Moses was giving his final speech to the people of Israel, recapitulating the good news and blessing of the covenant that God had made with his people, while also declaring the curses that will come on them should they disobey Him and leave Him for other gods. This covenant, which came as part of giving the law through Moses, was conditional on the Israelites, God’s chosen people, obeying God’s law, the Word that He had given to them through Moses.
In chapter 29, God tells the people this through Moses:
These are the terms of the covenant the LORD commanded Moses to make with the Israelites in MoabDeuteronomy 29:1
God says that these are the “terms” of the agreement. It is also frequently translated simply, “words”, but the point is still the same. It is a bi-lateral agreement, similar to a contract. In this agreement, both sides have a responsibility. The responsibilities of each side are essentially:
God will be the God of the Israelites. He is the one true God. The only God, and He will be the God of the Israelites. If the Israelites will obey Him, He will give them blessing. He will lead them and guide them. And they will prosper as a people.
But the Israelites must obey God. They must do what God has called them to do. God has given them his law and they must follow the law that He has given them.
Those are the terms. That is the deal. If they will do it, then God will fulfill His part of the covenant. If they will not, God will not only not fulfill His part, but He will bring curses, anger, and wrath upon them and the blessing that they had experienced from God will evaporate and be gone.
God is the same God today as He was in the time of the Israelites. However, he has gone on to establish a new covenant with his people through Jesus. God had told the Israelites that the whole earth is mine but that they would be for Him a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. As His people, they would serve Him on the earth.
This is similar to whom we are called to be! At the last supper, Jesus establishes the New Covenant in his blood. He says that this covenant offers forgiveness for sins. God is creating a new people for Himself in Christ. Those that have had their sins forgiven through Christ will become a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession.
So even today, God continues to establish His covenant with His people. Will we keep the terms of the covenant? Will we put our trust in – and only in – the blood of Christ?