Moses lamented that even though the nation of Israel had experienced God’s great salvation and seen His miracles and wondrous provision in the wilderness, they still did not have “a heart to know, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear.”
Moses reminded them of the things they had seen: the plagues in Egypt, the deliverance at the Red Sea, the pillar of fire and cloud, the theophany at Mount Sinai, the bountiful provision in the wilderness. He reminded them that, miraculously, their clothes and sandals had lasted forty years.
Without bread, wine, or beer, they had somehow survived well-fed and nourished through the whole journey. When they faced the powerful Amorite armies of Sihon and Og, they defeated them and took their land. After seeing the miracles in Egypt, the revelation at Sinai, the wonders of the wilderness, and the constant provision on the journey—after experiencing God in such a tangible and intimate way, why would Israel be in need of reproof or warning at all?
Moses knew that despite the great revelations they had received, the people were still human beings with wayward hearts. He urged them not to drift away or fall into apostasy. He said, “Keep the words of this covenant to do them, that you may prosper in all that you do” (Deuteronomy 29:9). He knew that they would not. Moses knew the weakness of the human heart. He knew that the thing they needed was a new heart.
Years later, as the terrible curses began to fall upon the people, the prophet Ezekiel looked ahead to a brighter future when God would heal the sickness of the human soul: “And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God” (Ezekiel 11:19-20).
These words correspond to the promise of the new covenant when God will put His Torah within us and write it upon our hearts. In that day, the LORD says, “I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:34).