The Scriptorium

The Broken Covenant

Why would anyone do this? Deuteronomy 29.20-28

The Covenant Renewed: Deuteronomy 29 (5)

Opening Prayer: Psalm 102.1-4
Hear my prayer, O LORD,
And let my cry come to You.
Do not hide Your face from me in the day of my trouble;
Incline Your ear to me;
In the day that I call, answer me speedily.
For my days are consumed like smoke,
And my bones are burned like a hearth.
My heart is stricken and withered like grass,
So that I forget to eat my bread.

Psalm 102.1-4
(Leominster: Not What My Hands Have Done)
Lord, hear my prayer and cry; hide not Your face from me!
In my distress and tears I sigh – Lord, hear my earnest plea!
My days like smoke blow past; my bones are scorched with sin.
My heart, like wilted, withered grass bends low to earth again.

Today’s Text: Read Deuteronomy 29.20-28

1. What can they expect who break God’s covenant?

2. What especially causes God to bring discipline against His people?

Moses returns to a familiar theme: The curse of breaking covenant with God. The use of the singular in verses 20-22 (“man”) seems intended as a warning to every individual Israelite; while the projection of that one man to the whole nation unfolds in verses 23-28. The warning seems to be that covenant-breaking by one can soon enough become a national scourge. Instead of blessing the generations to come, covenant-breaking Israel will leave them destitute and bound for captivity (vv. 22, 28).

In these verses God reiterates His threat to curse the land of the people and the people themselves, “like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah” (v. 23). The nations will be astonished, but they will know precisely why this has happened: “they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD God of their fathers” (v. 25). The evidence of this will be their turning from God to idols (v. 26), which will result in God uprooting them from their land and sending them into captivity (v. 28).

This warning, so often reiterated, will be fulfilled in years to come. It will be the price Israel will pay for turning away from God’s covenant and Law to embrace the pagan ways and idols of their neighbors. God showed them the right path to walk, but they chose, like a drunken man, to stumble into the quagmire of sin and judgment (v. 19).

Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Question: “Why has the LORD done so to this land? What does the heat of His great anger mean?” (v. 24)
Answer: “Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD God of their fathers, which He made with them when He brought them out of the land of Egypt…” (v. 25).
Question: “Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing?” (Ps. 2.1) “Why do you contend with Him?” (Job 33.13)
Answer: “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Rom. 3.18).
Question: “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7.24)
Answer: “I thank God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rom. 7.25) “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Rom. 8.1). The broken covenant can be mended though repentance and obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ!


1. What does the Lord require of us as His covenant people today?

2. Why did God rehearse this warning so many times? Do we still need to hear this today?

3. How do these persistent warnings of judgment demonstrate God’s great and jealous love for us?

let us learn from this passage anxiously to inquire who is the true God, and what is His will; because there is no true religion without knowledge; and again, if He convicted His ancient people of wicked ingratitude on account of their deliverance, that we also are now much more inexcusable, unless we constantly abide in the faith of our eternal Redeemer. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Deuteronomy 29.22

Lord, keep me from being a stumbling-block to others; help me to walk in Your covenant each day as I…

Closing Prayer: Psalm 102.12-14, 22-28
Pray that God will arise and send a great revival that will last for generations to come.

Psalm 102.12-14, 22-28
(Leominster: Not What My Hands Have Done)
But You, O Lord, abide forever in Your place.
Arise and stand on Zion’s side and lavish us with grace!
Revive Your Church, O Lord! Let all her dust and stones
be strengthened by Your mighty Word, and compact be as one.

Yet let us tell God’s Name and praise His glorious grace;
Let all as one His love proclaim together in this place.
Though now our strength is low; though shortened grow our days,
our God will not forsake us so, but keep us in His ways!

Of old You made the earth and heavens by Your hand.
Though they shall perish You endure; forever shall You stand.
They change, yet You remain the same, without an end.
Our children shall Your favor gain, and theirs shall be Your friend.

T. M. and Susie Moore

Listen to our summary of last week’s study in Deuteronomy by clicking here. You can download all the studies in the series by clicking here. And check out our current ReVision series on encouragement.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers from
Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy: Ancient Christian Commentary Series III, Joseph T. Lienhard, S. J. ed. in collaboration with Ronnie J. Rombs, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2001). All quotations from John Calvin from John Calvin, Commentaries on The Four Last Books of Moses Arranged in the Order of A Harmony, Rev. Charles William Bingham M. A., tr. and ed. (Edinburgh: The Calvin Translation Society, 1863. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore