Checking the Terms and Conditions of God’s Blessings
Listen up! Today, you are officially God’s People, now that you are God’s People there are some things that you must do. Imagine if the Bible had a terms and condition checkbox. Before you can claim to be a Christian, you must first check off that you have read and will abide by the terms and conditions of God.
The Covenant of Freedom and Responsibility
Moses led over a million people out of slavery and into freedom. It wasn’t the freedom that they imagined. They thought they could chill all day and work when they wanted to and do what they wanted to do freely. Yet, this Deliverer said, you are free, but free to do what I want you to do.
The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was now christening these million people as His people. With that association came many privileges, prosperity, and blessings. But God isn’t like the terms and conditions that humans put together, where they hide it in small print at the end of a long document, in hopes that you will never know what you agreed to.
God put His Terms of Covenant at the top and He wanted a constant reminder that there were conditions to being His People. So, God motivated Moses and Aaron to gather the people and gave this command.
“When you cross the Jordan, these tribes shall stand on Mount Gerizim to bless the people: Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin. For the curse, these tribes shall stand on Mount Ebal: Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali. The Levites shall then respond and say to all the people of Israel with a loud voice, ‘Cursed is one who…’” — Deuteronomy 27:12-15a
The Weight of Agreement
What an amazing spectacle. The tribes with burgeoning populations would divide, six on one mountain to represent the blessing of the people and six on another mountain to represent the curses that would be on those who disobeyed God’s commands. Hundreds of thousands of people, mobilized to make an amazing point.
The point is that God’s Word is extremely important and doing what He says to do will bring you a blessing. But Deuteronomy 27 starts out with the curses. There are 12 curses pronounced over both people on the two mountains. These curses are in direct response to disobedience of the most heinous kind: maltreatment of parents, falsely moving a boundary, leading the blind astray, distorting justice to a stranger and the marginalized people, sex with an animal, adultery between family members, ambushing a neighbor, bribes to hurt the innocent.
This was a law and social contract, and God required every person on those two mountains to verbally enter into an agreement.
“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’” The Levites say a curse, then the people reply, Amen. The word Amen closes the deal, like the check box on the terms and conditions. Amen says, Yes, let it be done to me or let it be done. 12 curses, 12 agreements. One million plus souls, now committed to a covenant with God.
It’s an intense scene when you think about the size of the people and the amount of work it takes to organize and get everyone to hear and agree.
The Covenant of Blessing
Thankfully, God did not end with the Curses. In Deuteronomy 28, God pronounces the blessings from verse 1 to 14. These blessings were delivered the same way as the curses, through the Levites and aloud on the two mountains. Yet, there is no response from the people. They were not required to say, Amen, to the blessings because God is the one who is going to abide by the covenant of Blessings. He is the only one who has to make them come about. And even though these blessings are contingent upon the obedience of the people, if they do what is right, He WILL bless them.
The Ultimate Fulfillment of the Covenant
God doesn’t have to prove how Good He is to them, because He has already forwarded them blessings by freeing them from the chains of Pharaoh. God has already commanded the blessing if they obey.
When Jesus came to earth, He came as a man so that the ability to obey God would be open to everyone who wants to obey. Jesus came and dealt with the obstacle of sin and when He rose from the dead and ascending into Heaven, He left us with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the one who can empower us to obey God in a way that those in Deuteronomy could not. They were well-meaning but powerless over their sinful natures, but Jesus has freed us from the harmful effects of sin.
Our Curse and His Blessing
Jesus became a curse for us so that we could receive the blessings that God promised. He was without sin and yet, He endured our sinful punishment upon His physical body. Now, when we believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior, we get the blessings first: The Blessing of His Holy Spirit. God knows that with His Holy Spirit, we will learn how to obey Him and do what is right in His eyes. We are still commanded and expected not to do those things listed in Deuteronomy 27, but now, we have the power to do the right things.
Applying the Covenant in Our Lives
As we reflect on the powerful covenant that God established with His people, there are valuable lessons and applications we can draw from it.
- Obedience Brings Blessings: Just as God promised blessings to the Israelites for obedience, He promises blessings to us when we walk in His ways.
“Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the Lord your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth.” — Deuteronomy 28:1-2
- The Power of the Holy Spirit: Through Jesus, we have the Holy Spirit to empower us to live a life that pleases God.
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” — Galatians 5:16
- Freedom from Sin: Just as the Israelites were freed from physical bondage, we are freed from the bondage of sin through Christ.
“and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” — Romans 6:18
- The Covenant of Grace: Our relationship with God is not based on our works, but on His grace.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” — Ephesians 2:8-9
In the grand tapestry of God’s covenant, we see the intertwining threads of responsibility, obedience, grace, and blessing. The journey of the Israelites through their covenant with God reflects our own journey as believers in Christ. Just as they were called to heed God’s commands and experience the richness of His blessings, we too are called to walk in obedience and enjoy the abundant life God offers.
Remember, the covenant isn’t a distant historical event; it’s a living truth that continues to shape our lives today. Through the sacrifice of Jesus and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we have the means to honor our covenant with God and experience His transformative blessings. As you go about your days, consider how you can apply the principles of obedience, reliance on the Holy Spirit, and embracing God’s grace in your daily choices.