BLESSING OF GOD IN DEUTERONOMY 28
The previous chapter had given instructions for a future ceremony to take place in the promised land at which the covenant would be renewed and blessing and curses would be declared to the people. Here, the focus returns to the present, and the style returns to that of an ancient near Eastern treaty, in which the statement of the stipulations in Deut 5:1-26:19 is followed by a lengthy declaration of the consequences of obeying or breaking the treaty. The former will result in blessings, the latter in misery. The moral lesson here teach that the world is rational and moral. We do not have to live in a world of turmoil, but can know the good things that God delights to give. On the other hand, evil will not go unpunished.
The blessings that will follow from obedience is closely related to the basic human fears of political instability and famine. God assures the people that they and their offspring, whether living on the land or in the cities will enjoy prosperity and will be victorious over their enemies. They will not suffer crops failures but will be blessed with bountiful harvests. In a region that was dominated by the worship of Baal and other fertility gods, it will be abundantly clear who is the real source of nation’s bounty. Their prosperity will not go unnoticed by those around them who would look up unto them and seek their aid.
All these promises are firmly rooted in a covenant setting. Israel is reminded that God has chosen them and that it is he who will give them this peace and prosperity – provided they do not, turn to idolatry. They are reminded that all these blessings are conditional on obedience, three times it is mentioned in 2(a), 9(b), 13-14 i.e. at the beginning, in the middle and at the end.
CONCEPT OF SIN
The Basis of the biblical doctrine of sin is set forth in the story of the fall (Gen.3) and illustrated in the subsequent chapters, culminating in the flood (Gen.4-9). In Numbers, the sin of Israel is depicted in several events of murmuring and rebellion. In Deuteronomy (which we are considering) it is seen against the back-light of the covenant relationship.
The obligation f the Israelites to keep and do God’s ordinances stemmed from the fact that in the Exodus, God chose them to be His possession (7:6). When they claimed the land, they were to remember, these facts and obey God’s commandments (8:1-10). However, they were in constant danger of turning to their gods. Loving God and keeping His commandments are set side by side (11:1,13). Blessing in the land is the fruit of such obedience.
The gravity of sin is made dramatically clear in Deuteronomy. A central feature of the book is the series of instructions about ceremonies of blessings and curses to be observed as soon as the people set foot on the new land. The tribes were to divide into two groups; six, Mt. Ebal for a ritual.
The liturgy of twelve curses (27:11-26) covers a range of spiritual, social, and sexual crime similar to, but broader than those in the Decalogue. The lengthy list of blessings (28:1-19) embarrasses the whole range of God’s gracious gifts to the people politically, agriculturally, militarily, conversely, the even longer series of curses 15-68 threatens everything that Israelites hold dear, from freedom to health, from prosperity to loss of land.