The Scriptorium

Blessed or Cursed

It's your choice. Choose wisely. Deuteronomy 28

This Way to Blessing: Deuteronomy 28 (7)

Opening Prayer: Psalm 132.13-18
For the LORD has chosen Zion;
He has desired it for His dwelling place:
“This is My resting place forever;
Here I will dwell, for I have desired it.
I will abundantly bless her provision;
I will satisfy her poor with bread.
I will also clothe her priests with salvation,
And her saints shall shout aloud for joy.
There I will make the horn of David grow;
I will prepare a lamp for My Anointed.
His enemies I will clothe with shame,
But upon Himself His crown shall flourish.”

Psalm 132.13-18
(Finlandia: Be Still, My Soul)
God dwells among us, and He will forever, to meet our needs and clothe us with His grace.
He has to us sent Jesus Christ, our Savior, and made us His eternal resting-place.
His foes are banished from His Presence ever, but we shall reign with Him before His face.

Review Deuteronomy 28; meditate on Deuteronomy 28.1, 2

Preparation
1. How much of Israel’s life did God promise to bless?

2. What were the conditions for Israel knowing those blessings?

Meditation

Two things in particular stand out to me every time I read this chapter. First, I am reminded that nothing good can come to any aspect of my life apart from the blessing of God. Verses 1-14 encompass nearly every facet of life – city, country, home, work, possessions, table, offspring, and much more. God is sovereign over all these areas, and in all these areas of life, even down to the minutiae of eating and drinking, He calls us to glorify Him (1 Cor. 10.31). As we do, He enriches our lives with blessing, beginning – and most important of all – with the blessing of His Presence with us in all things.

We need to come to God in prayer for mercy and grace in all our times of need. And since all the time of our lives, and everything with which we fill that time, needs the grace of God, we may confidently expect that by seeking, loving, trusting, and obeying Him in all the time of our lives, we will know the blessings and Presence of God in everything we do.

The second matter that always jumps out at me from this chapter is that there are four times as many verses warning of God’s curses than there are verses sketching out His blessings. What does that say about Him? More important, what does that say about us?

We can be very slow to hear and obey God, because the law of sin still at work within us (Rom. 7.21ff) leads us to believe that we know better than God, or that God doesn’t really mean what He says, or that somehow we can get away with it just this once, and God won’t be upset. Such is the logic of a fool (Ps. 14.1; Eph. 5.15-17).

But God is resolute about bringing discipline against us when we stray from His path. And when He does, it’s not pleasant (Heb. 12.3-11).

Here’s a breathing prayer you can use throughout the day: (Breathe in) “O Lord Jesus Christ, fill me with grace and blessing; (breathe out) and deliver me from disobedience and the curse.” Let that prayer pervade the rhythms and activities of your life, so that you always remember that God is sovereign in everything, and that you need His grace at all times, lest you stray from the path of love He has marked out for you.

Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Moses said, “Now it shall come to pass…” (Deut. 28.28). Basically, this is what’s going to happen: if you obey God and observe all His commandments, you will be blessed. Sounds good, but maybe a little strenuous. People then and people now decline this amazing offer because they prefer to serve a god made in their own image, one more convenient, one who turns a blind eye to their sins and doesn’t require anything of them; but one who should definitely meet all their needs and make them happy. How truly sad and hopeless to serve a god so humanly fallible, weak, and lacking in moral solidity. As J. B. Philips wrote, this god “is too small.” God Himself has said as much: “You thought that I was altogether like you…” (Ps. 50.21). “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD” (Is. 55.8). This is not the god of your imagination, but the Creator of everything Who demands obedience, fear, and respect. We must rethink and start again. “Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey” this God, “Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Is. 9.6), that “all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you (v. 2). “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Ps. 46.10) Obey this God and be blessed!

Reflection
1. How would you counsel new believers to keep the blessings of God before them at all times?

2. Why is it important that we live toward the blessings by daily obedience? What’s the alternative?

3. How can believers help one another keep focused on the blessings and avoid the curses of the Lord?

here it must be observed that they are reminded, not only in how many ways God is bountiful towards His servants, but also to how many necessities they are exposed, which require His direct and constant aid; for if we are blessed in the city and in the field, we can no more move a foot than stand still, except by His blessing. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Deuteronomy 28.1, 2

Uphold me in all my ways with the blessings of Your love, O Lord, and I will continue to…

Closing Prayer: Psalm 132.1-12
Recommit yourself to the Lord, to worship, serve, obey, love, and fear Him. Call on Him to strew your path this day with blessings abundant, so that you praise and thank Him throughout the day.

Psalm 132.1-12
(Finlandia: Be Still, My Soul)
Remember, Lord, we pray, in David’s favor, the hardships he endured, the oath he swore,
the vow he made to Jacob’s mighty Savior: “I shall not enter through my palace door;
I shall not sleep, nor slumber my eyes favor, until I make a dwelling for the Lord!”

The word throughout the chosen nation spread, to Ephrata, and in the fields of Jaar:
“Now let us go,” the faithful people said, “and worship where our Savior’s dwellings are!
Around His footstool let our worship spread; come, gather to Him, all from near and far!”

Arise, O Lord, come to Your resting place; Your holy Presence meet with us in might.
Clothe us with righteousness in Jesus’ grace, and we will shout to Your divine delight!
For David’s sake, turn not away Your face, but look upon us in Your holy light.

Remember, Lord, the oath You swore to David; do not turn back, do not deny Your Word:
“One of your sons, with your throne I will favor, and He shall keep My cov’nant evermore, and walk within My testimonies ever, thus He shall ever rule as Israel’s Lord.”

T. M. and Susie Moore

Listen to our summary of last week’s study in Deuteronomy by going to today’s column at the website. You can download all the studies in the series by clicking here.

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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