Blessings or Curses: It’s Your Choice (Deuteronomy 11-12)

Scripture reading – Deuteronomy 11-12

Moses’ second challenge to Israel began in Deuteronomy 5, and continues in today’s Scripture reading.

Deuteronomy 11 – A Covenant Promising Blessings, or Cursings

Moses reiterated the LORD’S covenant demand, to “love the Lord thy God, and keep his charge, and his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments, alway” (11:1). Deuteronomy 11:2-7 reminded the people why they should love, and obey the LORD (11:2-7).

The LORD had demonstrated “His greatness, His mighty hand, and His stretched out arm” (11:2), when He brought the plagues upon Pharaoh and Egypt (11:3). When He parted the Red Sea for His people to pass through on dry ground, He sent the waters upon the Egyptians, drowning them, their horses, and chariots (11:4). When Dathan and Abiram rebelled (Numbers 16), the LORD had “the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their households, and their tents, and all the substance that was in their possession, in the midst of all Israel” (11:6).

Because the people had seen, “all the great acts of the Lord which he did” (11:7), they were compelled to keep His commandments, and know their strength. prosperity, and longevity in Canaan would be directly related to their obedience (11:8). Moses reminded the people the land was all the LORD had promised their forefathers, “a land that floweth with milk and honey” (11:9)

Nevertheless, the promise of God’s blessing was conditional (11:10-17), and should the people turn from Him, and worship idols, His wrath would be kindled against them. He would “shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit; and lest ye perish quickly from off the good land which the Lordgiveth you” (11:17).

The people were reminded their covenant responsibility was not only to obey the commandments, but to teach them to their children (11:18-19). The LORD’s covenant with Israel was a conditional promise of both “a blessing and a curse” (11:26). Obey the LORD’S commandments, and He would bless them (11:27). Disobey the LORD, and He would curse them (11:28).

Deuteronomy 12 – Prohibitions, and No Exceptions

It might be argued, that Deuteronomy 5-11 was the preface to the “statutes and judgments” that begins with Deuteronomy 12. Having presented to the people the choices, and consequences for obeying or disobeying the LORD, Moses began to reveal the prohibitions.

The first prohibition: Israel must destroy all idols, and every idol place of worship and sacrifice (12:1-3). There were no exceptions! Whereas the heathen sacrificed and served “their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree” (12:2), Israel was not to follow in their ways. Only in “the place which the Lord your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put his name there, even unto his habitation [the Tabernacle] shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come” (12:5).

The Tabernacle was the place God had chosen. There was one place of sacrifice, and that was the altar in the Tabernacle court (12:6). There was one place the tithes, and offerings (above that which was the portion of the Levites) might be eaten, and that was before the Tabernacle (12:7).

The law that had demanded all domestic animals be brought to the Tabernacle for killing (Leviticus 17:3-6), would no longer be observed in the Promised Land (12:10-15). The geographical distance of the tribes in Canaan from the Tabernacle, and altar was “too far” (12:21). All sacrifices were to be offered at the Tabernacle, “the place which the LORD thy God hath chosen” (12:21). However, domestic animals used for household meat could be killed, and eaten “in thy gates” (12:21), as it would be with wild beasts (12:22).

Another prohibition was in the matter of blood, of which was commanded: “ye shall not eat the blood; ye shall pour it upon the earth as water” (12:17, 23-25; Leviticus 17:10).

In closing, Moses warned the people they were not to adopt the ways of heathen in their worship, nor enquire, “How did these nations serve their gods?” (12:30b) The worship of the wicked had been an abomination to God, and in their depravity, they had sacrificed “their sons and their daughters…to their gods” (12:31). Moses warned, the LORD would accept nothing less than obedience, and the people were “not [to] add thereto, nor diminish from it” (12:32).

1 Peter 1:15-16 – “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith