God could not be any clearer. If you obey His commandments, you are blessed. If you disobey, you are in big trouble — you are cursed. In fact, the more people disobey, the worse it gets for the whole community, state, even the country.
Right now, in Arizona there several major wildfires burning. One of them, not even an hour from Phoenix (where I am), burned the family cabin of the AZ House Speaker. Wildfires don’t discriminate. They burn through everything.
Think about swarms of locusts. Many farms in Africa and India were decimated. Those bugs eat everything green in their way. Their crops are gone. Famine ensues. There are locust swarms attacking Argentina as well as Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia. (Are we living in the Last Days?)
Here in these next 3 chapters of Deuteronomy, God tells the new generation of Israelites that they MUST remember what God has done for them. Also, they MUST obey the laws and commands that He has decreed.
He also tells them that if they DON’T OBEY, they will be cursed. Their land will be cursed. Their crops will be cursed. You’d think that they’d get it, but as you will learn down the line, they don’t. And just about every curse mentioned here happened to them.
What about us today? Ah, that’s where Jesus comes in! Let’s dig in….
“When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you as a special possession and you have conquered it and settled there, 2 put some of the first produce from each crop you harvest into a basket and bring it to the designated place of worship—the place the Lord your God chooses for his name to be honored. 3 Go to the priest in charge at that time and say to him, ‘With this gift I acknowledge to the Lord your God that I have entered the land he swore to our ancestors he would give us.’ 4 The priest will then take the basket from your hand and set it before the altar of the Lord your God.
5 “You must then say in the presence of the Lord your God, ‘My ancestor Jacob was a wandering Aramean who went to live as a foreigner in Egypt. His family arrived few in number, but in Egypt they became a large and mighty nation. 6 When the Egyptians oppressed and humiliated us by making us their slaves, 7 we cried out to the Lord, the God of our ancestors. He heard our cries and saw our hardship, toil, and oppression. 8 So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand and powerful arm, with overwhelming terror, and with miraculous signs and wonders. 9 He brought us to this place and gave us this land flowing with milk and honey! 10 And now, O Lord, I have brought you the first portion of the harvest you have given me from the ground.’ Then place the produce before the Lord your God, and bow to the ground in worship before him. 11 Afterward you may go and celebrate because of all the good things the Lord your God has given to you and your household. Remember to include the Levites and the foreigners living among you in the celebration.
12 “Every third year you must offer a special tithe of your crops. In this year of the special tithe you must give your tithes to the Levites, foreigners, orphans, and widows, so that they will have enough to eat in your towns. 13 Then you must declare in the presence of the Lord your God, ‘I have taken the sacred gift from my house and have given it to the Levites, foreigners, orphans, and widows, just as you commanded me. I have not violated or forgotten any of your commands. 14 I have not eaten any of it while in mourning; I have not handled it while I was ceremonially unclean; and I have not offered any of it to the dead. I have obeyed the Lord my God and have done everything you commanded me. 15 Now look down from your holy dwelling place in heaven and bless your people Israel and the land you swore to our ancestors to give us—a land flowing with milk and honey.’
A Call to Obey the Lord’s Commands
16 “Today the Lord your God has commanded you to obey all these decrees and regulations. So be careful to obey them wholeheartedly. 17 You have declared today that the Lord is your God. And you have promised to walk in his ways, and to obey his decrees, commands, and regulations, and to do everything he tells you. 18 The Lord has declared today that you are his people, his own special treasure, just as he promised, and that you must obey all his commands. 19 And if you do, he will set you high above all the other nations he has made. Then you will receive praise, honor, and renown. You will be a nation that is holy to the Lord your God, just as he promised.”Deuteronomy 26 NLT
Pretty simple, right? Let’s go on….
Deuteronomy 27 – The Altar on Mount Ebal
Then Moses and the leaders of Israel gave this charge to the people: “Obey all these commands that I am giving you today. 2 When you cross the Jordan River and enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, set up some large stones and coat them with plaster. 3 Write this whole body of instruction on them when you cross the river to enter the land the Lord your God is giving you—a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you. 4 When you cross the Jordan, set up these stones at Mount Ebal and coat them with plaster, as I am commanding you today.
