Blessings and Curses
On the plains of Moab by the River Jordan, the Israelites were on the brink of finally entering the land God had promised them. Moses addressed the people for the last time, trying to ensure that they would not spoil their relationship with God by their disobedience, as the previous generation had done. He reminded them of what God had said and done in the past, and he exhorted them, on the basis of God’s great intervention and covenant-keeping faithfulness, to be a people set apart for God.
Through Moses’ instructions, God set before His people two striking alternatives—and the stakes were high. He gave them a promise of blessing and then a word of warning. He presented them with a simple question: How were they going to live? Would they keep the covenant and enjoy blessing in the land, or would they disobey and be expelled from the land?
The people who were gathered on the edge of the land must have heard God’s word and said, Oh, no, disobedience like that will never happen to us! Yet fast-forward a few hundred years and where do we find them? “By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion … How shall we sing the LORD’s song in a foreign land?” (Psalm 137:1, 4). Captives of a foreign people, the Israelites look back and wonder how they ever ended up where they are.
As creatures living in a fallen world, you and I are so vulnerable, so tempted, so tested. We are always only a single decision away from disobedience and from walking away from God. We are desperately in need of God’s sustaining grace. Tragically, many who once appeared to be devoted, committed, and headed towards the promised land have not simply tripped; they have tumbled down into disbelief. And the worst mistake we can make is to think, “Oh, no, that will never happen to me!”
The Evil One loves to come and tell us that the reason that God has given us His law and established His commands is because He wants to sour our lives, deprive us of fun, and fill our days with heartache and pain. That is the absolute lie of all lies. God gives His word for our good! All the warnings of Scripture are there to corral us and sting us when we are on the verge of ruin, and all the promises of Scripture are there to pick us up when we are timid and unsure, and all the commands of Scripture are there to lead us into the blessing of life lived God’s way, in His presence, in His world. His commitment to our good is seen most supremely in His Son coming to bear the curse of our disobedience so that we can enjoy the blessing that He, and He alone, deserves.
Do you love God? Do you know that God loves you? Then take heed of His warnings, obey His commands, and cherish the comforts of His promises.
The Righteous Shall Live by Faith
10For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.”4 12But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit5 through faith.
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