Deuteronomy, beginning with chapter 26.
Again it is important that we set the scene for you. Here's Moses, one hundred and twenty years old. In just a few days he's going to go up into the mountain and die. He is giving the last, of the last instructions to the people of God. He is releasing the reigns by which he has been guiding these people these forty years, and turning them over now unto Joshua. But Moses is sorta rehearsing for the children of Israel, again the conditions by which they will enjoy this land, the conditions upon which God's blessings were predicated. For the children of Israel had a covenant relationship with God that revolved around the law and around their obedience to the law.
And the covenant that God established with the nation of Israel was they that do them shall live by them. In other words, it was a covenant that was established in their doing and keeping the law of God. Now Moses even predicted, and we'll get into it tonight, their failure to keep the law. God knew that they wouldn't be able to keep it. And the failure has been predicted along with the resultant tragedies and curses that would come upon them for their failure.
Now God has established a new covenant with man that is no longer based upon the law and the keeping of the law. So when Jesus took the cup with His disciples and He gave them the cup, He said, "This is a new covenant that is in my blood, which is shed for the remission of sin." So the new covenant that God has established with man is through Jesus Christ and the work of Jesus Christ. So that in this new covenant it is in my believing in that work of Jesus Christ on my behalf by which I can now enjoy all the blessings of God. So I experience the blessings of God's grace upon my life. I experience all these wonderful things from God, not because I'm so good and have kept so perfectly the law of God, but because I have now a new covenant relationship with God; it is through Jesus Christ and His finished work. And I simply believe in that finished work of Christ and God imputes my faith for righteousness and blesses me.
Now if I were still living under the law I would be just as cursed as the children of Israel became, because the law could make nothing righteous. It only pointed to a better covenant that was to come. So in Deuteronomy we have the rehearsal of the covenant and the establishing of the covenant, whereby you come into the land. You obey these things. And over and over you'll notice he is pointing out obedience to the commands, obedience to the statutes, obedience, obedience, obedience. And if you obey, then this blessing will be yours, you'll be blessed, blessed, and blessed, but if you disobey then you'll be cursed. And I think there are more curses than there are blessings
Now I thank God that I can relate to God in the new Covenant in Jesus Christ, and thus, I have been blessed and am blessed by God. Not for any righteousness that I have done or not for any righteousness that I have, because that is not the basis by which I am relating to God tonight. I'm relating in that new Covenant. I'm simply believing in Jesus Christ to wash me and cleanse me of all my sins and to work in me His work of love as I submit my life to Him. That He might give to me the power and the capacity to live a life that is pleasing unto the Father.
So as we get into Chapter twenty-six, he first of all speaks to them that when you come into the land and you begin to gather the fruit of the land, the first fruits of the land. Now they were not really to gather anything for themselves until the third year. They were to plant but just let it go until the third year and then they were to begin to reap. But when you gather together your harvest then you are to bring before the Lord, actually,
the first of all the fruit of the earth, which thou shall bring in thy land of which the LORD has given thee, and thou shall put it in a basket, and shall go to the place of which the LORD thy God shall choose to place His name. And you are to go in there, and you are to profess that day unto the LORD thy God, that I am come into the country which the LORD swear to my fathers (26:2-3).
And so you are now to bring the firstfruits of the land. You are to give them to God and you are to confess that you are now in the land that God has promised; the acknowledgment of the faithfulness of God to keep His promise because God had promised to Abraham that He would give him this land. So now you’re in the land, bring the firstfruits to God and so profess, make the confession God did keep His promise.
Then interestingly in verse five,
And thou shall speak and say before the LORD thy God, A Syrian ready to perish was my father, he went down to Egypt, and sojourned there with a few, and became a nation, great, mighty, and populous (26:5):
And so, speaking of Jacob, calling him a Syrian, who went down to Egypt with just a few. Yet while in Egypt in that four hundred-year period of time, God made them a great nation. And God brought them out, spoiling the Egyptians. And you are to rehearse actually God's great work in bringing you out and bringing you into the land that flows with milk and honey, out of the bondage of Egypt into the blessings of God. And now I bring the firstfruits unto God of this glorious land that He has given to us.
And in verse eleven,
Thou shall rejoice in every good thing in which the LORD thy God has given unto thee, and unto thy house, thou, and the Levites, and the stranger living among you (26:11).
Again here is a commandment where God is commanding them to rejoice. God wants a happy people. And God's people should be a happy people. We should be the happiest people on the face of the earth. And what kind of a witness is it to God if His people are always depressed and down and sour and dour. God wants you to be a rejoicing people.