5 “Then build an altar there to the Lord your God, using natural, uncut stones. You must not shape the stones with an iron tool. 6 Build the altar of uncut stones, and use it to offer burnt offerings to the Lord your God. 7 Also sacrifice peace offerings on it, and celebrate by feasting there before the Lord your God. 8 You must clearly write all these instructions on the stones coated with plaster.”
9 Then Moses and the Levitical priests addressed all Israel as follows: “O Israel, be quiet and listen! Today you have become the people of the Lord your God. 10 So you must obey the Lord your God by keeping all these commands and decrees that I am giving you today.”Deuteronomy 27:1-10 NLT
As I started reading this passage, I remembered some recent news from Israel. Jericho, where the Israelites will enter the Promised Land is today in what’s known as the West Bank. This area is run by the Palestine Authority (PA) — Arabs, descendants of Ishmael. Recently, what Israelis believe is the very altar that Joshua built on Mt. Ebal was desecrated by the PA. They crushed the stones of the wall around the altar to build a road. Here’s the story….
The valley the Israelites were entering had two mountains, Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerizim. The people were to divide themselves into two groups, one on each mountain. One would yell the curses and one would yell the blessings. You know that repeating something is a good way to remember it, right?
Curses from Mount Ebal
11 That same day Moses also gave this charge to the people: 12 “When you cross the Jordan River, the tribes of Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin must stand on Mount Gerizim to proclaim a blessing over the people. 13 And the tribes of Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali must stand on Mount Ebal to proclaim a curse.
14 “Then the Levites will shout to all the people of Israel:
15 ‘Cursed is anyone who carves or casts an idol and secretly sets it up. These idols, the work of craftsmen, are detestable to the Lord.’
And all the people will reply, ‘Amen.’
16 ‘Cursed is anyone who dishonors father or mother.’
And all the people will reply, ‘Amen.’Deuteronomy 27:11-16 NLT
You get the idea. You can read the rest here… Let’s go on…
Deuteronomy 28 – Blessings for Obedience
“If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully keep all his commands that I am giving you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the world. 2 You will experience all these blessings if you obey the Lord your God:
3 Your towns and your fields
will be blessed.
4 Your children and your crops
will be blessed.
The offspring of your herds and flocks
will be blessed.
5 Your fruit baskets and breadboards
will be blessed.
6 Wherever you go and whatever you do,
you will be blessed.
7 “The Lord will conquer your enemies when they attack you. They will attack you from one direction, but they will scatter from you in seven!
8 “The Lord will guarantee a blessing on everything you do and will fill your storehouses with grain. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.
9 “If you obey the commands of the Lord your God and walk in his ways, the Lord will establish you as his holy people as he swore he would do. 10 Then all the nations of the world will see that you are a people claimed by the Lord, and they will stand in awe of you.
11 “The Lord will give you prosperity in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you, blessing you with many children, numerous livestock, and abundant crops. 12 The Lord will send rain at the proper time from his rich treasury in the heavens and will bless all the work you do. You will lend to many nations, but you will never need to borrow from them. 13 If you listen to these commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today, and if you carefully obey them, the Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you will always be on top and never at the bottom. 14 You must not turn away from any of the commands I am giving you today, nor follow after other gods and worship them.Deuteronomy 28:1-14 NLT
So, the Israelites heard the blessings from one mountain, Mt. Gerizim, which was green and lush. The curses came from Mt. Ebal which was barren and rocky. It was a visual lesson as well.
The rest of this chapter continues the warnings…. They are important. PAY ATTENTION!
Curses for Disobedience
15 “But if you refuse to listen to the Lord your God and do not obey all the commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come and overwhelm you:
16 Your towns and your fields
will be cursed.
17 Your fruit baskets and breadboards
will be cursed.
18 Your children and your crops
will be cursed.
The offspring of your herds and flocks
will be cursed.
19 Wherever you go and whatever you do,
you will be cursed.
20 “The Lord himself will send on you curses, confusion, and frustration in everything you do, until at last you are completely destroyed for doing evil and abandoning me. 21 The Lord will afflict you with diseases until none of you are left in the land you are about to enter and occupy. 22 The Lord will strike you with wasting diseases, fever, and inflammation, with scorching heat and drought, and with blight and mildew. These disasters will pursue you until you die. 23 The skies above will be as unyielding as bronze, and the earth beneath will be as hard as iron. 24 The Lord will change the rain that falls on your land into powder, and dust will pour down from the sky until you are destroyed.
