Deuteronomy 28:38-44 (The Blessings and the Curses, Part IV)

Deuteronomy 28:38-44
The Blessings and the Curses, Part IV

The people of Israel obviously failed to uphold the words of this law, because they were sent into exile. Can anyone here disagree with that? The Lord, directly through Moses, and through the prophets, warned Israel to pay heed.

They were given all the information they needed in advance to live rightly, and all of the warnings that explained what would happen if they didn’t. They had only themselves to blame when the disasters that are stated came upon them.

Eventually, the prophecies concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, and the exile of the people came to pass. But along with those things, came their prophesied return to the land, just as they were told would come about. In fact, the things spoken were so precise that Daniel knew exactly when to pray for restoration –

“In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans— in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.” Daniel 9:1, 2

As such, Israel couldn’t say, “Well, we are finally getting what we deserve by being returned to the land.” No, the best they could say is, “Well, despite our unfaithfulness, the Lord has been faithful to us.” But once they were in the land, they again neglected the Lord. Hence, the bad spoken of in the law continued after their return…

Text Verse: “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Consider your ways! Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified,’ says the Lord. You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house. 10 Therefore the heavens above you withhold the dew, and the earth withholds its fruit. 11 For I called for a drought on the land and the mountains, on the grain and the new wine and the oil, on whatever the ground brings forth, on men and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.’” Haggai 1:7-11

Despite their neglect of the Lord, He sent them prophets to tell them what to do, and He promised to bless them as they did it. It’s all one giant lesson that, unfortunately, still has not been learned by them.

They were exiled a second time according to everything stated in the law. They only have themselves to blame for the past two thousand years of misery. Yes, it is more than common for them to blame those woes on pretty much anything else but themselves, but that is how it is.

And now that they are back in the land, they are certain that it was because they somehow deserve it, or because of their own smarts, power, or ability. They are just like their fathers at the time of Haggai. But their unfaithfulness does not, once again, negate the faithfulness of the Lord.

I say this sermon after sermon, and it is a word to them. But it is also a word to those in the church who completely fail to get it. They dismiss Israel of today, being back in the land today, as an aberration. Or they simply reject that there is any connection between the two.

A little more study (and trust in God’s word) and a little less reliance on nonsense, and they would get it right, just as Israel should. How sad that we can’t. But all of this serves a purpose. And we will see that purpose, once again, in today’s verses. When everything is placed in relation to Christ, it all makes sense.

Along with that is His word that puts such things into their proper perspective. There are an immense variety of tools to help us do that. One of them will be seen in the verses today, parallelism. I will explain it now, and then we will get right into the passage.

Parallelism is a type of construction found in sentences where clauses or complete sentences carry the same grammatical structure. Parallelism can help explain what is actually being conveyed when words or thoughts are otherwise difficult to pin down. Further, the syntactical similarities can be used to provide rhetorical effect.

Now, we will proceed. Great things, such as parallelism, are to be found in His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. Four Points of Loss (verses 38-41)

38 “You shall carry much seed out to the field

The words of this verse are set in contrast to those of verse 28:11 –

“And the Lord will grant you plenty of goods, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your ground, in the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers to give you.”

It takes a certain amount of grain to sow an entire field. The thought of carrying out food that could be eaten, especially at the beginning of the harvest season when supplies would be dwindling, would be tough especially if things weren’t going so well.

The weight of the bag would seem heavy – “I could have a lot of meals with this…” But one cannot reap unless he first sows. And so, much seed is carried out to the field. During the time of Israel’s disobedience, it would be better to just eat the grain and die…

38 (con’t) but gather little in,

What is promised as a blessing for obedience is now stated as a curse for disobedience. In it is a word found only this one time in Scripture, translated as “consume.” It is khasal, coming from a primitive root meaning to eat off.

The idea being set forth in these words is that at the beginning of the cycle, the farmers would take bags and bags of seed saved from the previous crop, and they would sow it into the field. However, at the end of the harvest, there would be little to show for all of the effort. This will be the case as noted by Isaiah because of the sins of the people –

“Woe to those who join house to house;
They add field to field,
Till there is no place
Where they may dwell alone in the midst of the land!
In my hearing the Lord of hosts said,
‘Truly, many houses shall be desolate,
Great and beautiful ones, without inhabitant.
10 For ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath,
And a homer of seed shall yield one ephah.’” Isaiah 5:8-10

The disastrous nature of Isaiah’s words is realized in what the homer and the ephah represent. The weights are described in Ezekiel 45 –

“The ephah and the bath shall be of the same measure, so that the bath contains one-tenth of a homer, and the ephah one-tenth of a homer; their measure shall be according to the homer.” Ezekiel 45:11

If an ephah is one-tenth of a homer, and if an entire homer yields only one ephah, then there is to be such a loss of grain in the harvest season that the yield will not be enough to even sow one-tenth of the land the next year, even if nothing was used for food or selling. The output speaks of total disaster. Of the reason for the disaster in this case, Moses says…

38 (con’t) for the locust shall consume it.

The locust plague upon the land is spoken of in several places. At times, it is symbolically used to represent invading armies. But the thought of the locust is generally that of destroyed produce –

“What the chewing locust left, the swarming locust has eaten;
What the swarming locust left, the crawling locust has eaten;
And what the crawling locust left, the consuming locust has eaten.” Joel 1:4

The reason for the coming of the locust has already been explicitly stated here in Deuteronomy 28:15, saying, “if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you.” That is then reflected in the words of Amos –

“‘I blasted you with blight and mildew.
When your gardens increased,
Your vineyards,
Your fig trees,
And your olive trees,
The locust devoured them;
Yet you have not returned to Me,’
Says the Lord.” Amos 4:9

The symbolism here is that of the failure of the people under the law. A great harvest indicates obedience and prosperity. As the curse is promised, and as it is said to have come upon the people, it is an overall note of Israel’s failure. The harvest season fails to produce. This is in contrast to what Christ sets forth. Even before the completion of His ministry, His sowing of seed anticipated the magnitude of His harvest –

“Then He said to them, ‘The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.’” Luke 10:2

&

“Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! 36 And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. 37 For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.” John 4:35-38

The idea of the prosperity of the harvest after first sowing one’s seed (Christ in His death, and those who follow Him) is reflected in the psalms –

“Those who sow in tears
Shall reap in joy.
He who continually goes forth weeping,
Bearing seed for sowing,
Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,
Bringing his sheaves with him.” Psalm 126:5, 6

For now, along with the lack of harvest because of the great devourer of the fields, the locust, another calamity is noted…

39 You shall plant vineyards and tend them,

A vineyard is planted in the hopes of gathering grapes. It is something that requires attention and care, but it is also dependent on the right conditions to be healthy, such as the right moisture for the type of vine.

Israel is told that they will, in fact, plant vineyards. They already knew the land was favorable for this when the spies were sent into the land many years before. Upon their return, they brought a cluster of grapes as evidence.

Thus, Moses acknowledges that this will be the regular practice of the people henceforth. However, in disobeying the Lord and in the failure to adhere to His word, there will be consequences…

39 (con’t) but you shall neither drink of the wine nor gather the grapes;

The translation adds two unnecessary articles: v’yayin lo tishteh v’lo teegor – “and wine no you shall drink, and no you shall gather.” To say “the wine” implies there is wine, and to say “the grapes” implies there are grapes to gather. But both thoughts are erroneous.

There will be no grapes to gather, and thus there will be no wine to drink. The words speak of complete futility concerning the effort put forth.

In this clause is a new word, agar, meaning “to gather.” It will be seen here and twice in the proverbs (6:8 and 10:5). It comes from a primitive root signifying “to harvest.” There will be no such gathering because of the lack of grapes…

39 (con’t) for the worms shall eat them.

It is singular: ki tokelenu ha’tolaat – “for shall eat them the worm.” Because of the singular, the tola, or crimson grub worm, is set forth as the destroyer. It will come forth and ravage the efforts of the people. In the prophets, the vineyard is set forth as a people group. The fruit is the product of that group, and the wine is a cultural expression such as joy, debauchery, wrath, and so on.

Though a bit lengthy, this is well-expressed in Isaiah 5 –

“Now let me sing to my Well-beloved
A song of my Beloved regarding His vineyard:
My Well-beloved has a vineyard
On a very fruitful hill.
He dug it up and cleared out its stones,
And planted it with the choicest vine.
He built a tower in its midst,
And also made a winepress in it;
So He expected it to bring forth good grapes,
But it brought forth wild grapes.
‘And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah,
Judge, please, between Me and My vineyard.
What more could have been done to My vineyard
That I have not done in it?
Why then, when I expected it to bring forth good grapes,
Did it bring forth wild grapes?
And now, please let Me tell you what I will do to My vineyard:
I will take away its hedge, and it shall be burned;
And break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down.
I will lay it waste;
It shall not be pruned or dug,
But there shall come up briers and thorns.
I will also command the clouds
That they rain no rain on it.’
For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel,
And the men of Judah are His pleasant plant.
He looked for justice, but behold, oppression;
For righteousness, but behold, a cry for help.” Isaiah 5:1-7

The vineyard is Israel and Judah, the people of God. Jesus then takes this example, and shows that what the Old Covenant failed to do, He would accomplish in the giving of the New Covenant –

“Hear another parable: There was a certain landowner who planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a winepress in it and built a tower. And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country. 34 Now when vintage-time drew near, he sent his servants to the vinedressers, that they might receive its fruit. 35 And the vinedressers took his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other servants, more than the first, and they did likewise to them. 37 Then last of all he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38 But when the vinedressers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.’ 39 So they took him and cast him out of the vineyard and killed him.
40 “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers?”
41 They said to Him, “He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons.” Matthew 21:33-41

Jesus’ words speak of the leaders of Israel under the law. In saying that he would give the vineyard to other vinedressers, He was not saying that the church would replace Israel. Rather, He was referring to the covenant arrangement.

Israel and Judah would be led under a new type of leader (Jeremiah 31:31) of which the Gentiles would participate in as well – sharing in the commonwealth of Israel (Ephesians 2:12). As for “the worm,” which destroyed the vineyard, it is a picture of Christ –

“But I am a worm, and no man;
A reproach of men, and despised by the people.
All those who see Me ridicule Me;
They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
‘He trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue Him;
Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!’” Psalm 22:6-8

The symbolism was clearly seen when we looked at the book of Jonah where the tola, or crimson grub worm, pictured Christ destroying the plant that grew as shade over Jonah’s head. The vineyard of God’s people under the law would be destroyed, but the vineyard of God’s people would remain, tended to by new dressers of the vine.

40 You shall have olive trees throughout all your territory,

This is to be taken as an axiom. Moses has already said that the land is filled with olive trees –

“So it shall be, when the Lord your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, 11 houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant…” Deuteronomy 6:10, 11

This implies that the olive trees are well-established. Unlike vineyards that need a lot of attention, olive trees need some pruning and the like, but they should generally be hardy enough to produce olives once they are up and running. They are considered to be rather low-maintenance plants.

When Israel moves in, they will have olive trees, and the trees should produce accordingly. However, in their disobedience…

40 (con’t) but you shall not anoint yourself with the oil;

v’shemen lo tasuk – “and oil no you shall anoint.” This is a new word, suk, meaning to anoint. It comes from a primitive root signifying “to smear over.” Hence, it is the act of anointing.

As before, there will be the hope of harvest, and the heartbreak of having none. To anoint oneself is to enjoy the luxury of the olive upon the body. It is a blessing beyond just eating, but of tending to the body in a way that both blesses the individual and excites those around as well –

“Now Boaz, whose young women you were with, is he not our relative? In fact, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. Therefore wash yourself and anoint yourself, put on your best garment and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking.” Ruth 3:2, 3

Such will not be the case for disobedient Israel. And Moses explains why…

40 (con’t) for your olives shall drop off.

It is singular: ki yishal zetekha – “for plundered your olive.” Pretty much every translation, including the Greek, gives the sense of the olives simply failing – dropping off, casting off, and so on.

However, that might require the verb nashal to be used in a way not intended. As such, this may be a form of the verb shalal, which means “plunder,” “spoil,” “booty,” and so on.

I would prefer this, rather than them simply “dropping off” for a particular reason. If you’re still awake, and if the Lord hasn’t come for us at the end of the next verse, I will enlighten you as to why.

No matter what, there will be no anointing from the olive. In the Bible, the olive clearly evinces the idea of a witness. For example, this is said of the “two witnesses” of Revelation 11:3 who are then explained in Revelation 11:4 –

“These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth.” Revelation 11:4

But these two witnesses are more fully explained in Zechariah 4 –

“So I said, ‘I am looking, and there is a lampstand of solid gold with a bowl on top of it, and on the stand seven lamps with seven pipes to the seven lamps. Two olive trees are by it, one at the right of the bowl and the other at its left.’ So I answered and spoke to the angel who talked with me, saying, ‘What are these, my lord?’” Zechariah 4:2-4

“Then I answered and said to him, ‘What are these two olive trees—at the right of the lampstand and at its left?’ 12 And I further answered and said to him, ‘What are these two olive branches that drip into the receptacles of the two gold pipes from which the golden oil drains?’
13 Then he answered me and said, ‘Do you not know what these are?
And I said, ‘No, my lord.’
14 So he said, ‘These are the two anointed ones, who stand beside the Lord of the whole earth.’” Zechariah 4:11-14

The olive goes from the idea of being a witness, to the idea of anointing and being anointed. This then is explained in the same metaphor by Paul concerning the failure of the Old Covenant to the supremacy of the New (the Christ) covenant. This is seen in who the “witness” is that is “anointed” to convey its message.

“For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. 17 And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, 18 do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.
19 You will say then, ‘Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.’ 20 Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. 22 Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. 23 And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?” Romans 11:16-24

The words of Paul neither indicate that the Jews have been replaced by the church, nor do they indicate that there is one gospel to the church and one to Israel.

The point is that Israel continued with the law and is no longer a suitable witness to what God is doing in Christ. Christ has come, and those who received him (predominantly Gentiles) are now the witness. Someday, the matter will swing back in the other direction when Israel is brought into a right (New) covenant relationship with the Lord.

The two witnesses of Zechariah and Revelation, Enoch and Elijah it is believed, reflect this union. Enoch is not a Hebrew, Elijah is. Both testify to the work of God in Christ for all people. As I noted, a minute ago, this idea of being a witness (the olive tree) goes to the idea of anointing and being anointed (the olive oil) –

“Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, 22 who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” 2 Corinthians 1:21, 22

Israel is currently broken off as a witness, and they lack the anointing of the Spirit. All of this is seen in the curses of Deuteronomy 28 as is spoken forth by Moses. Next…

41 You shall beget sons and daughters,

Israel has continued on for millennia. The fact that they have testifies to the truth of the words of Moses now. They will have sons and daughters. Were it not so, there would be no Israel. However, in times of disobedience, it would be quite often the case that they would be deprived of them. Moses, in advance of such times, calls out the warning…

41 (con’t) but they shall not be yours;

The sense is wrong. In begetting children, it means that they are their children. Rather, it reads: v’lo yihyu lak – “and no shall be to you.” Even though they belong to those who beget them, they will not be with their begetters. It is the state of being deprived of one’s continuance. Thus, there is the sense of complete desolation in this regard. The name ends. And there is a tragic reason for this…

41 (con’t) for they shall go into captivity.

ki yeleku ba’shviy – “for they shall go in the captivity.” The word “captivity” is brought alive. It has become the foe of the people, carrying away their sons and daughters. The chances of ever returning to one’s family, home, city, and country are infinitesimally small, and they grow smaller with each day that passes. As Moses has already said of this earlier –

“Your sons and your daughters shall be given to another people, and your eyes shall look and fail with longing for them all day long; and there shall be no strength in your hand.” Deuteronomy 28:32

Moses reaffirmed and explained what he has already stated. Israel cannot say they were not warned. As far as this verse, the idea of begetting sons in a new way, and with a new and unbreakable bond of sonship is found in Christ through the New Covenant –

“He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:10-13

“And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, ‘You know nothing at all, 50 nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.’ 51 Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad.” John 11:49-52

The number of verses that speak of this unbreakable and eternal bond between a Parent and His children is abundant. What Israel could not be assured of, meaning keeping their children under the Mosaic code, was only reflective of their state as children of God.

On the other hand, what God has done in Christ in the New Covenant is reflective of our eternal security in the arms of our heavenly Father. Thank God for Jesus.

As you are still awake (well, most of you), and as the Lord has obviously not come for us, and because we have now completed this verse, I promised you an explanation of the verb concerning the olives noted in the previous verse. Why do I think it is shalal, plundered, and not nashal, to drop off? The reason is the parallelism used by Moses in the verses we have so far looked at –

  1. You shall carry much seed out to the field
  2. but gather little in
  3. for the locust shall consume it

 

  1. You shall plant vineyards and tend them
  2. but you shall neither drink of the wine nor gather the grapes
  3. for the worms shall eat them

 

  1. You shall have olive trees throughout all your territory
  2. but you shall not anoint yourself with the oil
  3. for your olives shall drop off (rather: your olive shall be plundered)

 

  1. You shall beget sons and daughters
  2. but they shall not be yours
  3. for they shall go into captivity

 

In seeing the results of the four actions, it is apparent that the word “plundered” is most probable. Each has had an external action taken against it – the locust consumes, the worm eats, your olive is plundered, your children go in the captivity. Therefore, the word shalal is probably the best choice for the Hebrew.

It would be improper to be dogmatic about this, but the parallelism calls out for this rendering. In this, you can see the importance of looking at such passages in this light. When you study the word, look for these internal cues, and you will be in the sweet spot of at least knowing that you may have a particular insight not readily seen in a cursory reading of what is before you.

Of these past four verses, Micah calls out the curses of all four of them to the people, but in a different order: children, grain (sowing), olives, and then the produce of the vine –

“You shall eat, but not be satisfied;
Hunger shall be in your midst.
You may carry some away, but shall not save them;
And what you do rescue I will give over to the sword.
15 You shall sow, but not reap;
You shall tread the olives, but not anoint yourselves with oil;
And make sweet wine, but not drink wine.” Micah 6:14, 15

The sad state of not attending to the law, even after being warned through the prophets, is the lot of Israel. Someday, they will see the futility of the law and understand their need for Christ Jesus who has set before redeemed man a new and better hope.

