I could have broken this passage up into several days to have a shorter reading, but I decided that with all the doom and gloom in our present day world, we’d only spend one day focusing on these curses. It would be easy to just skim over this section believing that we are immune. After all, didn’t Jesus come to save us? We’ll look at Paul’s words from Galatians 3, too.
Imagine you were the one hearing Moses declare all of these curses. What would you have been feeling? Would the fear of God be boiling inside you? Would you believe it or think that Moses had lost his mind? God was more than serious and whether or not we feel the message is for us or not, we need to seek understanding.
“If you fully obey” seems to suggest that the blessings from God have a price tag. However, to have God’s blessing of protection, prosperity, and provision would seem like a wonderful reason to be obedient. Many people are enticed by rewards or positive reinforcement. God’s promise to give the land to the Israelites is a promise he kept. Now, to be set apart even more and be known for their allegiance to God and his provision, they only have to obey God.
The blessings here encompass more than just personal gain. Israel should be blessed in the field with bountiful crops, with herds having plenty of offspring, protection from harm, even when away from home, and much more. You would think the people would be ecstatic, overflowing with joy and gratitude. After all, they have just been wandering around for many years. They were about to have a life of abundance without having to be on the move. They were going to be able to establish roots at last.
Moses does a great job again of recapping what’s important now as the people get ready to claim their new home. He wants them to focus on the blessings. “Look, today I am giving you the choice between a blessing and a curse! You will be blessed if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today.” Moses has been giving a beautiful speech over the last chapters to prepare his people for their new reality. He is speaking for God to the Israelites, but there is wisdom for us, too.
Likewise, we can get lost in our own lives, stuck in fear or worry, busy with tasks, or simply just going through the motions of life. We can let Moses’ words bring us some comfort and direction. “But be careful. Don’t let your heart be deceived so that you turn away from the Lord and serve and worship other gods.” What may be deceiving us today may look different than those challenges for the Israelites, but the message is the same.
There are so many good messages in today’s reading. We
should fear the Lord, be understanding, do good, be godly and with it comes
great benefit. But what about the poor? Is anybody looking out for them? I am
bombarded with requests from poor souls in developing countries to help them,
send food, send money, help them escape poverty. I wish I could help every
But in reality, I’d run out of money to support myself if I
were to take on the task of helping everyone who asks me. What I can offer is
prayer. I can pray for the mission organizations that we do support with
funding. They know the best ways to help the most people. Just throwing dollars
at those who beg will only be a short-term solution and not solve the bigger
problem. My mission dollars will go a long way in the right hands. Yet my heart
still cries out for those poor souls who are seeking my help.
Have you heard that word, Beatitude, before? Do you know what it means? The Google dictionary says “supreme blessedness.” For the purpose of our text, it represents the blessings spoken by Jesus. It’s such a beautiful passage. In our last reading, we hear how people are following Jesus, gathering crowds where ever he goes. Today’s text looks, in particular, at one of those days.
Picture this. The crowd was gathering, and Jesus was ready to teach. He went up the mountainside and sat down with his disciples gathered around. Everyone was ready to hear what Jesus had to say. Today was special. Jesus is about to preach a sermon that will rock their world. He starts with the blessings.