25 “The Lord will cause you to be defeated by your enemies. You will attack your enemies from one direction, but you will scatter from them in seven! You will be an object of horror to all the kingdoms of the earth. 26 Your corpses will be food for all the scavenging birds and wild animals, and no one will be there to chase them away.
27 “The Lord will afflict you with the boils of Egypt and with tumors, scurvy, and the itch, from which you cannot be cured. 28 The Lord will strike you with madness, blindness, and panic. 29 You will grope around in broad daylight like a blind person groping in the darkness, but you will not find your way. You will be oppressed and robbed continually, and no one will come to save you.
30 “You will be engaged to a woman, but another man will sleep with her. You will build a house, but someone else will live in it. You will plant a vineyard, but you will never enjoy its fruit. 31 Your ox will be butchered before your eyes, but you will not eat a single bite of the meat. Your donkey will be taken from you, never to be returned. Your sheep and goats will be given to your enemies, and no one will be there to help you. 32 You will watch as your sons and daughters are taken away as slaves. Your heart will break for them, but you won’t be able to help them. 33 A foreign nation you have never heard about will eat the crops you worked so hard to grow. You will suffer under constant oppression and harsh treatment. 34 You will go mad because of all the tragedy you see around you. 35 The Lord will cover your knees and legs with incurable boils. In fact, you will be covered from head to foot.
36 “The Lord will exile you and your king to a nation unknown to you and your ancestors. There in exile you will worship gods of wood and stone! 37 You will become an object of horror, ridicule, and mockery among all the nations to which the Lord sends you.
38 “You will plant much but harvest little, for locusts will eat your crops. 39 You will plant vineyards and care for them, but you will not drink the wine or eat the grapes, for worms will destroy the vines. 40 You will grow olive trees throughout your land, but you will never use the olive oil, for the fruit will drop before it ripens. 41 You will have sons and daughters, but you will lose them, for they will be led away into captivity. 42 Swarms of insects will destroy your trees and crops.
43 “The foreigners living among you will become stronger and stronger, while you become weaker and weaker. 44 They will lend money to you, but you will not lend to them. They will be the head, and you will be the tail!
45 “If you refuse to listen to the Lord your God and to obey the commands and decrees he has given you, all these curses will pursue and overtake you until you are destroyed. 46 These horrors will serve as a sign and warning among you and your descendants forever. 47 If you do not serve the Lord your God with joy and enthusiasm for the abundant benefits you have received, 48 you will serve your enemies whom the Lord will send against you. You will be left hungry, thirsty, naked, and lacking in everything. The Lord will put an iron yoke on your neck, oppressing you harshly until he has destroyed you.
49 “The Lord will bring a distant nation against you from the end of the earth, and it will swoop down on you like a vulture. It is a nation whose language you do not understand, 50 a fierce and heartless nation that shows no respect for the old and no pity for the young. 51 Its armies will devour your livestock and crops, and you will be destroyed. They will leave you no grain, new wine, olive oil, calves, or lambs, and you will starve to death. 52 They will attack your cities until all the fortified walls in your land—the walls you trusted to protect you—are knocked down. They will attack all the towns in the land the Lord your God has given you.
53 “The siege and terrible distress of the enemy’s attack will be so severe that you will eat the flesh of your own sons and daughters, whom the Lord your God has given you. 54 The most tenderhearted man among you will have no compassion for his own brother, his beloved wife, and his surviving children. 55 He will refuse to share with them the flesh he is devouring—the flesh of one of his own children—because he has nothing else to eat during the siege and terrible distress that your enemy will inflict on all your towns. 56 The most tender and delicate woman among you—so delicate she would not so much as touch the ground with her foot—will be selfish toward the husband she loves and toward her own son or daughter. 57 She will hide from them the afterbirth and the new baby she has borne, so that she herself can secretly eat them. She will have nothing else to eat during the siege and terrible distress that your enemy will inflict on all your towns.
