Everyone has a past. The nations of Canaan had a wicked past and God, at the hand of the Israelites was going to destroy everything about them because of this wickedness. They and their gods were to be completely removed, but it would not all happen at once, “lest the beasts of the field become too numerous for you.” Marrying the children of those heathen people was strictly forbidden. That was also to protect His people from following after those false gods.
Moses reminded the Israelites of God’s care and protection during the forty years of wilderness wandering. He fed them; kept their clothing from wearing out; gave them physical strength to endure the journey. The Lord also punished those who disobeyed Him along the way.
As the children of Israel were about to enter the Promised Land, Moses reminded them of the difficulties that they had endured. He pointed out the great abundance of natural resources that would be available to them in their new home. However, disobedience would cause them to be punished just as they were, with God’s power punishing the Canaanites. Moses also admonished them to remember the present—how that God was giving those blessings to them. They would not be obtaining them by their own power.
Moses continued his speech to the Israelites by pointing out that God was not giving them the Promised Land because of their own righteousness. It was because of the wickedness of the inhabitants and to fulfill His own promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He reminded them of the various transgressions that they had committed during their forty years wandering.
When Moses had returned from Mount Sinai with the first two tablets of stone containing the Ten Commandments, he threw them to the ground and broke them because the people were worshipping a golden calf. He had pled with God on various occasions to spare the Israelites when He had threatened to destroy them. It had been necessary for Moses to return to the mountain to receive a second set of the Ten Commandment tablets. Those were stored in a wooden ark that God had Moses to make for them.
After reviewing the sins of the people, Moses strongly urged them to keep the commandments of their supreme Ruler, God. Circumcision was a physical reminder of their covenant with God. Moses also urged that they spiritually circumcise their hearts. If they would obey, the Lord would bless them abundantly. Disobedience would bring His wrath and destruction. They were instructed to teach their children all that God had commanded. Teaching children is a responsibility of every parent and is often neglected.
Moses further emphasized his instructions by stating, “Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you today; and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God…And you shall be careful to observe all the statutes and judgments which I set before you today.”