Curses and Blessings

Friday: Spiritual Life or Spiritual Death: Deuteronomy 27:1-30:20

Deuteronomy 27:1-30:20 In this week’s lessons, Moses continues to urge the people to obey the Lord and seek the way of life and blessing, rather than to forsake the Lord and follow the path of cursing and death.
Spiritual Life or Spiritual Death

Commentators have said, I think rightly, that Deuteronomy 29:29 applies to all of God’s people at all times. You see, we have great interest in finding out things that we have no business or need to find out. We want to know what’s going to come into our lives, or what God’s going to do with somebody else. We wish that God would unfold all this for us. And so we rush around, trying to find out God’s will in areas that simply are not revealed in Scripture and are not going to be revealed. 

That’s not to say God doesn’t have a will for your life or isn’t going to lead you. Of course He does. But what you need to know is what is spelled out in Scripture. Knowing the secret things is none of our business. It might boost our pride, which is not going to help us live the Christian life. What we need to live the Christian life is what we have been given. We have the Word of God, and that’s what we need.

Moses then looks beyond the exile. Speaking as a prophet, he tells the Israelites that he knows they are going to go their own way, and he knows judgment is going to come. The people are going to be carried off to another land. But Moses also tells them that if they repent, God is faithful to His promises, and He is going to bring them back. They will prosper in the later days if they follow His will. As a partial fulfillment, at the end of the seventy-year captivity of Babylon, the people did come back. 

The fourth point is that of life and death. When we read these sections of blessings and curses, there might be a tendency to think that there’s something almost mechanical about them, without any reference to the living God who stands behind it. It might appear to be like the law of gravity: if you jump off the building, you fall, and if you don’t jump, you will be alright.

But Moses is saying that it’s not a question of natural law. These blessings and curses are a matter of spiritual law, which flows from the character of God. What is important here is our relationship with God. This is not just a matter of blessings and curses; it’s a matter of life and death because God alone is the source of life, and the way to be in a relationship with God is to believe and obey Him. That’s what the people have been challenged to do all along. If they do that, they will not merely be blessed, they will live. But if the people will not believe and obey, but go their own way, they will die—not only physically but spiritually. So the choice that Moses sets before the people is the choice between life and death.

In Romans 10, Paul picks up on this idea as he is talking about the way of salvation apart from works. The Jewish people in his day thought they could get to heaven by keeping the law. Paul says that you can’t do that. The only way you get to heaven is by the grace of God revealed in the Gospel. Paul quotes Moses’ words in Deuteronomy 30:12-14, saying that it’s not necessary to go up to heaven in order to bring Christ down by something we do, nor can you go down into hell to bring Christ up (see Rom. 10:5-7). There is nothing we can do. Salvation is by grace that comes from God. What we need to do is believe what God has done for our salvation, and walk in the way He has set before us.

If you know you are a sinner, go to Christ, confess your sin, and find salvation in Him. Then, by His grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, get on with living the Christian life. Paul says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved” (Rom. 10:9). Is salvation that simple? It is. But it is of vast importance. And whether we believe and act on our belief is a matter of spiritual life or spiritual death. 

Study Questions
  1. What does Moses tell the Israelites as he looks beyond their future exile?
  2. How does Paul work with Deuteronomy 30 in Romans 10?

Application: How can you specifically apply Deuteronomy 29:29 in your own life? What are you dealing with now and would like to know how it will turn out in the future? How is the Lord using this uncertainty to deepen your trust in Him and make you more like Christ?

Key Point: What we need to live the Christian life is what we have been given. We have the Word of God, and that’s what we need.

For Further Study: Download for free and listen to James Boice’s message, “The Curse of God.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)

Tagged under
More Resources from James Montgomery Boice

Subscribe to the Think & Act Biblically Devotional

Alliance of Confessional Evangelicals

About the Alliance

The Alliance is a coalition of believers who hold to the historic creeds and confessions of the Reformed faith and proclaim biblical doctrine in order to foster a Reformed awakening in today’s Church.

Canadian Donors

Canadian Committee of The Bible Study Hour
PO Box 24087, RPO Josephine
North Bay, ON, P1B 0C7