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Monday, March 21, 2016

"Life is good." Or not.

The Blessings and Cursings of Deuteronomy reveal both God’s good intent toward His people and their evil response toward His goodness. “Life is good” for those who love and obey Him. “Life is bad, very bad indeed” for those who disobey Him. 

“Life is good” - God’s heart to do good to and for His people is revealed through the blessing statements, “Blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 28:2). The store rooms of heaven burst forth in abundance toward those who obey Him. Moses lists four basic areas of blessings and then elaborates upon the benefits of those blessings (28:3-6):
  1. Urban and rural blessings - Blessings would be poured out on the Israelites regardless of where they lived in the city or the country.  
  2. Fertility blessings - When God originally created plant and animal life He commanded them to “Be fruitful and multiply.”   
  3. Agricultural blessings - Cupboards will be full and bread will never be lacking. 
  4. In and out blessings - Israel need never fear her enemies. 
God purposes to bless His people because His commands are right and good. Obedience places God’s people in the way of blessing while disobedience carries them off of that path and into the way of destruction. 
“Life is bad, very bad indeed” for those whose disobedience takes them onto the path of judgment. God warns Israel of the consequences of continued disobedience. Not only does God withhold blessings, but He promises that evil will “come upon you and overtake you” (28:15). Moses lists four basic areas of cursing and elaborates extensively regarding those cursings (28:15-68).
  1. Urban and rural cursings - Those who disobey God cannot avoid judgment by changing their geographic location. Judgment overtakes them wherever they flee.
  2. Agricultural cursing - Debt, drought, and famine shrink the resources of those who continue in disobedience; yet they continue to disobey the LORD.  
  3. Fertility cursing - Instead of multiplying, captors take the crops and children of those who continue in disobedience. 
  4. In and out cursing - Oppressors overwhelm, lay siege, and eventually take a disobedient people into captivity.  
The blessings and cursings reveal two basic truths:
  • God’s heart to do good for His people produces great blessing.
  • Man’s hardness of heart and rebellion toward God precipitate horrific consequences. 
Two opposing paths weave their way throughout the Bible narrative: the way of life and the way of death; the way of truth and the way of deception; the narrow way and the broad way. Every generation and every person choose one path or the other. Blessing or cursing. Obedience or disobedience. 

Older Post
"If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above the nations on earth." "However, if you do not obey the LORD your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come upon you and overtake you" (Deuteronomy 28:1,15).

Positive and negative consequences motivate people to action. If you do this . . . then I will do this . . . . Moses, by contrasting the consequences of both, charges the children of Israel to choose the path of obedience. In fact, Moses gives four times more consequences to disobedience than to the blessing of obedience. From today's reading we see that the breaking of the covenant usually involves:
  • Neglecting the Book of the Law
  • Proper worship
  • Worshipping idols
  • Social injustice
  • Sexual immorality
While the ultimate consequence of obedience is blessing in every sense of the term the ultimate consequences of cursing is (hopefully) return to God. At every juncture of the cursing God expresses the hope that His people will turn to Him and thus avoid the cycle of more serious curses. The great heart of God is seen most clearly in His determined love to restore a sinning people. If, however, a people refuse to submit, for their own good, the text pictures of a brutal ending--terror in the heart and slavery in the life. Yet, this is no ordinary terror and no ordinary slavery. The terror fills the heart with dread night and day while the slavery is so complete that no one will even buy you as slaves.
Blessing and cursing usually involve:
  • Physical, family and agricultural prosperity or poverty
  • National security and military dominance over other nations or defeat and enslavement to other nations
While America is not Israel some obvious parallels exist. America has rejected God's standards so now Americans are in bondage financially, morally, socially, and nationally (as a debtor nation). Yet, even now God wills to do good for a people who turn to Him.

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading: Deuteronomy 27:1-28:68
  • What is the first thing that God commands the people to do after they cross over the Jordan?
  • What is the purpose of this visual?
  • What does the Lord promise to do for the children of Israel that reveals His unlimited goodness toward an obedient people?
  • Think about the opening of the heavens during the flood. In the same way that God opened the windows of heaven for destruction so He promises to open up the windows of heaven for blessing.
  • Describe the mental state of those under His cursing.
Turning truth into prayer
Read 2 Chronicles 7:14 and turn the verse into a prayer.