The Torah is not legalistic. If we are willing, God does the heart change that we need to love and serve Him faithfully (Deut. 30:6). But the meaning of love in the Old Testament is a covenantal commitment to live as God would have us to live. We are not robots, but we are also not passive observers. We are partners together with God. We have a choice to make. God has set before us life or death. God longs for us to choose life, but we have to choose for ourselves (vv. 15–19). God will not force us to choose Him. We are not automatically saved by being part of the covenant people.
It is easy to fall in one ditch or the other. We either try to work our way to heaven or we presume upon God’s grace and do whatever we want while assuming we will be saved no matter what. Neither is a love relationship. A true heart change and realization of God’s love will cause us to grow in ever deeper repentance and ever increasing joy as we allow God to show us what needs to change in our lives. The heart is the key, not the actions, as we see through many of the Bible characters whose lives are far from perfect, but whose hearts are right with God, and they are called God’s people.
Deuteronomy 30 also contains the future prediction of the exile to come, as well as the return to God and to their land (vv. 1–5). God knows the future and the choices we will make. However, He still pulls out all the stops to seek to turn us away from sin and rebellion. God and Moses urge and beg the people to choose life, and to not go the route of disobedience and rebellion and death. And yet, the incredible grace of God is that even though He knows they will utterly reject Him, yet He promises to bring them back and renew the covenant with them. This boggles the mind! One would think God would have given up on Israel already, as they have already been stubborn and rebellious so often. But God has immense patience and compassion, and He does not treat us as we deserve.
This should also bring us great comfort in our own journeys with God. Even though God’s ways are simple and clear, we are sinful and so often rebellious just like Israel. And yet, God will also have compassion on us, and change our hearts too.