The blessings and curses, and exhortations for the former and warnings of the latter are getting redundant. These two chapters lay it all out again. You have to wonder if they get the message if it needs to be repeated so often. In verse four of chapter 29 we have our answer why:
But to this day the Lord has not given you a mind that understands or eyes that see or ears that hear.
So it’s the Lord’s responsibility that they get it or not? Somehow this truth of God’s sovereignty and human responsibility coexist. The last verse of The chapter, which seems out of context but which helps us deal with the mystery, says what we cannot know, we cannot know, but God has revealed what we need to know:
29 The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.
God reveals enough that we are held accountable for our obedience or lack thereof. God’s revelation is effective. Those who claim he hasn’t revealed himself or enough for them to have faith in him, are not looking; they don’t want to find him lest they don’t like what they find, which is that they stand before him guilty as charged.
As in any relationship it ultimately comes down to trust, and thus to character. If someone lies to you or betrays you or damages you in some way it is pretty much impossible to trust them anymore (without both compelled by the mercy and grace of God). Would anyone ask such a person to watch their house while they were out of town? Of course not. Most of the people who refuse to believe in God, which only means they refuse to trust him, to affirm his fundamental goodness and justness, believe him to be not worthy of that trust based on their cursory assessment of him. Whether it’s the problem of evil generally speaking or in their own lives, i.e. some kind of suffering or loss, or what they’ve read or heard, e.g. the OT God is a mad man, a “moral monster” as some atheists assert, they cannot put their faith in such a God. They cannot trust such a God who is this way or allows what he does.
But if you take the whole revelation of God, i.e. his revelation of himself in creation, in scripture, and in Christ, we can completely buy into verse 29, we can let God have the secret things, those things he has seen fit in his wisdom not to reveal to us, and we can run with the things he has revealed, so that we may “follow all the words of this law.” But we know this is impossible. At the end of chapter 30 Moses lays it out once again but in the most succinct way possible. He lays before the people of Israel life or death, blessing or curse, the covenant of works. In verse 14 he says something we know is patently untrue:
No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.
The human heart is exactly the issue because we know it “is deceitful above all things and beyond cure” (Jeremiah 17:9). But it is not beyond God’s curse, the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. He had to show us that we could never have or sustain a relationship with a holy and righteous God in a covenant of works. Only in a New Covenant of grace and mercy where God himself fulfilled the covenant of works and imputed to us that obedience, can we have a new heart, a heart that is the abode of the Holy Spirit, one that wants to obey, even if it always can’t. God’s wrath has been satisfied, the wrath we see all throughout the Pentateuch against sin. God is now our father, not our judge, and we rejoice in that acceptance, that assurance that we are his, and he is ours.
Moses gives us a hint of this in chapter 30:6. After the people have been brought back to the land by God, Moses says:
The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.
This is amazing. God himself will do the surgery. He will cut off the foreskin of our rebellious and sinful hearts, as we now know by his Holy Spirit, so that we will no longer be his enemies. It’s a matter of the heart, not outward conformity to the law, and God will give us new hearts.