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Scripture reading – Deuteronomy 26-27
A Confession of Indebtedness and a Prayer of Thanksgiving (Deuteronomy 26:1-11)
Moses continued his charge to Israel with laws and spiritual principles to guide the people as they became a nation in their land (26:1). Remembering that the blessing of the harvest comes from the LORD (26:1-11), the first-fruits offering was to be taken to the place of worship (Tabernacle). There it was given to the LORD, thus supporting the priests, the Levites, and their households.
Tithes and Offerings for the Poor (Deuteronomy 26:12-15)
A special tithe was given in the third year, coinciding with the tither’s confession that he had honored and obeyed the LORD’s commandments. Rather than taking the tithe of the third year to the Tabernacle, it was used locally to meet the immediate needs of one’s community and to support “the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled” (26:12-15).
The Benefits of Obeying the LORD and Keeping His Commandments (Deuteronomy 26:16-19)
Beginning with Deuteronomy 26:16 and continuing to Deuteronomy 31:13, Moses expounded on the benefits of obeying the LORD and keeping His commandments. He reminded the people that they were to do all that God had commanded with all their hearts and soul (26:16). Israel had been chosen by the LORD “to be His peculiar people,” and He promised “to make [Israel] high above all nations” (26:16-19).
Renewing the Covenant (Deuteronomy 27:1-10)
Continuing his challenge, Moses was joined by the “elders of Israel,” and he “commanded the people, saying, Keep all the commandments which I command you this day” (Deuteronomy 27:1).
Lest the people forget all the LORD had done for them, the elders of Israel were commanded to build a pillar of uncut stones on the west side of the Jordan River (Deuteronomy 27:2-8). The stones were to be plastered, and engraved upon them were the Commandments of the Lord, serving as a lasting memorial of the LORD’s promises and commandments. Also, an altar was to be built to sanctify the place (Deuteronomy 27:5-8).
A Rehearsal of the Blessings and Curses Sanctioned by the Law (Deuteronomy 27:11-26)
Continuing his speech to Israel and with the elders beside him, Moses reminded the nation that “Choices have Consequences.” He charged the people that by obeying the Law, they would invite the LORD’s blessings (27:11-12); however, disobedience would arouse His judgments (27:14-26). Should the nation disobey the LORD and reject His Law and Commandments, Moses warned that twelve curses would befall the nation (27:15-26). To each pronouncement, the people assented and answered, “Amen.”
The first through fifth curses (Deuteronomy 27:15-19)
The following violations of the Law and commandments invited God’s judgment and would be cursed: 1) Idolatry, a violation of the first and second commandments, was cursed (Deuteronomy 27:15). 2) Dishonoring one’s parents was cursed (27:16), for it is a violation of the fifth commandment (Exodus 20:12). 3) Stealing the property and possessions of another by deceit, a violation of the sixth commandment, was cursed (Deuteronomy 27:17; Exodus 20:15). 4) Taking advantage of one infirmed or disabled was cursed (Deuteronomy 27:18). 5) The fifth curse was upon one who would treat “the stranger, fatherless, and widow” unjustly (Deuteronomy 27:19;Exodus 22:21-24).
Sexual impurity, a violation of the seventh commandment, was addressed by the sixth through ninth curses (Deuteronomy 27:20-23; Ex. 20:14). Specifically addressed and cursed were: 6) Incest with one’s stepmother (Deuteronomy 27:20; Leviticus 18:8-9, 17; Leviticus 20:11); 7) Bestiality (Deuteronomy 27:21; Leviticus 18:23); 8) Incest between siblings and parents (Deuteronomy 27:22); and 9) Incest with one’s mother (Deuteronomy 27:23).
The fifth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13), was the subject of the tenth and eleventh curses (Deuteronomy 27:24-25): 10) Intentional murder of one’s neighbor (Deuteronomy 27:24), and 11) hiring an assassin to kill another was cursed (Deuteronomy 27:25).
The twelfth and final curse (Deuteronomy 27:26), a sum of the twelve curses, was addressed to any child of Israel who failed to confirm God’s Law and Commandments.
And so the people affirmed all Moses commanded, and all the people gave their assent and said, “Amen” (Deuteronomy 27:26).
Questions to consider:
1) What was Israel to present to the LORD after they took possession of the land? (Deuteronomy 26:1-2)
2) What was Israel instructed to do with the tithes and offerings in the third year? (Deuteronomy 26:12)
3) What did the LORD promise Israel if they kept His law and commandments? (Deuteronomy 26:17-19)
4) What was the first thing Israel was to set up after they crossed the Jordan River? (Deuteronomy 27:2-3)
5) With what word did the people acknowledge and affirm the curses pronounced by the Levites? (Deuteronomy 27:15-26).
Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith
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