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This small group Deuteronomy 30 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 30 Bible Study – Repentance and Restoration

Outline

I. Repentance and restoration (1-10)
II. A choice between life and death (11-20)

I. Repentance and restoration (1-10)

Discussion Questions

• What is this passage about?
• What character qualities of God can you see in this passage?
• Was the curse from God on the nation going to be final?
• What does this passage teach you about the discipline of God?
• What does return (verse 2) mean?
• What is necessary for a person who has sinned to return to God?
• Are confession and repentance the same thing? Why or why not?
• What did God promise to do if they repented?
• What does it mean to have their heart circumcised (6)?
• Do you love God with all your heart and soul?
• Someone comes and asks you, “I want to love God more. How can I?” What would you answer?
• What did God expect of them if He forgave them?
• What do you learn about the heart of God in verse 9?

Cross-References

2 Chronicles 7:14 – If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Luke 13:3 – No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.

Revelation 3:19 – Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.

Psalms 51:12 – Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Acts 3:19-21 – Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.

Hosea 6:1-2 – Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.
After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up,
that we may live before him.

Jeremiah 4:4 – Circumcise yourselves to the Lord; remove the foreskin of your hearts.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. There is hope – The curse was not final. Though Israel would reject God and God would discipline her in response, this was not the end of the story. A possibility remained for restoration. The curse was a tool used by God to discipline them, wake them up from their apathy, and call them to repentance.

The story of Israel’s rejection of God, dispersion throughout the nations, and final repentance and restoration (Romans 11:26) highlights God’s faithfulness.

God’s promises to Israel would be finally fulfilled. He has not forgotten a single one of them.

2 Timothy 2:13 – If we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.

Some of these promises will go thousands of years between when they were given and when they will be fulfilled. Those years contain most of the earth’s history. Radios, televisions, smartphones, jets, and spaceships were invented in between. Nations rise and fall. Hundreds of people groups (including many around Israel, such as Edom, Moab, and Philistines) have gone extinct. Yet God remains faithful to His chosen people, the people of Israel.

What Joshua stated for his time will be true for all time.

Joshua 21:45 – Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.

It is very encouraging to see that God is trustworthy. We can depend on His promises. Discipline from Him is temporary and specifically designed to call us to return to Him.

Application – There is still hope for you. Even if you have drifted away from God or backslidden, there can be more to the story. If you will repent and turn to Him, He is ready to forgive.

2. Return to the Lord your God – Although God is gracious and merciful, His character does not change. Neither do His righteous standards. God didn’t say, “Come back. I will compromise.” He didn’t say, “Let’s negotiate” or “Let’s meet in the middle.” Throughout Deuteronomy, He commanded them to obey. Here He says, “return…and obey.” The standard does not change. In His desire to have fellowship with Israel, the Lord does not compromise.

While He will forgive, there is still a condition. The condition mentioned in this passage is to return. Then, there is the expectation that the people who return change their ways and obey Him.

The world today likes to celebrate tolerance. Acceptance and inclusion are popular buzzwords. Some more religious types may even appeal to God’s kind character. They may point out the fact that God is love or that Jesus refused to condemn the adulterous woman. However, they forget what Jesus told the adulterous woman after He declined to condemn her. He said, “Go your way and sin no more.” (John 8:11).

While God loves you and forgives you as you are, if you repent, He then asks you to change to be like Him. He never says, “Welcome into my family. You don’t need to change a thing.” The boundaries He sets are firm. If you want to come to God, you must accept His boundaries. Do not claim to believe in and follow God while rejecting the principles He set forth. We have a choice to make. We can choose to follow God or the world, but not both.

God was calling them to repent.

Repentance = turning.

It is turning from sin to the Lord.

The Hebrew word in the Old Testament for “repent” is “Teshuvah” – תשובה.

It means to “return” or “turn back to God.”