And in verse twelve,
When thou has made an end of the tithing of all the tithes of your increase in the third year, which is the year of tithing, you've given it to the Levites, [and so forth]; Thou shall say to the LORD, before the LORD thy God, I have brought away the hollowed things out of my house, and give them to the Levites, the stranger, fatherless, the widow, I have not transgressed the commandments, neither have I forgotten them: I have not eaten thereof in my mourning, neither have I taken away ought thereof for any unclean use, nor given ought for the dead (26:12-14):
And thus, he goes on with this again, acknowledgment that God has brought them into the land that flows with milk and honey.
And you must avouched the LORD this day to be thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and to hearken unto his voice (26:17):
All right again, at this point you are to swear that God is your God, actually, that Jehovah is your God, to walk in His ways and to keep the commandments and all. And for the Lord has avouched thee this day to be His peculiar people, who are obeying, actually, His commandments.
And to make thee high above all nations which he hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honor (26:19);
In chapter twenty-seven, when you come into the land you are to take these stones and you are to build a tower and you are to plaster it. And then you are to write on the plaster of the tower the words of the law when you pass over into the land that God has given to you.
Therefore it shall be when you have gone over Jordan, [verse four] that ye shall set up these stones, which I command you this day, in mount Ebal, and thou shalt plaster them with plaster. And there shalt thou build an altar unto the LORD thy God, an altar of stones: thou shalt not lift up any iron tool upon them. Thou shalt build the altar of the LORD thy God of whole stones: and thou shalt offer burnt offerings thereon unto the LORD thy God: And thou shalt offer peace offerings, and shalt eat there, and rejoice before the LORD thy God. And thou shalt write upon the stones all the words of this law very plainly (27:4-8).
And so they were to build this altar, but they were not to carve the stones. They were not to cut the stones. They were to use just whole stones. No tool was to come upon them.
Now when God first commanded the building of altars they were to be built just out of earth. It was interesting that when they made a place of worship for God, God's desire that the place that they make for the worship of God be simple and natural. God did not want them building ornate places of worship. Why? Because when you come into an ornate place of worship your mind is drawn to the ornateness of the place. And you begin to glory in its architecture or in the fine carvings or in the beauty of the place itself. But God wants you when you come to worship Him not to be distracted. To stand in awe of gorgeous architecture or whatever but that your place of worship be just a simple place, that does not attract attention to itself but allows you to give your full attention unto the Lord to worship Him.
And those stones, don't carve them, don't cut them out, just smooth them out, just whole stones to make the altar. Then on Mount Ebal to place these stones in a pile, to plaster the pile and to write upon the plaster the law of God, there on Mount Ebal, then to bring burnt offerings and peace offerings.
Now you remember your lessons out of Leviticus. You will remember that the burnt offerings were the offerings of consecration. It is the symbolizing of the consecrating of my life to God. The peace offerings were the offerings of communion, my desire to fellowship with God and to commune with God. And so the two offerings, the burnt offering, that is the consecration and communion with God.
Now up on top of Mount Gerizim certain of the tribes were to stand and to pronounce the blessings upon the people. And on Mount Ebal other tribes were to stand and pronounce the curses.
Now on Mount Gerizim, verse twelve,
to bless the people, the tribe of Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Joseph, and Benjamin: On mount Ebal to curse the people; Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali. And the Levites shall speak, and say unto all the men of Israel with a loud voice (27:12-13).
Now here is the picture: when you are in the valley, when you are in the valley of Shechem. You have on your left-hand side Mount Gerizim. It raises, probably two thousand feet above the valley, and on the right hand side you have Mount Ebal, raising about two thousand feet above the valley. So here you have the valley of the area of Shechem with these two mountains on either side, so the vast multitude of Israel standing in this valley. And up on the top of Mount Gerizim these men from these tribes that we read off are calling out the blessings of God that shall come upon you for obedience. On the other Mount Ebal, if you are in the valley you are hearing these guys crying the curses for those that disobey the laws of God. And so it must have been a very awesome kind of an experience. One that would really implant itself quite deeply in your mind as you realized the blessings and the cursings, as God said, “I have set before you today a blessing and a curse”. A blessing if you obey, a curse if you disobey.
So these are the curses that were then pronounced,
Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image, an abomination unto the LORD, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and puts it in a secret place. And all the congregation shall answer and say, Amen (27:15).
So after each one of these curses they would have to cry out, “so be it”. You know just sorta accepting, you know, all right, judgment, “so be it”. And so the various curses that were cried out from this area and the people acknowledging the righteousness of the curses as you go through the remainder of chapter twenty-seven.
