It’s hard for us today to grasp much of what the ancient world was like at the time in which Israel was wandering the wilderness. If whole empires have come and gone, with only ruins (if that) remaining, what can we know of many of the smaller pagan nations that lived in the same area as Israel did?
Not a whole lot, but we do know one thing: these people were steeped in paganism, polytheism, and some utterly degrading practices, which included child sacrifice. Try to imagine just how degrading and evil a culture and a religion would be that would do that to their own children, and do so in the name of some god!
No wonder, over and over, all through the history of ancient Israel, the Lord had warned His people against following the practices of the nations around them. “When you come into the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations” (Deuteronomy 18:9).
And that’s because God had called out this nation for a special purpose. By having entered into the covenant with God, they were to be a special people, a witness to the world of the God who created the heaven and the earth — the only God.
Read Deuteronomy 26:16-19. How is the covenant relationship between God and Israel summed up in these verses? How should their faithfulness to the covenant be manifested in the kind of people they were to become? What lessons can we take from there for ourselves, as well?
How fascinating that Moses begins these four verses with the words “this day,” as in right now, again, God commands you to do these things (Moses repeats the idea in verse 17). He had been commanding them all along to do these things. It’s as if he is telling them they need to commit at this very moment, again, to be the faithful, holy, and special people that is truly the central reason for their existence as the covenant nation. They were the only nation, as a nation, who knew the true God and knew the truth about this God and how He wanted people to live. In a real sense, they not only had “present truth” but they were, in their own way, to embody that truth until Jesus, “the Truth” Himself (John 14:6), was to come.
|Why is the idea of “this day” committing to God and to His covenant requirements relevant even to us, “this day”?|