Last night as Allen and I read this week’s Torah Portion during Shabbat (sabbath), I couldn’t help but be struck by something. So often I hear people praying blessings from Deuteronomy 28 over someone – I’d wager you’ve heard some of these too (and this is only part of the list):
- blessings shall come upon you and overtake you (v2)
- Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb (v4)
- Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out (v6)
- your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before you (v7)
- They shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways (v7)
- blessing on you …in all that you undertake (v8)
- the Lord will make you abound in prosperity (v11)
- bless all the work of your hands (v12)
- you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow (v12)
- the Lord will make you the head and not the tail (v13)
- you shall only go up and not down (v13)
These are powerful promises! But the key point is: they are conditional. What that means is we don’t simply GET these because we are saved. We get these when we fulfill the condition. So let’s look at what that condition is – the Word reiterates it multiple times in the chapter, which means it is being emphasized. In other words the Father is trying to be certain we hear it. Here are the times He gives the conditions in relation to the blessings:
- IF you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today (v1)
- IF you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk in his ways. (v9)
- IF you obey the commandments of the Lord your God (v13) and IF you do not turn aside from any of the words that I command you today, to the right hand or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them. (v14)
It seems Father holds His commandments in high regard! He has given us beautiful, powerful promises IF we choose to obey them!!!
The rest of Deuteronomy 28 gives the flip side. Before I head there, I want to quote an example I gave in my post From the Beginning (2 John 1:6):
When you touch the hot stove, you get burned. So then if He gives a commandment NOT to touch the hot stove – is He controlling, cruel, or trying to take away your freedoms? Or is He simply a good Father who doesn’t want to see you burned?
Do we have the freedom to choose to touch the hot stove? Of course! Will He still love us if we do? Definitely. But for anyone who has watched a loved one walk in destructive behavior, you know it is painful to watch. He just loves us enough He doesn’t want to watch us walk in that which is destructive to ourselves.
So in the same way that Father has been good and kind to tell us all the blessings we will have if we DO obey His commandments, He also lays out what will happen if we don’t (this is a partial list):
- Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the field. (v16)
- Cursed shall be the fruit of your womb (v18)
- Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out. (v19)
- curses, confusion, and frustration in all that you undertake to do (v20)
- wasting disease and with fever, inflammation and fiery heat, (v22)
- madness and blindness and confusion of mind (v28)
- oppressed and robbed continually (v29)
- You shall betroth a wife, but another man shall ravish her (v30)
- Your sons and your daughters shall be given to another people, while your eyes look on… but you shall be helpless (v32)
- The sojourner who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you (v43)
- you shall come down lower and lower (v43)
- He shall lend to you, and you shall not lend to him. (v44)
- He shall be the head, and you shall be the tail. (v44)
- extraordinary afflictions, afflictions severe and lasting, and sicknesses grievous and lasting (v59)
- Every sickness also and every affliction that is not recorded in the book of this law (v61)
Those are some powerful curses and many of them sound a lot like things I see people plagued with today. The condition that brings on the curses is given multiple times as well, which re-emphasizes and clarifies what the condition is:
- But 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, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you. (v15)
- All these curses shall come upon you and pursue you and overtake you till you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that he commanded you. (v45)
- IF you are not careful to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and awesome name, the Lord your God (v58)
So if we might mis-interpret the blessings to simply require obedience to the 10 commandments, we are corrected in the second set of conditions which make it clear His desire is that we should pursue His law: His commandments and His statutes.
This is something I have only begun as part of my walk within the last year and a half – though even most mainstream Christians observe a good chunk of what’s in there simply because of doctrinal beliefs of what holiness looks like – I have documented what it looks like for me in this post if you are interested.
Since I’m still thinking of anointing oils from yesterday’s post, I’ll share that one of my favorite oils from The Scent of Heaven is called Prosperity (Deut 28). This oil is a reminder of the blessings we walk in IF we follow the conditional promise. But I digress…
I’ll close with a thought I had as I listened to the book of Jeremiah a couple evenings ago as I was dyeing. I was struck by the passion the Lord had as He repeatedly expressed how His people had strayed from His law. It became so clear to me the passion He has about us obeying Him (Jeremiah 6:19, 9:13, 16:11, 26:4, 44:23 to name a few).
As I began to think of this I couldn’t help but come back to the parent analogy I gave earlier. Though a parent always loves their children, how frustrating and in fact painful is it to watch them go astray and do things you KNOW are harmful to them? Not to mention how much it hurts YOU as a parent to be repeatedly disobeyed… the repeated action displaying dishonor to you and the position you hold, the repeated action showing a lack of trust in YOU and your ability to discern right from wrong, the repeated action showing favor to their OWN judgment over yours… indeed how painful.
As I listened to the Father’s impassioned words I wondered how He could be SO passionate about His law only to then say He doesn’t care if we follow it? Does the hot stove stop being hot? Again, I realized how much He does care – not so we can earn salvation for none of us can, it comes by grace alone so no man can boast – but the fruit of our salvation is our desire to obey because we love Him and desire to do what He says (If you want to read more along this line my post Is Torah for Today? may be helpful).
Father may we do what pleases You and what fulfills the conditions of Your promises that You might be able to bless us as richly as You’ve said You would. You desire to bless Your children that is WHY You took the time to be sure we knew clearly how to walk in blessing and avoid walking in curses. Help us to have the strength and grace to walk it out. And thank You for providing grace through Your Son for when we fall short – that we are no longer under the curse of the penalty when we repent and are covered by His blood… may we never abuse this provision as a license to sin, but rather cherish it as the gift it is. May our lives and actions bring glory to You!