58 “If you refuse to obey all the words of instruction that are written in this book, and if you do not fear the glorious and awesome name of the Lord your God, 59 then the Lord will overwhelm you and your children with indescribable plagues. These plagues will be intense and without relief, making you miserable and unbearably sick. 60 He will afflict you with all the diseases of Egypt that you feared so much, and you will have no relief. 61 The Lord will afflict you with every sickness and plague there is, even those not mentioned in this Book of Instruction, until you are destroyed. 62 Though you become as numerous as the stars in the sky, few of you will be left because you would not listen to the Lord your God.
63 “Just as the Lord has found great pleasure in causing you to prosper and multiply, the Lord will find pleasure in destroying you. You will be torn from the land you are about to enter and occupy. 64 For the Lord will scatter you among all the nations from one end of the earth to the other. There you will worship foreign gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known, gods made of wood and stone! 65 There among those nations you will find no peace or place to rest. And the Lord will cause your heart to tremble, your eyesight to fail, and your soul to despair. 66 Your life will constantly hang in the balance. You will live night and day in fear, unsure if you will survive. 67 In the morning you will say, ‘If only it were night!’ And in the evening you will say, ‘If only it were morning!’ For you will be terrified by the awful horrors you see around you. 68 Then the Lord will send you back to Egypt in ships, to a destination I promised you would never see again. There you will offer to sell yourselves to your enemies as slaves, but no one will buy you.”Deuteronomy 28 NLT
After all the laws are given, the people are told how to respond.
Once they enter the land, God wants them to take some of the land’s first fruits and bring it to the temple and offer it to God (Deuteronomy 26:2). Along with the offering, the worshiper is to recite the story of their deliverance from Egypt. This ritual was to happen every three years, as a constant reminder of what God had done for them and what he requires of them in his law (Deuteronomy 26:12).
Next, comes a long list of blessings followed by a longer list of curses. If Israel keeps the law they will receive all the blessings listed. If they disobey the law, they will receive all the curses.
The blessings make Israel’s future sound like the perfect mix of the Garden of Eden and the promises made to Abraham. The land they live in will produce all the food they need (Deuteronomy 28:4). Their children will multiply and be healthy. And they will rise in power over every other nation, extending the blessing they receive to the whole world (Deuteronomy 28:10).
The curses, on the other hand, sound like a deadly mix of the plagues from Exodus and the punishments from Numbers. If Israel doesn’t keep the laws they will experience locusts, darkness, death, and desolation like Egypt before them (Deuteronomy 28:27). They will also receive intensified versions of the punishments that came to their parents as they traveled through the wilderness – fire, disease, and wild animals will all devour them (Deuteronomy 28:22).
The longest and most emphasized curse has to do with a rival kingdom God will raise up to come and punish them. This kingdom, that does not worship Yahweh, will take them captive and force them to worship their false gods (Deuteronomy 28:52).
And since Israel did not obey the law, all these curses came true. Israel was taken away by rival kingdoms like Babylon and were exiled from the promised land (Daniel 1:1).“Jesus in all of Deuteronomy” by Spoken Gospel (bold emphasis mine)
Where is the Gospel? (Good News?)
This is our story as well. We have broken God’s law and will receive all these curses as well. Some of us may escape them in this life, but God is not a liar. Justice will be done against all who commit evil.
After reading all these curses, the Gospel shines through as really good news. All of these curses we deserved, Jesus bore in his flesh on the cross. In fact, he became the curse for us (Galatians 3:13).
Now, we can read the blessings promised and look forward to them instead of what we deserve. We will inherit every blessing promised in this text and more (2 Corinthians 1:20). We will enter the new and final garden of Eden in the new heavens and new earth (Revelation 21:1). We will be free from death, disease, and pain (Revelation 21:4). Best of all, we will be with Jesus. That’s what really makes the land good.“Jesus in all of Deuteronomy” by Spoken Gospel (bold emphasis mine)
Which one of these commandments have you disobeyed? I don’t want to know. But God knows! You might not think you’re cursed, because life may be pretty good for you now, but where will YOU spend eternity — Heaven or hell? By the way, purgatory doesn’t exist!
It’s YOUR CHOICE!
If you’re not sure if you’re saved or not, if you truly want to be born again and have the assurance of salvation, receive the Holy Spirit, feel His Shalom — a peace that surpasses all understanding, and get a 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven after you die, or that you won’t be left behind at the Rapture, which can happen at any moment, this is what you have to do…