Here am I and the children God has given Me
Because of the work I accomplished before Him
We are united as an eternal family
When before, such a state seemed tenuous, even grim

What the law could never do because it was weak
I accomplished with My own glorious right hand
For any who will an eternal relationship seek
Come to Me and it shall be so; the union shall stand

Here am I and the children God has given Me
Because I prevailed over the law that was set against you
When they nailed My body to that tree
It was in fulfillment of what I was sent to do

Come and partake of the wonder of this family
Come and be My children; yes, come unto Me

II. Lower and Lower (Verses 42-44)

The words of our three final verses today are pretty much the opposite of the blessings stated in verses 12 and 13 –

“The Lord will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. 13 And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them.” Deuteronomy 28:12, 13

For now, instead of the Lord opening His good treasure from the heavens, He will open His stores of destroying insects…

42 Locusts shall consume all your trees and the produce of your land.

The translation is deficient for several reasons: kal etsekha uperi admatekha yeyaresh ha’tslatsal – “Every tree yours, and fruit your ground shall possess the cricket.” The word tree is singular, the word “land” is better rendered as “ground,” and the word “locusts” is both singular (with an article), and it is a different creature than what was just seen in verse 38. It is ha’tslatsal, or “the cricket.”

It is a new word, tslatsal, that comes as a reduplication of the word tsalal, meaning to tingle or quiver. By reduplicating it, one gets the sense of whirring or chirping. This word will be seen six times and the other uses will help give the sense – cymbals, fishing spears (harpoons which rattle together), and whirring wings (Isaiah 18:1).

I chose “cricket,” to disassociate it from the locust, but it could be some insect that buzzes, like flies. Whatever they are, they are identifiable by their sound, and they would consume the vegetation readily. Because the word also means “cymbals,” one would think “cricket” to be a good choice.

As far as what they do, the word used is yarash. It signifies to possess or inherit. As such, it means that it has taken over the trees and fruit as a possession. There are other words that signify “consume,” and so the thought may be that they come and eat the fruit to the point it is useless without actually eating it all.

As far as trees, there are types of mole crickets that can damage root systems. Hence, I am still going with them as the offender. As I am not a renowned entomologist, please do not buzz with excitement over my translation. In the end, it may be moth-eaten or swatted down like a fly.

What seems obvious is that, like the trees and fruit of Israel when the people did not heed the Lord’s words, man under law is simply unable to flourish or to bear proper fruit. Paul says just this in Romans 7 –

“Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death.” Romans 7:4, 5

Next, in contrast to being “above only, and not beneath,” as it said in verse 13, Moses says…

43 “The alien who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you,

ha’ger asher b’qirbekha yaaleh alekha malah maelah – “The stranger who in your midst shall rise above you, upwards, upwards.” In verse 13, Moses’ words were simply put and not superlative. When they were right with the Lord, Israel would be above, but they would not consider themselves overly exalted.

In other words, no matter how “above” they were in relation to others, they were always under the Lord. But Moses’ words now are in the superlative. In not putting the Lord first above them, the stranger who was in their midst – meaning right among them – would be exalted above them and continue to rise above them. At the same time…

43 (con’t) and you shall come down lower and lower.

v’atah tered matah matah – “and you shall go down, lower, lower.” Again, Moses speaks in the superlative. Israel won’t just go down, but they will continue to go down. There will be no hope of ever rising from their undignified state. One cannot first help but think of Christ’s contrast to this –

“(Now this, ‘He ascended’—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)” Ephesians 4:9, 10

Christ voluntarily placed Himself under the law. In doing so, He descended even to death. But in His fulfillment of the law, He has ascended to the highest point of all. For those in Christ, the same is true. To be “in” Christ (in Your midst, O God), means to be raised with Him –

“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:4-6

In contrast to them are those who hold to the law for their justification, trusting in “self,” because the law is of deeds. As Jesus says, “Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?” (Matthew 23:33).

Though speaking to the leaders of the law, being leaders implies having followers. If you reject Christ, you, by default have placed your hope elsewhere. The only way for Israel to get out of the bind they are in is to come to the One who can raise them to Himself.

And finally, instead of lending to other nations and being the head, as stated in the blessings, the curse will bring the opposite…

44 He shall lend to you, but you shall not lend to him;

The word “he” is in the emphatic position. “HE shall lend to you.” The one who was in the midst of the people, and who was the borrower, is the one who now has risen above Israel, and he is the lender.

So much will this be the case that there is no time when Israel would lend to him. Whatever Israel possessed, it would be unneeded by the stranger who had risen above them. Likewise…

*44 (fin) he shall be the head, and you shall be the tail.

Again, “he” is in the emphatic position, “HE shall be the head.” It is an embarrassment of the highest sense. The great and exalted nation of the Lord has become the very tail of everything that is going on because they have rejected the Lord who established them.

The words of this final verse seem to recall the words of Isaiah –

“For the people do not turn to Him who strikes them,
Nor do they seek the Lord of hosts.
14 Therefore the Lord will cut off head and tail from Israel,
Palm branch and bulrush in one day.
15 The elder and honorable, he is the head;
The prophet who teaches lies, he is the tail.
16 For the leaders of this people cause them to err,
And those who are led by them are destroyed.” Isaiah 9:13-16

Israel was promised to be the head, but in not seeking the Lord, they would be the tail. And even the head of Israel, its leaders, would be a part of the tail. In failing to come to Christ and remaining under law, one can only expect this position, and the fate of being cut off.

In contrast to this is Christ, who fulfilled the law, He is now the Head. It is a term used of Him repeatedly in the epistles, such as –

“And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.” Colossians 1:18

As such, those who are in Christ, even though once strangers to the covenants, are raised to an exalted position in Him.

“Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— 12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2:11-13

This is what it means to be a part of what God has done in Christ, or to reject what He has done in Him. The law is a tutor. It was given as such, and it was never to be considered a means to an end, except as it is fulfilled in Christ.

However, Israel is responsible to this law until they are willing to exalt the One to whom the honor of this law belongs. It is only in Messiah that a true and right understanding of what it means to be right with God is realized.

God promised the covenant blessings, and He was faithful to provide them as long as Israel was living even remotely in accord with what they were commanded. And God is just in bringing upon them the curses when they are not.

All of this is a lengthy lesson for the world to read about and then to choose what is good and right. The law is good and holy, but it cannot make man – who is already infected with sin – good and holy. But its fulfillment can. Thank God for Jesus who lived it out, died under it, and established a new and better hope for us through His shed blood.

And thank God for Jesus who proved it by coming out of that tomb and giving us an everlasting hope. The contrast is made, and it is complete – the law or grace. Choose wisely. Christ has done it all for you, if you will just reach out to Him.

And remember to pray for Israel who is the subject of these verses, in the sense that they are obligated to what is said until they get it right. Until they do, they will have many woes to go through, and many will never see the good that God has prepared for them. Pray for their eyes to be opened when you pray for the lost in your own life.

Closing Verse: “What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; 31 but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. 32 Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law.” Romans 9:30-32

Next Week: Deuteronomy 28:45-51 More bad for Israel here in these verses, and that ain’t no jive… (The Blessings and the Curses, Part V) (81st Deuteronomy Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. But He also has expectations of you as He prepares you for entrance into His Land of Promise. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

The Blessings and the Curses, Part IV

“You shall carry much seed out to the field but gather little in
———-for the locust shall consume it
You shall plant vineyards and them you shall tend
But you shall neither drink of the wine nor gather the grapes
For the worms shall eat them, this shall be their end

You shall have olive trees throughout all your territory
Hoping for a great crop
But you shall not anoint yourself with the oil
For off shall your olives drop

You shall beget sons and daughters, but they shall not be yours
For they shall go into captivity at My hand
Locusts shall consume all your trees
And the produce of your land

“The alien who is among you shall rise
Higher and higher above you
And you shall come down lower and lower
Because you were neither faithful nor true

He shall lend to you
But you shall not lend to him, your finances shall fail
He shall be the head
And you shall be the tail

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

38 “You shall carry much seed out to the field but gather little in, for the locust shall consume it. 39 You shall plant vineyards and tend them, but you shall neither drink of the wine nor gather the grapes; for the worms shall eat them. 40 You shall have olive trees throughout all your territory, but you shall not anoint yourself with the oil; for your olives shall drop off. 41 You shall beget sons and daughters, but they shall not be yours; for they shall go into captivity. 42 Locusts shall consume all your trees and the produce of your land.

43 “The alien who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower. 44 He shall lend to you, but you shall not lend to him; he shall be the head, and you shall be the tail.

 

 

 

Deuteronomy 28:30-37 (The Blessings and the Curses, Part III)

Deuteronomy 28:30-37
The Blessings and the Curses, Part III

This is our third Deuteronomy 28 sermon, and the second involving the curses that would be laid upon Israel for their failure to heed the word of the Lord and to honor Him as He has set forth. These are words of tragedy, terror, loss, destruction, anguish, and horror.

And yet, if one looks at them in the proper light, they are words of victory and of the enormity of what God has done in Christ. They drip with the richness of His power, ability, and capability.

While typing the sermon you are now presented with, which was on 13 September 2021, I was so elated after typing the first verse that I did something I rarely do. I stopped and sent it to Sergio.

This is something I don’t like doing, meaning sharing sermon content before the thing is presented. This is for several reasons, but one is simply that I want the presentation to not be spoiled for people by their own reading or hearing what I have to present.

You know I get excited by sermon content, and I often stop with the written notes and add in all kinds of comments off the top of my head during the sermon. That will not have the same force or impact if what is presented on Sunday has already been shared with someone.

Along with that, I can think of probably 3-5 reasons that I don’t want to share content in advance. But with such a mournful passage, and yet with such a delightful anticipation of Christ presented, even in the very first verse, I felt like exploding with joy. And so, I shared it…

Text Verse: “Oh, how I love Your law!
It is my meditation all the day.
98 You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies;
For they are ever with me.
99 I have more understanding than all my teachers,
For Your testimonies are my meditation.” Psalm 119:97-99

None of my instructors, meaning the commentators I read each week for sermon information, will normally make the connections to the Lord that are so obviously staring at us when the words are carefully considered.

At times, John Gill will come up with some Christological connection, but he will often take it down the wrong path, so you have to be careful with his thoughts. But they may be just right enough to send you down the correct avenue.

This is, although much less so, at times true with the others I refer to. They are very good at mechanical analyses of what is going on, and also of historical truths that relate to whatever is said. But more than anything, and I am certain of this, the Lord wants us to find how Scripture points to Christ directly, or how what He has done now includes us, or even Israel of the future.

In other words, the highest form of analyzing the Old Testament Scriptures is found in typology. Jesus and the apostles hint at this in Luke 24:27, John 5:39 and John 5:46, Acts 8:35, and so on. The epistles reveal this to us as well when the apostles take actual examples of Scripture and equate them directly to Christ, or spiritual truths relating to Christ.

Paul says the Rock in the wilderness was Christ. He says Christ is our Passover Lamb, a sentiment repeated through comparison by Peter and John, Paul equates Sarah and Hagar as the two covenants in Galatians 4, demonstrating how what Christ has done is superior to the Mosaic code.

On and on it goes. This is the heart of what God has placed into the living word. It is what causes the life to pulse through it and take form, and it is the Spirit that brings it to life! This is the highest form of interpretation, if we can accurately place it into words.

When Sergio received the comment from our first verse (verse 30), he said, “WOW. WHAT A PICTURE OF CHRIST and HIS BRIDE!” He then noted Rhoda’s excitement about it too. But not wanting to spoil the rest of the sermon, and yet keep them excited about wanting to know more when it is published, a few minutes later, I added in “More Christ in 31! What a treasure.”

Yes, great treasure is to be found in His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. Oppressed and Crushed Continually (verses 30-34)

30 “You shall betroth a wife, but another man shall lie with her;

The three clauses of this verse, though seemingly random thoughts, are actually part of one thought process. The first is that of the destruction of a coming marriage, one that has already gone through the betrothal process.

The Hebrew will, at times, have a written form, and then a form that is spoken audibly when the verse is read. The written form of these words is much more violent, saying, “You shall betroth a wife, but another man shall ravish her.”

It is a new word in Scripture, shagel, signifying “to violate,” or “to ravish.” Thus, the idea is of her being forcibly taken away and raped. The other three uses of the word are found in Isaiah 13:16, Jeremiah 3:2, and Zechariah 14:2.

The sentiment being conveyed is obvious. There will be horror for every betrothed couple. For the man, there will be no joy of marriage, and for the woman, there will be the terror of being violated, accompanied by all of the negatives associated with such treatment – captivity, sexual bondage, carrying the child of an invader, or even being raped, tortured, and killed.

The man had made plans and designs for this wife, but they are to be robbed from him. And more…

30 (con’t) you shall build a house, but you shall not dwell in it;

The idea of building a house is that of preparing for married life. In a betrothal contract, the girl’s father will want her to be tended to in a proper fashion. As such, he may say, “Yes, you can have my daughter, but you need to have suitable accommodations for her before you receive her. It is the thought of Jesus’ words to his followers –

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.” John 14:1-5

The Lord’s people are His betrothed, as Paul explicitly says in 2 Corinthians 11:2 –

“For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.”

As such, Christ is preparing a place for His betrothed. When He is ready and when she is ready (Romans 11:25), Christ will return to consummate the marriage. For disobedient Israel, the hopes of such a time of joy will be taken from them by their foes. But more…

30 (con’t) you shall plant a vineyard, but shall not gather its grapes.

This must be paraphrased to understand what is being conveyed. It reads: kerem tita v’lo tekhalelenu – “vineyard you shall plant, and no you shall eat as common.” The verb khalal signifies to bore or pierce, and thus to begin. But it is also frequently translated as “profane.” The idea here is that of the dedication of fruit to the Lord –

“When you come into the land, and have planted all kinds of trees for food, then you shall count their fruit as uncircumcised. Three years it shall be as uncircumcised to you. It shall not be eaten. 24 But in the fourth year all its fruit shall be holy, a praise to the Lord. 25 And in the fifth year you may eat its fruit, that it may yield to you its increase: I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 19:23-25

The word is explicitly stated in Deuteronomy 20 –

“Also what man is there who has planted a vineyard and has not eaten of it? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man eat of it.” Deuteronomy 20:6

The man cannot eat of the fruit until the set time, lest he profane it. Thus, he can begin to eat once that period is complete because the fruit has gone from holy to the Lord to common.

In this, the man has his wife picked out and the betrothal is arranged. He is building his house for their home. Further, he has arranged for income, food, and joy through the planting of a vineyard.

They anticipated having raisins, wine, and surplus to sell. But only after the fruit has gone through its dedication process. Until then, he will not partake of the “wine that makes glad the heart of man” (Psalm 104:15).

This process would have been followed by those, still under the law, at Jesus’ time. His parable of the vinedressers becomes clearer when taken in relation to this precept –

“A certain man planted a vineyard, leased it to vinedressers, and went into a far country for a long time. 10 Now at vintage-time he sent a servant to the vinedressers, that they might give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the vinedressers beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11 Again he sent another servant; and they beat him also, treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. 12 And again he sent a third; and they wounded him also and cast him out.
13 “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son. Probably they will respect him when they see him.’ 14 But when the vinedressers saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.’ 15 So they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and destroy those vinedressers and give the vineyard to others.” Luke 20:9-17

This then helps make understandable the words of the Lord just prior to His crucifixion –

Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; 18 for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” Luke 22:17, 18

The betrothed of the Lord is being prepared, the house is being built, and the vineyard is set apart as holy to the Lord. Someday, what Israel is denied because of disobedience, the Lord will receive in its fulness because of His obedience.

As for Israel, the verse conveys the utter futility of the situation. If the house is built, and if the vineyard has fruit that can be eaten, then he has gone through all of the time, expectation, and labors of starting out his life with his betrothed. And yet, all of it will be taken from him.

31 Your ox shall be slaughtered before your eyes, but you shall not eat of it;

The literal truth of this is terrible. The ox is an animal that has productive value for work on the land. This would be robbed of disobedient Israel. The labors would be multiplied greatly in plowing the fields.

But oxen are also clean animals used for food, lots of it, and which are of a healthy nature. It is an animal that could be used for feeding a large party of friends at a festive gathering, like a feast day or a wedding. And this is what Jesus refers to in Matthew –

“And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.”’” Matthew 22:1-4

What Israel will be denied because of disobedience, the Lord will share with others because of their faith in Him.

31 (con’t) your donkey shall be violently taken away from before you, and shall not be restored to you;

The donkey is an unclean animal, but it is one that provides a great deal of benefit. It is an easy mode of transportation, it is used for carrying heavy burdens, it can be used in plowing, and so on. To take the donkey is to deprive the man of the comforts of possessing a donkey.

In the case of Christ, apart from His crown of thorns, there are few things that convey the idea of Israel’s humble King more poignantly than the donkey –

“Fear not, daughter of Zion;
Behold, your King is coming,
Sitting on a donkey’s colt.” John 12:15

In their disobedience, the symbol of Israel’s king would be stripped from them and not restored to them. When He returns to them, it will not be on a donkey, but on a white horse. The symbolism of Deuteronomy speaks forth the prophetic future.

31 (con’t) your sheep shall be given to your enemies,

Sheep are given to man for food, for clothing, for gaining capital wealth, and so on. In Israel’s disobedience, these will be ripped from them, depriving them of all the benefit they could have possessed, but which they squandered away.

And this is more than a literal occurrence. There is no better metaphor of God’s people in Scripture than that of sheep. It is used consistently in the Old and New Testaments as such. Having sheep implies being a shepherd. Israel’s sheep would be taken from the bad shepherds and would be given to their true Shepherd –

“I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. 15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.” John 10:14-16

31 (con’t) and you shall have no one to rescue them.

v’ain movoshia – “And no savior for you.” It is the same words as in verse 29 which closed out our verses last week. It is also the same word, in the same form, as is found in the prophetic verse of Isaiah 19 that anticipates the coming Messiah –

“And it will be for a sign and for a witness to the Lord of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to the Lord because of the oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Mighty One, and He will deliver them.” Isaiah 19:20

Israel would reject the Lord Yehovah, they would reject His incarnation in the Person of Jesus, and their sheep would be taken from them while leaving them with no Savior. Next…

32 Your sons and your daughters shall be given to another people,

The curses continue and multiply in tragedy with these words. The very fruit of the womb, and the continuance of the name, will be taken from Israel for their failure to uphold and perform the word of the Lord.

This idea of having one’s children taken from someone has been so foreign to us in our modern society that only in the very recent past has this started to be introduced into our thinking, with the exception of being for the gravest of reasons or the most serious of offenses.

With the introduction of the current “plague” surrounding us, lefties in the government, news media, judiciary, and academia are proposing children be robbed away from their parents if they are unwilling to be vaccinated. Against that, the outcry has been great due to the unthinkable nature of it.

However, these words have literally been fulfilled again and again in Israel’s history. Adam Clarke provides one example of it –

“In several countries, particularly in Spain and Portugal, the children of the Jews have been taken from them by order of government, and educated in the Popish faith. There have been some instances of Jewish children being taken from their parents even in Protestant countries.” Adam Clarke

In such an occurrence, Moses woefully says…

32 (con’t) and your eyes shall look and fail with longing for them all day long;

The idea of the people simply sitting and staring comes to mind. It is like the young man who waits and waits for the girlfriend who changed her mind and isn’t coming to a date at the movies, but it goes on from day to day.

The moments tick by, the eyes are lifted yet again, they scan the horizon, they peek into the wooded forest, they search through the wavering mirage hanging over the desert – whatever the surroundings, there is no movement of son or daughter to catch the attention of the eyes. The anguish of loss continues on.

In what Moses says, there is a word found only once in the Bible, the adjective kaleh. Rather than, “your eyes shall look and fail,” it more precisely reads, “and your eyes look, and failingly, for them.” There is only pining and grief.

The sense is that of being utterly destitute of any hope. There is not even a glimpse of them except in the anguished memory of the mind. But the Lord, through Moses, told Israel in advance that this would be the case. They cannot blame Him. Even if these words were not recorded, they would have no case against Him. How much more is it so when they were warned ahead of time.

The words of Jeremiah refer to such an occasion which is then picked up by Matthew and applied to the time of Christ’s advent. But at the time of Jeremiah, it was both a reality and also a point upon which the Lord promised restoration –

“Thus says the Lord:
‘A voice was heard in Ramah,
Lamentation and bitter weeping,
Rachel weeping for her children,
Refusing to be comforted for her children,
Because they are no more.’
16 Thus says the Lord:
‘Refrain your voice from weeping,
And your eyes from tears;
For your work shall be rewarded, says the Lord,
And they shall come back from the land of the enemy.
17 There is hope in your future, says the Lord,
That your children shall come back to their own border.’” Jeremiah 31:15-17

However, Moses speaks only of loss, not restoration. The mournful words would occur repeatedly in Israel’s history because of their failure to honor the Lord. In this despondent state, Moses says…

32 (con’t) and there shall be no strength in your hand.

v’ain l’el yadekha – “and no to God your hand.” It is a proverbial expression found also in Genesis 31:29, Proverbs 3:27, and Micah 2:1. Most translations express the word el, or God, as simply reflecting might, strength, or power. But that could be rendered in other ways.

Rather, this is a way of conveying that there is no ability to lift a hand to Him, and thus there is no help to be expected from Him. This devastating curse that will befall Israel because of disobedience is reversed in Christ. Where children will be removed from them, He will instead be given them –

“Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.” Hebrews 2:13

With this realized, the author immediately continues. Where there was no ability for Israel to lift a hand to God in the loss of their children, Christ possessed the power of God to secure release for His children –

“Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” Hebrews 2:14, 15

33 A nation whom you have not known shall eat the fruit of your land and the produce of your labor, and you shall be only oppressed and crushed continually.

The words of this verse were taken and expanded upon by the Lord through Jeremiah –

“‘Behold, I will bring a nation against you from afar,
O house of Israel,’ says the Lord.
‘It is a mighty nation,
It is an ancient nation,
A nation whose language you do not know,
Nor can you understand what they say.
16 Their quiver is like an open tomb;
They are all mighty men.
17 And they shall eat up your harvest and your bread,
Which your sons and daughters should eat.
They shall eat up your flocks and your herds;
They shall eat up your vines and your fig trees;
They shall destroy your fortified cities,
In which you trust, with the sword.’” Jeremiah 5:15-17

The labors of Israel would be taken from them and consumed by their enemies, and in the devastation from their hands, there would be oppression and crushing. This is the lot for Israel who failed to bear fruit for the Lord. Their fruit would be taken from them.

The words of this verse go beyond Jeremiah (tangible fruit), and the Babylonian exile though. Christ conveys the same thoughts found in this verse concerning the spiritual fruit Israel was to bear and how He would take it from them –

“Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. 44 And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.” Matthew 21:43, 44

Everything in Israel’s physical existence, again and again, points to spiritual truth in their intended spiritual role. But the law stood against them. Only in Christ can that which is pleasing to God be found. For Israel, the woe continues from Moses’ words…

34 So you shall be driven mad because of the sight which your eyes see.

This verse is to be given as a summary result based on the previous verses. In what happened to them, they would be driven mad.

In this is a new word, shaga. It is a verb signifying raving through insanity. What the eyes will behold will madden the mind. Only confusion, disorder, and an inability to grasp reality will be the result of what will come upon the people for simply failing to hold to the law set before them.

When things are going well, such a thought is inconceivable. But that is what makes it so terrible when such things do occur. In the past year, because of the things that have come upon the world through hyping of the current “plague,” this has literally come true in countless minds. Many people have completely lost control of their senses.

If this is true when there is only minimal danger in reality, imagine what it was like for Israel when true dangers suddenly swept over them. And as soon as they would become reestablished in a new land and with a new direction, the sword of the Lord would come out and sweep over them again.

Even for two millennia, this has come to pass. John Gill refers to a literal fulfillment of these exact words of Moses –

“In Germany, in their rage and madness, they burnt a city and themselves in it; and, in the same country, being summoned by an edict to change their religion, or to be burnt, they agreed to meet together in a certain house, and destroy one another; and first parents killed their children, and husbands their wives, and then killed themselves; leaving only one person to be their doorkeeper, who finished the tragedy by destroying himself, as their own historian relates.” John Gill

If only they heeded the words of Moses, all of this would have been avoided. But their eyes have been blinded and their minds have been brought to insanity. John Lange pithily sums up this verse, saying, “What it must see with the eye of the body, takes away the eye of the spirit.”

This is the result of a state of no hope. When all is crushed, destroyed, or taken away for a people with no hope, then only maddening hopelessness is left. They had abandoned the Lord, and so the Lord abandoned them.

But in Christ is the victory. And in Him, the eyes see what Israel could not see. No matter what state a grounded believer finds himself in, there is still the state of unshakeable faith, and thus nonremovable hope. Paul reveals this to us –

“Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.” Ephesians 1:15-21

The terror of a life with no hope, one which leads only to madness in the eyes that behold such catastrophe, is perfectly replaced with hope leading to eyes of understanding that Christ has, in fact, triumphed over the law, over the curse, and over the state of death that man has faced since his first father.

The choice is yours what shall come upon you
You are told in advance how it can go well
If you follow My words and are faithful and true
You will find heaven and you will avoid hell

I offer you what is good; I offer you what is right
You are told in advance how it can go well
Be diligent by day, and be obedient at night
And you will find heaven instead of ending in hell

Be faithful to the word, learn from it what to do
I assure you in this, you will do well
Follow it and find My Son, given for you
In Him you will find heaven, without Him there is only hell

Oh, Israel! Come to the everlasting well
And drink of the Water that will keep you from hell

II. An Astonishment, a Proverb, and a Byword (verses 35-37)

35 The Lord will strike you in the knees and on the legs with severe boils which cannot be healed,

Here, the shekhin, or “boil” is brought up again. It is the sixth plague to have fallen on Egypt. It was considered a leprous ailment as defined in Leviticus 13. It was also just mentioned in verse 27, last week. It would make such a person unclean and defiled. As such, he would be excluded from fellowship within the society.

As the words continue in the singular, you Israel, it is saying that Israel would “be cut off from covenant union with God” (Pulpit Commentary). This exact affliction, in this exact manner, is what Job was afflicted with –

“So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord, and struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he took for himself a potsherd with which to scrape himself while he sat in the midst of the ashes.” Job 2:7, 8

Because it specifies the knees and legs, the idea being conveyed is an inability to bow, kneel, or prostrate oneself. Thus, it speaks of punishment upon Israel for failing to render to the Lord such obeisance. What they deprived Him of, He punishes them with in like manner. Further, Moses says…

35 (con’t) and from the sole of your foot to the top of your head.

mi’kaph raglekha v’ad qadedodekha – “from sole your foot and until crown your head. The idea is that of authority (that which is below the sole of the foot) and honor (the crown of the head). That is seen, for example, in the blessing of Jacob upon Joseph, and which is substantially repeated by Moses later in Deuteronomy –

“The blessings of your father
Have excelled the blessings of my ancestors,
Up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills.
They shall be on the head of Joseph,
And on the crown of the head of him who was separate from his brothers.” Genesis 49:26

Israel is punished for their lack of honoring the Lord, they have been stripped of authority, and they have been deprived of honor. Exactly the opposite is said of Christ who prevailed where Israel failed –

“You have crowned him with glory and honor,
And set him over the works of Your hands.
You have put all things in subjection under his feet.” Hebrews 2:7, 8

Christ always honored His Father (John 8:49), He submitted Himself to His will (Hebrews 10:7), and He was perfectly obedient to His law (Romans 10:4). In this, unlike Israel who was crowned with shame and the covenant curses, thus losing their right to kingdom authority, He was crowned with glory and honor and received authority over all of God’s kingdom.

36 “The Lord will bring you and the king whom you set over you

Like in verses 8 and 21, the first word of the verse is a jussive: yolek Yehovah otekha v’eth malkekha asher taqim alekha – “May cause to walk Yehovah you and king whom you set over you.” A jussive is basically an indirect command. Moses is calling out for the Lord to do this in response to Israel’s rebellion.

The words continue in the singular. Moses is not saying, “If this guy doesn’t pay heed, then may this happen.” Individual transgressions were to be handled by the individual in personal repentance, or by the community concerning a serious infraction.

Rather, Moses is calling for the Lord to directly act when the nation turns from Him and does not turn back. “May the entire nation, inclusive of the king who has so grossly failed in his responsibilities, to be caused to walk…”

36 (con’t) to a nation which neither you nor your fathers have known,

The meaning is exile. It is the gravest punishment national Israel could expect. However, this does not mean it is the final punishment they could expect. To be removed from the land signified a total rejection of them as a people fit for being in the presence of the Lord.

While in exile, they would continue to receive the covenant punishments detailed here and elsewhere in the law. They had become unclean, and they were to be removed from His presence.

However, it DOES NOT mean, as replacement theologians claim, a total rejection of the people – thus violating the covenant by the Lord. He has promised to keep them as a people forever. But in their state of disobedience, He has promised to do so apart from His land, and apart from a right covenant relationship.

This occurred at various points in Israel’s history, both to the northern tribes and to the southern tribes, such as at the time of Zedekiah the king –

“Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. 19 He also did evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that Jehoiakim had done. 20 For because of the anger of the Lord this happened in Jerusalem and Judah, that He finally cast them out from His presence. Then Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.” 2 Kings 24:18-20

& then…

“Then the city wall was broken through, and all the men of war fled at night by way of the gate between two walls, which was by the king’s garden, even though the Chaldeans were still encamped all around against the city. And the king went by way of the plain. But the army of the Chaldeans pursued the king, and they overtook him in the plains of Jericho. All his army was scattered from him. So they took the king and brought him up to the king of Babylon at Riblah, and they pronounced judgment on him. Then they killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, put out the eyes of Zedekiah, bound him with bronze fetters, and took him to Babylon.” 2 Kings 25:4-7

In this state of exile…

36 (con’t) and there you shall serve other gods—wood and stone.

This was certainly voluntary for most, and it continues to be voluntary for many even to this day. Statues of Buddha and Krishna adorn Jewish homes throughout the world and in homes found in Israel. But it was also involuntary as well. Such an event is recorded in Daniel –

“To you it is commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, that at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, you shall fall down and worship the gold image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up; and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.” Daniel 3:4-6

What happened to Israel, Yehovah’s firstborn son (Exodus 4:22), who was exiled from their kingdom – inclusive of the king who sat over them – is set in complete contrast to Christ. Where they were sent to worship other gods, we see how Jesus, God’s only begotten Son (John 3:16), prevailed and is granted a permanent kingship over all of the kings of the earth.

The entire 2nd Psalm refers to this –

Why do the nations rage,
And the people plot a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
And the rulers take counsel together,
Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying,
“Let us break Their bonds in pieces
And cast away Their cords from us.”
He who sits in the heavens shall laugh;
The Lord shall hold them in derision.
Then He shall speak to them in His wrath,
And distress them in His deep displeasure:
“Yet I have set My King
On My holy hill of Zion.”
“I will declare the decree:
The Lord has said to Me,
‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
Ask of Me, and I will give You
The nations for Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth for Your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron;
You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’”
10 Now therefore, be wise, O kings;
Be instructed, you judges of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear,
And rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son, lest He be angry,
And you perish in the way,
When His wrath is kindled but a little.
Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him. Psalm 2

While Israel and her failed kings served other kings and gods of wood and stone, Christ – the Lord God – is served by other kings. The contrast is complete between the two.

For Israel, in their state of exile, Moses is quite clear about how they would be considered by those nations they were exiled to or fled to…

37 And you shall become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword

Here, the exact opposite of verse 10 is seen. If Israel obeys…

“Then all peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they shall be afraid of you.” Deuteronomy 28:10

However, in their disobedience and time of cursing, instead of being called by the name of the Lord, Moses speaks out three forms of derision by which they will be called –

Shamah. It is a new word, a noun ultimately coming from a root signifying “to stun.” Thus, it speaks of an astonishment, a waste, a desolation, a horror, and so on. The vast number of uses will be found in the book of Jeremiah.

This is not speaking of the land, but of the people. They will be called this term, signifying that so pervasive is their state of horror that they will even be considered unclean among, and to, the Gentiles.

Whereas the Jews kept separate from and wouldn’t eat or even associate with Gentiles (see Acts 10:28), in their dispersion, they would be considered so unclean that the Gentiles would not venture to eat or associate with them.

Mashal. This is a proverb or parable. It is a pithy saying, usually as a lesson of what to do or what not to do. Israel, in their exile would become a lesson to the nations of how not to act and how not to treat the Lord. Psalm 44 shows that exactly this occurred to Israel –

“You make us a reproach to our neighbors,
A scorn and a derision to those all around us.
14 You make us a byword among the nations,
A shaking of the head among the peoples.
15 My dishonor is continually before me,
And the shame of my face has covered me.” Psalm 44:13-15

Sheninah. It is also a new noun coming from a word signifying to sharpen or pierce. Thus, it is something pointed, and hence a taunt – as if a word that pokes at a person. One might think of the way people deride the Jews with a multitude of expletives that I can’t repeat lest YouTube filters were to pick them up and ban the sermon for simply saying them.

One can see a Jew walking down the road and a group of people calling out all of these names, exactly as it continues to happen to this day. And, according to Moses, it is all a self-inflicted wound.

The ADL spends innumerable hours defending the Jewish people. But when they keep putting out heroes like Chuck Schumer; Jerry Nadler, and a continuous stream of really unlikeable people who have no care at all for the Lord who established them; when they continue to promote every perversion one can think of; when they jubilantly exult in the murder of the unborn; and so on; the prophetic words of the Lord, through Moses, are consistently and continuously vindicated.

Israel need only look in the mirror to discern why all of the calamities of their history have come upon them…

*37 (fin) among all nations where the Lord will drive you.

They have sat, and many still sit, in synagogues in almost every nation of the world. They read the words of Moses which are fulfilled in their sitting, and they accept no responsibility for the lengthy and continuous times of trial that they have faced.

Until they search out and discover the “why” of their state, they will never stop facing the horrors that have plagued them for these past two thousand years. This is their sadness, this is their misery, and this is based upon the prophetic warning of Moses. “Israel, pay heed lest all this trouble and terror fall upon you.”

In contrast to them, being an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword among the nations because of their disobedience, we see the complete and absolute contrast to them in the Lord Jesus who perfectly fulfilled what Israel so miserably failed at…

“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11

His name alone is exalted because He alone accomplished what Israel was given opportunity to work out. But the lesson had to be brought forth, and Israel was chosen for it to be so. In their choosing, the offer was made, and in the offering, they also agreed.

Though the words and the sadness are highlighted in them, they are only a reflection of each and every one of us. Their life under the law is for our instruction and learning as well as for them. The law was given to lead us to the Door, but it is we who must open it and pass through.

As individuals, some of them have – along with many, many Gentiles. As a nation, they have yet to do so. Until they do, terrible times remain ahead for them. But God has covenanted with them, the Lord has stated that it will happen, and the word testifies to the truth of this.

For now, pray for Israel the nation as you would for any individual you care for. They carry a very heavy burden that they don’t even seem to realize they are still obligated to. Yes, pray for Israel, and praise be to God for Jesus Christ our Lord who has made access to our heavenly Father available once again. Praise God for His grace that is found in Jesus Christ our Lord. And all of God’s people say… Amen.

Closing Verse: “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” John 1:16-18

Next Week: Deuteronomy 28:38-44 More curses to come in these verses, yes plenty more… (The Blessings and the Curses, Part IV) (80th Deuteronomy Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. But He also has expectations of you as He prepares you for entrance into His Land of Promise. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

The Blessings and the Curses, Part III

“You shall betroth a wife, but another man shall lie with her
You shall build a house, but you shall not dwell in it
You shall plant a vineyard, but shall not gather its grapes
A dismal future, you must admit

Your ox shall be slaughtered before your eyes, but you shall
———-not eat of it
Your donkey shall be violently taken away from before you
———-and shall not to you be restored
Your sheep shall be given to your enemies, and you shall have
———-no one to rescue them
Because my words of law you have ignored

Your sons and your daughters shall be given to another people
And your eyes shall look and fail, please understand
With longing for them all day long
And there shall be no strength in your hand

A nation whom you have not known
Shall eat the fruit of your land, so it will be
And the produce of your labor
And you shall be only oppressed and crushed continually

So you shall be driven mad, yes to insanity
Because of the sight which your eyes see

The LORD will strike you in the knees
And on the legs, something you will dread
With severe boils which cannot be healed
And from the sole of your foot to the top of your head

“The LORD will bring you, and the king whom you set over you
To a nation which neither you nor your fathers have known
And there you shall serve other gods
Yes, you shall serve other gods—wood and stone

And you shall become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword
———-a sad fate it is true
Among all nations where the LORD will drive you

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

30 “You shall betroth a wife, but another man shall lie with her; you shall build a house, but you shall not dwell in it; you shall plant a vineyard, but shall not gather its grapes. 31 Your ox shall be slaughtered before your eyes, but you shall not eat of it; your donkey shall be violently taken away from before you, and shall not be restored to you; your sheep shall be given to your enemies, and you shall have no one to rescue them. 32 Your sons and your daughters shall be given to another people, and your eyes shall look and fail with longing for them all day long; and there shall be no strength in your hand. 33 A nation whom you have not known shall eat the fruit of your land and the produce of your labor, and you shall be only oppressed and crushed continually. 34 So you shall be driven mad because of the sight which your eyes see. 35 The Lord will strike you in the knees and on the legs with severe boils which cannot be healed, and from the sole of your foot to the top of your head.

36 “The Lord will bring you and the king whom you set over you to a nation which neither you nor your fathers have known, and there you shall serve other gods—wood and stone. 37 And you shall become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword among all nations where the Lord will drive you.

 

 

 

Deuteronomy 28:15-29 (The Blessings and the Curses, Part II)

Deuteronomy 28:15-29
The Blessings and the Curses, Part II

Last week, we saw the promised blessings that Moses said would come upon the people if they simply paid heed to his words and obeyed the Lord. He gave the sure and great promises that they would be exalted, prosperous, and filled.

And in their history, this did come upon them at times. But the main thing to consider is that even when they strayed, they still remained. He brought judgments upon them, but He never allowed them to be utterly swept away.

This demonstrates the amazing patience, longsuffering, and indeed the mercy of the Lord. But there is more to it than that. It also displays the covenant-keeping nature of the Lord. We know this is true because the Lord got so tired of man’s rebellion in Genesis that He destroyed all but eight of the entire race.

Through them, He started anew, and through a continueagud select line of people He slowly revealed His plans and purposes for man. Eventually, He established His covenant with Israel, and He set forth the blessings and the curses noted in our ongoing evaluation of Chapter 28.

Text Verse: “‘Yet behold, there shall be left in it a remnant who will be brought out, both sons and daughters; surely they will come out to you, and you will see their ways and their doings. Then you will be comforted concerning the disaster that I have brought upon Jerusalem, all that I have brought upon it. 23 And they will comfort you, when you see their ways and their doings; and you shall know that I have done nothing without cause that I have done in it,’ says the Lord God.” Ezekiel 14:22, 23

We are only beginning a long series of curses in the words we will look at today. But one thing is for sure, Israel failed to do what Moses exhorted them to do. And the curses came following hard after them. And yet, Ezekiel – a priest in exile – notes that the Lord kept a remnant who would be brought out. A remnant signifies continuance.

Paul writes of the remnant of Israel that exists in the church age in Romans 11, and he also notes that a remnant will be saved in Romans 9. The implication is that despite their continued failings, and despite their continued rejection of Christ, Israel continues.

Think it through, if a remnant of Israel will be saved, that means that there will be a much larger Israel for them to be saved from. In other words, Israel continues – whether in obedience or disobedience – to this day. A “remnant” implies a larger whole.

This is what we have in the world today – a people preserved by God, even though they are not right with their God, so that He can keep His covenant promises to them. This is the lesson of the Bible. God is faithful even when we are not.

Great truths such as this are to be found in His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. Cursed Shall You Be (verses 15-19)

15 “But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God,

After all the words of blessing in the first fourteen verses, these words now carry their own highly ominous tone, even before the rest of the verse is uttered. Notice the immediate contrast to what it says in verse 1 –

  1. “And it shall be if hearing, you hear in voice Yehovah your God.”
  2. “And it shall be if not you hear in voice Yehovah your God.”

In verse 1, there was an emphasis, “if hearing you hear.” Now, it only says, “if not you hear.” One can sense that there is a disregard of the emphasis, and there is instead not even a lackadaisical hearing of what the Lord says. If they so fail…

15 (con’t) to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today,

The words are identical to the corresponding clause, but with one addition –

  1. “to observe carefully all His commandments”
  2. “to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes”

Moses adds in v’khuqotav, or “and His statutes.” This is an enactment, or something prescribed.” One might say, “an ordinance.” For example, the Passover is called such in Exodus 12:14. All commands are to be obeyed, and all ordinances are to be adhered to. If Israel fails in this, then it shall be…

15 (con’t) that all these curses

The word translated as “curse,” qelalah, is the same as that used in the previous chapter when the blessings and the curses were to be proclaimed upon Mt. Ebal. It signifies “vilification.” However, this is not referring to the curses mentioned there. Rather, it speaks of what is to be stated in the coming verses. Moses says that it is these that…

15 (con’t) will come upon you and overtake you:

The words are identical to the corresponding words of verse 2 with two exceptions. The word “blessings” is substituted with the word “curses,” and the word translated as “and overtake you” is spelled with an additional letter, a vav, in this verse now.

Vav is the sixth letter. It is the number of man, especially fallen man. In picture, a vav is a tent peg. The meaning of vav is “add,” “secure,” or “hook.” One can only speculate here, but with the total number of curses set forth in contrast to the number of blessings, it appears that what will “overtake” Israel will be added to greatly.

It is probably not coincidence that the judgment for Israel’s (and our) sins is especially highlighted in the darkness that covered the earth beginning with the sixth hour when Jesus was on the cross. In Matthew 27:45, it says, “Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land.”

The innocent Man, took the judgment of the curses which fell upon fallen man. This additional vav may be an anticipatory hint of what was coming in the ministry of Christ.

As far as the sins overtaking Israel, exactly that is what is spoken of towards the end of the Old Testament, as testified to by Zechariah –

“Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets preached, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Turn now from your evil ways and your evil deeds.”’ But they did not hear nor heed Me,” says the Lord.
“Your fathers, where are they?
And the prophets, do they live forever?
Yet surely My words and My statutes,
Which I commanded My servants the prophets,
Did they not overtake your fathers?
“So they returned and said:
‘Just as the Lord of hosts determined to do to us,
According to our ways and according to our deeds,
So He has dealt with us.’”’” Zechariah 1:4-6

It is not as if Moses didn’t warn the people. They just failed to pay heed. For now, Moses begins with the curses…

16 “Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the country.

The words of verses 16-19 are the antitheses of what was stated in verses 3-6. It is a six-fold repetition of the word “cursed.” Like the blessings, the number of curses is more than six. These are a short summary that will be expanded upon afterwards.

Here, Moses uses the word arar. It is a verb that signifies to bitterly curse. Using this word, Moses says they will be cursed in both the city and the country – literally, the field. As such, this covers domestic employment, that of industry inside the walls of the city, and that which is agricultural, or outside of them.

They are warned that all areas where Israel puts its hands to work, the work of their hands will be cursed. The words here are identical, letter to letter, to verse 3, except “blessed” is changed to “cursed.” Next…

17 “Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.

Moses now swaps the blessings of verses 4 and 5. Verse 5 corresponds to this verse now. If you remember from the previous sermon, probably what is meant by Moses is that –

1) the basket that carries the first of the produce is emblematic of all of the harvest. As the firsts are be cursed, so will be the entire harvest. It will fail miserably. And 2) the bowl that is used for making bread (the staff of life) will fail to be filled, implying famine. In other words, there will always be people hungry and malnourished by the lack of food as only empty containers sit before them.

Other than the substituted words “blessed” and “cursed,” the verses are identical, letter for letter. Next…

18 “Cursed shall be the fruit of your body and the produce of your land, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks.

In this verse, it is letter for letter identical to verse 4, but with two exceptions. The word “blessed” is substituted with “cursed,” and Moses now leaves off “and the increase of your herds.”

“Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the increase [lit: fruit] of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks.

“Cursed shall be the fruit of your body and the produce of your land, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks.

As such, these are five curses detailing one category, that of reproduction. However, in the Hebrew, the first three are termed “fruit, while the fourth is termed “increase,” and the fifth is termed “offspring.”

The idea is that nothing will bear fruit or increase so that even the few people who may be left to occupy the land will face lack. The land will become wholly unproductive. With that stated, Moses next says…

19 “Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out.

Again, the words are identical, letter for letter, to verse 6, only with the exception of replacing “blessed” with “cursed.” As in verse 6, the Hebrew reads, “in your coming in,” and “in your going out.”

The meaning is that in one’s coming in, there will be no strength. There will be the desire to lay down and curl up from the frustrations of life. There will be no joy, no health for the family, no contentment, no peace, and so on.

And in one’s going out, there won’t be enough strength to put one’s hand to the plow (if there is even an animal to pull it). There will be tiredness, deprivation, and want as the eyes look to desolate fields with nothing springing forth.

With cursing I shall curse you
And you shall be cursed by Me
When you fail to observe and to do
You shall be cursed by Me abundantly

You follow a path that doesn’t lead you to Me
Instead, you constantly turn either left or right
You fail to follow My ways diligently
And to keep Me in the center of your sight

Oh Israel, the blessing is waiting for you
If you would just heed the word that I have spoken
If only you would follow the path that leads to life anew
And I would heal the hearts, desolate and broken

II. With Madness and Blindness and Confusion (verses 20-29)

20 “The Lord will send on you cursing, confusion, and rebuke

The translation is sloppy. Definite articles precede nouns, and there is a striking alliteration used by Moses: Yeshalakh Yehovah bekha eth ha’meerah eth ha’mehumah v’eth ha’migeret – “Will send Yehovah in you the curse, the confusion, and the criticism.”

I translated it that way to maintain the alliteration which provides a heightened sense of the disaster set to come upon the people. The use of the articles also provides its own marked emphasis. The individual words Moses chose are –

Meerah. It is the noun form of the word arar that has been repeatedly used in the past few verses. It will be seen just five times. The next time is in Proverbs 3:33, and which perfectly describes what will come upon Israel –

“The curse of the Lord is on the house of the wicked,
But He blesses the home of the just.” Proverbs 3:33

The last two times it will be seen are in Malachi 2:2 and 3:9, and which also beautifully fit with the theme which Moses puts forth from his lips at this time.

Mehumah. This is its second use. It comes from hum, an onomatopoetic word signifying to murmur or roar. The first was in Deuteronomy 7:23, where it speaks of just the opposite. Instead of this being inflicted on Israel when they are disobedient, it will come upon their enemies –

“But the Lord your God will deliver them over to you, and will inflict defeat upon them until they are destroyed.” Deuteronomy 7:23

Migereth. This is its only use in the Bible. It comes from the verb gaar, meaning to rebuke. Thus, I translated it as “the criticism.” In the use of these three words, Moses is bringing to the highest sense the commotion of life, mind, and attitude that will come upon Israel, and he notes that it will be…

20 (con’t) in all that you set your hand to do,

The words literally state, “in all outstretching your hand which you do.” One can imagine stretching out the hand for grain and bringing back a viper, stretching out the hand for something cold and burning it instead, and stretching out the hand for a bite to eat and having it come back filled with thorns. No matter what is done, only the curse, the confusion, and the criticism responds…

20 (con’t) until you are destroyed and until you perish quickly,

The words are exactingly translated here. Moses repeats the word “until” for emphasis, and then he adds in “quickly” to acknowledge that the terror will be sudden and abrupt. And all of this will be, as Moses astonishingly says…

20 (con’t) because of the wickedness of your doings in which you have forsaken Me.

mipene roa maalalekha asher azavtani – “from face evil your doings which you have forsaken Me.” Moses places His words into the position of the Lord – “you have forsaken Me.” To forsake Moses is to forsake the Lord, and in that, there will be only a curse left behind. The thought is repeated in the Old Testament, where the word of Moses is directly equated to the word of the Lord, such as in 2 Kings –

“In this house and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put My name forever; and I will not make the feet of Israel wander anymore from the land which I gave their fathers—only if they are careful to do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all the law that My servant Moses commanded them.” 2 Kings 21:7, 8

The idea of forsaking Moses is found in the New Testament when Paul went to Jerusalem to meet with James and the elders. This is found in Acts 21 –

“And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord. And they said to him, ‘You see, brother, how many myriads of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law; 21 but they have been informed about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs.’” Acts 21:20, 21

The word there in Acts means “apostasy from Moses.” It is quite clear that there was a misunderstanding by these men of the significance of what Christ had done.

It was evident even from Chapter 10 when Peter went into the house of Cornelius that things had changed, but the leadership was still unable to fully grasp that in coming to Christ, one doesn’t forsake Moses (meaning the Law of Moses), but instead finds the fulfillment and end of Moses.

It is this that the author of Hebrews, most probably Paul, clearly sets down in his epistle. As Moses wrote of Christ (John 5:46), and as he commanded that when Christ came (meaning the Prophet of Chapter 18), the people were to listen to Him. Those who failed to do so would be so judged.

As Christ established a New Covenant in His blood, He rendered the Old (meaning the Law of Moses) obsolete. He annulled it and it is now set aside. As you can see then, to reject Christ is to reject Moses. He is the fulfillment of all that Moses taught.

However, until that time came, the people were to adhere to the law as laid down here. To fail to do so would bring upon them the curses now being set forth. They did fail, and the curses came upon them, exactly as spoken forth by Moses. But their failure to do so also became the lesson for God’s people, the tutor, which is intended to lead us to Christ.

The coming verses further explain the content of verse 20, giving examples of how the Lord world accomplish what is said there. That begins with…

21 The Lord will make the plague cling to you

yadbeq Yehovah bekha eth ha’daver – “May He cause to cling Yehovah in you the pestilence.” Like in verse 8, the first word of the verse is a jussive. It is basically an indirect command. Moses is thus essentially calling out for the Lord to do this in response to Israel’s rebellion.

Moses calls for them to be overtaken by ha’daver, or “the pestilence.” It is a noun, dever, coming from the word davar, meaning to speak. It is as if the spoken word of the Lord will cling to them and consume them, as is next noted…

21 (con’t) until He has consumed you from the land which you are going to possess.

Here the word is “ground” not “land.” This is not referring to exile, but to death where Israel lives. The connection seems to be that the word of the Lord is as a destroyer. It drives together what it purposes and thus when He speaks, the pestilence issues forth when the people are so driven together. As a contagion, it moves quickly from person to person.

What this pestilence is cannot be known for sure. The Greek rendering of the verse translates it with the generic word “death.” As such, it is something terminal once it affects a person.

That becomes evident through the word translated as “cling,” which signifies to stick like glue. It is a horrifying thought that nothing will remove it and no suitable remedy for it will be found. This is what the Lord specifies as one of His four severe judgments in Ezekiel 14. There it says –

“For thus says the Lord God: “How much more it shall be when I send My four severe judgments on Jerusalem—the sword and famine and wild beasts and pestilence—to cut off man and beast from it?” Ezekiel 14:21

Jeremiah, in particular, uses this word time and again – more than any other prophet – when referring to the judgment of the Lord upon the people. Such a plague is the expected outcome of high crowding, low nutrition, and unsanitary conditions that would normally be expected during the siege of cities within the land. Next, Moses says…

22 The Lord will strike you with consumption, with fever, with inflammation, with severe burning fever, with the sword, with scorching, and with mildew;

Here, Moses lists seven horrifying maladies that would come upon the people. Each is prefixed by an article, revealing the specific nature of the calamity. The first is ba’shakhepheth, or “in the consumption.” This is the second and final time the word is used. It comes from the word shakhaph which is a type of gull. As the gull is a thin bird, the picture is clear – emaciation. The person just wastes away from the disease.

The next is ba’qadakhat, or “in the burning fever.” This is also the second and final time the word is seen. It is derived from qadakh, to kindle.” Thus, it is a febrile disease such as burning ague. The fever will simply burn the person up.

The next is ba’daleqet or “in the inflammation.” The word is found only here in the Bible. It comes from the word dalaq meaning to burn or to hotly pursue. It is another burning disease, probably more intense than the first, and maybe directed in a different way than the previous, such as the entire body instead of the head. It could also be a type of rapidly consuming cancer.

The next is ba’kharkhur, or “in the violent burning.” This is also found only this once in Scripture. It comes from the word kharar, to be hot or scorched. Thus, if a burning in the body, it is the most extreme of the three categories. In such a state, the vital organs of the person would simply melt from the heated stress on the body.

However, it could also be referring to the burning of the mind. In other words, insanity coming upon a person because of the terrible times that have come upon the people. Thus, it is as if the mind is hotly enraged.

Next, Moses notes ba’kherev, or “in the sword.” The sword is another of the four severe judgments noted by Ezekiel. It is worthy of note that the three letters that spell this word can also be translated as “drought,” and that is how the Latin Vulgate, the Arabic, and Samaritan Pentateuch translate this.

As that implies heat, it is a reasonable possibility for what is described here, and it would fit the overall theme of heat well. Further, it is also something that would be attributed as a plague from the Lord directly, rather than indirectly as the sword of an enemy would.

However, as this would be the only time that the sword is mentioned in this chapter, and as it is such a common judgment upon Israel throughout the prophets, “sword” may be the correct rendering.

The next two words are plagues that target the food of the people. The first is ba’shidaphon, or “in the scorching.” This is a new word in Scripture, sh’dephah. It will be seen six times. It comes from shadaph, meaning to scorch or blight. Ye olde King Jimmy Version translates this as “blasting.”

This probably refers to the scorching east winds that are known to come upon the land. Rather than naming the wind itself, it would then refer to the result of what the wind causes. This seems likely based on the use of the word in 2 Kings 19 –

“Therefore their inhabitants had little power;
They were dismayed and confounded;
They were as the grass of the field
And the green herb,
As the grass on the housetops
And grain blighted before it is grown.” 2 Kings 19:26

Next listed is ba’yeraqon, or “in the mildew.” This word is new also, and it will also be seen just six times. All but one time, it will be translated along with the previous word. It signifies mildew or paleness, coming from yereg, meaning green, greenish, or yellow.

