Richard Agee

Deuteronomy 29: Agape-love the LORD with all your heart, soul, strength

We are to love God with all our heart/mind, soul and strength. That love is to be an agape, selfless love, not a selfish “feeling” kind of love.

When Yeshua asked Peter if he agape-loved Him, Peter finally said he did love Yeshua. Yeshua told him to “feed my sheep,” which means that Yeshua wanted Peter to put his thoughts into action in a concrete way. Feelings without actions are not real and don’t count for much.

The chapter starts off, “These are the words of the covenant which the Lord commanded Moses to make with the sons of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant which He had made with them at Horeb” (Deut. 29:1). In other words, this is not just a summary of Sinai but also of over covenants God entered with them after Horeb/Sinai.

We don’t always God’s instructions the first time we hear them. Just as God told the Israelites, “Yet to this day the Lord has not given you a heart (לב lev, Strong’s lexicon No. H3820) to know, nor eyes (עַיִן ayin, H5869) to see, nor ears (אֹזֶן ozen, H241) to hear” (Deut. 29:4).

The Hebrew word here for heart means the “inner man or woman.” The Hebrew word for eye in this verse has the additional meaning of “appearance,” and the word for ear has the additional meaning of “being closely attentive.”

The descendants of Israel were on the cusp of a great change in the way their society operated. They have not put into practice many parts of the law that God had previously given them. 

You can not understand God’s law unless you put it into practice. There are blessings for performing the laws of Torah and curses as a consequence of disobedience. The blessing is life; the curse is death. 

Are we under a “new covenant” that only includes the blessings but not the curses? Yeshua told us that His sacrifice of Himself as the Passover offering sealed the “new covenant” (Luke 22:20), but Yeshua also warned that not all those who call Him “Lord” will be in the Kingdom (Matt. 7:21–22; Luke 6:46). So even Yeshua tells us there are blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. 

God goes on to say, “You have not eaten bread, nor have you drunk wine or strong drink, in order that you might know that I am the Lord your God” (Deut. 29:6). They had been eating manna instead of bread. It takes a stable agricultural society to be able to make their own wine or even beer, and they wouldn’t be able to do that until they entered the Land.

The covenant at Moab does not replace the covenant of Horeb/Sinai but adds to it and complements it. In the previous 40 years, the people wouldn’t move one inch unless God told them to move by moving the cloud that was over the congregation. Now, they were preparing to enter the Promised Land, where they were to move in and conquer. God will not use a cloud or pillar to lead them around as they took over the promised land. Their relationship with the Lord was going to fundamentally change once they crossed over the river. 

At this point in Israel’s history, Aaron and Miriam were gone and Moses was not going to be with them for much longer. They were “growing up.” They wouldn’t have “Papa Moses” with them once they crossed over. They would have Joshua to continue to lead them, but they were on the cusp of adulthood in the truest sense of the word. 

God warned the people that they are not to adopt the  “abominations and their idols” of the land they are entering (Deut. 29:17). The “wood, stone, silver, and gold” are not cursed in and of themselves. They are part of God’s creation, but if human hands form them into objects of worship, the objects become symbols and tools of evil and are supposed to be destroyed. They are not supposed to be used in worship or installed in museums to have any remembrance of the horrid practices of the people they will be conquering. 

Those who “follow their hearts” against Torah are running headlong into stubbornness and rebellion and will reap a curse. “It shall be when he hears the words of this curse, that he will boast, saying, ‘I have peace though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart in order to destroy the watered land with the dry’ ” (Deut. 29:19). You can’t receive a blessing and a curse from the Lord at the same time. 

When God punishes Israel for our rebellion, those curses are a warning to the surrounding nations. 

When we read about ancient Israel in the Torah, we may wonder, “When will they grow up?” We need to ask ourselves the same question. 

We assume “natural” disasters have nothing to do with God, but this is not true. The first drought recorded in Scripture occurred during the time of Abraham, the second during Isaac’s day and the third during Jacob’s time. God brought them all upon the land. 

God said, “Then the Lord will single him out for adversity from all the tribes of Israel, according to all the curses of the covenant which are written in this book of the law” (Deut. 29:21). That curse was fulfilled so well that by 19th century the land of Israel was so desolate Mark Twain marveled why anyone would ever want to live there. 

The land of Israel was a, “…desolate country whose soil is rich enough but is given over wholly to weeds … a silent mournful expanse … a desolation … we never saw a human being on the whose route … hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil had almost deserted the country.” —Mark Twain, 1867

The land was oppressed and cursed by extremes of drought, poverty and war. 

As we continuing reading into Joshua and Judges, we see how they go back and forth in their implementation of the Torah. When Israel lives according Torah, it is blessed. When the nation breaks Torah, it is judged and cursed.

Reader: Jeff. Speaker: Richard Agee: Summary: Tammy. 

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