Begin this section by pondering Deuteronomy 27:26; 28:47, 58, 63
O, LORD, work in our hearts that we would serve You with joy and a glad heart! That we would enjoy Your good gifts! That we would fear Your honored and awesome Name!
We are starting the third of Moses’ speeches to Israel, found in 27:1-31:30, predictive of the blessings and curses. In 27-28 we see the antiphonal ritual, and find fresh exhortations to accept the covenant terms and choose life. Today we look at 27-29:1; next week 29-30. A good meditation after these chapters is Ezekiel 20: notice the verses that echo today’s passage, trace God’s redemptive plan continuing…pointing ever forward to Christ.
Today we hear again the exhortation to hear, and to do; to trust that the LORD is always at work. Remember Pastor Tre’s sermon, there is no Scripture to teach “God helps those who help themselves.” It is a distortion of the true gospel. One can easily see that it could be a distortion of these very chapters. Some may read this part of Deuteronomy and mistakenly think it means “Go out, do good, be good…and God will bless you.” But is that what these chapters REALLY teach? No. We come back again to the main idea–that the God of Love has placed His hesed upon His people, redeemed them for a purpose, and is working out that purpose, drawing them into His love. This community is to look like Him, because they trust Him, cling to Him, heed His word, keep His words, remember His words and works.
Turn first to Matthew 19…what must I do to be saved? If I am truly a doer of the word, and not a hearer only, then I will believe that I need God working in, for, and around me.
Chapter 27 is significant for understanding the nature of the covenant relationship. This covenant renewal greatly anticipates the future. Our heavenly future. Israelites viewed life less as a timeline and more as a web. We might see one thing leading to another, they viewed it as all already connected. Note, Moses and the elders are giving the charge.
This ceremony for covenant renewal included: stones for writing on, an altar for sacrifices. Notice how specific God is–They did not have a right to decide when or where to offer sacrifices. The only acceptable ones are at God’s bidding.
The stones, preparation, and writing, are customarily Egyptian. Uncut stones… Exodus 20:25, To date, the Israelites did not work with iron. In Saul’s day, they had to rely on Philistines for iron work. This may simply be a prohibition so that the Israelites would not hire stone cutters from the nations they were to dispossess and destroy. “The words of this law”…most likely the Ten Commandments. Mt Gerizim and Mt Ebal, west of the Jordan, 40 miles north of Jerusalem. An important East to West trade route passed between the two mountains. Abraham had built an altar there, this was a special place associated with the Lord’s promises. Just imagine for a moment the amount of people shouting these passages back and forth. The echo. The passers-by wondering what the meaning was.
27:9-10 HEAR! This day, during this renewal. Be conscious of the value of this renewal.
Verses 11-26…the last part, more curses, the Levites response to the other tribes shouting. 28:1-14 Blessings, 15-68 the Curses.
Notice 27:20-24 are “secret sins”…but we are all always visible to YHWH. A reminder. We may not face earthly consequences, we may not be found out by our fellow man. Yet–the curse is real. God knows, and nothing lays hidden from His sight.
It all comes from the LORD. Fear Him, and the curses that come from operating outside of the covenant. 28:9 The LORD Himself will establish you as holy. CF 1 Peter 5:10-11
He does this, beloved! He is at work both to will and to do! (see Philippians 3)
28:1-14…God has set His hesed upon you, do not turn away. In His hesed, you will flourish, and it will impact heart, soul, body.
28:13 and 28:44 head/tail. Blessings, and their opposites. Lending signifies our freedom, living abundantly. But to borrow–the borrow becomes a slave to the lender (Proverbs), and should remind us that we are living, as Pastor Tre taught on Sunday, as orphans rather than as sons.
28:14…do not go aside to follow other gods. Let us refer back to Matthew 19. Other gods? Anything that gives my life meaning, purpose, pleasure…that I love more than God. Is money evil? No. But that rich young man loved it more than Jesus.
28:20…why? On account of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken Me. All of our sin is unfaithfulness to God.
So, 47, 58. Fearing Him, this leads to wisdom, to clinging to His words, to experiencing life and peace, and to incarnating His words…living them. Being a doer, not just a hearer. How is a doer different than an “earner” or one who lives out “God helps me cause I help myself”…???
Vs 58: If you will not be careful to keep all the words of this law, written in this book, by revering this glorious and fearful name, the Lord your God… then you invite curses. Curses are the reversal of the expression of God’s steadfast-covenant-loyalty-love. You step out of the blessed way, to the left or right, and no longer enjoy the flourishing that accompanies God’s way.
What is the guarenteed outcome of turning to the left or right, turning to other Gods, forgetting His words, not observing His words, going your own way and not fearing God alone? Verses 64-68…or as Ezekiel 16 puts it, “how languishing is your heart.”