Joel 2:12-13 “Yet even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
and he relents over disaster. (Has root word for turn שוב)

It is not just stopping down the road we are going. But it is turning back to the Lord. A ship that is not going anywhere will simply drift with the current. Scripture tells us there is a negative thing to avoid and a positive thing to go toward. We need to flee sin pursue Christ (2 Timothy 2:22).

Repentance itself is an inward act. It is a change in our heart’s attitude toward sin and toward God. We need to be careful not to confuse repentance with works.

On this, Oswald Chambers said, “The danger is to put the emphasis on the effect instead of on the cause. Is it my obedience that puts me right with God? Never! I am put right with God because prior to all else, Christ died.”

In simple terms, repentance happens when we turn to the Lord in our hearts.

This results in life change.

Life change is evidence of repentance. When we have the right heart and turn to the Lord, we cannot help but live a changed life. Included in this life change is restitution for the offended party if possible.

Reflect – What are some examples of people in the Bible who were not repentant? What are some examples of people in the Bible who were genuinely repentant?

Examples of non-repentance

• Simon the magician – When confronted with his sin, Simon told Peter, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me” (Acts 8:24). Repentance is something personal. It is not something anyone can do for you. He did not cast himself upon the Lord and ask Him for mercy.
• Saul – Saul says the right words. 1 Samuel 15:24 – Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.” But they are empty. He is confessing, saying “sorry,” without any real repentance. He didn’t seek God but wanted to act the same as before. Before the confession, he made excuses and minimized his sin. Repentance is not just saying a quick apology and hoping to move on.
• Cain – Cain was unhappy with the consequences of his sin. Genesis 4:13 – “My punishment is greater than I can bear.” Repentance is not just sorrow over the consequences of sin.

Examples of true repentance

• David – David sought the Lord and asked for mercy from Him (Psalm 51). He realized his sin was against God (and was, therefore, relational, not just doing the wrong thing). Repentance is throwing yourself upon God’s mercy.
• Zacchaeus – When confronted with his sin, he made restitution.
• Prodigal son – He acknowledged his sin and returned to the father, leaving behind the ways of the world. He said, “I have sinned against heaven and before you.” He was willing to accept whatever consequences the father decided on.

Application – Be quick to repent. Repentance is not primarily a verbal confession but a heart change as evidenced in a changed attitude and behavior. Is there anything you need to repent of today?

3. The Lord will restore you and gather you – God does not enjoy disciplining His people, just as parents do not enjoy withholding privileges from their children. But sometimes it is necessary so that a lesson can be learned and growth can take place.

Here we see that God wants to restore His people. Once they repent, He promises to restore them and gather them again. This envisions a time when Israel is scattered among the nations and God restores them to the Promised Land. The framework for this fulfillment is in place with Israel’s rebirth as a nation in 1949. However, there are still more Jews in the diaspora around the world than in Israel. There is still a future regathering that will take place in the end times after Israel repents (Isaiah 11:11-12).

We should take note that when we repent and are restored by God, that does not guarantee that what we will be restored to is exactly the same as what we had before the sin. Sin still results in many earthly consequences. For example, broken marriages or relationships may not heal. But we can be restored into active fellowship with God again.

There is no place too far for God to bring someone back from.

Deuteronomy 30:4 – If your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there he will take you.

4. The Lord will circumcise your heart –

Romans 2:29 – But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

Rituals do not save anyone. Circumcision was an external symbol of a people set apart to God. However, a person could be circumcised as an infant long before they even knew what it meant. Many people were circumcised but had hard and rebellious hearts toward God.

Other rituals do not save either. Infant dedication, baptism, communion, daily prayer, and Bible reading are all good and important, but they do not save anyone.

Man looks at the outside and God looks at the heart. What is important to God is a contrite heart.

Psalms 51:17 – The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

He wants us to repent from our hearts and place our faith in Him.

Note that this verse says, “The Lord will circumcise your hearts.” We cannot give ourselves a new heart. No person has ever performed heart transplant surgery on himself. The Lord is the one who gives us a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26). He regenerates us. Therefore if you want a heart like that, you need to a