Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Deuteronomy 28:1–14

Deuteronomy 28:1–14: Blessings for Obedience


In this passage, Moses recounts to the Israelites all of the blessings that they will receive from the LORD, if they just follow His commands. As he says:
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 upon you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God:
And those blessings are as follows:
  • God won’t just bless the city dwellers or the country folk, He’ll bless all of the Israelites
  • They will be blessed with children, crops, and livestock
  • Verse 5 says, “Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed,” but I’m not quite sure what this means. Possibly another way of saying that their crops will be blessed?
  • Verse 6 is a nice general one: “You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.”
  • The Israelites will defeat their enemies. I like verse 7b: “They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven.”
  • Another general blessing is promised in verse 8: God will bless everything the Israelites put their hands to.
After these blessings, Moses sums up thusly:

The LORD will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the LORD your God and walk in his ways. Then all the peoples on earth will see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they will fear you. The LORD will grant you abundant prosperity—in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your ground—in the land he swore to your forefathers to give you.

The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. The LORD will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the LORD your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them.

(verses 9–14)


Some of these are very general blessings, of course, but the point is clear: If the Israelites obey the LORD, He will bless them. He will “make it worth their while,” if you want to put it that way—except that I don’t see these blessings as some kind of a “bribe.” It’s just the way God will reward His children, if only they’ll obey Him.

It’s frustrating to read passages like this, and then read the next passage which talks about the curses the Israelites will receive if they don’t follow the LORD; I find myself thinking, “Why didn’t they just do what He said?!? They could have saved themselves so much trouble! The nation of Israel, as implemented by God, could still be there to this day!” (I know that there is currently a nation of Israel, but I mean that the Israelites never would have had to lose their country, or be taken into captivity, etc.) But of course we have to read the Old Testament with our New Testament perspective. The Israelites were sinful people, just as we are in this century. One could just as easily look at my life, and say, “Why didn’t David just do what he was supposed to do, and he could have saved himself so much trouble!”

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