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Deuteronomy 30:14, 68, 1520comment (0)

February 16, 2012

By Dale Younce

Related Scripture: Deuteronomy 30:1-4, 6-8, 15-20

Explore the Bible

Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, Univesrity of Mobile

Be Repentant

Deuteronomy 30:1–4, 6–8, 15–20

No one is perfect. While it’s certainly true that no one lives a sin-free life, a greater problem is refusing to admit one’s wrongdoings. Some adults try to put the blame for their wrongdoings on their upbringing or “the system.” Other adults simply try to ignore the legitimacy of biblical mandates concerning right and wrong behavior. To some of these adults, life means never having to say you’re sorry. Because God is merciful and desires to restore people to a right relationship and godly behavior, He forgives those who repent of their sins. Thus God expects His people to repent when they falter in their faithfulness to Him. This week’s lesson finds Moses urging the Israelites to choose faithfulness and return to God when they fall into disobedience.

Repentance Is Possible (1–4)

On the plains of Moab, before entering the promised land, Moses called the Israelites to a renewal of the covenant God had made with them 40 years previously. Moses foresaw a time in the future when they would abandon the covenant, be driven from the promised land and scattered throughout the nations of the earth. But this would also be a time for returning to the Lord and being restored to a right relationship with Him. No matter how widely and thoroughly dispersed among the nations the Israelites might be, by means of their repenting and returning to the Lord, He would, with tender compassion, restore them and regather them to the promised land. 

To some degree, a regathering occurred after the Babylonian Captivity, when a believing remnant returned to the land and rebuilt the Temple. The complete fulfillment of this promise, however, will not take place until the end times (Isa. 43:5–7; Matt. 24:29–31). Today the people of Israel are scattered throughout the earth with only about 6 million in the state of Israel. 

The biblical principle is that no matter what we have done or how far away from God we think we are, He graciously extends to us the promise that if we genuinely repent of our sins, then we can return to a restored relationship with Him.

God Works in Repentant Hearts (6–8)

God produces this restoration to right relationship with Himself under the new covenant (Jer. 31:31–34; 32:36–41) and by means of a spiritual “operation,” the circumcision of the heart. This work of God in the innermost being of the individual is the genuine salvation that gives a new will to love and obey Him wholeheartedly, replacing the former spiritual insensitivity and stubbornness. This new heart is an essential feature of the new covenant (Ezek. 11:19; 36:26) and the evidence of genuine faith  (Rom. 2:28–29).  

Moses explained that when future Israelites repented of abandoning the covenant, the Lord would then work in their hearts to ensure wholehearted faithfulness. The biblical principle is true today. When we genuinely repent of our sins, we open ourselves to God so that He can change our attitudes and lifestyles in ways that are necessary. 

Life Comes Down to a Choice (15–20)

Moses clearly marked out the choice facing the Israelites: Love and obey God, which results in life, or reject God, which is death. Making this decision was not difficult; the choice was between life and death, and who would deliberately choose death? In Israel’s case, the choice was between trusting God and enjoying His blessings and refusing to love and obey Him and being severely punished.  

For us, the choice is between eternal life and eternal death, between salvation by grace through faith in Jesus and condemnation by God’s righteousness. Moses laid out before the Israelites a choice they must make: Love the Lord and live, or abandon Him and perish from the land. For us, because God has made eternal life possible through repentance and faith in Jesus, the only sensible decision is to choose life. “He who believes the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36).

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