The theme of remembering and being obedient to all of God’s commands continues. Remembering and being obedient are yet again connected to the blessings of the covenant oath God had sworn to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The phrases “be careful to follow” and “be careful not to forget” are repeated in an effort to drive home the importance of these commands given by God and the necessity of obedience. Those who declare there is no grace inherit in these commands have overlooked the repeated mention by God of His deliverance of His people, His provisions for them in their wilderness wanderings, and the giving of the land of promise. Obedience is simply the response one gives to a God who demonstrated such grace.
As He did in Deuteronomy 7, God reminds the people yet again in Deuteronomy 9 that it was not due to their righteousness or abilities that Israel was about ready to enter the land of promise. It was solely due to God working His divine plan and His commitment to His covenant promises. It will be God who will go before them to destroy the inhabitants of the land. It was also due to the great wickedness of these nations that God was using His people to execute His judgment upon the wicked.
God through Moses reminded the people of their past missteps in order to demonstrate their penchant for not remaining faithful to Him as well as to remind them of the consequences of such actions. In particular, God reminded Israel of the golden calf incident. Moses noted how he interceded on behalf of the people due to God’s righteous anger against the people for worshiping this false idol.
Moses also reminded the people how the first set of the commandments written on the stone tablets had been broken by Moses when he saw the people dancing madly before the golden calf. God provided a two stone tablets like the first ones that were placed inside the Ark of the Covenant. The placement of God’s commands in the Ark of the Covenant signifies the everlasting nature of those commands. They were given from the mouth of God and thus were placed in the Ark of the Covenant which was in the Holy of Holies (i.e. God’s presence).
The people were urged to walk in the fear of the Lord and in obedience to His commands and decrees out of love and service to the God who had chosen them and delivered them from bondage. Moreover, they were told to circumcise their hearts, thus demonstrating that obedience was not a matter of works, but rather an issue of their heart relationship with their God. He is the one worthy of praise. He is the one who saved them. He was the one who made them numerous as a nation as promised to Abraham so long ago. God is faithful.
These chapters are a reminder to us of the importance of God’s commands even today as well as the importance of obedience from a heart of love to our God who has saved us from bondage. We must also circumcise our hearts before God. Those who claim God’s law has been nailed to the cross and that keeping God’s law is nothing but a works centered concept truly need to read the words of Deuteronomy and they need to pay attention to how these same words and commands are reiterated throughout the New Testament. Obedience is the necessary response to God’s grace. God’s commands are holy, perfect, and for our benefit so we can understand how to love Him and to love others.