Deuteronomy 28:1-2 (NKJV)
1 “Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. 2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God:
In yesterdays post I went through the blessings available to us as a part of our covenant relationship with the Lord. Deuteronomy 28:2 says that these blessings will “come upon you and overtake you.” To me this is a picture of what we have been calling favor. I believe that God wants to bring great favor into the church in 2013. This means people giving to or helping the church even when it might seem unlikely or impossible. Although the blessing in Deuteronomy 28 likely involves more than this, I believe favor is included in the package.
As we went through the list of ways God promises blessing and favor putting them in a more modern context, it is clear that this is something we want functioning in our lives. Since these are blessing of our covenant relationship with God, do they come to us automatically or is there something we must fulfill in order to see these blessings working in our behalf? Today’s scripture gives us the answer.
Verse 1 tells us that we must diligently obey the voice of the Lord. Verse 2 says these blessings will come upon us and overtake us because we obey the voice of the Lord. It is evident that to see these blessings and this favor, we must obey the Lord. Let us look at two more verses.
Deuteronomy 28:13-14 (NKJV)
13 And the LORD will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them. 14 So you shall not turn aside from any of the words which I command you this day, to the right or the left, to go after other gods to serve them.
In these verses, the Lord tells us that we must not turn away from his commandments but we must carefully observe to do them. If we do not obey the commandments of the Lord, we cannot expect these blessings, or favor, to come upon us or overtake us. Verse 15 tells us that just the opposite will happen.
It is important to understand the nature of what God is saying here. We know that Israel lived under the law and not under grace as we do. In order for them to walk in relationship with the Lord, they had to keep all of the rules and regulations of the Mosaic Law. If they broke the law, there were sacrifices they had to offer in order to get back into right standing with God.
Under grace, none of this is necessary. Jesus is the sacrifice and salvation is a free gift. We could never pay the price that would purchase what salvation in Jesus gaves us. We learn in the New Testament that the law was a “schoolmaster” given to Israel that would eventually lead man to something better. That something is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and salvation by grace. (Galatians 3)
Grace means that we do not have to meet the requirements of the law in order to maintain relationship with God. We are his children by our relationship with Jesus. Ephesians 1:6-7 tells us that God accepts us because of redemption in Jesus. There is no more we must do to gain this acceptance. However, does this mean our behavior is now irrelevant?
This has been a question throughout the church age. Let us see how Paul answers the charge that this is what his preaching on grace implies. Romans 6:1-2 (NKJV)
1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?
Paul is adamant that there can be no place for sin in the life of the believer. If we love God, we should want to please him. If we want fellowship with God, we must understand that we must submit to his nature. The question is not whether we are required to live by the standards of the commandments of God, but rather how we do that.
Under the law, Israel walked in God’s commandments by following the dictates of the Law of Moses. They could see what was required of them written on paper. For example, there were certain things they could not touch. If they touched a dead body, they would have to offer a sacrifice before they could go into the temple again. The dead body made them ritually unclean. If they did not offer the proper sacrifice and follow the proper procedure, they could not be cleansed .
This is not necessary under grace. Our relationship with God is not dependent on ritual cleanliness. The reason it is not necessary to be ritually clean is because we are clean inside by the blood of Jesus. Jesus made this clear in his teaching
Mark 7:18 (NKJV)
18 So He said to them, “Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him,
In this and many other verses, Jesus makes it clear that the standard under the law is not the standard that he has come to enforce. In Acts 10, the Lord speaks to Peter in a dream. Peter is about to be asked to go to the home of a gentile to preach the Gospel. Peter has been taught that this is unacceptable behavior and that to enter such a home would make him unclean. However, the Lord is about to change all that.
Acts 10:12-15 (NKJV)
12 In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. 13 And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” 15 And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.”
The Lord tells Peter that what he has been taught his whole life no longer applies. He is clean by the blood of Jesus. It does not matter what kind of house he goes into or what kind of food he eats. That has become irrelevant in Christ. God tells Peter not to call unclean what he calls clean. On one hand that means the food in Peter’s dream and the gentile home he must enter. It also means Peter himself. He is clean by the blood of Jesus so neither food nor the home of a gentile can make him unclean.
It is clear from the teachings of the New Testament that we are not obliged to keep the Law of Moses. The law is applied in the flesh. Romans 8 tells us that because the law is dependent upon the flesh, it is weak. Romans 6 tells us that we should not keep walking in sin. If we do not have to keep the law by the flesh, how do we keep from walking in sin under grace? What does any of this have to do with walking in the blessing of Deuteronomy 28?