ covenant responsibilities of obedience and worship had to be taken seriously. Idolatry was a “bitter poison” to avoid (vv. 16–18). Failure to keep the covenant would bring serious consequences (vv. 19–28). Curses would fall on them; their judgment would become an object lesson to the nations.
>> A review of Israel’s history brought up troubling (and probably embarrassing) memories. Moses urged them to consider their heart and their commitment. It is good for us, too, to review and reaffirm our own commitment to serve God.
Heavenly Father, make us pliable instruments in Your hands so that Your work can be done through us, not in spite of us. Eradicate our idolatry, for You alone are worthy of our praise.