The LORD declared that He was renewing the covenant with Israel and that He would do miraculous things on their behalf, including driving out those who currently were living in the Promised Land.
Verse 10 serves as an introduction to the terms of the renewed covenant given in verses 11 – 28. First, God said, Behold, I am going to make a covenant. God (not the LORD here) promises to make a covenant with His chosen people. They had broken the first covenant. This appears to be a renewed covenant that repeats certain portions of the first covenant for emphasis.
Second, He proclaimed that before (or “in the sight of”) all your people I will perform miracles which have not been produced in all the earth nor among any of the nations. Performing these miracles would give clear confirmation to the Israelites that the LORD was faithful to the covenant. This is similar to Jesus Christ performing miracles (including His resurrection) to confirm that He is the mediator of the New Covenant (Luke 22:20; Heb. 7:22, 8:6ff). Jesus stated in John 14:11 that those who saw His “works” ought to believe that He was God (He in the Father and the Father in Him). In this case the promised miracles had a similar function.
In light of this, the LORD commands the people to be sure to observe what I am commanding you this day. To be sure to observe means “watch carefully” or “pay close attention to.” The people had barely escaped with their lives after breaking the first covenant with their idolatry with the golden calf. And 3,000 Israelites did die (Exodus 32:28). They needed to remember this lesson, and be sure to observe the covenant this time.
The LORD promised to do marvelous things on their behalf—now they must be very careful to obey what He says. This means that although God reinstated the covenant, the promised blessings of the treaty still required obedience. The Hebrew for observe is literally “look for yourselves.” The LORD’s actions would make it very obvious that He, the LORD of the Covenant, was fulfilling His part of the covenant. What He was going to do was to drive out the Amorite before you, and the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite. These were the civilizations that were currently occupying the Promised Land, that the LORD was going to drive out (or “expel”). They are also mentioned in Exodus 3:8 (except for the Amorites).
These nations were being expelled because their iniquity had filled to the brim (Genesis 15:16; Deuteronomy 9:4). God will later warn Israel that if they follow in the ways of the Canaanites, they will suffer a similar fate at the hands of invaders (Deuteronomy 28). Sadly, this will occur in the era of the Kings of Israel and Judah (1 Chronicles 9:1).
Without the LORD, the conquest of the Promised Land would be difficult if not impossible. These groups were not weak and defenseless. They were well-armed with walled cities. It was the LORD Who would fight alongside them that they might win the battles. It was the LORD Who would give them the victory. Israel’s part was to obey what He said, which would include crossing over to do battle and take the land.
Not only would the Israelites witness the LORD’s miracles, but also all the people among whom you live will see the working of the Lord. All of the peoples in and around the Promised Land would witness and be amazed at the LORD’s sovereign power when His people enter and conquer the land. This and other acts were going to be a fearful thing that I am going to perform with you. This will later be illustrated when the hearts melt within the people of Jericho because of the fearful thing God will perform on behalf of Israel (Joshua 2:11). The residents of Jericho melted in fear because of the miracles God performed on Israel’s behalf. (Rahab, a Jericho resident who sought and gained refuge in God because of her faith, was the source of this report).
10Then God said, “Behold, I am going to make a covenant. Before all your people I will perform miracles which have not been produced in all the earth nor among any of the nations; and all the people among whom you live will see the working of the Lord, for it is a fearful thing that I am going to perform with you. 11“Be sure to observe what I am commanding you this day: behold, I am going to drive out the Amorite before you, and the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite.
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