One can get the idea of unhealthy sickliness. It is a paleness whether of people or of plants that indicates the onset of death. Of these, Moses next says…

22 (con’t) they shall pursue you until you perish.

The Lord will send these plagues upon the people, coming hard after them, so that they will be consumed. It may be that He would send them in rapid succession as well, which would certainly bring madness to the minds of the people as they faced the rushing onslaught. And all because they failed to acknowledge the Lord who established them and blessed them.

23 And your heavens which are over your head shall be bronze, and the earth which is under you shall be iron.

Here, it should say “land” rather than “earth.” It speaks of the state of the entire land given to Israel. It will be under a curse, and it will be unproductive. This is a close repeat of Leviticus 26:19 –

“I will break the pride of your power;
I will make your heavens like iron and your earth [land] like bronze.”

Moses reverses the metals to show that the punishment will be universal in nature. Of these two metals, bronze represents judgment while iron represents strength, be it in binding together, in government, in hard service, or in bondage.

In this, we see judgment in the sky, meaning barren skies with no clouds or rain, scorching heat radiating down on the people, and so on. This, in turn, will lead to an unyielding earth that is caked and dead. Digging through it to find new sources of water will be like digging through rock itself.

Times of drought are recorded in the Bible, testifying to judgment upon the people, but this was also the state of the land after the Roman exile. In the destruction of the cities, which included Jerusalem and the sanctuary there, the Romans built siege works.

In doing so, they cut down the trees of the land. In this, the natural rain cycles of the land were disrupted. If any rains fell, they were not enough to support crops and produce. This continued on until the return of Israel to the land. In their return, they began planting trees, and the cycle of former and latter rains returned to the land.

Mark Twain spoke of the nature of the land as he passed through it, penning a confirmation of the prophesies uttered forth by Moses. Further, the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary of 1871 says –

“This want of regular and seasonable rain is allowed by the most intelligent observers to be one great cause of the present sterility of Palestine.”

The Lord spoke directly in Leviticus, and through Moses in Deuteronomy, about these things. As such, the famines of Israel must be ascribed to the deliberate action of the Lord in fulfillment of His word. In continued reference to the state of the land, Moses speaks on…

24 The Lord will change the rain of your land to powder and dust;

With the heavens shut up in judgment, and with the ground without any moisture, any loose soil would turn into powder, and the dust below the topsoil would be exposed. Everything is in a state of complete desiccation. And because of that…

24 (con’t) from the heaven it shall come down on you until you are destroyed.

The Hebrew says, “the heavens.” It is an indication that the sky in all directions would be filled with the powder and dust. This is not specifically speaking of the sharav, or khamsin, winds that often rage over the middle east. Such is a normal occurrence that simply arises and overwhelms the land from time to time. What Moses refers to here is a consequence of the state of the land.

The result of even a normal breeze would be that of constant debris flying about. The desiccated topsoil would be picked up and tossed around, and the dust below it would as well. One would always be covered in a layer of grime as it stuck to the sweat of the body, and there would be no comfort from the grinding of the debris into the skin. A French traveler in the 1600s is cited by Adam Clarke –

“Thevenot, a French traveler, who had observed these showers of dust, etc., says, ‘They grievously annoy all they fall on, filling their eyes, ears, nostrils, etc.’” Adam Clarke

Existence in such a land would be dirty, difficult, and demanding. And it could be avoided if the people would simply pay heed. But the warnings continue to come for those who fail to do so…

25 “The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies; you shall go out one way against them and flee seven ways before them;

This is the antithesis of verse 7 –

“The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.”

Instead of victory, there will be a total routing of Israel. They will head in every direction, utterly defeated by their enemies. Already in Deuteronomy, the Lord has promised to go out with Israel, and to destroy their enemies –

“When you go out to battle against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the Lord your God is with you, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.” Deuteronomy 20:1

This is now explicitly qualified. The Lord will be with Israel, if Israel is with the Lord, obeying His commands and observing his statutes. To fail means destruction before the foe, and more…

25  (con’t) and you shall become troublesome to all the kingdoms of the earth.

Here is a rare word, zaavah, it is found only here and in Ezekiel 23:46. It is a transposition of the word zevaah, meaning a trembling, or an object of terror. The KJV translates it as “shalt be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth.”

This is unlikely. The idea of exile is the highest disgrace and the greatest curse to come upon the people. It will be noted later toward the end of the curses. This now is referring to the state of Israel among the kingdoms.

They will be defeated in battle, and they will then be treated like a football that gets punted between all the kingdoms who oppress them. This is recorded as occurring during their history prior to exile where they were subject to paying tribute to Moab, Assyria, Egypt, and so on. And more…

26 Your carcasses shall be food for all the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth,

The words are singular, and instead of “air” it says, “the heavens” – “And it shall be your carcass to food to every bird in the heavens and to the beast of the earth.” Moses is speaking to Israel in the singular, as a united body that will be subject to the prey of the bird and the beast. The use of the singular draws this out in a notable way. And of these creatures, it says…

26 (con’t) and no one shall frighten them away.

Being devoured by animals was considered one of the most ignoble ways to die. So much so that we read this account at the time of King David when the sons of a woman were put to death before the Lord –

“Now Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it for herself on the rock, from the beginning of harvest until the late rains poured on them from heaven. And she did not allow the birds of the air to rest on them by day nor the beasts of the field by night.” 2 Samuel 21:10

This woman would not allow the beasts to eat her sons, because she understood the significance of the curse Moses speaks of now. On the other hand, Israel was promised again by Jeremiah that this fate would befall them as he repeated the same words that Moses uses in this verse –

“And the carcass of this people hath been for food To a fowl of the heavens, and to a beast of the earth, And there is none troubling.” Jeremiah 7:33 YLT

Because of their unfaithfulness to the Lord, the curse of Moses was set to come upon them. Along with this, Moses next says…

27 The Lord will strike you with the boils of Egypt, with tumors, with the scab, and with the itch,

Moses now speaks of four separate afflictions. The first is the shekhin, or boil. It is singular in the Hebrew, thus designating a class of boil – the “boil of Egypt.” It is an eruption of the skin. It is what Job had all over his body, and it is what Hezekiah had, but which was cured by applying a poultice of figs.

The next is the ophel, or tumor. The word ophel means “a mound,” or “a hill.” Thus, it is that which mounds up on the body. The KJV takes it as a specific type of mound using the archaic word emerod, or a hemorrhoid.

After that, is noted the garav, or scab. This is its third and last use in the Bible. It comes from a root meaning “to scratch” as from itching, and so it is a painful affliction of the skin.

Finally, is the kheres, or itch. This is a new word that will only be seen four times. The other three times, it will be translated as the “sun.” James Strong thinks the connection may be that of scraping oneself with a potsherd which is round, resembling the sun. I would think it is an affliction of the skin, like prurigo, that resembles the sun, being bright red, or orange, and round.

Of these four terrible afflictions, Moses says…

27 (con’t) from which you cannot be healed.

When the affliction sets in, it will be because the hand of the Lord sent it. It will occur at a time when the land is devoid of proper medicines due to scarcity, and it will be an affliction that so many people have that it will become endemic in the society. Along with these terrors…

28 The Lord will strike you with madness and blindness and confusion of heart.

In addition to the physical just mentioned, come more afflictions of the body and the mind. The first is shigaon. It is a new word signifying madness or furiousness. It will be seen in 2 Kings 9:20, where a person drives his chariot in furiousness, and again in Zechariah 12 where the Lord promises to strike every horse with confusion and every rider with madness during a future battle –

“‘In that day,’ says the Lord, ‘I will strike every horse with confusion, and its rider with madness; I will open My eyes on the house of Judah, and will strike every horse of the peoples with blindness.’” Zechariah 12:4

The next word Moses uses is ivaron. It signifies blindness, and it will be seen only one more time, also in Zechariah 12:4 –

“‘In that day,’ says the Lord, ‘I will strike every horse with confusion, and its rider with madness; I will open My eyes on the house of Judah, and will strike every horse of the peoples with blindness.’” Zechariah 12:4

This is probably Moses’ way of referring to blindness of the mind, thus matching the other two afflictions which are mental, rather than physical torments.

The third affliction is timahon – it is also a new word signifying astonishment or consternation, coming from tamah, meaning to be astounded or dumbfounded.

In this, it will be l’vav, or “to heart.” Thus, it signifies a confusion of the mind’s ability to reason out what is happening. This word will also be seen only one more time, and it will also be in Zechariah 12:4 –

“‘In that day,’ says the Lord, ‘I will strike every horse with confusion, and its rider with madness; I will open My eyes on the house of Judah, and will strike every horse of the peoples with blindness.’” Zechariah 12:4

One can see that in the great battle in the end of days, the Lord will take the same vengeance against His enemies that Moses now promises will be brought against Israel. The Lord is perfectly fair and just in how He executes His judgments upon or for Israel, depending on how they respond to His word. Finally, we read…

29 And you shall grope at noonday, as a blind man gropes in darkness;

As the previous verse referred to mental impairment, this follows along with that. The sun at noonday is when everything is the clearest. The shadows are almost nonexistent. But just as a blind man gropes in the darkness of his eyes, Israel would grope for clarity and a remedy for the trouble they faced.

And yet, no remedy will be found. There will only be an inability to rise above the helpless state in which they find themselves…

29 (con’t) you shall not prosper in your ways;

One could think of a country with spiraling debt, hyperinflation, and facing a total economic meltdown. They would grope for an answer to the situation, but no matter what they did, the result was always that things got worse, not better.

This is the state that Moses promises Israel will face when they reject the Lord. No matter what way they take, and no matter what option they choose, they will only face a worsening of their crisis. In such a state…

29 (con’t) you shall be only oppressed and plundered continually,

Without the ability to correctly evaluate a situation, there is no way to correctly perform in order to alleviate it. Therefore, those who take prey in such a situation will do so to Israel. It is reflective of the words of Judges 6 –

“Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord. So the Lord delivered them into the hand of Midian for seven years, and the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel. Because of the Midianites, the children of Israel made for themselves the dens, the caves, and the strongholds which are in the mountains. So it was, whenever Israel had sown, Midianites would come up; also Amalekites and the people of the East would come up against them. Then they would encamp against them and destroy the produce of the earth as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep nor ox nor donkey. For they would come up with their livestock and their tents, coming in as numerous as locusts; both they and their camels were without number; and they would enter the land to destroy it. So Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites, and the children of Israel cried out to the Lord.” Judges 6:1-6

Until Israel is hemmed in and plundered enough, they would keep their necks stiff and their hearts unyielding, but when things would get bad enough, they would cry out to the Lord for deliverance. This is the way it has been, and this is the way it will continue to be. Until they come to Him, Moses warns…

*29 (fin) and no one shall save you.

The Hebrew reads: v’ain movoshia – “And no savior for you.” Apart from the Lord, Israel has no savior. Moses promises them that if they depart from Him, salvation will not be found. Only in seeking Him out will deliverance be possible.

But this is the lesson that permeates Scripture concerning all humanity. Adam rejected the word of the Lord. In this, woe and affliction came upon him. That has continued unabated in human history. Israel was given as a lesson for humanity, and that lesson is ongoing today.

Their rejection of Christ has brought people from all over the world to the place where salvation is found. Until Israel wises up and seeks the Lord they once crucified, their troubles will continue unabated. The fact that they are back in the land and seemingly doing ok does not in any way mean that things are ok for them.

They are being brought to the point where they will, as a nation, face the possibility of utter destruction. And that is written in their own Scriptures. That would not happen if they were right with the Lord, and so the curse for them is ongoing.

Until they acknowledge what they have done, and until they make it right by calling out to Christ for deliverance, they will not prosper as a people. In seeing this, and in understanding it, this should clue each of us in all the more to the fact that we each, just as Israel as a nation, need Jesus.

If the blessing and curses toward Israel are true, and if Jesus Christ is the focus of them coming, and because Jesus has been presented to the world as its one and only Messiah, then we must pay heed. This is the story of Israel. It is a story for each of us to learn from. And so may you learn it today – to the glory of the Lord who is the Giver of every good blessing, or of the finality of man through the curse.

Closing Verse: “This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ 12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:11, 12

Next Week: Deuteronomy 28:30-37 When they open their purses, they will be empty… (The Blessings and the Curses, Part III) (79th Deuteronomy Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. But He also has expectations of you as He prepares you for entrance into His Land of Promise. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

The Blessings and the Curses, Part II

“But it shall come to pass
If you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God
———-pay heed, my words are true
To observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes
———-which I command you today
That all these curses will come upon you and overtake you

“Cursed shall you be in the city
And cursed shall you in the country be

“Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl
“Cursed shall be the fruit of your body
———-and the produce of your land
The increase of your cattle
And the offspring of your flocks as well, please understand

“Cursed shall you be when you come in, without a doubt
And cursed shall you be when you go out

“The LORD will send on you cursing, confusion, and rebuke
In all that you set your hand to do, so shall it be
Until you are destroyed and until you perish quickly
Because of the wickedness of your doings in which
———-you have forsaken Me

The LORD will make the plague cling to you
So to you I address
Until He has consumed you from the land
Which you are going to possess

The LORD will strike you with consumption
With fever, with inflammation, with severe burning fever too
With the sword, with scorching, and with mildew
They shall pursue you until you perish – even you

And your heavens which are over your head shall be bronze
And the earth which is under you shall be iron
———-such a state will be employed
The LORD will change the rain of your land to powder and dust
From the heaven it shall come down on you until you are destroyed

“The LORD will cause you to be defeated before your enemies
You shall go out one way against them, hightailing it off to Perth
And flee seven ways before them
And you shall become troublesome to all the kingdoms of the earth

Your carcasses shall be
Food for all the birds of the air, so to you I say
And the beasts of the earth
And no one shall frighten them away

The LORD will strike you
With the boils of Egypt, that plague will be unsealed
With tumors, with the scab, and with the itch
From which you cannot be healed

The LORD will strike you with madness
———- (and that is just the start)
And blindness and confusion of heart

And you shall grope at noonday, as a blind man
———-gropes in darkness
You shall not prosper in your ways, this much is true
You shall be only oppressed and plundered continually
And no one shall save you

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15 “But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:

16 “Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the country.

17 “Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.

18 “Cursed shall be the fruit of your body and the produce of your land, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks.

19 “Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out.

20 “The Lord will send on you cursing, confusion, and rebuke in all that you set your hand to do, until you are destroyed and until you perish quickly, because of the wickedness of your doings in which you have forsaken Me. 21 The Lord will make the plague cling to you until He has consumed you from the land which you are going to possess. 22 The Lord will strike you with consumption, with fever, with inflammation, with severe burning fever, with the sword, with scorching, and with mildew; they shall pursue you until you perish. 23 And your heavens which are over your head shall be bronze, and the earth which is under you shall be iron. 24 The Lord will change the rain of your land to powder and dust; from the heaven it shall come down on you until you are destroyed.

25 “The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies; you shall go out one way against them and flee seven ways before them; and you shall become troublesome to all the kingdoms of the earth. 26 Your carcasses shall be food for all the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and no one shall frighten them away. 27 The Lord will strike you with the boils of Egypt, with tumors, with the scab, and with the itch, from which you cannot be healed. 28 The Lord will strike you with madness and blindness and confusion of heart. 29 And you shall grope at noonday, as a blind man gropes in darkness; you shall not prosper in your ways; you shall be only oppressed and plundered continually, and no one shall save you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deuteronomy 28:1-14 (The Blessings and the Curses, Part I)

Deuteronomy 28:1-14
The Blessings and the Curses, Part I

Deuteronomy 28 is one long chapter, but it is only divided into two major sections, that of blessings and that of curses. As far as the blessings, they are detailed in today’s passage. After this, it is all downhill concerning what will come upon Israel if they fail to do as instructed.

Of the chapter, Albert Barnes notes the following –

“The language rises in this chapter to the sublimest strains, especially in the latter part of it; and the prophecies respecting the dispersion and degradation of the Jewish nation in its later days are among the most remarkable in scripture. They are plain, precise, and circumstantial; and the fulfillment of them has been literal, complete, and undeniable.” Albert Barnes

It is the curses that truly highlight both the chapter and the history of Israel. As such, it is a part of the tutoring that we are given concerning the law and our desperate need for Christ. If it were not so, the Old Testament, and even the gospels would be vastly different than they are.

And more, the state of Israel for the past two millennia would have been vastly different as well. For now, we can see that by putting the blessings first, it is an indication that there is an ideal set forth, even if it is actually unattainable by us.

If there is an ideal set forth, however, it means that attaining it is a possibility, nonetheless. It would make no sense for God to set forth an ideal and then never allow it to be seen in its fully realized state. So, even if it has never come about as promised here in Deuteronomy, it does not mean that it never will.

Text Verse: “I will make a covenant of peace with them, and cause wild beasts to cease from the land; and they will dwell safely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods. 26 I will make them and the places all around My hill a blessing; and I will cause showers to come down in their season; there shall be showers of blessing. 27 Then the trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase. They shall be safe in their land; and they shall know that I am the Lord, when I have broken the bands of their yoke and delivered them from the hand of those who enslaved them.” Ezekiel 34:25-27

The problem with replacement theology, well one of many with it, is that such theologians hold quite fast to all of the promised blessings, but they overlook anything negative that may arise in regard to what is put forth.

For example, in Romans 11, it clearly says that Israel is blinded. If that is so, and if those who hold to replacement theology are Israel (as they claim), then they must be blinded. So why would anyone want to discuss theology with a spiritually blinded theologian?

And if they are Israel as they claim to be, and yet the curses which are detailed in the next passage (starting next week) are actually curses that belong to Israel, which has been ongoing now for two thousand years, then how do you say that Israel has been replaced by the church? Is God still punishing people that aren’t even His people in the manner that he promised to punish His people?

That would demonstrate a rather confused and vindictive God, wouldn’t it? The problem with what Jews believe, and the problem with what the world at large believes, and which is a problem that is found in replacement theology as well, will be discussed in our sermon today.

So, if you are still confused about who Israel is, and who the church is, and what the responsibilities and warnings to Israel actually mean, pay attention. We’ll go over that, along with the verses in this passage today.

Great things, such as, “Israel is Israel, and the church is the church” are to be found in His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. Blessed Shall You Be (verses 1-8)

“Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God,

There is an emphasis given to start out the chapter: v’hayah im shamoa tishma b’qol Yehovah elohekha – “And it shall be if hearing, you hear in voice Yehovah your God.” As has been seen repeatedly, “to hear” signifies more than just listening to the audible sounds, but to hearken to what is said.

