Blessings and curses.

In my daily Bible reading earlier this week using the M’Cheyne scheme, as I mentioned in a previous Blog, two passages of scripture stood in glorious contrast to each other – Deuteronomy 28 and Isaiah 55 – and revealed some vital aspects of the multifaceted nature of our God. Take time if you can today to read these two passages.

Deuteronomy 28 is  lengthy  and leaves the careful reader with a set of mixed emotions and responses. Verses 1-14 list the blessings that God’s people will receive for obedience while verses 15-68 give a frightening list of curses for disobedience.

One question which surely comes to mind is ‘Why is so much more space given to the curses than to the blessings?’. Sadly, many will be prone to say ‘That is the God of the OT but the God of the NT is different.’ That is a serious failure of understanding the truth of God’s word for God is God and does not change. Malachi 3.6.

The following quote comes from the ‘Preaching the Word’ Commentary written by Ajith Fernando and published by Crossway.

A W Pink has been credited with the observation that the Bible has more references to the wrath of God than to the love of God. In the recorded statements of Jesus,  there are more references to Hell than there are to heaven. I believe the reason for this is that people naturally tend to ignore unpleasant things and focus on more pleasant things. We are taught to “think positive”.

An American entertainer who had lived a godless life was interviewed by a TV reporter during the advanced stages of a terminal illness. The interviewer asked whether, now that he was going to die, he was afraid of anything. He replied , “That there is a hell.” But he quickly added, “I think it will work out well in the end.”

It is a sobering comment and the history of the OT tells us that for the people of Israel, it did not work out well in the end as they were taken into captivity in Babylon, for they failed to obey God. As we noted last Saturday, God, the LORD, is holy and thus commands obedience, with sanctions for those who disobey. Lest we fall into the error of saying that this chapter was for ancient Israel and not for us we should remember Jeremiah’s words in Jeremiah 17.9 ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick, who can understand it?’

We cannot escape the truth that the ‘Holy LORD’ demands obedience and failure to be obedient will have its consequences, possibly in this life and certainly in the next.

But alongside Deuteronomy 28, read Isaiah 55 which begins with this winsome invitation,

Come all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.

and continues in the same vein (see vs.6-7).

This is not physical food that is on offer but soul food (v.2) for as Peter writes in his second letter the Lord  ‘is… not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.’ 2 Peter 3.9

In the light of these two passages we need to have open ears and receptive hearts. We need to take ALL of God’s word to heart rejoicing in the invitation while understanding that obedience is still what he requires of us. There is a danger of cheap repentance; there is a danger of cheapening grace,  unless we live by the whole counsel of God.

Thank God for, and stand in awe of his holiness today, committed to obeying him, while embracing his gracious invitation. That way you will know God’s peace.

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