Blessings and Curses
Open Your Bible
Deuteronomy 27:9-26, Deuteronomy 28:1-68, Galatians 3:10-26
BY Kara Gause
When I entered my twenties, I began to appreciate my parents’ commitment in raising me, or honestly, just keeping me alive all those years. When I got married, my eyes were opened to the startling reality of how thoroughly selfish I can be. (It’s astounding, I tell you.) And when I became a parent, I got a glimpse at just how unfathomably patient God has been toward me.
These are my personal experiences, yet when I read today’s passages from Deuteronomy, I’m reminded of how much patience and mercy God has always extended toward His people. In these verses, God spells out for His children through Moses and the Levitical priests, exactly what is required for them to belong to Him—and what will happen should they stray (Deuteronomy 27:9).
For Israel, choosing God and obeying His ways would yield abundant blessing (Deuteronomy 28:2). Choosing any other way, whether their own, or the practices of surrounding nations, would result in complete and utter catastrophe, something God does not want (v.14). Each graphic detail of blessing or curse works to help them choose to wholeheartedly love and obey Him. If they agree to the terms of the covenant but don’t follow through with obedience, calamity will follow; ultimately, they “will be ripped out of the land [they] are entering to possess,” scattered across other nations, and sent back to Egypt, where they will hope to sell themselves back into slavery (v.63).
Mind you, these are hardly “gotcha” curses, coming out of nowhere. It’s as if God is intentionally detailing these consequences to ward them off destructive paths. Israel doesn’t have to be overtaken by curses; God is equally offering the chance to be overtaken by blessing instead—by joyfully serving God and obeying the law (v.2,47).
So often, I tend to separate God’s character from His commands, considering them a burden when they’re meant to be a gift “for the sake of [our] transgressions,” protecting us from our sin and ourselves (Galatians 3:19). In his letter to the Galatians, the apostle Paul explained that the law once contained our sin, even acting as “our guardian until Christ, so that we could be justified by faith” in Him (v.24). No, we could never keep it perfectly, but it led the way until “the way, the truth, and the life” Himself came to fulfill it on our behalf (Matthew 5:17; John 14:6). It was given by a mediator, and in the end, perfectly fulfilled by our great Mediator (Galatians 3:19–20).
Growing up, I rarely understood the purpose of boundaries and discipline in the moments I so desperately needed them. “No discipline seems enjoyable at the time,” regardless of how lovingly it is given (Hebrews 12:11). I wonder if the same can be said of how I instinctively view God’s commands, failing to see them as the protection and provision they offered God’s wayward people until freedom offered by faith in Jesus Christ became ours (Galatians 3:25–26).