The Scriptorium

The Curse of Disobedience

Who would want this? And why? Deuteronomy 28.30-46

This Way to Blessing: Deuteronomy 28 (5)

Opening Prayer: Psalm 83.1-3
Do not keep silent, O God!
Do not hold Your peace,
And do not be still, O God!
For behold, Your enemies make a tumult;
And those who hate You have lifted up their head.
They have taken crafty counsel against Your people,
And consulted together against Your sheltered ones.

Psalm 83.1-3
(St. Chrysostom: We Have not Known Thee as We Ought)
O God, do not be quiet now; do not be silent, nor be still!
See how Your foes erupt in a row and those who hate You chafe at Your will.
Shrewdly they plan, conspiring as one, against Your daughters and Your sons.

Today’s Text: Read Deuteronomy 28.30-46

Preparation
1. Why will all these curses come upon and overtake the people of Israel?

2. What will be the nature of their relationship with surrounding nations?

Meditation
Here is the ultimate in curses: God stands in the path of every endeavor and undertaking, and swats it away from His people.

We saw in verses 1-14 that the blessings of God are promised for every aspect and facet of life, if the people of God will listen to, heed, observe, and obey the commandments of God. The exact opposite of blessing is threatened for all those same areas if they will not (v. 45). The people of Israel will be disappointed in their every undertaking, because God, Who gives every good and perfect gift (Jms. 1.17) can just as easily take them away.

And He will do just that and more. Besides blocking their way to happiness and prosperity, God will give them over to other nations, who will despoil them of their blessings and take them into captivity (vv. 32-36). They will be mocked by their enemies (v. 37) and frustrated in their every endeavor.

They should have known that God is capable of this. They had seen what He did in Egypt and to the Amorite kings east of the Jordan. But this people did not have a heart for God, as we have seen. And though God would bless them with initial success, their prosperity would be fleeting, and the threats and curses of God would become real enough for Israel before long.

We should learn that God means what He says, and He is able to fulfill all His Word – whether promises of blessing or threats of curse.

Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
The horror. The intense sadness. The madness. “So you shall be driven mad because of the sight which your eyes see…. You shall beget sons and daughters, but they shall not be yours; for they shall go into captivity” (Deut. 28.34, 41). The devastation, of just those two, should have been enough to cause obedience to be rampant in their lives. And yet, it did not. What do we think when we read these verses? Do we think that God will not hold us accountable? That His curses were for another day? Indeed, we are happy to accept His blessings. We want them to be just as true now as they were then. Just not the curses. But here is the reality: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption…” But here is our blessing. Our opportunity to escape the curses: “…but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life” (Gal. 6.7, 8). The cost of disobedience is deadly and ruinous. The cost of blessing is obedience. “But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6.22, 23).

Reflection

1. Why do you think people set themselves up for the Lord’s disfavor by failing to obey His Word?

2. What can believers do to help one another seek the blessings and avoid the curses of God?

3. An old hymn counsels us to “Count your blessings…” Why is this a good idea?

Many judgments are here stated, which would be the fruits of the curse, and with which God would punish the people of the Jews, for their apostasy and disobedience. We may observe the fulfilling of these threatenings in their present state. To complete their misery, it is threatened that by these troubles they should be bereaved of all comfort and hope, and left to utter despair. Those who walk by sight, and not by faith, are in danger of losing reason itself, when every thing about them looks frightful.
Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Deuteronomy 28.30-44

Lord, keep Your promises always before me, so that I…

Closing Prayer: Psalm 83.4-18
Spiritual enemies are looking for any way to undermine your faith and distract you from the Lord’s path. Call on His help to keep and guard you this day.

Psalm 83.4-18
(St. Chrysostom: We Have not Known Thee As We Ought)
“Come, let us wipe them out,” they say. “Let Israel’s name no more be heard!”
Bold they conspire to do us away, and covenant against You, O Lord.
Peoples and nations cast in their lot for this ambitious, wicked plot.

Deal with them, Lord, and bring them down, as You against old foes prevailed,
When You Midian cast to the ground and all her kings and princes assailed –
all who Your pastures sought to possess You brought to ruin and deep distress.

Make them like whirling dust, O God!  Scatter them like the windblown chaff!
Rage like a fire consuming a wood, like flames that burn a mountain pass!
Blow like a tempest, bring them to harm, and terrify them with Your storm! 

Fill with dishonor every face that they may seek Your Name, O Lord.
Bring them to shame, dismay, and disgrace, and let them perish under Your Word,
that they may learn Your infinite worth, O God Most High of all the earth!

T. M. and Susie Moore

Listen to our summary of last week’s study in Deuteronomy by clicking here. You can download all the studies in the series by clicking here.And check out our current ReVision series on encouragement.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers from
Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy: Ancient Christian Commentary Series III, Joseph T. Lienhard, S. J. ed. in collaboration with Ronnie J. Rombs, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2001). All quotations from John Calvin from John Calvin, Commentaries on The Four Last Books of Moses Arranged in the Order of A Harmony, Rev. Charles William Bingham M. A., tr. and ed. (Edinburgh: The Calvin Translation Society, 1863. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore