"The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all here alive this day." (Deut.5:3)
In striving to understand a text in the light of its historical setting, we are tempted to just leave it there. There are at least two dangers in this, I think. First, there are certain principles and standards of behavior that time and culture have no bearing upon. Second, there are general promises (whether conditional or unconditional) which are made to people of God, in whatever age. One thing can be said of the Word of God: from the time it was written until this very day, whether speaking directly to us or not...it is relevant.
When you read great Christian biographies, as I have, you soon discover that although their accomplishments may have been diverse, and the obstacles they overcame were varied, the common denominator in every case was the reality of God within a man or woman. And this is the constant that spans generations.
In our text, Moses tells this second generation of Israelites that the covenant God made with their fathers when they left Egypt was not made with them alone. On the contrary, he says, this covenant was made "with us, even us, who are all here alive this day." He was concerned that they understand the significance of God's promises in their own personal lives. We like to sing, "Faith of Our Fathers"; but, understand this: if those fathers had not made the Faith of their fathers, their own, there would have been none to pass along to us. The seed of faith (Matt.17:20)—especially, the Faith—can only be planted. After that, it must be individually germinated and be cultivated before it can, in turn, be propagated. Just because one has been blessed with a "goodly heritage" (Psl.16:6 ) does not mean he or she is obliged to accept it or act upon it.
Religion may be second-hand, but Bible Faith comes first-hand...or not at all.