This chapter, filled with promise, brings hope to all those battered by the curse of the law. Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. And in this place Moses points to the coming glory. “And it shall come to pass, when all these things shall come upon thee, the blessing and the curse . . .” (Dt. 30:1-20).
Moses anticipates disobedience to the covenant followed by exile. But he also anticipates that Israel will come to her senses in exile (vv. 1-5). This turning is actually the work of God in their hearts (v. 6). The curses will then fall on Israel’s enemies, and no longer on them. Israel will return to the land, to the covenant, and to the terms of the covenant (vv. 7-10). These terms are not outrageous—they are plainly set before Israel (vv. 11-16). When they have been brought back from exile, idolatry is still prohibited, and the curses still apply. But life is set before them—choose life (vv. 17-20).
When Israel sins, they will be driven into a far country. While there, the blessings and curses will come to mind (v. 1). Like the prodigal son, Israel comes back again to a sound mind. They shall return to God wholeheartedly (v. 2). As a result God brings them back to the land (v. 3). They will be gathered in from the ends of the earth (v. 4). God will fetch them. This happened in history, but it was also a type of the new covenant, as we shall see. In this return, God will bless them far beyond the earlier blessings enjoyed (v. 5).
This is why you must be born again. Earlier in Deuteronomy, Israel was told to circumcise their own hearts (10: 16). But here, as an indication of the new covenant, the one who sets their heart right is the Lord God Himself (v. 6). This circumcision is regeneration, and is the gift of God. God will circumcise their hearts and the hearts of their children. The result is obedience to the greatest commandment—loving the Lord with all their might, so they might live. The New Testament is emphatic about what all this means. The Colossians received this great gift (Col. 2:11-12). Paul refers to it (Rom. 2:28-29). Ezekiel promises the same glorious reality (Ez. 11:19-20). You must be born from on high.
The tables will be turned. The enemies of Israel will come under the curse (v. 7). But Israel will return in obedience (v. 8). When obedience returns, then so do the blessings (v. 9). This follows from wholehearted obedience (v. 10), which was only made possible through the circumcision of the heart. In the original Hebrew, Moses said that this is not rocket science (v. 11). No excuses. Obedience is not far off in distant heaven (v. 12). Neither is it across the sea (v. 13). The word is right in front of them (v. 14)—and we will see why shortly. God has set all His commandments in front of them for life, and for blessing, and for goodness (vv. 15-16).
The new covenant does not change the standards of righteousness. Idolatry is under a curse to the end of the world (v. 17). Those who think that grace covers sin without dealing with it are deceiving themselves (v. 18). Heaven and earth bear witness to how plain the gospel was made (v. 19). Love God. Cleave to Him. Obey Him. He is your life (v. 20).
Christ is the end of the law (Rom. 10:4). Why is this? Because Moses contrasts the righteousness of the law and the righteousness of faith. Law speaks of doing. But faith lives triumphantly in this chapter of Deuteronomy (Rom. 10:6-11). Heaven and sea—Christ is the man from heaven. He is Immanuel—God with us. Christ conquered death, and brought salvation back with Him. He descended into the sea the way Jonah did, the one who crossed the sea. Faith comes by hearing—Paul tells us clearly how the new life is communicated (Rom. 10:17). Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Christ has brought heaven down. Are you born again? Christ has ascended from the dead, and brought salvation up with Him. Are you born again? The salvation that is offered to you is not somewhere else. It is in the word we preach—Jesus is Lord and He rose from the dead (Rom. 10:9). Do you believe this?