Sermon – June 25, 2017
We often think of “curses” as simply four-letter words, used to express opinions in a rather rudimentary, and rude, manner. Spiritual, or even supernatural, curses are something for fictional works of mysticism, conjured up by a previous generations belief in the supernatural powers of the world. But the bible speaks candidly of curses, not from nefarious witch-doctors or ill-willed eastern mystics, but from God himself. Today, we look at the blessings and the curses of the covenant given by God to Israel, and think through the implications for our lives and faith in Christ.
1. Another’s disobedience brings the curse
These (nearly) final chapters of Deuteronomy not only bring a fitting conclusion to the book, but to the Pentateuch as a whole. Therefore, as we consider both blessing and curse, it is imperative that we look back to the curse of Genesis 3 to rightly understand the blessings and curses of Deuteronomy 27-29.
2. Obedience undoes the curse
If the people are obedient to the law (“if you faithfully obey the voice of the LORD your God… Deut 28:1), God will rain upon them unprecedented blessings. He will make the goodness of Eden become again a flourishing reality for the people of Israel, all they have and touch will be blessed. What’s more, God will demonstrate their special place in the world by putting them above all nations.
3. Disobedience reaffirms the curse
However, failure to believe and follow the law will result in the original curse finding its way back to the people. Indeed, as the curses show, Israel will get precisely what they want, they will serve the gods of the nations and become just like those nations.
4. Another’s obedience breaks the curse
The problem of the law is that it requires one to “love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deut 6:5), something that the people could not do, as Moses says in 29:4. The law can only make the requirements known, without providing the necessary love to fulfill its own requirements. Thank God for our Lord Jesus Christ, who not only has taken the penalty of our sin, but has provided for us a new heart to love God, and thus keep his commands.
While we never need to fear the curses of men, we are right to fear the curse of the law of God. We, of our own power, can never be right with God, as our father Adam has wrecked our nature and distorted our hearts. How powerful and loving is our God, then, who has graciously provided his Son for our redemption. Let us praise him!