Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
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.25. The Repetition of the Covenant and the Repetition of the Curse
1. The repetition of the covenant (Deuteronomy 29:1-15)
2. The repetition of the curse (Deuteronomy 29:16-29)
The words of the covenant are once more brought to their remembrance. Once more all the goodness of the Lord towards them is unfolded by Moses, how the Lord had dealt with Egypt and how their eyes had seen the signs and great miracles. (Verses 5 and 6 are the direct words of Jehovah, ending with the declaration, “I am the LORD, your God.”) Again the forty years are mentioned, during which their clothes and their shoes did not get old. God took care of them and provided for their needs in the wilderness. Bread from heaven was their portion and therefore they had no need of stimulants, such as wine and strong drink (verse 6). But in the midst of these words, calling to remembrance the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord, we find a solemn statement: “Yet the LORD hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day” (verse 4). In all the manifestations they had remained without understanding and their heart was not touched and broken down. Therefore these gracious dealings are here repeated, that they might receive understanding and love and obey the Lord with all their heart. But they were a stiffnecked people, their heart of stone. How fully Israel’s history illustrates the words of our Lord, “that which is born of the flesh is flesh!” Later, when Israel went deeper and deeper into apostasy, Isaiah received the message, “Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed and perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart, and convert and be healed” (Isaiah 6:9-10). Judicial blindness came upon them when they rejected the Lord of Glory (Matthew 13:14-15; John 7:40; Acts 28:26-27). See also Stephen’s testimony given in the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51-52). But a day is coming when there will be for that nation a New Testament (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:7-11). Then Ezekiel 36:24-31 will be fulfilled. A careful reading of these passages will be helpful.
Here the Lord reminded them of what He had done for them to show them the claim He has on their obedience. “Keep therefore the words of this covenant, and do them, that ye may prosper in all ye do.”
After an earnest appeal to enter into the covenant, including the little ones, the stranger, the hewer of the wood and the water-carrier (Joshua 9:21; Joshua 9:27), we find the curse mentioned once more as the result of departure from the Lord. Especially interesting are verses 22-24. Such evil is to come upon them and upon the land, that “the stranger that shall come from a far land, shall say, when they see the plagues of that land, and the sickness which the LORD has laid upon it ... even all nations shall say, Wherefore hath the LORD done thus unto this land? What meaneth the heat of this great anger?” Strangers from far lands, tourists and pilgrims, have visited Palestine in fulfilment of this prediction and in view of the deplorable condition of that land have often asked these questions and known their answer. “Then men shall say, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD God of their fathers, which He made with them, when He brought them forth out of the land of Egypt.”