The Lord sought to establish the nation of Israel as a people for Himself. He would do so by a covenant, intimately drawing this people near to Him.
But the people of Israel would not be faithful to God. Instead, they would enter into relationships with other nations, worshiping other gods.
The Anticipation of the Old Covenant
In Deuteronomy 29, Moses summons the Israelites before him in the plains of Moab in order to speak the words of the covenant to them.
Moses began his speech by reminding the Israelites of the signs and wonders they saw in Egypt as well as in the wilderness. However, the Lord had not yet given them ears to hear or hearts to understand these wonders—they would need a new heart in order to do so.
Moses gave the Israelites the old covenant, the law that would serve as a guide, teaching them of their need of Christ. In their current position, they were called to look forward to the new covenant (see Jeremiah 31:31). That is not to say the old covenant was wrong—instead, it was meant to point them to God while they waited for the fullness of His purposes for them.
The Holiness of God’s Name
When we read texts like Deuteronomy 29, we need to remember that God chose Israel not out of need but out of love. What He does ultimately brings glory to Himself, for He is deserving of all glory.
God knew the Israelites would rebel against Him. However, He used even their disobedience to point to His glory. He would give them a new covenant despite their unfaithfulness. When He did so, it would point to the holiness of His name and to His mercy (Ezekiel 36:22–36). The covenant God made with the Israelites in Deuteronomy 29 looked ahead to this new covenant.
The Purpose of the Covenant
The old covenant called the Israelites to fear the Lord, to love Him, and to walk in His ways. It was meant to draw them into an intimate relationship with God.
We are no longer under the old covenant, but we still need to both treasure God and obey Him. When we love Him above all else, we will keep His commandments (John 14:15). In the new covenant, He has given us a heart to do so.
This teaching is based on Ken’s Handbook to Scripture.