“If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God.” Deuteronomy 28:1-2
Although some of the early books of the Old Testament can be a real challenge to read through (Leviticus, anyone?), Deuteronomy 28 has always held my attention. And for good reason: it presents God’s offer of blessings and curses to the children of Israel, and, by extension, to us, the children of promise in Christ.
It’s easy to get caught up in the heady aroma of the blessings laid out in verses 3 to 14, but then our attention tends to wane as we wade through nearly 50 verses of calamitous curses. Who needs to hear these prophetic tales of woe when the promise of the good life is spread out before us like a veritable feast of Belshazzar?
But let’s go back to verses 1 and 2 for a minute. They set the stage for the entire chapter, laying out obedience and blessing as two sides of the same coin:
If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God.
Some versions use the words “diligently obey” and “observe carefully.” And that four-letter word “obey” crops up twice in those two verses.
I see a progression here:
• To be blessed, we must obey.
• To obey, we must hear.
• To hear, we must be attentive.
• To be attentive, we must eliminate distractions, lofty thoughts, and the daily dust that gathers and clouds our vision and passion for God.
There doesn’t seem to be any room for partial obedience, which we know is no obedience at all.
But wait, you say! God knows my heart! To which I respond by pointing you to Jeremiah 17:9:”The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”We deceive ourselves if we think that we can give God less than full obedience and expect to reap the benefits of His unconditional love. No obedience, no blessing. To the misguided thought that we can collect blessings and not obey, God gently and consistently says: “no.”
Consider what it means to be blessed by the God of the Universe. To be in covenant with the God of wonders and majesty. He is faithful in all His dealings with us. He stays true to His part of the covenant sealed by Jesus’s blood. He simply asks for faithfulness from us. In a word, obedience.
And look at what the power of the blessing confers on us!
* The covering of the Most High God;
* Freedom from evil and curses;
* Perpetual increase and favor; and
* Long life: shalom and pleroma.
Friends, as we approach the end of this Lenten season, may we be reminded of the sum of all of God’s gentle entreaties to us as He seeks to bless us each day:
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