The people could go to the synagogue every Saturday and sit and listen to the rabbi read out the words of the Lord, but unless they actually hear what is said, let it sink in, and then hearken to the words by applying them to their lives, they have not obeyed the precept of these words right now.

This is obviously dealing with Israel under the law, but before proceeding on, it should be at least noted that the same is true today within the church. A person can show up at church, listen to whatever is said, and go home no different than when he arrived.

James speaks of this, and his words are based on his life under the law and then discovering his new life in Christ –

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” James 1:22-25

The precept of Deuteronomy under the law is applied by James to those who have now found life in the perfect law of liberty which is found in Christ – “if hearing, you hear” the voice of the Lord God as is found in His word. For Israel, once the word is heard and hearkened to, they were…

1 (con’t) to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today,

The Hebrew is more expressive: lishmor laasoth – “to observe, to do.” One can observe without doing. Israel is to pay heed and to conduct their lives in a manner that is in accord with the word they have heard as commanded by Moses.

All of the words have been in the singular – “you, Israel.” Thus, this is speaking of the obedience of the nation. At the time of Elijah, there were only seven thousand people in the nation that could be considered as being referred to here. Thus, it cannot be said that Israel the nation was observing and doing. Rather, only a remnant of the people was. But it is the nation as a whole that will either receive the blessing or the curse.

For now, Moses notes that if the nation hearkens to the word, observes the word, and does what the word instructs…

1 (con’t) that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth.

This is a general repeat of what was stated just two chapters ago –

“Also today the Lord has proclaimed you to be His special people, just as He promised you, that you should keep all His commandments, 19 and that He will set you high above all nations which He has made, in praise, in name, and in honor, and that you may be a holy people to the Lord your God, just as He has spoken.” Deuteronomy 26:18, 19

There, as here, the word elyon, or “most high,” is used. Although the greatness of Israel was seen especially exalted at the time of Solomon, that cannot be said to have been a fulfillment of this promise. Nor can it be said of them at any other time.

To hearken, to observe, and to do all of the commandments takes more than fallen men are capable of. This will be carefully revealed and recorded over the next fourteen hundred years of their history. Only in Christ can this truly come to pass. Only in the messianic age will Israel truly find itself in this exalted position.

In coming to Christ, who is the fulfillment of Moses’ words, Israel will someday be so exalted…

And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you,

The two thoughts are separated in the Hebrew, probably for effect. It reads, “And shall come upon you all the blessings, these, and overtake you.” It isn’t just that they will be evident, but that they will actively come to them.

Moses personifies the blessings, equating them to beings that actively come upon Israel and then pursue the nation, reaching out their hands to it. Of this, John Lange says, they “are personified, because God Himself is, as it were, in them.”

He is the Giver of all good things, and the words are again reflective of the words of James –

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” James 1:17

The words, still in the singular, speak of a prosperity that extends to the entire nation. Some translations use the word “abundance” which certainly gives a good sense of the intent. And there is a reason for this…

2 (con’t) because you obey the voice of the Lord your God:

The Hebrew reads “because” (or when), not “if.” This is not a conditional statement like verse 1. Rather, it is an absolute surety that it will come about: “Because you do this, then this is the result.” Now, to explain what “all these blessings” means, Moses continues…

“Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country.

This begins a six-fold repetition of the word “blessed.” However, the number of blessings is more than six as will be evident in the next verse. For now, Moses begins with the entire sphere of existence in the land by noting both the city and the country – literally, the field.

Thus, this covers domestic employment, that of industry inside the walls of the city, and that which is agricultural, or outside of them. Moses indicates that in all areas where Israel puts its hands to work, the work of their hands will be blessed.

“Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks.

Here are listed five blessings of one type, that of reproduction. However, in the Hebrew, the first three are termed “fruit” while the last two are termed “increase,” and explain the term fruit: “Blessed fruit your womb; and fruit your ground; and fruit your beasts – increase your herd, and offspring your flocks.”

These words follow closely after Deuteronomy 7:13 –

“And He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your land, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flock, in the land of which He swore to your fathers to give you.”

The idea is that everything will increase abundantly, and that there will be many people, but there will also be much to support the many people. Even with a large population, there will be no lack at all. With that stated, Moses next says…

“Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.

The words here are rare. The first, tene, was introduced in Deuteronomy 26, being seen twice there. The first time, it said –

“And it shall be, when you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, and you possess it and dwell in it, that you shall take some of the first of all the produce of the ground, which you shall bring from your land that the Lord your God is giving you, and put it in a basket and go to the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide.” Deuteronomy 26:1, 2

The other word, mishereth, or “kneading bowl,” is found only twice in Exodus and then twice in this chapter –

“So the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly, which shall go up and come into your house, into your bedroom, on your bed, into the houses of your servants, on your people, into your ovens, and into your kneading bowls.” Exodus 8:3

“So the people took their dough before it was leavened, having their kneading bowls bound up in their clothes on their shoulders.” Exodus 12:34

Probably what is meant by Moses is that 1) the basket that carries the first of the produce is emblematic of all of the harvest. As the firsts are overflowing, so is the entire harvest. And 2) the bowl that is used for making bread (the staff of life) will never fail to be overflowing. In other words, there will always be people sated with the abundance of food set before them.

“Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.

The Hebrew reads, “in your coming in,” and “in your going out.” There are two separate views on this. The first is explained by the Jewish scholar Rashi, saying that it refers to the entrance into life and the departure from life. He says, “So that thy departure from the world shall be like thine entrance into it, sinless.”

That is wrong on the surface. Jewish scholars generally don’t accept the premise of original sin, which is so clearly painted in Scripture that it removes almost any reason to listen to them on any other doctrine. Everything else will be tainted with this heretical thought. If one is born without sin, and he departs without sin, then he wouldn’t need a Savior from sin. But the word says otherwise.

The other general meaning is exactly what Moses is referring to here and in each precept of the blessings, that of daily health and vigor. Moses uses the term in this way in a few more chapters –

“Then Moses went and spoke these words to all Israel. And he said to them: ‘I am one hundred and twenty years old today. I can no longer go out and come in.’” Deuteronomy 31:1, 2

Joshua repeats the idea as well –

“As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in.” Joshua 14:11

The meaning is that in one’s coming in, there will be strength and vitality within the walls of one’s home. There will be joy, health for the family, contentment, peace, and so on. And in one’s going out, there will be health and vigor, and there will be strength for the day’s labors

“The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face;

The words are active and alive: yiten Yehovah eth oyevekha ha’qamim alekha nigapim l’phanekha – “He shall give, Yehovah, your enemies – the risers against you – they are struck before your face.”

This would explain the “going out” for those in battle. Israel is blessed in their going out by having the Lord give their enemies into their hands so that they will be struck. So great will be the confusion that…

7 (con’t) they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.

b’derek ekhad yeseu elekha u-b’shivah derakim yanasu l’phanekha – “In way one they shall come out against you, and in seven ways they shall flee before your face.” The idea is that they will come against Israel as a united fighting force, but they shall be broken, confused, and with their tails between their legs as they flee away.

This explains the “coming in.” The enemy will be scattered before Israel, and Israel’s return to the camp will be victorious, joyous, and peaceful. Next…

“The Lord will command the blessing

yesav Yehovah itekha eth ha’berakhah – “May command Yehovah on you the blessing.” The first word is a jussive. It is a sort of indirect command. Moses is calling for the Lord to bless Israel in their obedience. This call out is for it to be…

8 (con’t) on you in your storehouses and in all to which you set your hand,

A new word found just twice, is introduced here, asam. It refers to a barn. It comes from a root meaning “to heap together.” Solomon says –

“Honor the Lord with your possessions,
And with the firstfruits of all your increase;
10 So your barns will be filled with plenty,
And your vats will overflow with new wine.” Proverbs 3:9, 10

The words of this clause are again set as a contrast. The blessing is to come for Israel, as it says, “in your barns, and in all stretch your hand.” In other words, it is referring to “the income and the expenditure” (Ellicott).

That which comes into the barn will be blessed. It will be plenty, of good quality, and so on. And that which is purchased will be of good quality, useful, and so on. In this state, Moses says…

8 (con’t) and He will bless you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.

The meaning of this is a personal blessing upon the individual. It speaks of permanence in one’s abode, possessions, life, and health. Rather than uncertainty and constant unease, there will be stability and a life that is happy and carefree. And more…

With blessing I shall bless you
And you shall be blessed by Me
When you are careful to observe and to do
You shall be blessed by Me abundantly

Follow that path that will lead you to Me
And do not turn left nor right
Be persistent in following this path diligently
Keep Me in the center of your sight

Oh Israel, the blessing is waiting for you
If you will just heed the word that I have spoken
Follow the path that leads to life anew
And I will heal the hearts, desolate and broken

II. To Right or Left (verses 9-14)

“The Lord will establish you as a holy people to Himself,

yeqimekha Yehovah lo, l’am qadosh – “Will raise up you Yehovah to Himself, to people holy.” The word qum means to raise up or to stand. It can convey two different thoughts. One is that of permanence. That is how the Jewish writers take this. “We have been established as holy and it is a permanent state.”

The other is that of being raised up into a particular position whether it is permanent or not. Another word, kun, will certainly indicate the latter, and it is used along with qum when speaking of the permanent establishment of the setting up of Christ’s kingdom.

“And it shall be, when your days are fulfilled, when you must go to be with your fathers, that I will set up (qum) your seed after you, who will be of your sons; and I will establish (kun) his kingdom.” 1 Chronicles 17:11

The latter meaning, not necessarily indicating permanence, must be referred to here. The reason for this is that Moses has already declared Israel holy –

“For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.” Deuteronomy 7:6

And yet the Lord has also said that they would be holy and special to Him based upon obedience –

“Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” Exodus 19:5, 6

This was discussed in detail in Deuteronomy 7:6, explaining how Israel is set apart (holy) to the Lord even if they are disobedient (unholy) before Him.

In the case of the words here, the blessings, and the promise of being raised up as a holy people to Himself will not be realized if they are disobedient to the law. That is made perfectly clear in verse 1 where it is conditional –

“Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth.”

The Jewish scholars and rabbis unfortunately take what is conditional, meaning being a holy people to the Lord (being in a right standing before the Lord), and incorrectly apply it to themselves as a people, meaning being holy before the Lord, regardless as to how they conduct their lives.

This attitude is then accepted by the people at large. I have a Jewish friend that believes heaven is guaranteed for Jews regardless as to how they live their lives. This is the error that has permeated their thinking all along. To understand this, we can look at the various positions in which they might stand –

  • Holy to the Lord as a people because of the covenant promises (positional), but unholy to the Lord because of disobedience to His commands (moral).
  • Holy to the Lord as a people because of the covenant promises, regardless as to whether they are obedient to the His commands or not (positional only).
  • Holy to the Lord as a people because of the covenant promises (positional), and holy to the Lord because of obedience to His commands (moral).
  • Unholy to the Lord because of disobedience to His commands (moral only).

The first is how Israel has been for most of their history. The Lord set them apart as holy, regardless as to whether they are right with Him or not. It is the state in which they now (as a people) exist. They are set apart to God (positional) despite their unfaithfulness (moral) –

“Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” Romans 11:28, 29

The second option is how Israel see themselves. They are holy to the Lord because of the covenant (positional), and so they don’t need to worry about the commands – all is good in the end. Amos shows the end of such people –

“I overthrew some of you,
As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah,
And you were like a firebrand plucked from the burning;
Yet you have not returned to Me,”
Says the Lord.
12 “Therefore thus will I do to you, O Israel;
Because I will do this to you,
Prepare to meet your God, O Israel!” Amos 4:11, 12

When the Lord says, “Prepare to meet your God,” He is not speaking about a Sunday picnic. To be fair, and just so no one thinks I’m picking on the Jews, this idea permeates various bodies, and in varying degrees, within Christianity as well.

Many Roman Catholics, for example, think they are going to heaven because they were baptized into the Roman Catholic Church. They should probably reconsider or… prepare to meet their God on rather unfriendly terms. There will be no fist bumping on that day.

The third option, holy in both a positional and moral sense, has almost never been Israel’s condition. There are times recorded in the Old Testament that it could be argued this was the case, but those are tenuous at best and few and far between.

This state will finally and forever be realized, however, when they call out to receive Christ Jesus during the tribulation period, and then as they serve Him during the millennial kingdom. This is seen in the words of Isaiah –

Indeed the Lord has proclaimed
To the end of the world:
“Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Surely your salvation is coming;
Behold, His reward is with Him,
And His work before Him.’”
12 And they shall call them The Holy People,
The Redeemed of the Lord;
And you shall be called Sought Out,
A City Not Forsaken. Isaiah 62:11, 12

Those who hold to the fourth option are as unscholarly as those who hold to the second, but unfortunately governments, religions, and even churches around the world are filled with such people.

They reject Israel of today as being set apart to God (position), they reject that there is any future role for them in the world or in God’s economy and dispensations, and they believe that either Israel must be eradicated, or that they (meaning replacement theology) have – instead – replaced Israel. Micah speaks of such –

“Now also many nations have gathered against you,
Who say, ‘Let her be defiled,
And let our eye look upon Zion.’
12 But they do not know the thoughts of the Lord,
Nor do they understand His counsel;
For He will gather them like sheaves to the threshing floor.” Micah 4:11, 12

As you can see, the status of Israel is complicated. And their position before the Lord is both conditional and it is unconditional, depending on what is being evaluated. For this verse in Deuteronomy, it is a conditional raising up of Israel based on their obedience to the commands of the Lord. He will do this…

9 (con’t) just as He has sworn to you,

The Lord will raise up Israel and uphold the surety of pouring out these promised blessings upon them. This is a certainty because the Lord has sworn. However, it is only…

9 (con’t) if you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk in His ways.

Again, the Hebrew reads “when” not “if.” And saying “when” is simply a shortened way of saying “according to.” In other words, these things will be a response to the keeping of His commandments, and of walking in His ways.

“How much prosperity and blessing can you handle? It will come forth according to how you first respond to Me. With each step forward, there will be blessing. With each step back, there will be a diminishing of it.” Again, to Amos 4 –

“I also withheld rain from you,
When there were still three months to the harvest.
I made it rain on one city,
I withheld rain from another city.
One part was rained upon,
And where it did not rain the part withered.
So two or three cities wandered to another city to drink water,
But they were not satisfied;
Yet you have not returned to Me,”
Says the Lord. Amos 4:7, 8

However, if the commandments are obeyed, and if the people walk in the ways of the Lord…

10 Then all peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the Lord,

The Hebrew is more personal, saying: ki shem Yehovah niqra alekha – “that the name of Yehovah is called upon you.” It is as if the name of Yehovah has alighted upon them. Or as if a husband has cast his name upon his bride.

In the pouring out of the blessings, and in the raising up of the people, it would be evident to all peoples that He is their Master, and they are His people. Of this having the name of the Lord called upon them, the Pulpit Commentary incorrectly (see option 4 mentioned above) states –

“Theirs was the adoption and the glory” (Romans 9:4) – but it was theirs only in symbol and in shadow (Hebrews 10:1); the reality belongs only to the spiritual Israel, and this came to men in all its fullness when he who is “the image of the invisible God” appeared and set up his tent among men, full of grace and truth (John 1:12, 14).” Pulpit Commentary

This is the logic of replacement theology, that Israel is out because of their moral failings, and regardless as to the covenant faithfulness of the Lord. In misciting Hebrews 10, they show the error of the thinking.

It says there that “the law” is a shadow of things to come. Even Israel, under the law, could be equated to that, but not Israel the people to whom the promises were made. That is actually seen when evaluating the next words…

10 (con’t) and they shall be afraid of you.

The promise is to Israel, and Jeremiah speaks of the fulfillment of it when referring not to the church, but to Israel –

“I will cleanse them from all their iniquity by which they have sinned against Me, and I will pardon all their iniquities by which they have sinned and by which they have transgressed against Me. Then it shall be to Me a name of joy, a praise, and an honor before all nations of the earth, who shall hear all the good that I do to them; they shall fear and tremble for all the goodness and all the prosperity that I provide for it.” Jeremiah 33:8, 9

Based on the surrounding context in Jeremiah, this promise could only be considered as pertaining to the church by either the poorest of scholars, or by someone who is completely blinded by replacement theology – but I repeat myself.

11 And the Lord will grant you plenty of goods,

It is singular – “And the Lord will make you abound for good.” That is then defined by…

11 (con’t) in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your ground,

The words are similar to verse 4 where the Hebrew repeats the words “fruit” three times, “in the fruit of your womb, in the fruit of your livestock, and in the fruit of your ground.” This abundance is the “good” that was just mentioned. And it will be…

11 (con’t) in the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers to give you.

The same word just used (your ground) is repeated in this clause. It reads, “upon the ground.” Rather than speaking of the land in which the people live, this is speaking of that which is blessed from the ground, and which results in the good. It is that ground which is produced in the land next described…

12 The Lord will open to you His good treasure, the heavens,

yiphtakh Yehovah lekha eth otsaro ha’tov eth ha’shemayim – “Will open Yehovah to you treasury the good – the heavens.” There is a new word, otsar which refers to a cellar, armory, treasure house, storehouse, etc. Here, the Lord equates the heavens, with their clouds which drop the rains from above, to a treasury.

There is great value when the skies open and the rains come forth. Not only is water needed for life to continue, but as it rains, wealth literally comes forth from the ground. Hence, the term “treasury” is appropriate. All man has to do is to pick or cut that which comes forth, and he can easily increase his own wealth. Having that on a national scale would be the prosperity of Israel. As it next says…

12 (con’t) to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand.

Here, the word “land” is correct. It is speaking not just of the ground, but the land in which Israel lives. There will be rain in its due season, and from it, Israel will prosper. The hand of Israel, its agricultural effort, will be fruitful and abundant. In such a state, there will be no lack. Rather, there will only be abundance leading to even greater wealth…

12 (con’t) You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow.

The word is lavah. It signifies “to join,” coming from a root meaning to twine. Hence, it is signifying the joining of Israel to the nations as lenders. Because of the rich abundance that issues from the ground, there will be so much surplus that they will be able to lend to others without worrying about borrowing.