Now as we come into chapter twenty-eight,
It shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently [You see the condition. If you hearken diligently] unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and do all his commandments (28:1)
You get this over and over again because this was the condition of the covenant. Whereby they could have this land and dwell there. This was the condition of God's blessing; it was the obedience to the commandments of God.
that God will set thee on high above all the nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God. Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of your cows, your flocks, your sheep. Blessed shall be thy basket and store. You'll be blessed when you come in, and blessed when you go out. The LORD will cause your enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee from thee seven ways. The LORD shall command the blessing upon thee in your storehouses, and in all that you set your hand to do; the Lord shall bless your land which he gives to you. He shall establish thee an holy people unto himself…And all people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the LORD; and they shall be afraid of thee. And the LORD shall make thee plenteous in goods, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle…The LORD shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give rain unto the land in his season,…thou shalt lend unto many nations, and not borrow. And the LORD shall make thee the head, and not the tail;… if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do them: and shall not go aside from keeping these commandments (28:1-14)
Now again all the blessings that God is promising to them, conditions upon their keeping the commandments of God and doing them.
But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes [and so forth]: then cursed shalt thou be in the city, and in the field. Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store. Cursed shall be the fruit of your body, and the fruit of the land, the increase of the cows, the flocks, and the sheep. Cursed shalt thou be when you come in, and cursed when you go out…The LORD shall make the pestilence to cleave unto you,… and the LORD will smite you with consumption…And the heaven that is over you shall be brass, and the earth shall be like iron, the drought. [verse twenty-five] The LORD shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies: thou shalt go out one way against them, and flee seven ways before them: and shalt be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth. And your carcase will be meat for the birds of the air, and the beasts of the earth, and no man shall fray them away. The LORD will smite thee with the botch of Egypt, and with the emerods, and with the scab, and with the itch, therefore you can not be healed. The LORD shall smite thee with madness, and blindness, to the astonishment of heart: And thou shalt grope at noonday (28:15-19, 21-23, 25-29),
And God goes on to tell to them the curses that will come upon them if they turn away from God and begin to worship and serve other gods, the gods of the land. This is what is going to happen.
Now, we are dealing with a basic law of God. And it is important that we recognize this. The law of God is expressed in another verse of Scripture, which declares: “Righteousness exhalts a nation but sin is a reproach to any people”(Proverbs 14:34).
If a nation will establish itself as a righteous nation, if a nation will place God at the center of its national life, recognizing and acknowledging God, that nation shall be blessed of God abundantly. That was exactly what our founding fathers had in mind when they established this the United States of America. They had in their minds to establish a nation that would guarantee the religious freedom. A nation though that honored God in the heart and in the life of the nation itself. And it was their purpose to keep the people aware of their dependency upon God.
And because our nation was thus established, our nation was greatly blessed of God. "America, America, God shed His grace upon thee." And our nation grew strong, and powerful among the nations of the earth. And we today living in this nation are enjoying the benefits that have come to this nation because of the wisdom of the founding fathers in founding a nation with God at the heart and the center, even in the printing on the coins, "in God we trust". Trying to bring to the people a national conscienceness of the need of God and the centrality of God in the national life. And the nation did become strong; the nation did become prosperous.
But now in our prosperity we have men in the Supreme Court and throughout our whole governmental prostacies(sp) who do not believe that God should be a part of the nation. These men are men who are controlled by the humanistic philosophies, whose god is materialism. And because they are humanist they have sought to put God out of the national conscienceness, these humanists not only control our government they control the major mass media in the United States. You cannot buy time on the major networks for religious broadcasting because they are controlled by the humanists. They don't want anything that would cause people to begin to have a national conscienceness of God. They have begun their ruling whereby they have ruled prayer out of the public school, the Bible out of public schools, and now the celebration of Christmas out of the public schools, except in only a secular sense.
I have on my desk a paper from the superintendent of one of our local school systems here to all of the teachers, telling them that they are to delete any story of Christmas that deals with Mary and the Christ child. That they are not to sing any carols that have anything to do about a baby being born in Bethlehem or anything about Jesus Christ. And it tells how that they must be subtle in these things so they don't get a big backwash. And it goes ahead and instructs them on their Christmas program, how to do it so as not to give offense to the Christians because Christ has been totally deleted out of it. But it goes ahead and it quotes from certain Supreme Court edicts that makes it necessary to rule even Christmas carols and Christ even out of Christmas. And they are even changing the name and no longer calling it your Christmas vacation, because they don't even want the word Christmas because it has Christ in it.
