Deuteronomy chapter 29 is not a pleasant chapter to read. It’s plain and simple; legal language is prominent in this passage as well as Israel’s idea of anger coming from God. Moses recounts the entire story of a dynamic Israel. In this farewell speech in only a few lines, Moses begins with the Exodus and ends with their present day.
Despite the wrathful, legal, and angry language, however, we can see the good in this chapter. This is a positive: that God provides continuously for His children. God has kept their clothes and shoes from wearing out. God has given them food to eat and water to drink. God gave them victory over Heshbon and Bashan. God gave them protection.
In fact, in this passage we see the love of God and the anger of men. We see the Idolatry that has arisen out of the people. This speech includes the condemning of idolatry. In all of this we see the covenant being re-emphasized.
There is something odd and mysterious in the last sentence of the chapter. “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the revealed things belong to us and to our children forever, to observe all the words of this law” (v. 29). What does this mean? Earl S. Kall presents an idea that is worth considering. This is that the Israelites have not yet had divine revelation of God through the Word, through Jesus Christ.1 Therefore it was necessary for them to follow the Law in a legal sense not understanding the real message of the Ten Commandments (Decalogue): love.
For us, the mystery of God has been revealed through Christ and Paul makes mention of this (Romans 16:25). So it is evident that there are good things in this chapter despite some harsh language!
1 . Kalland, Earl S. Deuteronomy: The Expositors Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992. p. 185
Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.