The idea here is exaltation above those who must submit to them for their livelihood and necessities.

13 And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail;

The meaning is obvious. In their obedience, Israel will be the head of the nations, leading the way and ever ready to consume the best of what comes its way. The tail, on the other hand, is that which lags behind. Abundance, innovation, prosperity, and so on, is all lacking when one is the tail.

Rather than that, Israel is promised to be the chief in privileges, dignity, and might. Next is another, similar, metaphor…

13 (con’t) you shall be above only, and not be beneath,

It is emphatic: v’hayita raq la’malah v’lo tiyeh l’mattah – “and you shall be only [nothing but] to above and no shall you be to beneath.” The words convey the same idea as the previous clause. The emphasis is given to show that it is a certainly that it will be the case. Nothing can stop it from occurring…

13 (con’t) if you heed the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them.

Rather than “if” it again says “when.” Moses promises that when they act in accord with the commandments of the Lord, being careful to do them, then the Lord will certainly perform as he states.

What Moses says here, and the way the words are put forth does not necessarily confirm the doctrine of divine inspiration as other passages do, but they do present the idea of divine surety.

The Lord could have simply told Moses what He would do for the people, and Moses could just be giving the general sense of it to them, but he would be an utter fool to say, “The Lord will” unless he knew it was to be absolutely so.

Hence, Israel would have every reason to accept that it is so. Even at this point in their history, they had the manna provided to them every day, six days a week, and they also had the cloud by day and the fire by night with them the entire time they traveled.

The evidences of the Lord’s hand upon them, even to the recent plagues that came upon them for the matter of Peor where the people transgressed, demonstrated to them that the Lord was there, and also that Moses was authorized to speak on His behalf.

As such, there is the absolute sense of divine surety that what Moses conveys will come to pass. Therefore…

14 So you shall not turn aside from any of the words which I command you this day,

The words go to the plural for just one word out of the entire passage today, “which I command you (plural).” Either Moses has changed the address here to ensure that all of Israel understands that they must be obedient, even as one people, or the text is in error because several other manuscripts keep this in the singular.

Either way, however, the charge to Israel is to keep on the straight path. The one way is obedience and resulting blessing, while any other way will withhold the blessings from them. As such…

14 (con’t) to the right or the left,

The Hebrew is simpler – right or left. There wasn’t to be any deviation at all. All eyes forward, and keep the feet in step, one after the other. The law belongs to the Lord. It is the one path to a right relationship with Him. To turn off that path is…

*14 (fin) to go after other gods to serve them.

It reads, “to walk after other gods.” Obedience to the law is equated to a walk with the Lord. Thus, to deviate from the law is to then walk with another. One must actively choose who he will follow and whom he will serve.

To break the law, in any point, is to break the entire law. That is why the promised blessings end with this warning which is a violation of the First Commandment. Whether a god of wood or stone, or simply the god of self, to deviate from the law is immediately equated to going after other gods.

There are great, plentiful, and sure blessings that are promised for obedience to the Lord. But what is coming in the next verses of this chapter will be considered, in minute and mournful detail, as to what will come upon the people if they turn away from this right path.

This law, a seeming friend with its wonderous promises of blessing and abundance, is shown to also be an enemy in the sense that it works against the inner nature of man. There is a corruption in us that keeps us from being able to do those things that are expected of us in the law. As such, the law itself – even with such wonderful promises – inevitably brings a curse upon us.

Paul, in particular, discusses this. He was a teacher of the law. He was trained in what it said. And yet, he failed to see this until his eyes were opened to what it means to be truly obedient to God. When he came to the realization that the Messiah had to come and take the penalty of the law upon Himself, it changed him wholly and forever.

He no longer looked at the law as a way of showing how good he was before God. Rather, he found that the law demonstrates how utterly sinful our sin is to God. This is the lesson of the many years of Israel under the law, and this is the enormity of the grace of God that not only forgives our transgressions, but who does so through the work of His own perfect Son.

What are the blessings of the law? Without God’s provision in Christ, they are nothing. The inability of Israel to receive them for more than even a fleeting moment in all of their history demonstrates that without Christ Jesus, all blessing is temporary and short-lived, and we are only left with God’s curse.

But in the cross of Calvary, we see God’s curse, in its highest sense, in the dead body of Christ. All of the sin of mankind was placed upon Him to absolve us of our wrongdoing. And in His burial, all of that sin is placed in the grave – once and forever.

In His coming forth in triumph over the grave, He also came forth in triumph – for us – over sin. Thanks be to God for Jesus Christ our Lord who has removed the curse so that there is only blessing left. Yes. Thank God for Jesus Christ our Lord. Hallelujah and Amen.

Closing Verse: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.” Ephesians 1:3-6

Next Week: Deuteronomy 28:15-29 It’s like being on the good or bad side of nurses, yes… it is true! (The Blessings and the Curses, Part II) (78th Deuteronomy Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. But He also has expectations of you as He prepares you for entrance into His Land of Promise. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

The Blessings and the Curses, Part I

“Now it shall come to pass
If you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God
———-He of infinite worth
To observe carefully all His commandments which I
———-command you today
That the LORD your God will set you high above all nations
———-of the earth

And all these blessings
Shall come upon you and overtake you
Because you obey the voice of the LORD your God
And all of these commandments you do

“Blessed shall you be in the city, it is true
And blessed shall you be in the country too

“Blessed shall be the fruit of your body
The produce of your ground and the increase of your herds
The increase of your cattle
And the offspring of your flocks; none of your kids shall
———-turn out nerds

“Blessed shall be your basket
And your kneading bowl, no doubt
“Blessed shall you be when you come in
And blessed shall you be when you go out

“The LORD will cause your enemies
Who rise against you to be defeated before your face
They shall come out against you one way
And flee before you seven ways from that place

“The LORD will command the blessing on you
In your storehouses and in all to which you set your hand
And He will bless you in the land
Which the LORD your God is giving you, things will be grand

“The LORD will establish you as a holy people to Himself
Just as He has sworn to you
If you keep the commandments of the LORD your God
And walk in His ways as instructed to do

Then all peoples of the earth shall see
That you are called – yes, it is true
By the name of the LORD
And they shall be afraid of you

And the LORD will grant you plenty of goods
In the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock too
And in the produce of your ground
In the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers to give you

The LORD will open to you His good treasure
The heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season
———-lots of joy and no sorrow
And to bless all the work of your hand
You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow

And the LORD will make you the head and not the tail
You shall be above only, and not be beneath – no haw or hem
If you heed the commandments of the LORD your God
Which I command you today, and are careful to observe them

So you shall not turn aside from any of the words
Which I command you this day, from them you shall not swerve
To the right or the left
To go after other gods, them to serve

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God:

“Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country.

“Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks.

“Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.

“Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.

“The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.

“The Lord will command the blessing on you in your storehouses and in all to which you set your hand, and He will bless you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.

“The Lord will establish you as a holy people to Himself, just as He has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk in His ways. 10 Then all peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they shall be afraid of you. 11 And the Lord will grant you plenty of goods, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your ground, in the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers to give you. 12 The Lord will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. 13 And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them. 14 So you shall not turn aside from any of the words which I command you this day, to the right or the left, to go after other gods to serve them.

Deuteronomy 27:11-26 (All the Words of This Law)

Deuteronomy 27:11-26
All the Words of This Law

One of the things about the series Star Trek, at least the original series, is that it touched upon countless aspects of humanity that often merged with man’s seeking out a relationship with the Creator. This was often only subtly seen, and at times it was overt.

One episode, Bread and Circuses, dealt with the issue on a surprising level. The ship arrived at a planet that resembled ancient Rome. The persecuted Roman citizens had put their trust in the “sun.” At the end of the show, a surprising exchange took place –

SPOCK: I wish we could have examined that belief of his more closely. It seems illogical for a sun worshiper to develop a philosophy of total brotherhood. Sun worship is usually a primitive superstition religion.
UHURA: I’m afraid you have it all wrong, Mister Spock, all of you. I’ve been monitoring some of their old-style radio waves, the empire spokesman trying to ridicule their religion. But he couldn’t. Don’t you understand? It’s not the sun up in the sky. It’s the Son of God.
KIRK: Caesar and Christ. They had them both. And the word is spreading only now.

One of their full-length films followed a path toward the divine as well. Spock’s brother was intent on going to meet “God.” In order to do so, he hijacked the Enterprise and headed for his destination, being summoned by a call he could not seem to resist.

Text Verse: “Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: 27 the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you today; 28 and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known.” Deuteronomy 11:26-28

Towards the end of the movie, while the voyagers were on the planet they had been summoned to, an almost comical exchange took place. This supposed “god” asked about how they came to him. They told him it was by a starship. This “god” then asked if the starship could carry his wisdom beyond the great barrier. When he was told it could, he then said, “Then I will make use of this starship.”

At this point, an obvious question arose from Captain Kirk, “Excuse me. …I’d just like to ask a question. …What does God need with a starship?” It was a good question to ask.

In one of our verses today, the people are told “Cursed is the one who makes a carved or molded image, an abomination to the Lord, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and sets it up in secret.” A set of similar questions could be asked of us. If there is a God, why do we need a carved or molded image, why do we need to carve it with our own hands, and why do we need to set it up in secret.”

What is it about the search for God, whether in a movie to stimulate our thoughts, or in our own actions, that is often so incorrect?

There were over fourteen hundred years of the law, and not a single person lived through the ordeal. Not one. And then came Christ Jesus. He not only lived under it, He died in fulfillment of it, and He resurrected to prove it. And yet, to this day, people keep trying to do better than He did.

The morning I typed this sermon, someone who had already been counseled on the futility of this emailed back attempting to explain why the law still had merit to live by. I responded, but it is pretty certain to me that my reply will go nowhere.

What is it about grace that we just cannot get? It is that we simply cannot let go of our own pride. Pay attention today. After evaluating these words of law and condemnation, we’ll explain – once again – how to avoid both.

Great things, such as the infinitely marvelous grace of God are to be found in His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. Twelve Curses (verses 11-26)

11 And Moses commanded the people on the same day, saying,

The words of this verse follow after those of verse 1, which said, “Now Moses, with the elders of Israel, commanded the people, saying: ‘Keep all the commandments which I command you today.’”

First came the instructions for the building of the edifice on which was to be written all the words of the law. With those instructions complete, Moses now immediately (on the same day) turns to the rite that is to be conducted once that altar was completed. The instructions for that rite begin with…

12 “These shall stand on Mount Gerizim to bless the people,

Mount Gerizim is the mountain of blessing. The name Gerizim comes from the word garaz – to cut, cut up, or cut off. Being a plural word, the meaning is something like, “The Cutters Down.” It may refer to those who harvest, due to the fertility of the mountain.

This then would be in complete contrast to Mt. Ebal which, as was noted last week, is the bald mountain. As far as the Hebrew, it says the people shall stand al har Gerizim, or “upon mount Gerizim.”  However, Joshua 8 seems to contradict this, saying –

“Then all Israel, with their elders and officers and judges, stood on either side of the ark before the priests, the Levites, who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord, the stranger as well as he who was born among them. Half of them were in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel.” Joshua 8:33

There, the Hebrew reads el mul, or “to front,” rather than “upon.” One could infer that they are not on top of the mountain, but rather on the side of it, or are at the base of it. But one could also infer that Joshua is speaking of the opposite tribes facing one another.

Thus, they could all be “on” their assigned mountain while facing “to front” those on the other mountain. In whatever way they were actually situated in Joshua, Moses now substantially repeats the thought of verse 27:2 –

12 (con’t) when you have crossed over the Jordan:

In verse 27:2, he said “in the day you cross over.” Here, he says, b’averekem, or “in your crossing over.” In other words, it is to be as close to the time of crossing over as is reasonable. From the time they cross the Jordan, it should be a fixed goal to proceed with building this altar and conducting this rite. As such, those who are to stand and bless are…

12 (con’t) Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin;

The Hebrew is more specific, “Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Joseph, and Benjamin. Each of these descends from the two wives of Jacob, Leah and Rachel. These were both the free women, not the servants.

As such, it forms the same picture as Sarah and Hagar make which is used by Paul in Galatians 4. The free woman represents the blessings of Christ upon the people apart from the law because of His fulfillment of it.

The first four sons noted here are from Leah, in order of birth. The last two are from Rachel, in order of birth. Next…

13 and these shall stand on Mount Ebal to curse:

The Hebrew is more specific, using a noun, not a verb, when referring to the curse: v’eleh yaamdu al ha’qelalah b’har eval – “and these standing upon the curse in Mount Ebal.” The law is written on Mount Ebal.

Because of the specific wording, it is as apparent as the nose on one’s face that Mount Ebal, representing the law – because that is where the law is written upon the altar – signifies a curse. Paul states this explicitly in Galatians 3 –

“For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.’ 11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for ‘the just shall live by faith.’ 12 Yet the law is not of faith, but ‘the man who does them shall live by them.’
13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” Galatians 3:10-14

Those designated to stand upon the curse are…

13 (con’t) Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali.

Two of these are sons of Leah, Reuben and Zebulun. Reuben is designated here to stand on the curse because he lay with Bilhah, his father’s concubine, thus forfeiting his rights of the firstborn. Zebulun, simply being the youngest of Leah, was stuck being on Mount Ebal in order to even out the number of tribes.

Of the other four, Gad and Asher were born to Leah’s maidservant Zilpah while Dan and Naphtali were born to Rachel’s maidservant Bilhah. Even though the two from Bilhah were born first, they are noted not in that order. Rather, they are by order of mother. The sons of Leah, though younger, are listed in birth order, and then those of Rachel, though older, are then listed in birth order.

Finally, Zebulun is listed after the sons of Bilhah, but before the sons of Zilpah, even though he was born last in this list. Thus, he is put behind Leah, but before Rachel. There is a definite order that is carefully followed in the listing of the sons, placing Leah (who pictures the law) before Rachel (who pictures grace). The lesson is that only in the fulfilling of the curse of the law can grace then be bestowed.

Of these two facing mountains, Gerizim is to the south and Ebal is to the north. Or, in reference to the layout of directions in the Bible, Gerizim is to the right, and Ebal is to the left. Thus, it matches the scriptural pattern of the right hand of blessing and the left hand of cursing. For example –

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.” Matthew 25:31-33

In the state of the two mountains, one can see a contrast. The mount of blessing is the fertile mountain. The mountain of curse is the bald mountain. Thus, there is metaphor being conveyed. Obedience to the Lord will bring blessing to the land while disobedience will bring a curse.

14 “And the Levites shall speak with a loud voice and say to all the men of Israel:

Rather than “speak,” the word used, anah, signifies to respond, or answer. In other words, when the people are properly situated, that is the cue to respond with their voices. There is an order being followed with one step leading to the next.

The word translated as “loud” is rum. It means to be high or exalted. Thus, the voice is to be lifted so that it will carry between the two parties standing on each mountain. This is the only time that the phrase qol ram, or “voice lifted,” is seen.

As was noted in Joshua 8, the ark was in the middle of the two companies with the priests that bore it. If all the Levites called out together, it would be a tremendously loud call. Their number was recorded in the census of Numbers 26 –

“Now those who were numbered of them were twenty-three thousand, every male from a month old and above; for they were not numbered among the other children of Israel, because there was no inheritance given to them among the children of Israel.” Numbers 26:62

However, there are various interpretations as to who actually does the calling. Is it the Levites on Mount Gerizim? Is it the Levitical priests in the middle? Is it some of the Levites in the middle?

The account is not specific except to say, “the Levites.” Hence, there is no reason to assume that it is only the priests, but rather the entire congregation of Levites who are standing on Mount Gerizim. If so, it would be an immense lifting of the voice so that it could easily be heard a long distance away. Of the scene before us, Keil states –

“From the expression ‘all the men of Israel,’ it is perfectly evident that in this particular ceremony the people were not represented by their elders or heads, but were present in the persons of all their adult men who were over twenty years of age; and with this Joshua 8:33, when rightly interpreted, fully harmonizes.” Keil

First, neither account says anything of the age of the men. Secondly, the term qal ish Yisrael, or “all men of Israel,” doesn’t mean “‘only’ all the men.” Rather, Joshua 8 goes on to say –

“There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, with the women, the little ones, and the strangers who were living among them.” Joshua 8:35

In other words, every single person of Israel is referred to. The masculine “all men of Israel” speaks for the whole. Thus, when someone says the words, “when rightly interpreted,” it doesn’t necessarily mean what they are saying is, in fact, rightly interpreted. Use care when evaluating the words of those who evaluate the word.

Whatever actually occurred concerning “which Levites” were the ones to call out, it is the voices of the Levites that begin the antiphonal recitation of the twelve curses, saying…

15 ‘Cursed is the one who makes a carved or molded image,

Each of these curses has already been addressed. Moses is citing examples of various sorts of laws from these different sections in order to bind all of the sections together in the minds of the people. There isn’t some type of elevation of certain laws, such as the Ten Commandments, above other laws, such as those that define sexual morality in Leviticus.

Each violation of the law violates the law and results in that person becoming a curse. This will be especially highlighted in the final pronouncement. It is exactly what James states –

“For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.” James 2:10

This first call of cursing addresses an offense against the nature and character of God. In forming an image, it denies Him the glory He is due. The first word is pesel. It is a carved image, coming from pasal, meaning to hew into shape. It was first noted in Exodus 20 at the giving of the Ten Commandments –

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” Exodus 20:4

The next word is masekah. It comes from nasak, signifying “to pour out.” Thus, it is an image made from molten metal; a cast image. That was first seen at the infamous account of the golden calf in Exodus 32 –

“And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf.” Exodus 32:4

Of these, Moses says they are…

15 (con’t) an abomination to the Lord,

toavat Yehovah – “abomination Yehovah.” It is not so much an abomination to the Lord as it is something the Lord has declared as such. The state of the thing, its very existence, is abominable. To explain this, Moses next says…

15 (con’t) the work of the hands of the craftsman,

The purpose of a carved or molded image is to worship it. The irony of worshiping something made by the hands of man is evident. The utterly stupid thought that someone would do this demonstrates that there is 1) no heart for the Creator, and 2) no sense in the head of the man.

