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Being tackled

Deuteronomy 28 has long been described by Bible Scholars as “The blessings and curses chapter” because verse 1-14 list the promises given to those who keep the law and verses 15-68 catalogue the list of curses for those who do not obey. Deuteronomy 28:1-2 states the “fine print” this way:

“ 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. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God."

    Upon careful inspection, we can elicit the one operative word in these verses as “if” which of course indicates that the blessing overtaking us really is up to us. When I was young, I heard my pastor teach on these two verses extensively. He would say that we can have blessings overtake us if only we would obey.- Indeed that is what the verses say. 

    However, at the time Deuteronomy 28 was written, there were 631 commands of “thou shall” and “thou shalt nots”. So just which were we supposed to carefully observe? I didn’t know but I thought that keeping all of those commandments sounded very legalistic and aren’t we under grace and not the law? {Rom 6:14}. God said that we have a better covenant now than Moses had and that ours was based on better promises. {Hebrews 8:6}. Not being able to receive those blessings because we had been delivered from the law seemed like a worse covenant to me! Therefore, this general inquiry rattled around in my heart for years whilst the devil held the blessings promised herein away from me due to my ignorance. {Hosea 4:6}. 

    One day I heard another pastor preach on this same passage and his stance was one that I could accept, for a while. His position was that Jesus fulfilled the whole law for us and redeemed us from the curse of the law. Which, according to Matthew 5:17-18  and Galatians 3:13-14 is exactly right. This meant that because Jesus fulfilled all of the c631 commandments perfectly and we are in Him, God would credit it to us as though we ourselves had fulfilled all 631 commandments. This was good news to me, and I expected the blessings to come on me and overtake me according to the promise in Deuteronomy 28. They were hit and miss to say the least. No matter how much I confessed that I believed Jesus became a curse for me {and I really do believe He did} I could not, in good conscience say that the blessings listed in the chapter were overtaking me. There had to be more to it.

    It seemed that on the one hand, removing Jesus from the equation caused me to be “legalistic” and on the other, making Jesus entirely responsible seemed to be “hyper grace” in my heart. Meaning that I could give myself permission to do and say whatever I wanted to because Jesus paid the price for my grace. Needless to say, the blessings still did not “overtake” me as neither of these methods of understanding is accurate. 

    So what is the answer? 

It is so simple; I could not believe I had been blind to it for so long. The answer is love. 

    Let us examine again our study verses. 

“ 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. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God.”

Our wonderful Savior Jesus carefully observed and kept all of the commandments that Moses instructed that day- that is understood. However, we do, as New Testament believers do have commandments that we are responsible to keep. They are found outlined in Matthew 22, verses 37 and 39-40

" 37 Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'

 39 "And [the] second [is] like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' 40 "On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”"

Here, Jesus states that the two greatest commands are to love God and love your neighbor as yourself. He said that on these two hang all of the Law and the prophets. That means that if we love God with all of our everything and we love our neighbor as ourselves, then we have fulfilled the Law that God has given to us. This sentiment is echoed in 1 John 3:23 in this way:

    "23 And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.”

The word translated as “believe” here is the Greek word “pisteuo” and Vine’s Expository dictionary defines it as relying upon and not merely giving credence to. We know that when it comes to God love is an action or the removal of an action. {See 1 Corinthians 13}. Thus, to ‘believe” on the Son is to act on the love you have for the Son and thereby the Father. 

    Both Jesus’ explanation and Johns are perfectly matched to illuminate the one command that the New Testament believer is obligated by- love. 

    Galatians 5:14 makes this command crystal clear:

"14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, [even] in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

So the answer to the resounding question of which commandments exactly, is love. When we walk in love as commanded by the Lord; toward both the Lord and our neighbor, we have fulfilled the law. Thus thefloodgates would now be open to the blessings to overtaking us. Love never fails. 

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