Many times, people quote only part of Deuteronomy 29.29 and throw up their hands in resignation over some tough Bible difficulty. They say, “The secret things belong to God.” For them, this means, “I’m done thinking about this.” But that is not what this verse is about. Although, there are certain things only God knows and will ever know. That’s what makes Him God.
The key thought governing this verse is the fact that God is faithful. He provided for Israel in the wilderness. He protected the people from their enemies. He led them to victory over the Pharaoh of Egypt (v. 2). The people witnessed great miracles and wonders (e.g., the plagues), but they also experienced great trials (e.g., lack of food and water; v.3).
It is true that the people didn’t fully understand the blessings which came along with God’s deliverance (v. 4). The reason for this is quite simple. They failed to obey God. Yet God continues to deliver and protect His people throughout their history and development as a nation. He even made sure their clothes and sandals didn’t wear out for the 40 years they wandered in the wilderness (v. 5). Even the food the people ate and the water they drank set them apart (v. 6). They ate manna which appeared fresh for each day and water which flowed from the rock. They conquered strong enemies in the wilderness (v. 7). They took some of the land promised to Abraham as a result of those victories (v. 8).
God simply required that the people obey Him in order to prosper (v. 9). He made a covenant with Israel through a man named Moses. A covenant is simply an agreement between two or more parties. Here, Moses had given God’s laws and the expression of His will to Israel as a people. So, we call this the Mosaic Covenant. The two parties entering this agreement are the LORD and Israel.
The LORD wants Israel to obey so that they will receive blessings and bring Him glory. However, He knows they will disobey. He knows they will forsake Him and His covenant. They already had. They served and worship other gods at the same times Moses was receiving the Law (stipulations for the covenant). They even made the golden calf idol with Aaron. This made the LORD angry for obvious reasons. He knew how disobedience destroys people.
Israel would continue to disobey the LORD throughout her history. The LORD would use strong and powerful countries to defeat His people for their disobedience. He had Israel taken captive by these nations. They were uprooted from their land in anger, in wrath, and in great indignation, and the LORD cast them into another Land (v.28).
This brings us to verse 29:
“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
What are the secret things in this verse? What are the revealed things? How could God speak of Israel’s deportation and destruction to foreign land before they even crossed over into that land to possess it (v. 28)?
The LORD revealed to Israel what would happen in the future. That revelation should have inspired Israel to do all the words of the Law to avoid such judgment. Sadly, it did not. The LORD knew this. Israel did not.
The secret things are the things God knows but has not revealed. Or He has revealed them, and people just cannot wrap their minds around them. What did God know about Israel? He knew how Israel would respond to the covenant He made through Moses. God knew that they would disobey Him even as He established His covenant with them.
The revealed things are what God has shown people so that they may be blessed. God showed Israel the Law for their good. God showed Israel the warning of verse 28 for their good. God shows us the person and work of Jesus Christ for our good. Jesus is the end of the Law. He fulfilled covenants as a Man which were broken by men. Jesus did what Adam and every person after Adam could not do. That’s no longer a secret. It’s now revealed. But not all perceive it.
God has revealed His will to you in the Bible. There are many things about your future which He hasn’t revealed. Only God knows all things. What is important for us is that we respond with obedience to what God has made clear to us. You can’t know the future, but you can learn from the past. Today, you can do what you know is right. Then, tomorrow, God will give you more light.
It is never good to pretend to know the future. However, there is much we are able to know but don’t know because we don’t read the Bible. Even people who study the Bible tend to miss the the great themes of God’s glory and man’s redemption. They look at all the minutiae (trees) and miss the overall picture (forest). Jesus said, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life, and these are they which testify of Me” (John 5.39). Jesus is the great redeemer. He alone makes it possible to obey and glorify God. He alone makes it possible to have and to demonstrate an eternal quality of life.
Today, we need to know our place and take our place. God’s thoughts are not our thoughts; His ways are not our ways. Yet His Word is before us. He will use the Scriptures to accomplish what He pleases. He will use the Scriptures to bring joy and prosperity to those who read, understand, and obey them. This is what we should train our children to do. This is what we should exemplify before them.