Despite this, though, the next words actually reveal the depth of the stupidity in his head…

15 (con’t) and sets it up in secret.’

v’sam ba’sater – “and sets in the secret.” For a person to set such an idol up in secret means that he is hiding himself and it. But if this is a god, then it should be able to deliver him. So why does he need to have it set up in secret?

It shows an implicit knowledge that God exists, but that the knowledge is suppressed. He cannot hide it from God, and yet he tries to hide it from God. It is exactly what Paul refers to in Romans 1. Suppressing the truth, becoming futile in one’s thoughts, and having foolish hearts that are darkened.

15 (con’t)  “And all the people shall answer and say, ‘Amen!’

In these words, there is a difference from the next 11 curses. Here it says, “And (they, plural) shall answer all the people and (they, plural) say, ‘Amen.’” After this, each such statement will be in the singular. It is not clear why this change is here, but it simply could be Moses’ way of unambiguously stating that everyone – without exception – is to be included in the antiphonal response.

Regardless, the calling out of “Amen” is an acknowledgment of the truth of the words and of the justice of the curse. It places what has been said as a statement of certainty, confirmed by the utterance – “So be it.”

16 ‘Cursed is the one who treats his father or his mother with contempt.’

Just as an offense against the character of God was the example in the previous verse, it now speaks of an offense against the character of the parent. The word is qalah. It signifies to lightly esteem, or dishonor. Thus, to do so is to treat a parent with contempt. It is similar to the words of Leviticus 20:9 –

“For everyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death. He has cursed his father or his mother. His blood shall be upon him.”

The word there is similar, but not the same as stated now by Moses. It is qalal, to despise. The effect of using two different words is to ensure that the people would not be flippant in how they treated such things, such as using exact words to claim innocence.

In other words, a general precept arises from Moses’ use of multiple words, thus bolstering the words of the Fifth Commandment, “Honor your father and your mother.” For those who fail to do so, the call out is that they are a curse. As such…

16 (con’t) “And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’

v’amar kal ha’am amen – “And shall say (singular) all the people, ‘Amen.’” It is in this singular manner that the rest of the antiphonal responses are directed to be made. Next…

17 ‘Cursed is the one who moves his neighbor’s landmark.’
“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’

From an offense against the parent, the words now speak of an offense against one’s neighbor. This was cited as a commandment in Chapter 19 –

“You shall not remove your neighbor’s landmark, which the men of old have set, in your inheritance which you will inherit in the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess.” Deuteronomy 19:14

The incorporation of this into the twelve curses is to demonstrate what a great offense doing such a thing is. It is deceitful, it is theft, and it is understood by all to be wrong. Even Job, who was outside of the covenant people, demonstrates that this is so –

Some remove landmarks;
They seize flocks violently and feed on them;
They drive away the donkey of the fatherless;
They take the widow’s ox as a pledge.” Job 24:2, 3

Job was referring to those people who do not know the ways of the Almighty. In other words, he notes that doing such a thing was an offense to the all-powerful Creator.

The precept is referred to twice by Solomon in the proverbs, and the act is considered so reprehensible to the Lord, that it is used as a comparative form of wickedness, meaning it is a seriously grave sin. It is one of the reasons He gave for His coming wrath upon the land of Judah –

“The princes of Judah are like those who remove a landmark;
I will pour out My wrath on them like water.” Hosea 5:10

From conduct towards one’s neighbor, Moses now turns to conduct towards the helpless, saying…

18 ‘Cursed is the one who makes the blind to wander off the road.’
“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’

The words here are similar in thought to those of Leviticus 19:14 –

“You shall not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block before the blind, but shall fear your God: I am the Lord.”

This is certainly referring to actual blindness, but both the Lord and Moses have spoken of blindness in a spiritual sense as well. The Lord first said this –

“And you shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the discerning and perverts the words of the righteous.” Exodus 23:8

Later, Moses restated the same precept –

“You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous.” Deuteronomy 16:19

As such, this must extend to deception of those who simply don’t see or know concerning a particular matter. To put a stumbling block before the blind, or to cause the blind to go astray in the way, should be taken in both a literal and in a spiritual sense.

Job understood the need to direct the blind and stated as much while defending his righteousness –

“I was eyes to the blind,
And I was feet to the lame.” Job 29:15

19 ‘Cursed is the one who perverts the justice due the stranger, the fatherless, and widow.’
“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’

arur mateh mishpat ger yatom v’almanah – “Cursed he who extends justice stranger, fatherless, and widow. The idea here is also included in the words we just cited for the previous verse –

“You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous.” Deuteronomy 16:19

The word translated as “pervert” is natah. It signifies to stretch out, extend, bend, and so on. This then must go both ways. The lack of any preposition before “stranger, fatherless, and widow” is telling. It doesn’t say, “‘due’ the stranger,” “‘from’ the stranger,” “‘for’ the stranger,” or any other such thing.

This is inclusive of any stretching of justice – for them or against them. In Exodus 23, we read of both –

You shall not show partiality to a poor man in his dispute. Exodus 23:3

“You shall not pervert the judgment of your poor in his dispute.” Exodus 23:6

The idea here in Deuteronomy covers both thoughts. What is right is right and justice is to be blind to the status of the individual. A poor man is never to be given a favorable, but unrighteous decision simply because he is poor. Nor is a poor man to be abused in justice because he is poor. Jeremiah 5 speaks of the latter –

“They have grown fat, they are sleek;
Yes, they surpass the deeds of the wicked;
They do not plead the cause,
The cause of the fatherless;
Yet they prosper,
And the right of the needy they do not defend.” Jeremiah 5:28

Anyone who perverts justice, extending it for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow beyond what is proper is cursed. With these laws so far stated, Moses now turns to four matters concerning sexual immorality, beginning with…

20 ‘Cursed is the one who lies with his father’s wife, because he has uncovered his father’s bed.’
“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’

This was stated in Leviticus 18 –

“You do not uncover the nakedness of your father and the nakedness of your mother, she [is] your mother; you do not uncover her nakedness. 8You do not uncover the nakedness of the wife of your father; it [is] the nakedness of your father.” Leviticus 18:7, 8 (LSV)

In Leviticus 18:7, the second clause explains the first. As the father and mother are one flesh due to their union, a son sleeping with his mother would then uncover both her nakedness and the father’s. This then is further defined by verse 18:8. The idea is that of the two being one.

A man is not to have sex with his father’s wife, even if she is not the person’s mother. This would then also uncover the father’s nakedness. Some claim this is what Ham did to Noah, but that has to be read into the account.

In fact, that actually seems more unlikely because it is something that Reuben, the eldest of Jacob, did when he slept with Bilhah, Jacob’s concubine. In that account, which also predates the law, the wording is specific. But the account of Ham and Noah makes no such inferences. What he did was probably mocking or homosexual in nature.

Absalom also slept with his father David’s concubines in 2 Samuel 16. Despite not being under the Law of Moses, this is also what occurred in 1 Corinthians 5. Paul fully condemned that as perverse. Moses next turns towards even more unnatural relations…

21 ‘Cursed is the one who lies with any kind of animal.’
“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’

This has already been stated in one way or another three times. It was first stated in Exodus 22:19 –

 “Whoever lies with an animal shall surely be put to death.”

The precept was then expanded on in Leviticus 18:23 and Leviticus 20:15, 16. Any who do this are cursed. Next, he says…

22 ‘Cursed is the one who lies with his sister, the daughter of his father or the daughter of his mother.’
“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’

This was stated in Leviticus 18:9 –

“The nakedness of your sister, the daughter of your father, or the daughter of your mother, whether born at home or elsewhere, their nakedness you shall not uncover.”

It is often asked why this was considered ok prior to the law, such as with Abraham, but not afterward. There are several reasons for this, such as the fact that if people didn’t intermarry, there would be no people. Adam and Eve had children. If they couldn’t intermarry, that would be the end of the human race.

Another reason is that the world worked differently. People lived extended periods, implying that they were not physically affected in the same way we are today. After the flood, things changed. The gene pool is now breaking down at a different rate, and it is no longer an acceptable practice. For Israel, it is law. Those who do this are cursed. Also…

23 ‘Cursed is the one who lies with his mother-in-law.’
“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’

The word translated as “mother-in-law” is khatan. It signifies to join in affinity. The Greek translation of this verse says, “daughter-in-law.” Either way, this was also stated in Leviticus –

“You shall not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter, nor shall you take her son’s daughter or her daughter’s daughter, to uncover her nakedness. They are near of kin to her. It is wickedness.” Leviticus 18:17

“If a man marries a woman and her mother, it is wickedness. They shall be burned with fire, both he and they, that there may be no wickedness among you.” Leviticus 20:14

Such unions were considered completely unacceptable and resulted in being cursed. From acts of sexual immorality, it next states…

24 ‘Cursed is the one who attacks his neighbor secretly.’
“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’

The word is nakah. It means to strike. It can mean to kill, but there are also other words or descriptors that can be used to explain that. And yet, it is the same word used to describe what Moses did in Exodus 2 when he killed an Egyptian. To some, the words, “in secret,” support the idea of murder. It is as if he has killed, and no one saw.

Because the act of murder isn’t clearly defined, this could simply be referring to someone who arbitrarily attacks another, even without killing him. Probably, the idea is simply attached to the word ba’sater, or “in the secret.” A person who attacks and strikes another, though he thinks he got away with it, is cursed.

25 ‘Cursed is the one who takes a bribe to slay an innocent person.’
“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’

The words of this verse are more specific. It uses the same word, nakah, or strike, but it then defines that: arur loqeakh shokhad l’hakoth nephesh dam naqi – “Cursed he who takes bribe to strike soul blood innocent.”

The paying of bribes has already been denounced in both Exodus and Deuteronomy. In the case of this, it is surely speaking of taking one for the purpose of killing the person. The blood is the soul (Deuteronomy 12:23). As such, the wording is implying that to take a payment in order to kill another will lead to that person being cursed. It is an offense noted as occurring in Jerusalem in Ezekiel 22:12, saying, “In you they take bribes to shed blood.”

With each of these statements now made, and all coming from various parts of the law as a summary, but not an exhaustive list, of what brings a curse, Moses finishes with bad news for those who think they are ok because they haven’t done any of the previous things mentioned…

*26 (fin) ‘Cursed is the one who does not confirm all the words of this law by observing them.’
“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’”

The word “all” is not in the Hebrew. However, it is implied nonetheless. It says: Cursed who not does confirm words the Torah, the this, to do them.” But Adam Clarke instructs us further, saying –

“The word כל col, All, is not found in any printed copy of the Hebrew text; but the Samaritan preserves it, and so do six MSS. in the collections of Kennicott and De Rossi, besides several copies of the Chaldee Targum. The Septuagint also, and St. Paul in his quotation of this place, Galatians 3:10. St. Jerome says that the Jews suppressed the word, that it might not appear that they were bound to fulfill All the precepts in the law of Moses.”

Due to the number of witnesses that say “all,” it appears that someone may have taken out the word at some point, understanding the magnitude of what is being conveyed. Paul is certainly citing the Septuagint, and the words are clear –

“Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” Galatians 3:10

Moses is clearly stating the basis for the precept that James later made, and which we cited earlier – if you stumble in one point of the law, you are guilty of all.

And this isn’t just an attempt to perform all of what is stated in the law and then give up, having attained perfection. One must perfectly do all the law requires, and then continue to do so. Anything less brings a curse. And the fact is that none of us can do what the law demands. Of this thought, Charles Ellicott says –

“For no man can do all of them. And therefore it is impossible to secure the blessing of Gerizim except through Him who bare the curse of Ebal.”

In other words, what we have failed at, Christ accomplished. And in His accomplishment of those things, He took the curse of the law, inscribed openly on Mt. Ebal, upon Himself. The meaning of the number twelve is “governmental perfection,” or “perfection of government.”

The Law of Moses was given as the governmental code by which Israel was to live. In order to find life, one would have to perfectly perform these mandates. When Christ came, He gave hints as to something new that was coming. In Matthew 5, he also went up on a mountain, but instead of calling out curses, he called out blessings, eight of them –

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3-10

Eight is the superabundant number. As a stand-alone number, it signifies “Resurrection and Regeneration, and the beginning of a new era or order” (Bullinger). He was conveying to us that something new was coming, and that it would be found in Him. Upon conveying His eight blessings, He then added a ninth –

“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:11, 12

Jesus was giving them a hint of what was coming. It would be He that would fulfill the Law. He would die in fulfillment of it, and then He would return to life because the Man who does the things of the law shall live by them. In the people’s turning to Him, even if reviled and persecuted, they would find reward in heaven.

In this ninth blessing, Bullinger defines its meaning, saying. it, “is thus significant of the end of man, and the summation of all man’s works. Nine is, therefore, THE NUMBER OF FINALITY OR JUDGMENT.”

That is perfectly in accord with Jesus’ ninth blessing. What is the word that is pleasing to God? What is that allows man to stand before Him with everything to offer while having nothing of His own to offer? What is it that is acceptable at the judgment of man? Jesus Himself tells us in John 6:29 –

“This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”

Moses says, “Cursed is the one who does not confirm all the words of this law by observing them.” Jesus says, “I have confirmed all of the words of the law by observing them. Now, trust Me. That is your work. Simply believe that I have done what you cannot do.” As an addendum, to our thoughts, the John Lange Commentary says –

“‘Not the hearers of the law are justified, but the doers (Rom. 2:13).’ Vain are the hopes of men founded upon their obedience to the law. The Amen is a condemnation upon ourselves, and shuts us up to Christ, who alone has set up, established the words of this law to do them, and in whom therefore there is blessing instead of the curse.—A.G.]”

This is true. When we Amen the law, we simply condemn ourselves. When we rely on and Amen the work of Jesus Christ, nothing can ever separate us again from the love of God which is found in Him. Be sure to trust Him and put your hopes in Him. Trusting in your own righteousness will only lead you to a sad and bitter end.

Thank God for Jesus Christ who became sin so that we could become the righteousness of God in Him. Yes. Thank God for our Lord JESUS.

They came from everywhere
to hear You speak,
to see the signs,
to sit at your feet.

They came with brokenness,
with hope to their soul,
with different walks of life
they came to the cross.

But just how many,
chose to believe?
How many followed,
and bowed at your feet?

How many understood
the meaning of the cross?
How many knew
that You are their only hope?

How many still today
come to see You Lord,
who want all your blessings
but not the cross?

How many still come
to hear you speak,
to see the signs,
to sit at your feet?

But in their hearts
they choose not to believe
that YOU ARE THE LIFE
and The GOD WHO LIVES!

Yet, there [are] still some
who accept your Grace,
the life through the cross
as the only way.

And still the wise
seek after Your Love,
the Love which for their sake
was nailed to the cross.
Izabela Bednara

Closing Verse: “Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” John 5:45-47

Next Week: Deuteronomy 28:1-14 We’ll start the chapter with 14 verses. In this, we will have begun… (The Blessings and the Curses, Part I) (77th Deuteronomy Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. But He also has expectations of you as He prepares you for entrance into His Land of Promise. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

All the Words of This Law

And Moses commanded the people on the same day, saying
“These shall stand on Mount Gerizim to bless the people
———-(as directed by him)
When you have crossed over the Jordan:
Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin

And these shall stand on Mount Ebal to curse: so shall it be
Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali

“And the Levites shall speak with a loud voice and say
———-to all the men of Israel
‘Cursed is the one who makes a carved or molded image
———-yes, you bet
An abomination to the LORD
The work of the hands of the craftsman, and sets it up in secret

And all the people shall answer and say, “Amen!”

‘Cursed is the one who treats his father or his mother with contempt
None who do this will be exempt

And all the people shall say, “Amen!”

‘Cursed is the one who moves his neighbor’s landmark
Such a person’s soul is cold and dark

And all the people shall say, “Amen!”

‘Cursed is the one who makes the blind to wander off the road
The door to hell he will be showed

And all the people shall say, “Amen!”

‘Cursed is the one who perverts the justice due the stranger
———-the fatherless, and widow
That rotten scoundrel has got to go

“And all the people shall say, “Amen!”

‘Cursed is the one who lies with his father’s wife, because
———-he has uncovered his father’s bed
The guy who does this is as good as dead

And all the people shall say, “Amen!”

‘Cursed is the one who with any kind of animal lies
He is cursed until, and after, he dies

And all the people shall say, “Amen!”

‘Cursed is the one who lies with his sister, the daughter of his
———- father or the daughter of his mother
He has taken the bad course, I guarantee that, brother

“And all the people shall say, “Amen!”

‘Cursed is the one who lies with his mother-in-law
In pain and anguish his tongue he will gnaw

“And all the people shall say, “Amen!”

‘Cursed is the one who attacks his neighbor secretly
Open and exposed his sins will be

“And all the people shall say, “Amen!”

‘Cursed is the one who takes a bribe to an innocent person slay
He will meet the devil in hell some fearful day

“And all the people shall say, “Amen!”

‘Cursed is the one who does not confirm all the words of this law
———- by observing them
His life will end in turmoil and mayhem

And all the people shall say, “Amen!”

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11 And Moses commanded the people on the same day, saying, 12 “These shall stand on Mount Gerizim to bless the people, when you have crossed over the Jordan: Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin; 13 and these shall stand on Mount Ebal to curse: Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali.

14 “And the Levites shall speak with a loud voice and say to all the men of Israel: 15 ‘Cursed is the one who makes a carved or molded image, an abomination to the Lord, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and sets it up in secret.’

“And all the people shall answer and say, ‘Amen!’

16 ‘Cursed is the one who treats his father or his mother with contempt.’

“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’

17 ‘Cursed is the one who moves his neighbor’s landmark.’

“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’

18 ‘Cursed is the one who makes the blind to wander off the road.’

“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’

19 ‘Cursed is the one who perverts the justice due the stranger, the fatherless, and widow.’

“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’

20 ‘Cursed is the one who lies with his father’s wife, because he has uncovered his father’s bed.’

“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’

21 ‘Cursed is the one who lies with any kind of animal.’

“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’

22 ‘Cursed is the one who lies with his sister, the daughter of his father or the daughter of his mother.’

“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’

23 ‘Cursed is the one who lies with his mother-in-law.’

“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’

24 ‘Cursed is the one who attacks his neighbor secretly.’

“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’

25 ‘Cursed is the one who takes a bribe to slay an innocent person.’

“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’

26 ‘Cursed is the one who does not confirm all the words of this law by observing them.’

“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’”