Curses, Blessings & Discipline — Part I

Curses and blessings are an integral ingredient of blood covenant, as is discipline. Germane to a discussion of these things must be an understanding of the skeleton, the bones, of the covenant. The structure, or framework, of God’s covenant with those who were to become His people, began with the Ten Commandments. Later, laws, ordinances and statures were added to the commandments. Together, they make up the structural framework of this monumental covenant between God and Israel.

Like the eternal covenant God initiated with Abraham, manmade contracts contain terms and conditions to which the parties agree. Borrow money and the contract with the lender will have statements about repayment.

There will also be statements about the consequences for failing to make payments. It is usual for a contract to contain many such statements, and they are typically referred to as the fine print because of the small type with which they are printed. Sometimes they are called the covenants of the contract.

Commandments, Laws, Ordinances And Statutes

Just as modern-day contracts have terms and conditions, so do blood covenants. The terms and conditions for the blood covenant God made with Abraham, which was later extended to the nation Israel, are called commandments, laws, ordinances and statutes. This covenant also contains consequences for keeping, as well as not keeping, the terms and conditions. These are called blessings and curses. And unlike today’s contracts, the terms, conditions and consequences of a blood covenant are right out in the open, printed in readable type, for all to see. I’m referring to the Bible, of course. It is even available in large print editions.

When men of ancient times entered into a blood covenant, it was usually done in a public ceremony, and the blessings and curses would be loudly proclaimed for all to hear. As we will see, the covenant God made with Abraham is no different.

A sales agreement is part of every car purchase, whether new or used. This contract begins with the obvious terms and conditions; the names of the seller and buyer, the price of the car, the amount of the down payment and the interest rate and monthly payment for the loan. There are many other statements such as the rights of the buyer and the obligations of the seller. The purpose of the conditional statements contained in the contract is that they are guidelines and motivators for both parties to act in accordance with the contract. In other words, the terms and conditions of the contract are meant to control and direct the behavior of each party entering into the contract.

The covenant between God and Abraham was passed on to Abraham’s son Isaac, and then on to Isaac’s son, Jacob, and later became the governing apparatus for the nation of Israel. It also contained stipulations intended to direct the behavior of the covenanting parties. Since God cannot and will not violate His own covenant, the terms and conditions of the covenant can be thought to be directed at the Israelites. The terms and conditions had this effect: God would be the God of Israel, and they in turn would possess the land He promised them if they would conduct their lives and affairs according to the terms and conditions of the covenant.

God’s standard for the behavior of the people in the covenant, the people of Israel, was expressed in the Ten Commandments. These were later defined and clarified in a series of laws, statutes and ordinances given to the people by God through Moses. There were also blessings for compliance and curses for not keeping the requirements of the covenant as established by God.

Moses did not cross the Jordan River into the Promised Land with the new nation of Israel. So before the crossing and the time of his death, Moses gathered the people and retold all of the commandments, laws, statutes and ordinances that had been given to him by God for the people. Collectively, these terms and conditions of the covenant make up the Law Jesus came to fulfill. Let’s look at some of the Bible passages that show what this covenant is all about.

Then Moses summoned all Israel and said to them: “Hear, O Israel, the statutes and the ordinances which I am speaking today in your hearing, that you may learn them and observe them carefully.” (Deuteronomy 5:1)

And Moses continued:

2 “The LORD our God made a covenant with us at Horeb.

3 “The LORD did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, with all those of us alive here today.

4 “The LORD spoke to you face to face at the mountain from the midst of the fire,

5 while I was standing between the LORD and you at that time, to declare to you the word of the LORD ; for you were afraid because of the fire and did not go up the mountain.” (Deuteronomy 5:2-5)

Then Moses restates the Ten Commandments.

“He said, ‘I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

Moses with the Two New Tables of Stone (illust...

[1] ‘You shall have no other gods before Me.

[2] ‘You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

[3] ‘You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.

[4] ‘Observe the sabbath day to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant or your ox or your donkey or any of your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you, so that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to observe the sabbath day.

