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This small group Deuteronomy 29 Bible study guide contains commentary, discussion questions, cross-references, and application to encourage life change. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

Deuteronomy 29  Bible Study – The Covenant Renewed – Be Careful of the Poisonous Root

Outline

I. Remembering God’s goodness in their history (1-15)
II. A warning against idolatry (16-29)

I. Remembering God’s goodness in their history (1-15)

Discussion Questions

• Why did Moses summon the people again (2)?
• What had the people witnessed of God’s goodness during their lifetimes?
• What are some highlights of God’s goodness to you over the years?
• Why is it useful to regularly review history and remember what God has done in our lives?
• What does verse 4 show us about the people’s response to God’s miraculous provision?
• Since it says that “the Lord has not given” them this heart, were they culpable? Was there anything they could do to receive this heart of understanding?
• What actions can you take to get this heart of understanding?
• Is verse 5 literal or figurative? What does this show us about God’s faithfulness to them?
• What does the statement, “It is not with you alone that I am making this sworn covenant,” mean?
• Who were the ones who were “not here” in verse fifteen?

Cross-References

Psalms 119:130 – The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.

Proverbs 9:10 – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

Lamentations 3:22-23 – The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Psalms 36:5 – Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. Moses summoned all Israel – There is a transition between chapters 28 and 29. Moses finished the address to the people in regard to renewing the covenant and the blessings and curses in chapter 28. Here he calls the people together for another national meeting. The purpose of this meeting is to once again exhort the people to remember God’s goodness while warning them against rebellion and idolatry.

2. You have seen all that the Lord did – The people had personally witnessed many miracles. The older generation had died off and it had been forty years since they left Egypt. Therefore, for almost their entire lives they had been experiencing God’s supernatural faithfulness. The older ones, as children, had seen the ten plagues. They had gone through the Red Sea, some of them on their parents’ backs. The pillar of fire and cloud had protected and guided them. For forty years, they had gone out in the morning and collected manna from heaven. This manna was a miracle, a daily reminder of God’s faithful provision.

For them, these events were not just stories they heard from their parents or in Sunday School. They had personally experienced these things. They had seen them with their own eyes. They drank the water from the rock. They ate the meat God miraculously sent to the camp. They tasted the manna. Some of them had probably been personally healed when they looked at the bronze serpent. Some of the people Moses was addressing had not experienced one single day in their entire lives without a miracle.

Moses goes on to tell them that during all of this time, their clothes and footwear had not worn out. This in itself was another miracle, perhaps one they had never even realized. It is possible they took this for granted, never stopping to think about why they didn’t have to make new clothing.

Reflect – Consider God’s goodness in your life. What miracles have you seen? How has He answered your prayers? In what special ways has He shown Himself to be faithful to you over the years?

It is a very good thing to slow down from time to time and take a step back to meditate on the blessings God has bestowed upon you. Our lives get very busy. Sometimes, our memories are very poor and we easily forget God’s blessings.

Application – Taking time to intentionally remember His faithfulness will help us to have a joyful spirit. It will remind us to praise Him and thank Him. At the same time, it will strengthen our faith. Knowing He has taken care of us in the past helps us trust that He will continue to do so in the future.

3. The Lord has not given you a heart to understand, eyes to see, or ears to hear –

Though the people had witnessed so many miraculous things, they lacked spiritual understanding. In some ways, they were blind. They did not appreciate God as they should. Neither did they understand the meaning or importance of what they had seen.

It appears that there was some degree of indifference or apathy about these amazing things. Perhaps the very fact that they experienced these miracles daily made them less sensitive and appreciative of their magnitude.

Most of us have never seen anything like what they did. Looking at it from a distance, we marvel. But for them, it was a normal thing. Collecting manna was just another Tuesday.

Mark 6:4 – And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.

A prophet is not honored in his hometown because people know him. They grew up with him. Familiarity can breed contempt. In a similar way, the people of Israel were very familiar with miracles.

The passage says, “The Lord has not given you a heart to understand.”

Reflect – Was it their fault they didn’t have understanding or God’s?

