August 22, 2016
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
Israel was about to enter the Promised Land of Canaan after their departure from slavery in Egypt, which was followed by 40 years of wandering in the Sinai Peninsula due to disobedience. Deuteronomy consists of three sermons Moses gave to the Israelites in the plains of Moab, across the Jordan River from Jericho to the west. Their leader for the last 40 years, Moses was preparing the Israelites to enter and claim the land God had promised to their forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, hundreds of years before (Deuteronomy 1:8). This last of the five books of Moses (the Pentateuch) mentions Blessings And Cursings in several places, but sets them forth in two main passages, Deuteronomy 11:8 through 32 (from which we draw our featured Scripture); and Deuteronomy 28:1 through 68 (a more extended version, especially of the Cursings.)
Here is Deuteronomy 11:26 through 28 (Brenton’s English Septuigent):
Therefore thou shalt love the Lord thy God, and shalt observe His appoint-
ments, and His ordinances, and His commandments, and His judgments,
always…that your days may be long, and the days of your children, upon
the land which the Lord sware to your fathers to give to them, as the days
of heaven upon the earth.
Just before our Scripture, in verses 1 and 21 (King James Version), God summarizes in this way the Blessings He will give:
Therefore thou shalt love the LORD thy God, and keep His charge, and
His statutes, and His judgments, and His commandments, alway[s]….that
your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land
which the LORD sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of
heaven upon the earth.
I don’t know about you, but I want to experience “…the days of heaven upon the earth…”! I especially desire those kind of days when I read this about the characteristics of heaven in Revelation 21:4: “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there will be no more death, nor sorrow nor crying, and there shall be no more pain….” With all that is happening in the world – terrorist strikes, political upheaval, economic troubles, family and health concerns – who would not want the days of heaven in this life here and now?
However, there is a caveat: We have a part! It is called obedience! And it is obedience to God’s revealed will and way! And where do we find God’s revealed will and way? In the Bible! This is what is written in Deuteronomy 11:18 and 19 just before our featured Scripture:
Therefore you shall lay up these words of Mine in your heart and in your
soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, that they may be as frontlets
between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them
when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down,
and when you rise up.
If you examine the time-perimeters outlined above, there is no portion of the day or night left when you should not be in the Word! Paul summed it up in Colossians 3:16: “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly….”
The point is that God lays before His children Blessings And Cursings! As listed in Deuteronomy, they apply especially to the Old Testament Israelites and the quality of life they will live in the Promised Land of Canaan. But New Testament Christians have a similar challenge, and this from Galatians 5:19 through 23 (Good News Bible):
What human nature does is quite plain. It shows itself in immoral, filthy,
and indecent actions; in worship of idols and witchcraft. People become
enemies and they fight; they become jealous, angry, and ambitious. They
separate into parties and groups; they are envious, get drunk, have orgies,
and do other things like these….But the Spirit produces love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control.
Human nature is fed and strengthened by this world’s godless society which is controlled by the devil! (See Luke 4:5, 6). But the Holy Spirit working within us produces the second list of characteristics above. And that lifestyle is fed by the Word of God! (See Psalm 119:9, 11; Jeremiah 15:16; John 17:17; Colossians 3:10; II Timothy 3:16, 17; I Peter 2:2; II Peter 1:4).
Joshua famously challenged his fellow Israelites, “…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…” (Joshua 24:15). He was following the plea Moses gave the Jews in Deuteronomy 30:19:
I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set
before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life,
that both you and your descendants may live….
If you want life – both eternal and abundant (see John 10:10) – then choose life, and determine to do the work that God has designed to produce such a life – abiding in His Word! Why would anyone choose anything else?!!