TODAY’S READING: Deuteronomy 28
Blessings in the Bible are related to the great covenantal promise that God made to Abraham in Genesis 12: I will bless you, and you will be a blessing, and in you all nations of the world will be blessed (vv. 2–3). Again and again, the Bible returns to this central theme: Father Abraham and all we his children live under this promise, and if we scorn it, this curse. Moses brought this second sermon to an end by reminding us all that to walk in obedience to the commands of God is to be overtaken by blessings and to walk in disobedience is to be overtaken by curses, and both blessings and curses are connected to the nations.
In Deuteronomy 28:9, we are to be the holy people that Jehovah can live among and bless in order to bless all peoples, and if we do that, “then all the peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the Lord” (v. 10). Why? To die of envy? No! That they might be redeemed, too. In verse 12, we are told that God will open the treasures of heaven for us, blessing the work of our hand. Why? So we get rich and fat? No! That we can provide for many nations in their time of need. It’s always about the nations. The biblical blessing can never be removed from the promise of Abraham. Whatever blessing we receive is a stewardship. God’s blessings are to be used to bless all the people groups of earth by giving them opportunity to come live with our Jehovah, the marvelous holy and merciful God who has come down to live with us.
Just as blessings (when we obey Jehovah) affect the nations, so do God’s curses (when we disobey Him). If we are not holy, we in effect kick Jehovah out of our neighborhood (or better stated, His holiness demands that He leave) and having lost Jehovah’s presence, we have lost all—not least the power to bless the nations. Now, we become a curse even to them. We become troublesome to all the kingdoms of earth (v. 25). Not only will we have boils and tumors and be plundered continually (i.e., the opposite of blessing), but we will be stricken with madness and blindness, left to grope around in darkness (vv. 27–29). How can we possibly be a blessing to seven million Tajik in that condition?
The consequences of being a perverted and disobedient people are disastrous globally. All power to bless is gone. All light and salt is squandered. All hope of redemption is snuffed out. It is one thing to forfeit our own eternity, but how severe will our judgment be when we stand before the King and face the consequences of not being God’s agent of blessing to unreached people groups of Earth? I once sat in the courtyard of an aged Muslim teacher in the Sudan. The moon was bright and the wind blew gently when he responded sadly to my gospel presentation: “If what you say is true, why has no one told us?” His searching question essentially asked me why the people of God who had access to His blessings for all these years waited fourteen centuries to share.
There is consequence to hoarding God’s blessings due to selfish fear or to squandering them due to arrogant disobedience. Moses warned those who despised blessing that their sons and daughters would be given to another people and their eyes would fail with longing for them all day long (v. 32). The God of blessing asks that we joyfully send our sons and daughters as missionaries to difficult places and unreached peoples. I am convinced of the sober reality that in our age (these very last of the last days), the nations will have our children one way or another—either as slaves or as missionaries. I’d rather my sons go to Tajikistan carrying the blessing of father Abraham, not carrying the curses of a father who would not commission them to spend their lives that the unreached might be redeemed.