If This, Then That…
Day: 28 | Plan: Deuteronomy
Today's Reading: Deuteronomy 28:1-14
Deuteronomy 28:1-2 (NIV) “If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God”
You and I enter into agreements with individuals or groups all the time. We agree to act in a certain manner with an expectation of how the other party will reciprocate. For example, if I pay my mortgage, I can continue to live in my home. If I show up and work diligently, I can expect a paycheck. If I purchase an item I don’t want, I can return it per the store’s policy. Solid agreements all have clauses or “fine print” that define the relationship or expectations between two parties. Deuteronomy 28 is the “fine print” of God’s covenant agreement with Israel.
Multiple times in this book, Moses has stated God’s intention toward Israel: If you do this, then I will do that. While the “this” and “that” have been varying propositions, the main idea is if the people obey God, then God will bless Israel.
That “if/then” principle is called a conditional covenant. Before we distinguish the nature of this covenant, let’s define what a covenant is. According to theologian Wayne Grudem, “a covenant is an unchangeable, divinely imposed legal agreement between God and man that stipulates the conditions of their relationship.”
Covenants originate with God. We cannot impose or demand anything from God. For our part, we can accept or reject God’s covenant requirements.
Also notice that the covenant is unalterable. Because it originates with God, who never changes or breaks His promise, the nature of the agreement never changes. Finally, covenants feature several necessary components—the definition of the agreement, legally binding nature of the agreement (usually with an accompanied sign) and consequences of the agreement.
As we have studied the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, we have witnessed several covenants—God’s covenant with Adam, later with Noah (and all humanity) and perhaps most significantly with Abram.
In Genesis 15, God enters into a covenant with Abram. God states that He will be Abram’s God. The consequence or benefit of this relationship is that God will multiply Abram’s offspring making them as numerous as the stars in the sky. These future offspring will inhabit a Promised Land of blessing. The sign of the covenant was a blazing fire of the Lord’s presence that passed in front of Abram sealing God’s promises, later confirmed by Abraham’s circumcision. (God changes Abram’s name to Abraham at his circumcision. Genesis 15:10-21; 16:10-11)
God’s covenant with Abraham is an unconditional covenant. God has chosen Abraham’s offspring to be His people for all generations. Nothing could forfeit His promise to be in a relationship with these people, now called Israel. God will bless all people through Abraham’s family. (Genesis 12:3) Jesus was the unchangeable, irrevocable promise of God for His people.
God’s covenant with Moses, being restated in Deuteronomy, is a conditional covenant. Now that they are prepared to go in and take the land promised to them, God is establishing how He will bless and curse them based on their faithfulness to His Word. The people have a responsibility to God, and He promises to respond accordingly. In either case, God keeps His promise. He never fails. No matter the people’s choice, God keeps His Word.
Whether unconditional or conditional, it is astounding that God would enter into relationship with His people at all! Covenants, like the Law, are meant to teach us about God Himself. He always keeps His promises. The invitation into covenant with Him is an invitation to be promise-keepers just like Him.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, You never, never break a promise. You always do exactly what You say You will do. I am so grateful that each promise kept is an invitation to know You more. What a privilege to get a glimpse into Your character as you keep Your word. Help me to be a promise-keeper, a person faithful to my commitments. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Covenants are a significant part of God’s story in revealing Himself to humanity.... Read More
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