So the first thing the Israelites were to do after they’d crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land had to do with the Law. Moses instructed them to erect the equivalent of a modern-day billboard, and carve God’s Commandments clearly enough for everyone to see. Their occupation of that land came with conditions. Their future depended on them obeying God’s Law.
God gave them the good news first. “If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commandments… all these blessings will come upon you…” (28:1-2) Then He proceeds to describe what life would be life for God’s obedient children:
You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock – the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed. You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out. (vv 3-6)
It doesn’t even stop there. Victory over enemies, full barns, nations recognizing the fact they are God’s holy people, abundant prosperity…
I’d pick door number one!
Because beginning in verse 15, God describes in gruesome detail what life would be like if they chose disobedience over obedience.
You will be cursed in the city and cursed in the country. Your basket and your kneading trough will be cursed. The fruit of your womb will be cursed, and the crops of your land, and the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. You will be cursed when you come in and cursed when you go out. (vv16-19)
Oh, it gets worse. Much worse. From devastating losses in battle, to awful diseases, to broken relationships, barren land and famine, such suffering that cannibalism would be the only means of survival.
There’s more. It’s just too awful.
God spent fourteen verses talking about the blessings for obedience. He took 53 verses to warn them about the consequences for disobedience.
I’m reminded God does not want ANYONE going to hell. He takes no delight in the death of an unrepentant sinner. He is desperate for us to know the truth about what is ahead.
The blessings speak for themselves. You know what I mean, if you’ve given your heart to the Lord, and are careful to follow His rules. The blessings are there! It’s the bad news God wants to make clear.
If you think what we read in chapter 28 is bad, you’ve seen only a glimpse of eternity without God. Only the first day of eternity in hell.
The good news is that God is so desperate, so driven to have us with Him, He came to earth Himself and paid the price for all our sin. When we accept His gift of grace, when we follow Him and choose to obey, He opens the floodgates of blessing. Our enemy is defeated, our sins are forgiven, we experience love and joy and peace like never before. And we know for certain that no matter what happens in this life, what comes next will knock our socks off.
And because God is so desperate that no one die without Him, He wants you to know what it is you are choosing when you choose to deny Him, As you read what God said to Israel here in chapter 28, put yourselves in their shoes. Feel the pain, the humiliation, the fear. Feel what it would be like if God removed Himself, no longer tried to get your attention. Realize the desperation, the anguish, the abandonment that comes from disobedience.
Then understand that without following God, there is no hope for mercy. No possibility of relief. Ever.
The bad news… the really bad news is…
Eternity is a very long time to be without God, my friend.