Hear, O Israel
After 40 years of wilderness wandering, a new generation is ready to enter the promised land. Moses gathers them and delivers one final message.
He recounts Israel’s rebellion and God’s grace up to that point, and he calls them to covenant faithfulness. In this section we find the Shema (which Jesus later calls “the first and greatest commandment”). The heart of the Shema is a call to listen and obey by devoting your emotions and will to God alone. Moses then shares laws for Israel’s worship and leaders as well as for their civil and social life.
At the conclusion of his speech, Moses gives a warning and ultimatum. To listen and obey God will lead to blessing, but to disobey will lead to devastation and exile. Moses knows the people well enough to know they will eventually choose rebellion. Yet even then, Moses looked forward to a future day when God would give Israel a new heart so they could fully love God and live.