Author's Bias | Interpretation: conservative
Inclination: promise | Seminary: none

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Divine Covenants… the Land

A Series on Divine Covenants: Part 3

1. Read Deuteronomy 29:1-30:10. What has happened up to this point? When was this covenant made and who was it with? Is this part of the Mosaic covenant or is it distinctly different?

Because of their unbelief and idolatry, all but three individuals (Moses, Joshua, and Caleb) from the first generation out of Egypt died during the 40-year wanderings in the desert (Deut 1:35-39). Free from the experience of Egyptian bondage and just before their crossing of the Jordan River entering Palestine, God spoke through Moses and made the Land Covenant with the second-generation Israel.

This Covenant was known by several names:

a) the Land Covenant for its promises regarding the inheritance of land,

b) the Palestinian Covenant for the location of where the covenant was made (the plains of Moab), and

c) the Deuteronomy Covenant for the location of where the covenant is found in the Bible.

The Land Covenant is distinctly different from the Mosaic Covenant (Deut 29:1) for two reasons:

1) it was made 40 years after the Mosaic Covenant, and

2) it was made in Moab (instead of Horeb also known as Mt. Sinai).

For the first time, the Abrahamic Covenant is not being passed through an individual, and instead the nation of Israel, the children of Jacob.

2. What conditions must be met (Deut 30:1-5) in order to enter the Promised Land?

Failure to uphold their commitment to the Mosaic Covenant would cause God to scatter Israel all over the world (Deut 29:2 - 30:1).

By obeying the Lord your God "with all your heart and soul," God will regather His people from around the world and "bring you into the land" (Deut 30:2-5).

3. What is promised in the Land Covenant?

"Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live." (Deut 30:6)

Israel will be regenerated.

"The LORD your God will inflict all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you." (Deut 30:7)

The enemies of Israel will be judged.

"Then the LORD your God will prosper you abundantly in all the work of your hand, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your cattle and in the produce of your ground, for the LORD will again rejoice over you for good, just as He rejoiced over your fathers; if you obey the LORD your God to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of the law, if you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and soul." (Deut 30:8-10)

Israel will receive many blessings.

4. God speaks of circumcising our heart (Deut 30:6). A tool that can help clarify this idea is to use a concordance concordance for "circumcise" to see if the Bible defines or elaborates upon the term.

There are three other places where circumcision of the heart is mentioned:

"Circumcise yourselves to the Lord
And remove the foreskins of your heart,
Men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem,
Or else My wrath will go forth like fire
And burn with none to quench it,
Because of the evil of your deeds." (Jer 4:4)

The prophet Jeremiah submits a figure of speech that "circumcision of the heart" is the sign of the covenant between the men of Judah and God. In this instance, the covenant in view is the Mosaic Covenant. This interpretation of the figure of speech is rooted in the literal circumcision of the covenant that God made with Abraham (Gen 17:9-11):

God said further to Abraham, "Now as for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. (Gen 17:9-11)

The apostle Paul uses a similar figure of speech:

For indeed circumcision is of value if you practice the Law; but if you are a transgressor of the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? And he who is physically uncircumcised, if he keeps the Law, will he not judge you who though having the letter of the Law and circumcision are a transgressor of the Law? For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God. (Rom 2:25-28)

Here the apostle Paul is contrasting the literal circumcision with the figurative. Paul's contrast places an emphasis on the figurative circumcision with a meaning of one who keeps the covenant with God. While the Abrahamic Covenant is unconditional, Paul is saying that the heart of one who "listens and obeys" God's commands is circumcised by the New Covenant ("by the Spirit" [Jer 31:33; Ezek 11:19-20; 36:26-27]), not the Mosaic Covenant, and becomes God's "own possession among all the peoples" (Ex 19:5-6).

5. What does Moses say immediately following the Land Covenant (Deut 30:11-16)?

"For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach. It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?' Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?' But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it.

"See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the Lord your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it." (Deut 30:11-16)

Moses tells the nation of Israel that they have a choice, and that it "is not too difficult or out of reach." The word of God is nearby and accessible. "Love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments," and God will bless you with possession of the Land.

6. What is the significance of the Land Covenant?

The Land Covenant elaborates upon the Land portion of the Abrahamic Covenant! It is a promise that the Land will be populated with Believers and that the enemies of God will be judged.

Like the Abrahamic Covenant, the Land Covenant is unconditional and eternal. Despite the disobedience of the first generation of Hebrews out of Egypt and while the Mosaic Covenant was clear about its conditions for God's blessings, God still makes the Land Covenant with the second generation.

Also important to note, while the nation of Israel will eventually break the Mosaic Covenant, God does not destroy the nation of Israel nor end His covenant relationship with the nation.

While there is little question the promise of the Land has yet to be fulfilled, there is a presumption that Land in view is the present day Middle East. Will there be a time in human history that the "nation of Israel," "children of Abraham" will all meet the condition for the Land Covenant where all will return to the Lord and obey His words? What of Believers who have died – do they enter the Land? How are all Believers regathered? What if the Land in view was after the end of human history?

"The Scriptures were not given to increase our knowledge, but to change our lives."

Dwight Moody (1837-1899)

Series: Understanding God's covenants with man
Part 4: Divine Covenants… the King

Series: Understanding God's covenants with man
Part 2: Divine Covenants… the Law

Related subject:

Topical Index: God>Works of God>His Covenants

Related verses:

Scripture Index: The Pentateuch>Deuteronomy

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