Thursday, June 27, 2019

Curses and Blessings in Deuteronomy

Cursed is the man who moves his neighbor’s boundary stone.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!” (Deuteronomy 27:17).

After Moses finished giving the Law in its new form, now appropriate for Israel’s inheritance of the land, he commanded the people to affirm the rule of God over them. When they entered the land they were to divide, with half the nation on Mount Gerizim and half on Mount Ebal. The Levites were to shout out a series of curses and the entire nation was to shout back “Amen” after each one.

Deuteronomy 27:14–26 presents the list of curses that were to be sounded forth on that day. They each had to do with secret sins. Sins committed openly were to become crimes punishable by the law courts Moses had established. Secret sins, however, would be punished by God alone. Those who committed idolatry in secret, who abused their parents, who craftily moved the border markers between their property and their neighbor’s, who committed secret sexual sins, who oppressed the poor and the defenseless—all would be cursed by God and He would deal with them.

Then in Deuteronomy 28, Moses told the people the blessings that they would receive as a nation if they were faithful to God. They would be blessed in wealth and prosperity; they would defeat their enemies in battle; they would have evangelistic influence over all the nations of the earth; and, in general, they would be “the head, not the tail.” Sometimes Christians are bothered by this, but we cannot avoid the fact that the God who created this material world is a God who offers material blessings.

He also threatened material curses. The promise of blessings occupies 12 verses in Deuteronomy 28 (vv. 3–14), while the warning of curses occupies 54 verses (vv. 15–68). Because of our sinfulness and waywardness, we are a people who need threats more often than we need promises. Deuteronomy 28:15–68 is a nightmarish catalog of horrors—horrors that God wants us to avoid by clinging as closely as possible to Him. Those who reject the Creator-God will find themselves estranged from the creation and will be dispossessed.

Are you guilty of any of these secret sins listed in Deuteronomy 27:15–26? If so, you might consider meeting with your minister or trusted Christian friend, repenting and confessing, and make things right. Also read Deuteronomy 28 and consider the state of your nation. Do you think that we are headed for these curses? What can you personally do to avert this disaster?