When I think of a song, my mind goes first to the tune. Then I focus on the lyrics. When both the tune and the lyrics are powerful, the song is so much more memorable. Moses’ song appears to be lyrics only. The tune can always be added later. Isn’t it amazing how you can remember lyrics from songs you learned as a kid? I am always amazed when my husband, David breaks into song, only to find out it’s a song from the 60’s or one he played in a garage band back in the day.
God was brilliant when he had Moses write down a song to help the people remember. It’s a great learning tool. I’ve learned many Bible verses that way. Put them to a melody. As a worship leader, I’ve also learned many songs along the way only to find out later as I’m reading through the Bible that it was Scripture I was singing. I love those a-ha moments!
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.
Our reading today starts with the reminder to give back to God the first fruits. This is done to show our thanks and obedience. Even today we have our own practices of giving. The idea of bringing actual food as an offering doesn’t happen, at least in the culture I grew up. Instead, we give our money, a portion of the wealth God has blessed us with, as an offering.
When we bring our gifts, we should remember and declare, as is shown here, what God has done for us. He has surely rescued us from harm, given us great blessing, and loved us when we weren’t the most lovable. We all have a story. I’m sure there are many stories we can think of where God has intervened. We may not have realized it at the time, but looking back we know it had to be God. We should never forget how God has moved in our lives, just like Moses is telling the people to never forget Egypt and God’s hand of deliverance.
What God wants more than anything is for us to stay focused on him. Period. God knew the people were going to cross into the promised land and be surrounded by all kinds of evil. He had to call it out here in this passage. When we don’t know something is bad for us, we can get into trouble. I think of the child burning his hand on the stove because his mom didn’t warn him it was going to be hot.
The word “detestable” is pretty strong. In the King James and the ESV the word is “abomination.” According to the Google dictionary, the Biblical meaning of detestable is synonymous to abomination or “exceptionally loathsome, hateful, sinful, wicked, or vile.” Do you think this will stop the people or will that make it even more of an enticement?