BLESSINGS AND CURSES – Deuteronomy 28:1-68
Posted by Pastor Greg Allen on January 11, 2012 under AM Bible Study |
AM Bible Study Group; January 11, 2012
Theme: Moses articulates the blessings for obedience to God’s law, and the curses for disobedience.
In some ways, this chapter is what much of the book of Deuteronomy has been leading up to. God had entered into a covenant relationship with the people of Israel. He would be their God and they would be His people; and it was established at the very beginning—just as God was giving them His law—that their blessedness would depend on their obedience (Exodus 19:5-6).
Some have said that this chapter contains Israel’s pre-history. The sad consequences of their disobedience—as explained in this chapter—were fulfilled quite literally in their captivity in Babylon and later in their conquest by the Romans. It’s a chapter that’s notoriously hard to outline except in the most basic way. And perhaps that’s intentional. The act of just reading it—and of allowing point upon point to accumulate—makes a tremendously sobering impression. By the time one is through, the cry out, "Oh, God; please keep me in Your blessings!"
Note . . .
I. BLESSINGS FOR OBEDIENCE (vv. 1-14).
A. The condition for blessing is stated in verse 1; "Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today . . ." If they do so, God will exalt them.
B. Note that, at the beginning—in verses 3-6—six specific "blessed shall be . . ." statements are given. The remainder of this section in verses 7-14 describes further aspects of the blessedness. Note also that the section of blessedness is much shorter than the section on cursedness. This may be because, human nature being what it is, we need to hear the warnings more than the benefits; but it also may be because—in the actual experience of the people of Israel—they suffered more for their disobedience than they enjoyed for their obedience.
II. CURSES FOR DISOBEDIENCE (vv. 15-68).
A. Similarly, this section begins with a statement that the curses are conditional upon their disobedience (v. 15)—"But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today . . ." (v. 15). It may seem that Moses emphasizes the cursedness of disobedience more than the blessedness of obedience; but we need to remember that the pathway to blessedness is set before the people, and the choice is theirs what they would experience.
B. Note that, just as with the blessings, this section begins with six "cursed shall be . . ." statements (vv. 16-19). They seem to parallel the blessings in nature. What follows is a progressively horrific description of the various ills that would be brought upon them for their disobedience (vv. 20-64). They truly touch upon every area of life.
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This section seems very much like what we find in Leviticus 26—where another detailed description of God’s readiness to bless obedience and curse disobedience is given. And this principle has not changed in the New Testament era; and is as applicable to Gentiles as it was to the Jews. In Romans 2:1-16, Paul wrote;
Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God. For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel (Romans 2:1-16).
The inventory of God’s blessings and curses places all of us in the desperate position of needing God’s grace. None of us can do anything but hang our arms in frustration and say, "I cannot do in my own power what it takes to be in the state of blessedness! God have mercy on me, a sinner!"
In that light, read Matthew 5:3-12:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Matthew 5:3-12).
Through the sacrifice of our Savior for us, God once again sets before us the path of blessing!