I don't think I need to tell you that our nation is in a very precarious position tonight. And a strong, great powerful nation, we are deteriorating very rapidly. For the very things that made us strong we are trying to rule out of our national life. And even as God blessed our nation because we were willing to put God at the center of our national life, even as we have chosen now to rule God out of our national life, we are beginning to experience the curses and they are going to extremes. Our nation is rapidly going downhill. We are faced with insurmountable kinds of problems. They are talking about gas rationing right after the first of the year. Kuwait is talking about cutting off twenty-five percent of its oil production making our oil needs even more critical. We already know they can't do anything about the economy that is in a royal mess. And we see the deterioration of this nation because we have sought by legislature, by court rulings to rule God out of our national life. Our nation was strong because it was founded upon godly principles. It is becoming weak as we seek to rule God out.
Now, the whole sad thing about this is here we are, enjoying the benefits of our forefathers who had enough foresight to make the constitute, and all, guarantee religious freedoms and it gave us the right for all these things. You see according to the ruling to the Supreme Court students who are gay have a right to meet on campus, to have a room furnished for their meetings so that they can advocate and discuss the gay life, pass out literature and so forth advocating that life. They have a court ruling, a Supreme Court ruling, that gives them that privilege. However, that same Supreme Court ruled that children do not have a right to meet together in a public school building and study or talk about the Bible, even if they meet there at their own choice. And yet we still have printed on our coins "in God we trust", how hypocritical can a nation be? Whenever there is a national emergency the President says “pray”, as long as you’re not in a school building.
Now there is just a basic principle involved. When a nation will follow God, that nation will be blessed, when a nation turns from God, that nation is going to be cursed. I am praying that God will bring to us a national revival. I think that that is the only hope for this nation, is a real revival that will cause the people to turn back to God and really elect legislators, presidents, that will appoint Supreme Court and court positions, not to lesbians and homosexuals and all like our governor in the state of California.
But to men who have a conscienceness of God, who fear God, who realize that they are not the final judge, but one day they are going to stand before the judge to give an account of themselves. And men who have a sense of accountability. If a man doesn't believe in God he has no sense of accountability. He becomes the authority within himself. And whenever a man becomes an authority within himself you have anarchy, and you have anarchy even within the court system, as they become authorities within themselves to determine what the law says. And if a man has no fear of God within his heart, how can you hope to have righteous judgment? Oh, may God help us as Christians to get up off our couches, and to become active in the sponsoring of godly men for public office. I feel we have an obligation to do so or else we have no right to sit back and cry when the whole thing goes down the tubes.
So God pronounces the curses that are going to come and He goes on, in verse thirty-seven, He tells them that they shall become, that they will be driven into other nations.
And they shall become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all nations whither the LORD leads you [Verse thirty-seven] (28:37).
Now it is interesting that that has happened to the Jew. In being driven into the other nations they became a byword and it seems like they were hated, sometimes even without cause by people. There are people today who have very strong anti-Semitic feelings and the term Jew became almost a dirty term. A byword, a curse, because they disobeyed the commandments of God.
More over all them curses shall come upon thee, [in other words, man, if this isn't enough, God goes on and on and on.] and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkenedst not unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and statutes which he commanded thee:…And because you did not serve the LORD, [verse forty-seven] with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things (28:45-47);
Oh, what a sad, tragic thing, God has given us so much that we would murmur and complain. God has blessed us so much. We murmur because the new one hundred-dollar boots we bought are stiff and we have to break them in, and how about those poor Cambodians who don't even have shoes? Lepers who don't even have feet. I mean we have so much to be thankful for and we should be serving God with joyfulness and gladness of heart. God loves a happy disposition. God wants you to serve Him joyfully, not gripingly. Again if you can't serve God without griping then don't serve God. If you can't give to God without complaining then don't give to God. It's an insult to God for you to complain about what you've given to Him. What a horrible insult to God. So if you can't give it joyfully then don't give it, don't insult God, by complaining about what you've given or what you've done or had to do for Him. Better not to do it.
That's why we don't ask you to do things around here at Calvary; we don't want any griping service to God. Whatever you do for God, you do it with your heart and do it joyfully or don't do it. That's why we wait for people to come to us and ask how they can serve the Lord before we ever give them any jobs. We never go around soliciting people to fill a job here at Calvary, because we don't want you to feel pressured. Oh, here comes Romaine again. He's going to get on me for that job. Oh, what shall I tell him this time, you know? No Way. We will never approach you for any service unto the Lord. That is something that has to come from your own heart, your own desire. Whatever you do for God just do it joyfully with gladness, and God accepts it and receives it and just appreciates it. No other way is God interested in anything you might have for Him.
