Sometimes Paul is hard to understand. He is like a child so excited about some new idea his words seem to run together and doesn’t take a breath to explain it all. When I encountered, the text for this week, I exhaled with a loud, “Wow.” I said to myself, how am going to get cut through this dense theological text that we might see what God is doing?
But let’s try anyway. To understand where Paul is coming from, we need to know he is a Jew. We also should remember that Paul is a Pharisee. Thus, he was a devout Jew that spent considerable time every day in the Hebrew Scriptures, or what we call the Old Testament.
To Paul, and the other Jews of his day, and even today, everything about being Jewish and of the people of God lies in the Pentateuch. So, we should not be surprised that the foundation of what Paul proclaims lies there. Specifically, Paul is calling upon Deuteronomy, and Moses farewell address to the people he leads from bondage in Egypt and the 40 years of formation in the desert.
Moses at the end warns the people of Israel that God has called them to be a particular people. They are a particular people in covenant with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. That covenant declares that they would be blessed so that through them all the nations would be blessed. Unfortunately, Israel failed to live up to God’s concepts of the covenant and attempted to make their own rules, or own righteousness – or life apart from God.
Moses, knowing them also to be a stiff-necked people who are prone to rebel, also offered them some words of being freed from their idolatry and rebellious way, to repent and return to God.
Last week, Paul was worried about those who were going in the wrong direction. They denied Jesus as the Messiah. Part of Paul’s purpose is to connect the dots for Israel. The salvation of Deuteronomy 30 is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. And, a very big and, even Gentiles are welcome to this fount of blessings, as promised in the covenant made to Abraham, he was to be blessed to be a blessing to the nations.