We start with the end of the Second Discourse of Moses when we finish Chapter 26. The First Discourse was a review of the journey, the Second Discourse a review of the laws and codes given by God, and the Third Discourse (beginning with Chapter 27) is the enforcement of those laws.
Chapter 28, one of my most favorite of all the chapters in the Torah (in the entire bible, in fact) is known as the “Blessings and Curses” chapter.
Covenants have three components: first, you tell what the conditions of the covenant are, second the rewards of complying, and third the punishment for not complying. Following this format, the Second Discourse of Moses told of the conditions of the covenant, and Chapter 28 tells us the rewards for obedience and the consequences of disobedience.
The rewards, the blessings, are wonderful, and impact every part of our lives. Going in and coming out, in the fields (our work), the fruit of our body (happy, healthy family), the fruit of our herds and flocks (financial stability) and ultimately we will be known as a people blessed and protected by God (that would make a wonderful epitaph, wouldn’t it?)
But that’s not why this is my favorite.
After we are told all the wonderful things God will do for us when we obey, we are then told what will happen to us if we disobey. And these curses are the exact opposite of the blessings, except they go way beyond one-for-one, curse for blessing. Initially, we will be cursed going in and out, barren wives, failed crops, herds dying, enemies attacking and winning, we will be the tail not the head, but then it gets worse. We will suffer all the plagues of Egypt and, well…let’s just leave it at it gets worse. Ultimately, we will be known as a people cursed and abandoned by God.
Obviously, the curses aren’t why this is my favorite chapter, either.
What makes this my favorite chapter is because it demonstrates the true nature of our God- a loving, compassionate and fair Father who wants only to do good for us.
Let’s start with the first curse- Genesis 3, when Adam and Eve screwed up royally and God cursed the Earth (not them- the earth). Down the road a-ways, in the B’rit Chadasha (New Covenant), we get told who has rule over the earth- it isn’t God. Oh, yes- God is in control of everything, all the time, but we often read how He cedes rule to others. God has ceded rule (not control) over the earth to the Enemy, the Evil One, Satan.
You don’t believe me? Read Revelations 12: 7-12; read Ephesians 2:1-2; read John 12:31; read 1 John 5:19: the New Covenant tells us that the Enemy has dominion over the Earth.
So, what it comes down to is this: the curses that we read about in Chapter 28 aren’t things that God does to us, they are things that happen because we live in a cursed world with a really nasty guy running the show. Just being alive is a curse.
God does not curse us, He protects us from the curses!
The blessings of God are a kippur, a covering, which protects us from the world we live in. It’s like a golf umbrella that covers us and even the wind won’t make it turn inside-out. It’s stronger than the weather, which is the rain (or reign, if you will) of the Evil One falling down on us.
In other words, we receive curses when we show that we are so stubbornly rebellious we don’t have enough sense to come in out of the reign (of the Evil One.)
God’s blessings are what He does for us; the curses are what happens to us (when we walk away from God’s Kippur.)
That’s why I love this chapter so much: it tells me how wonderfully compassionate God is, how much He wants to do good for us, how He doesn’t do anything bad to us and when bad things happen it’s because we have left God’s protection by disobeying Him.
The blessings are what we receive for doing what is best for us and when we don’t, God will leave us on our own because He gave us Free Will. And He gave us Free Will because He loves us so much that He wants us to love Him back by our choice to do so.
What’s really unbelievable to us humans, self-centered and hedonistic as we are, is that even when someone hates God, rejects Him, and curses Him to His face, even that person will receive a blessing now and then. Just because God still loves him (or her) and even when being hated, God will love you enough to give you an occasional blessing.
It is said He rains on both the righteous and unrighteous, which I believe demonstrates His love for all.
So, that is why I love this chapter- it shows us how much God really loves us, and His wonderfully compassionate, forgiving and accepting nature. It also shows that He honors His word and does what He says He will do, which gives me confidence in His promise of salvation.
We can’t earn salvation but we can earn blessings. That is comforting, challenging and hopeful all at the same time.
Go earn some blessings today- all you need to do is read the Word, honor the Torah (as Yeshua/Jesus did) and get blessed.
For me, I try to do one less sin every day. That doesn’t mean not do a sin today, then never do that sin again- that can’t be done, at least, I can’t do that. But what I can do is one less sin every day.
We can never be sinless, but we can always sin less. So, do one less sin today.
I can trade a sin for a blessing? Oy! Vot a deal!