Now because you did not serve the Lord your God with joyfulness, you’re going to then serve your enemies in hunger, and thirst, and nakedness, and in want of things: and your enemies will put a yolk of iron on your neck, till he has destroyed you. And, the LORD shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue those shalt not understand; [which is a reference to the Roman Empire.] A nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor show favor to the young: And he shall eat the fruit of thy cattle, and the fruit of thy land, [and all] and He shall besiege thee in all they gates…[and in verse fifty-three, God said] you are even going to eat the fruit of thine own body, [in other words, you will be so hungry you'll eat you own children.] (28:48-51, 53)
And this horrible curse did come to pass in the history of these people as they were driven by hunger to eating their own children as one of the times is recorded in 2 Kings chapter six.
If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, Jehovah, thy God; Then the LORD will make thy plagues awesome, plague your seed, and give you sore sicknesses of long continuance. And He will bring upon you all the diseases of Egypt. And you will be left few in number, whereas you were as the stars of heaven; because you would not obey the voice of the LORD thy God (28:58-60, 62).
You see how obedience is woven into the whole thing? If you obey then consider your blessings, but because you would not obey, because you did not obey, then all the cursing. This is the covenant that God established, God says, “All right, I'm going to give you this land. I'm going to set this covenant with you. Obey me, follow me, you'll enjoy it you'll be blessed. Disobey me, turn from Me, and the curses will follow.” It's just the covenant by which God gave to them the land.
And the Lord shall scatter thee among all the people, [verse sixty-four] from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known. [And you’re going to hate life; life will be very grievous to you.] In the morning you will say, I wish it was evening, and in the evening you will say, I wish it was morning (28:64, 67).
Chapter twenty-nine, God continues with this covenant.
These are the words of the covenant, which the Lord commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel. And Moses called all Israel, and said unto them, Ye have seen what the Lord has done before your eyes in the land of Egypt unto Pharaoh, and his servants. The great temptations which your eyes have seen, the signs, and those great miracles: Yet the LORD hath not given you a heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day. For I have led you for forty years in the wilderness: your clothes are not old, and your shoe is not old upon your foot. You have not eaten bread, neither have you drunk wine or strong drink: that you might know that I am the LORD your God (29:1-6).
In other words, Moses said you have seen these things of God but they had become commonplace, you don't even see them anymore. Don't you realize that after forty years, look at your shoes they haven't even worn out. Your clothes are still good. You have not really been able to plant, to harvest; yet God has taken care of your food. And you came to these kings, Sihon and Og. God gave them into your hand and you took their land and God gave it to you for an inheritance.
Keep therefore the words of this covenant, and do them, that ye may prosper in all you do (29:9).
Their prosperity was tied directly to their keeping and doing the commandments of God. That is the covenant that God established.
Now you stand this day all of you before the LORD your God;… Your little ones, your wives,...that you should enter into the covenant with the LORD your God, and into his oath, which the LORD thy God makes with you this day: That he may establish thee today for a people unto himself, and that he may be unto thee a God, as he hath said unto thee, and he hath sworn unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and Jacob. Neither with you only do I make this covenant and this oath; But with him that standeth here with us this day before the LORD our God, (For ye know how we have dwelt in the land of Egypt; and how we came through the nations which ye passed by; And ye have seen their abominations, and their idols, some of them are wood, some stone, some silver and gold, which were among them:) Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart is turned away this day from Jehovah our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that bears gall and wormwood; And it come to pass, when he hears the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst: The LORD will not spare him, but then the anger of the LORD and his jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall lie upon him (29:10-20),
Now this is a horrible thing when God's word is given and a person in his own heart contradicts the word of God. When God's Word says, “that thou shall not escape the wrath of God”, and you think in your heart “Ha, ha, that's not true”, or “I'll escape” or “It doesn't apply to me”, or whatever. And it's tragic that people will oftentimes do this. When God pronounces a curse, they smile within themselves and they say it won't happen to me. In Hebrews we read, "How shall we escape when we neglect so great a salvation" (Hebrews 2:3). There is no escape. God's Word shall be fulfilled, don't be deceived. God is not mocked, yet there are people who are mocking God. “Keep therefore the Words of this covenant and do them so that you may prosper in all that you do.”
Now, in verse twenty-four,
Even all the nations shall say, Wherefore hath the LORD done thus unto the land? what means the heat of this great anger? And they will say, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD God of their fathers, which he made (29:24-25).
So verse twenty-nine,
The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong to us, to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of the law (29:29). Again the doing of it.