[5] ‘Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, that your days may be prolonged and that it may go well with you on the land which the LORD your God gives you.

[6] ‘You shall not murder.

[7] ‘You shall not commit adultery.

[8] ‘You shall not steal.

[9] ‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

[10] ‘You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, and you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field or his male servant or his female servant, his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.’” (Deuteronomy 5:6-21)

On the surface, these ten commandments may not seem to be daunting at all. They can easily be kept by not lying, stealing, cheating or deceiving. More careful deliberation, however, makes clear that these commandments penetrate deep into every aspect of your life. Moreover, keeping them is not merely a matter of doing this, that and the other. Quite the contrary. These commandments are a spiritual mechanism. As such, they are to be kept in a spiritual manner. You can try to keep the Ten Commandments and the remainder of the Law in a physical manner, but this would be to do it through the flesh, and you will not succeed. The spiritual alternative is to turn from the flesh, repent, and follow the Law spiritually by the leading of the Holy Spirit. This is the way to success.

1 Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours [an obedient faith, i.e., a doer of the word walking in sanctification], by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:

2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord;

3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.

4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature [as supplied by the Holy Spirit], having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust [the flesh nature].

5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence [the walk of faith requires diligence], in your faith [the following are acts of faith] supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge [a deep understanding],

6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness,

7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.

8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

9 For HE WHO LACKS THESE QUALITIES IS BLIND [does not have spiritual sight] or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.

10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you [be sure you have actually repented and not merely followed a religious ritual]; for as long as you practice these things, YOU WILL NEVER STUMBLE [this is a sure promise of a successful Christian life, and it is achieved through faith, and as such it is a spiritual walk];

11 for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you. (2 Peter 1:1-11)

It is clear from this passage that the way of repentance and sanctification is sure, reliable and certain, if, and this is a big if, we remain diligent in the exercise of our faith. In other words, we are to continue walking in sanctification and not turn back to the flesh as the Corinthians and Galatians were in danger of doing.

Now as we said, a contract contains statements explaining the particulars of the contract. In the covenant between God and Abraham there are laws or statutes that do the same thing. Following the retelling of the Ten Commandments, Moses restates the laws of the covenant. They are lengthy, and since the details are not germane to our discussion we will not quote them here. In order to give you an idea of the completeness of the covenant, they are listed below. You can read them in full and in context in the passages indicated from the book of Deuteronomy.

Law of Central Sanctuary (12:1-28)

Law of Idolatry (12:29-32)

Law of Food (14:1-21)

Law of Tithes (14:22-29; 26:1-15)

Law of Debts (15:1-11)

Law of Slaves (15:12-18)

Law of the First-born (15:19-23)

Law of Feasts (16:1-17)

Law of the Administration of Judges (16:18-22)

Law of the Administration of the King (17:14-20)

Law of the Administration of the Priest and Prophet (18:1-22)

Law of Witnesses (19:15-21)

Law of Warfare (20:1-20)

Law of Unknown Murder (21:1-9)

Law of Marriage (21:10-23; 22:13-30)

Law of Your Countrymen’s Property (22:1-4)

Law of Separation (22:5-12)

Law of Acceptance into the Assembly (23:1-4)

Laws of Harmony in the Nation (23:24-24:25)

The above titles are not part of the Bible script. They were created by the publishers of the Bible from which the quotes in this article are taken. Your Bible may or may not identify the laws, and if they are identified, the titles may not be the same. It is not the titles that are important. Rather, it is that the laws show the depth of detail for the way the Israelites were to live individually and collectively as a nation.

It is from within the construct of the covenant’s commandments, laws, ordinances and statutes that God, in the person of Jesus Christ, exercises His authority. Judgments are made, and either penalties, rewards or discipline are distributed according to a system called the Righteous Judgment Of God. Much more will be said about this provision of the covenant in later articles.

We will make a detailed examination of the curses and blessings of the covenant in Part II of Curses, Blessings & Discipline.

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One Response to Curses, Blessings & Discipline — Part I

  1. Anne Grace says:

    Really interesting, Peter.  Thanks.  Anne Grace

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