TODAY’S READING: DEUTERONOMY 28-29
In yesterday’s post, we saw that Moses put half of the tribes of Israel on Mt. Ebal to stand for cursing and half the tribes on Mt. Gerizim to be a blessing to the people. Yet, Moses included all the tribes in the people of God.
In Deuteronomy 28 and 29, Moses tells Israel what the blessing of God will be “if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today.” (Deuteronomy 28:1) After explaining what the blessing of God will be for those that obey, Moses tells Israel what the cursing of God will be “if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today.” (Deuteronomy 28:15)
But, is Moses accurately portraying God accurately? Does God speak both blessing and cursing? Does God only speak a blessing over us when we do what he commands? And, if we do not do what God commands, then he speaks cursing over us? Is God’s relationship with us conditional?
IS GOD CURSING YOUR DISOBEDIENCE?
Moses spends much more time detailing the cursing that God will rain down on Israel for disobedience to his commands than he does on the blessing of God for obedience to his commands. That alone tells us quite a bit about how Moses viewed God. And, as Moses represents the law, that tells us something about how those who seek to obey the law for righteousness view God.
When we attempt to obey the law for righteousness, then we end up viewing God as a God who curses. We see our failure to obey the law as a failure in us. Because we fail to obey when we could have and should have obeyed, we believe God curses, or punishes, us for our disobedience.
But, we must remember that prior to Jesus everyone’s view of God was veiled. Israel and Moses could not and did not see God clearly. Therefore, we cannot simply accept Moses’ testimony as true that God will curse you for your disobedience.
We need to look for a clearer revelation of God to see if God is cursing you for disobedience. The clearer revelation is Jesus. In John 14:9, Jesus says, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”
Therefore, let’s take a look some of the curses that Moses says God pronounces on the disobedient and compare them with what the New Testament says about Jesus and the revelation he gave of the Father.
I think we will see that instead of cursing us for disobedience that God is blessing us into obedience.
GOD CURSES YOU WITH CONFUSION?
Deuteronomy 28:20 says “the Lord will send…confusion” on the disobedient.
Is that what God really does? He confuses you?
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:33, “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.” Paul had a direct encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. He saw the crucified, buried, and resurrected Lord. When he asked to see God’s glory, Moses only saw God’s back. Who had the better view of God? Paul explicitly says God is not a God of confusion, which exactly contradicts Moses’ statement that God will curse you by sending confusion on you for disobeying him.
Confusions breeds chaos and a lack of order. But, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:40, “All things should be done decently and in order.” God is one who puts things in order. Just look at his work in creation in Genesis 1. Because the nature of God is to bring order to things, he cannot send confusion that leads to disorder.
So, confusion leads to a lack of order or a lack of control. These arise from fear. But, 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God gave us not a spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
Confusion occurs when the truth is not known. While Moses says that God will send confusion, Jesus says he will send truth.
In John 16:7, Jesus says, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” Jesus said that when he ascended back to the Father he would send the Helper, the Holy Spirit, to us. Why would he do this?
In John 16:13, Jesus says, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”
Jesus sent the Spirit of truth to us. Therefore, God sends truth and not confusion, which completely contradicts the cursing of the disobedient that Moses spoke.
Confusion comes from a lack of wisdom and leads to double-mindedness. But, Jesus said in Mathew 6:24 that we cannot serve two masters; we cannot be double minded. James 1:8 says a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways. A double-minded man is confused. If we really think about, then trying to hold to the revelation of God from Jesus and the revelation of God from Moses will lead to confusion. Those revelations are contradictory at many points. But, James 1:5-6 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting.”
God is not cursing you with confusion. Jesus and the New Testament clearly show that God is blessing you with order, truth, self-control, and wisdom.
GOD CURSES YOU WITH PESTILENCE, DISEASE, FEVER, SICKNESS?
Deuteronomy 28:21-22 says, “The Lord will make the pestilence stick to you until he has consumed you…The Lord will strike you with wasting disease and fever.” There are several other places within the curses for disobedience where Moses proclaims God will curse you boils, all the diseases of Egypt and more.
Is that what God really does? Do we ever Jesus putting disease, sickness, or fever on someone?
No. In fact, Jesus does exactly the opposite. Jesus continually heals people of these things.
Matthew 4:23-24 says, “And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, those having seizures, and paralytics, and he healed them.”
Mark 6:56 says, “And wherever he came, in villages, in cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.”
Not only did Jesus heal disease, he healed fever. Matthew 8:14-15 says, “And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him.”
Matthew 9:35 says, “And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.”
Jesus even gave authority over disease to his disciples. Matthew 10:1 says, “And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction.”
Pestilence, disease, fever, and sickness rob you of life. But, Jesus came to give life.
In John 10:10, Jesus says, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
1 John 5:11 says, “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”
1 John 5:20 says, “He is the true God and eternal life.”
God is not cursing you with pestilence, plague, sickness, disease, and fever. Jesus and the New Testament clearly reveal that God is blessing you with healing of every diseases and life and that life abundantly.
