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Deuteronomy 30:6-10 meaning

Moses tells Israel that when a future generation rebels, is exiled, then repents, the Suzerain God of their covenant will bring them back from exile and will circumcise their heart to enable them to live in obedience to His will. God will then inflict all the curses that were on Israel on their enemies.

So far, Moses told the Israelites that the Suzerain (Ruler) God would restore from captivity a future generation who rebels and breaks the covenant, then is exiled from the land. When they repent and return to God, He will bring them back into the Promised Land. Moses told the people that God would also circumcise their heart and the heart of their descendants (v. 6). The verb circumcise (Heb. "mûl") refers to the cutting off of the foreskin of a young boy or man, as a sign of being set apart unto God's people. To circumcise the heart meant to set their hearts apart to serve God and follow His ways. In which case, the outward symbol has moved to an inner reality.

Circumcision was required in the covenant the LORD made with Abraham (Genesis 17:10). It was to be a sign of their covenant (Genesis 17:11). It was a ceremony that sealed the agreement between God and Abraham, and all his descendants to follow. Every male in the covenant community was required to be circumcised (Genesis 17:13). It was an outward indication of one's joining to the covenant people. It was a requirement to be a part of the inheritance of Abraham, and his covenant with God (Genesis 17:14).

The covenants God made with Abraham, then his descendants, were cumulative in nature, with each adding to the previous. The covenant outlined in Deuteronomy 29:1 - 30:10 was made between God and the second generation (after leaving Egypt). It is additive to the covenant made and agreed to between God and Israel at Horeb (Sinai) and ratified by the second generation here in Moab, prior to entering the land (Deuteronomy 26:17), after Moses restated it to them in Deuteronomy 5:1 - 26:16. It also applies to future generations (Deuteronomy 29:14-15).

Circumcision was required in the covenant with Moses (Leviticus 12:3), although it was not a "sign" of this covenant. Keeping the Sabbath was the sign of the Mosaic covenant (Exodus 31:13). Just as circumcision was a sign that "I am of the people of Abraham and Isaac" keeping the Sabbath was a sign that "I am of the covenant of God and Israel made at Horeb (Sinai)."

In Deuteronomy 10:16, Moses commanded the people of Israel to circumcise their heart. This phrase is found only in Deuteronomy 10:16, Deuteronomy 30:6, Jeremiah 4:4 in the Old Testament. It meant that they were to make a choice to identify with the LORD and His covenant in their hearts, and commit to follow the Lord with all their being.

Here in Deuteronomy 30:6, it is the LORD God who would (metaphorically) circumcise the heart of Israel and the heart of their descendants. This would identify them internally with the LORD and His word, which in turn would enable them to love Him with all their heart and with all their soul. This reflects what Jesus said was the greatest commandment (Mark 12:29-30), which He quoted from Deuteronomy 6:5:

"You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might."
(Deuteronomy 6:5)

The apostle Paul states in his letter to the Romans that it is the inward circumcision of the heart that actually causes people to be a Jew, one who is of the covenant relationship with God:

"For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God."
(Romans 2:28-29)

From this verse in Romans, it could be viewed that New Testament believers might be participants in this amazing promise of a great renewal for Israel. This means that those of the Gentiles, who are of Israel's enemies, can now, through Jesus and His Spirit, participate in the bounty of God's blessing for Israel.

For a discussion of the terms heart and soul, see the commentary for Deuteronomy 30:2 . Just as in v. 2, the two words (heart and soul) are used together here to describe one's complete love and loyalty to the Suzerain (Ruler) God. Israel is exhorted to love God with every aspect of their being. The result of the total commitment to the LORD would be that they may live and enjoy God's benefits in the Promised Land. Living in complete obedience to God is, in reality, the path to our greatest possible benefit as humans.

When the rich young (Jewish) ruler asked Jesus how to gain the greatest amount of life (eternal life) Jesus told him to obey the commandments (from the covenant Israel entered into at Horeb). The young ruler answered that he had kept those commandments, and still wanted more. Mark records that Jesus "felt a love for him" and told him if he wanted more life to sell all he had and follow Him (Mark 10:21). It is likely at this point that Jesus was inviting the young man to be one of His disciples.

This could be viewed as an invitation Jesus made to the young ruler to have a circumcised heart, to love the lord with all his heart and soul. Jesus's promise was that this would be the path of greatest blessing for the young man whom He loved. This shows a consistent pattern in how God deals with His people through the ages (Hebrews 13:8).

In addition to circumcising Israel's hearts when a rebellious Israel repented and was restored from being exiled, the LORD their God would inflict all these curses on Israel's enemies and on those who hate them, who persecuted them (v. 7). This would be a complete reversal of fortunes. The Israelites who formerly had been engaged in idolatry would now be restored. Now, instead of Israel suffering at the hand of their enemies, now their enemies would suffer the curses which were once upon Israel (Deuteronomy 29:22-28).

And Israel, after this restoration, would again obey the LORD, and observe all His commandments which Moses commanded them (v. 8). The phrase again obey the LORD is literally "you will return and obey the voice of the LORD" in the Hebrew text. Thus, as a result of a changed heart (see v.6), the Israelites first would return (or repent), then they would again obey the LORD and faithfully observe all His commandments (His word) which He commanded them today.

Such a life of obedience would bring blessings upon repentant Israel. In addition to the blessings mentioned in the previous verses, the LORD their God would prosper them abundantly in all the work of their hand (v. 9). The Suzerain God would once again bless Israel with more than enough (Deuteronomy 28:11). He promised to give Israel surplus in all the work of their hand (their labor, whether in the fields or the cities), and it included abundance in the offspring of their body and in the offspring of their cattle and in the produce of their ground. The Israelites would have more children and their cattle and the young of their flock would increase exponentially when they sincerely and thoroughly repented from their evil ways. At that time, the Suzerain LORD would rejoice over them for good, just as He rejoiced over their fathers.

As stated earlier, The LORD God would be happy to do good things for this future generation in Israel again if they decided to obey Him to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of the law (v. 10). The words commandments and statutes refer to God's laws in this covenant. Again, Israel would need to turn to the LORD their God with all their heart and soul, meaning complete commitment to obeying the LORD and Him only.

In this section, Moses again emphasized the principle that the Israelites would be blessed beyond measure if they truly repented (turned) from their wicked ways (mainly idolatry) and lived their lives as obedient vassals to their Suzerain God, who commanded them to love their neighbors as they loved themselves.

This added covenant brings certainty to Israel entering and taking the land. At this point, Moses is speaking to the people on the east side of the Jordan River in Moab, preparing to cross in to Canaan. The added covenant presumes certainty that Israel will take the land. It also provides a warning that God will, actually, implement the adverse consequences for violating the terms of the covenant God made with Israel. If they forsook God's ways, and did not choose to love their neighbors as themselves, and instead sought the strong-exploit-the-weak ways of the surrounding nations, then God would remove them from the land. However, God promises that He would bring them back, and restore them in the land when they repented.


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