Deuteronomy 27-28: Blessings and Curses
March 22, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Deuteronomy 27-28, Psalm 69:1-18, Matthew 27:45-56, Romans 14
If the last section was somewhat apparently miscellaneous—though there was actually an undergirding logic, even if it was one that was relatively hard to discern—this section has a crystal clear basic structure. It is highly repetitive and based upon a simple idea and instruction. God sets up a dramatic way of visualizing the choice before God’s people. At Ebal, after they have crossed the Jordan, they shall set up uncut stones to be an altar for sacrifice. On those stones they shall write the words of the law.
And then on one mountain, Mount Gerizim, there will be tribes representing the blessing that comes from obedience to the law. On the other mountain, Mount Ebal, will be tribes representing the curses that come from disobedience to the law.
The curses are terrible—exile, worship of pagan idols, being beaten in battle, vicious attack, infertile soil and unproductive efforts, even to the extent of starvation under siege, such that mother and father eat their children. This is horror. Could these things really happen? According to the great Jewish historian Josephus, they did happen.
As the curses are terrible, the blessings are wonderful. Victory everywhere, peace, prosperity, fulfillment, joy that comes from living as you were meant to live according to the Maker’s instructions.
The application of these curses and blessings is to follow the law where it points to Christ, to receive him and follow him all the days of your life, with diligence and passion and commitment. And conversely to be warned against disobeying God.
The chapters are worth reading in full. There is a weight that comes to the minute variations of curses. It makes you fear to disobey, which must have been its intent, even if not fully realized because of the hardheartedness of God’s Old Testament people. It also makes you rejoice to obey. Picture the drama of half the nation on one mountain, shouting out the curses for disobedience, and half on the other mountain, shouting out the blessings for trust in God. It makes you want to trust God, obey, and follow his Word. May we do that and so receive God’s blessing of faith in Christ and discipleship of Christ.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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