GOD CURSES YOU TO BE DEFEATED BY YOUR ENEMIES?
Deuteronomy 28:25 says, “The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies.”
Is this what God really does? He will cause you to be defeated?
Romans 8:31-35 says, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died – more than that, who was raised – who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?”
God is for us. Therefore, nothing can come against us.
Luke 1:71 says Jesus came “that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.” And, Luke 1:74 says “that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear.”
In Luke 10:19, Jesus says, “Behold, I have given you the authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.”
Who and what are our enemies?
In the parable of the sower, Jesus says that the weeds, the bad seed, were sown by the enemy, who is the devil. The devil, Satan, is our enemy.
The devil, Satan, tempts us with lust, or false desire, which when conceived gives birth to sin, according to James 1:15. Sin is our enemy.
Sin leads to death. Death is also our enemy.
Jesus came to destroy all these enemies. Hebrews 2:14 says, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.”
All these enemies are of this world. They come from the god of this world, Satan. In John 16:33, Jesus says, “Take heart; I have overcome the world.”
1 John 4:4 says, “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”
1 John 5:4 says, “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.”
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:57, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
God is not cursing you to be defeated by your enemies. Jesus and the New Testament clearly show that God is blessing you to have victory over your enemies.
WHEN DOES GOD SPEAK BLESSING TO YOU?
We could take every one of the curses Moses said God would bring and look to the New Testament to see that the true revelation of God through Jesus is exactly the opposite. God speaks blessing to you. He never speaks cursing to you.
Now, some of you might be saying that is not true. God speaks the blessings to those who are in Christ, to those that have believed.
To that I say – when did God speak blessings to you? Only after you were saved? Was it after you were saved that God showed you his loving kindness, which is his blessing?
No, God spoke blessing to you, he loved you, when you were his enemy.
Romans 5:6, 8, 10 says, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us…For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.”
When you were God’s enemy, when you were disobedient to God, how did he draw you to him? Did he speak cursing to come upon so that you would turn to him? Or, did God speak blessing to you?
Try blessing. God’s loving kindness, his blessing not cursing, leads us to repentance. Romans 2:4 says, “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?”
Paul explicitly tells us in Ephesians 2 that God did not curse the disobedient into his kingdom. No, God showed them mercy and love. He spoke blessing to the disobedient.
Ephesians 2:1-6 says, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
God spoke blessing on you even when you were a son of disobedience, even when you were dead in sin. God did not wait to speak blessing on you until you obeyed him.
God is not a respecter of person. In Acts 10:34 Peter says, “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality.” What God does for one he will do for all.
This is because God never changes. James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
God does not change. Therefore, he doesn’t speak blessing to you at one moment and cursing to you at another moment. If God were to do that, then he would no longer be good. Speaking blessing and cursing is what an evil tongue does. And, God is not evil.
WHY WE THINK GOD SPEAKS BLESSING AND CURSING
Moses and Israel were under the covenant of the law. This was a two-sided covenant. Moses and Israel believed that if you follow the law, then God will bless you. But, if you don’t follow the law, then God will curse you. They believed they had to follow the law to get into the promised land, which is a picture of eternal life (not heaven by the way).
But, we should take note that Moses, as a picture of the law, did not lead Israel into the promised land. Joshua, who is a picture of Jesus, lead Israel into the promised land.
Also, we should go back to James 1:17. How did we get all those good and perfect gifts from God? James 1:18 says, “Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth.” God does it all by himself.
We believe God speaks blessing and cursing because we still believe that we have some part to play in our salvation, our sanctification, and our living as Christ lived. But, this is not true.
God saves us by his grace. God sanctifies us on his power. God causes us to live the life that Christ lived through his Spirit.
Instead of a two-sided covenant, we are under a one-sided covenant.
See, all those that believe are the children of Abraham. We are believers by faith. Abraham believed God by faith. And, Abraham believed God’s one-sided covenant. We should know that when God made his covenant with Abraham in Genesis 15, God put Abraham into a deep sleep. Abraham had nothing to do with making or keeping the covenant. All the work was done by God.
And, this is true of the new covenant God makes with us. Look what God says about the new covenant in Jeremiah 31:31-34.
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts, And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
Moses and Israel could break the covenant after they came out of Egypt because it was two-sided. But, the new covenant that God has made is one-sided. Notice every statement about the new covenant has God saying, “I will.” There is not one statement about the new covenant where we do anything.
God draws into the new covenant by his living kindness. God performs the work of the new covenant by his power. God keeps the new covenant by his love. It is all done by God.
Jesus clearly reveals all of this to us. We should listen to him and not Moses.
Therefore, Jesus shows us that God is always blessing, never cursing.
In reality, this could have been a really short post. We just need to read James 3:8-10, which says, “But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not be so.”
Why should we not speak blessing and cursing out of the same mouth? Because we are called to be like God. Since God doesn’t speak blessing and cursing out of the same mouth, then neither should we. We are to speak blessing over all people because all people are made in the image of God. We are to speak blessing over all because God speaks blessing over all.