The Lord gave them message after message. He revealed Himself to them through Moses. But the people still didn’t “get it.”

Here is the conundrum between God’s sovereignty and people’s responsibility.

This passage in Proverbs can help us understand.

Proverbs 2:1-5 – My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.

The issue was that the people were not treasuring His commands as they should. They were not attentive enough. There was a lack of desire and hunger. If they would sincerely and zealously seek for that wisdom and understanding, God would have given it to them. It was readily available, but they had to want it.

Jesus put it like this.

Matthew 5:6 – Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

The person who hungers for righteousness will realize he doesn’t have it himself and will go to the Lord for help. That hunger drives Him to God. God will satisfy that hunger.

This generation of Israel was so close. But some missed it. Will you?

Steve Lawson said, “Many will miss heaven by 18 inches, the distance from their head to their heart. They know about Christ but do not know Him.”

God has a heart transplant waiting for us and ready to go (Ezekiel 36:26). Contrary to heart transplants in this world, the spiritual transplant He offers is free. What He wants us to do is recognize we need it and ask Him for it.

4. Keep the words of the covenant and do them that you may prosper in all you do –

There was still hope for the people. All was not doom and gloom. The blessings were still possible if they would obey. Obedience is the theme of Deuteronomy, repeated over and over throughout.

5. The one who chops the wood and the one who draws your water – This little phrase is a reminder that the people were not just doing nothing for forty years. It was still necessary to work to survive. Millions of tasks were done in the camp each day. Different people had different roles. God provided for them supernaturally, but that did not alleviate their responsibility to work. Work is a good thing.

At every point in human history, past, present, or future, God desires us to work. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had work (Genesis 2:15). Even in the wilderness, when God sent free food daily, they had to work. In heaven, we will still have work to do (Revelation 22:3). When we work for the Lord, it is not a burden. It is satisfying.

Application – In the camp, everybody had a job to do. The same is true in the church. What is your job in the church? Are you faithfully doing it?

2 Thessalonians 3:10-11 – For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies.

6. That He may establish you as His people and that He may be your God – Here we see God’s desire. He wanted success for them. He hoped to build them up.

Application – Let us learn from God and treat others like this, seeking to build them up.

7. Whoever is not here with us today – The covenant was between God and Israel. It included all of those present at this meeting. It also included everyone who was alive at that time but absent (perhaps because of sickness or some duty taking them away from the camp). Finally, it includes all of Israel’s future descendants who were not yet born.

II. A warning against idolatry (16-29)

Discussion Questions

• What term does Moses use for the Egyptian idols?
• In what ways are they detestable?
• What does the word “beware” mean?
• What is the relationship between a root and fruit (18)?
• If you want to have better fruit, where can you start?
• How can you make your roots healthier?
• How might such a rebellious person convince himself, “I shall be safe?”
• Why do people think they can be safe even when they are in sin?
• What lies might Satan and the world and the flesh tell a person like that?
• What is the result of this rebellion for the individual? For the nation?
• How do brimstone and salt affect the fertility of the land?
• How would even God’s judgment act as an object lesson to the nations (25-28)?
• What does verse 29 mean?
• What secret things belong to the Lord?
• What revealed things belong to us?

Cross-References

Colossians 2:6-7 – Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

Matthew 7:17 – So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.

Matthew 11:24 – But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”

Luke 8:17 – For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.

Daniel 2:22 – He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him.

Revelation 10:4 – And when the seven thunders had sounded, I was about to write, but I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said, and do not write it down.”

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. You know… you have seen (16-17) – The experiences they faced firsthand and the miracles they saw should have strengthened their face and their walk with God. God did not do these things for them randomly. He had a clear purpose. All that He did on their behalf was meant to motivate them to trust in and follow Him.

Reflect – What have you seen and experienced that motivates you to trust and obey Him?

2. Beware – This begins a section filled with warnings to the people. It is similar to the curses for disobedience in Deuteronomy 28. These curses are even mentioned again in verse 21.

The word “beware” means to “be wary, cautio