God Humbles and Disciplines His Son:
God led the Israelites through the desert for forty years to humble them, test them, and discipline them. He was preparing them to keep His Commandments. “Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the Lord your God disciplines you. So you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, by walking in his ways and by fearing him.” (Deut. 8:5-6) God warns them that it is not because of their goodness that God is giving them the land but because of the Canaanites wickedness. “Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart are you going in to possess their land; but because of the wickedness of these nations the Lord your God is driving them out from before you..” (Deut. 9:5) The Israelites have been “a stubborn people.”
Moses’ Intercession for his People:
“So I lay prostrate before the Lord for these forty days and forty nights, because the Lord had said he would destroy you. And I prayed to the Lord, ‘O Lord God, destroy not thy people and thy heritage, whom thou hast redeemed through thy greatness, whom thou hast brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand. Remember thy servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; do not regard the stubbornness of this people, or their wickedness, or their sin, lest the land from which thou didst bring us say, “Because the Lord was not able to bring them into the land which he promised them, and because he hated them, he has brought them out to slay them in the wilderness.” For they are thy people and thy heritage, whom thou didst bring out by thy great power and by thy outstretched arm.” (Deut. 9:25-29) Because of Moses’ mediation, God relents of His punishment and destruction He wanted to inflict on the Israelites after they worshiped the golden calf.
The Ark of the Covenant and the Two New Tablets (10 Commandments):
“At that time the Lord said to me, ‘Hew two tables of stone like the first, and come up to me on the mountain, and make an ark of wood. And I will write on the tables the words that were on the first tables which you broke, and you shall put them in the ark.’ So I made an ark of acacia wood, and hewed two tables of stone like the first, and went up the mountain with the two tables in my hand. And he wrote on the tables, as at the first writing, the ten commandmentswhich the Lord had spoken to you on the mountain out of the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly; and the Lord gave them to me. Then I turned and came down from the mountain, and put the tables in the ark which I had made; and there they are, as the Lord commanded me.” (Deut. 10:1-5)
Circumcise Your Hearts:
“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord..” (Deut. 10:12-13) This is basically a restating of the Shema, the Greatest Commandment. Here Moses reveals to the Israelites the true meaning of the Law: “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn.” (Deut. 10:16) The Law is not about mechanical and rote rituals, but about loving God from your heart. St. Paul spoke of this in his epistle to the Romans: “He is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart, spiritual and not literal. His praise is not from men but from God.” (Rom. 2:29) Thus, Baptism and the spiritual “circumcision of the heart” replaces physical circumcision of the foreskin as the entrance-ritual to the New Covenant.
One of the consistent and persistent themes, or images, in the Exodus is God and Moses leading the Israelites out of danger with wonders, miracles and signs with “outstretched arm.” This gives an allusion and foreshadowing to Jesus’ outstretched arms on the Cross. In Jesus’ Cross, His outstretched arms, we conquer sin and death. “..His greatness, his mighty hand and his outstretched arm, his signs and his deeds which he did in Egypt to Pharaoh the king of Egypt and to all his land..” (Deut. 11:2)
A Blessing or a Curse:
This is the choice set before the Israelites and Israel throughout the Exodus and the Old Testament. It is their choice, the same as us, to choose the blessing or the curse. ““Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day, and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods which you have not known.” (Deut. 11:26-28)