Covenants, in particular blood covenants, are mediated by God. He judges according to a system of penalties and rewards. A procedure for judgment is necessary because people are prone to go back on their word, even when the commitment is as solemn and binding as a blood covenant. God, the principal party of the covenant we are studying, cannot and will not break His word. He will always keep all of the commandments of the covenant. He is also the only One who can judge between the parties with total equity and impartiality.
Since God desires that the commandments of the covenant be kept, and since there are penalties for not keeping the commandments, God instructs us to obey them.
12 “Now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require from you, but to fear the LORD [because the covenant has penalties] your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul,
13 and to keep the LORD’S commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good? (Deuteronomy 10:12-13)
“All the commandments that I am commanding you today you shall be careful to do [be sure to obey them], that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD swore to give to your forefathers.” (Deuteronomy 8:1)
The land the Israelites were to possess was a physical land. It was filled with nations of people who did not honor God nor follow His ways. We are to possess a land as well. It is the spiritual land within each one of us, our spiritual house. And like the land across the Jordan, it is filled with a nature that does not honor God nor follow His ways. The solution is to repent, receive a new nature in the likeness of Jesus Christ, and be diligent to walk the spiritual walk of sanctification.
Continuing on, God warns the Israelites to be careful not to forget the Lord and His commandments.
19 “It shall come about if you ever forget the LORD your God [turn back from your walk of sanctification] and go after other gods [the desires of the flesh] and serve them and worship them [obey them], I testify against you today that you will surely perish.
20 “Like the nations that the LORD makes to perish before you, so you shall perish; because you would not listen to the voice of the LORD your God [to keep the commandments by walking in sanctification].” (Deuteronomy 8:19-20).
Mount Gerizim And Mount Ebal
Moses instructs the people of Israel about the ramifications of the journey they are about to make into the promised land. This is clearly not a vacation cruise. It is an entering into a covenant, it is serious, and there are serious consequences that are both pleasant and unpleasant. These consequences are called blessings and curses. The idea is that fabulous blessings and dire curses would be proclaimed over the covenanting parties. Their purpose was to act as motivators for the parties to remain true to their blood covenant partner.
God is the initiator of the covenant with Israel. He is also one of the covenant partners as well as its mediator. The blessings and curses are not intended to persuade Him to keep the covenant’s commandments. He cannot and will not break a single one. Hence, the blessings and curses are directed to God’s covenant partners, the descendants of Abraham. In the Old Covenant, they are the people of the nation Israel. In the New Covenant, they are the spiritual descendants of Abraham by reason of being in covenant with Jesus Christ.
Moses continues to speak God’s instructions to the nation Israel.
26 “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse:
27 the blessing, if you listen to the commandments of the LORD your God, which I am commanding you today;
28 and the curse, if you do not listen to the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside from the way which I am commanding you today, by following other gods which you have not known.
29 “It shall come about, when the LORD your God brings you into the land where you are entering to possess it, that you shall place the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal.
30 “Are they not across the Jordan, west of the way toward the sunset, in the land of the Canaanites who live in the Arabah, opposite Gilgal, beside the oaks of Moreh?
31 “For you are about to cross the Jordan to go in to possess the land which the LORD your God is giving you, and you shall possess it and live in it,
32 and you shall be careful to do all the statutes and the judgments which I am setting before you today.” (Deuteronomy 11:26-32)
Following this, Moses instructs the Israelites of the statutes, laws and judgements they are to follow in their new land. These are found in Deuteronomy 12-26. Chapter 26 concludes with these words:
16 “This day the LORD your God commands you to do these statutes and ordinances. You shall therefore be careful to do them with all your heart and with all your soul [keeping God’s commandments is a spiritual activity].
17 “You have today declared the LORD to be your God, and that you would walk in His ways and keep His statutes, His commandments and His ordinances, and listen to His voice.
18 “The LORD has today declared you to be His people, a treasured possession, as He promised you, and that you should keep all His commandments;
[Verses 17 and 18 are a declaration that a covenant has been entered into between God and the people of Israel.]
19 and that He will set you high above all nations which He has made, for praise, fame, and honor; and that you shall be a consecrated people to the LORD your God, as He has spoken.” (Deuteronomy 26:16-19)
Following this, the Israelites are commanded to set up a memorial on the other side of the Jordan River. This is another indication that a blood covenant is in place.
1 Then Moses and the elders of Israel charged the people, saying, “Keep all the commandments which I command you today.
2 “So it shall be on the day when you cross the Jordan to the land which the LORD your God gives you, that you shall set up for yourself large stones and coat them with lime
3 and write on them all the words of this law, when you cross over, so that you may enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, a land flowing with milk and honey, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, promised you.
4 “So it shall be when you cross the Jordan, you shall set up on Mount Ebal, these stones, as I am commanding you today, and you shall coat them with lime.
5 “Moreover, you shall build there an altar to the LORD your God, an altar of stones; you shall not wield an iron tool on them.
6 “You shall build the altar of the LORD your God of uncut stones, and you shall offer on it burnt offerings to the LORD your God;
7 and you shall sacrifice peace offerings [a blood covenant is a covenant of peace between the parties] and eat there, and rejoice before the LORD your God.
8 “You shall write on the stones all the words of this law very distinctly.”
9 Then Moses and the Levitical priests spoke to all Israel, saying, “Be silent and listen, O Israel! This day you have become a people for the LORD your God.
10 “You shall therefore obey the LORD your God, and do His commandments and His statutes which I command you today.” (Deuteronomy 27:1-10)
The nation of Israel had become God’s people. That is, they are in a blood covenant with God, specifically, the covenant God made with Abraham. As such, it is God’s desire that His people would follow Him. That’s the role of the blessings and curses.
11 Moses also charged the people on that day, saying,
12 “When you cross the Jordan, these shall stand on Mount Gerizim to bless the people: Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin.
13 “For the curse, these shall stand on Mount Ebal: Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali.
[There are to be Levites on Mount Gerizim and on Mount Ebal. The people of Israel are in the valley while the Levites proclaim the curses and the blessings for all to hear.]
14 “The Levites shall then answer and say to all the men of Israel with a loud voice,
15 ‘Cursed is the man who makes an idol or a molten image, an abomination to the LORD, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and sets it up in secret. ‘And all the people shall answer and say, ‘Amen.’
[Amen, in the context of the above verse, and so on to end of this passage, is a confirmation and agreement of the people with the covenant conditions as stipulated.]
16 ‘Cursed is he who dishonors his father or mother. ‘And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’
17 ‘Cursed is he who moves his neighbor’s boundary mark. ‘And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’
18 ‘Cursed is he who misleads a blind person on the road. ‘And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’
19 ‘Cursed is he who distorts the justice due an alien, orphan, and widow. ‘And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’
20 ‘Cursed is he who lies with his father’s wife, because he has uncovered his father’s skirt. ‘And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’
21 ‘Cursed is he who lies with any animal. ‘And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’
22 ‘Cursed is he who lies with his sister, the daughter of his father or of his mother. ‘And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’
23 ‘Cursed is he who lies with his mother-in-law. ‘And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’
24 ‘Cursed is he who strikes his neighbor in secret. ‘And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’
25 ‘Cursed is he who accepts a bribe to strike down an innocent person. ‘And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’
26 ‘Cursed is he who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them. [We confirm that we are in the covenant by keeping the commandments. Remember that Jesus said those who loved Him would keep His commandments.] And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’ (Deuteronomy 27)
And from Mounts Gerizim and Ebal the Levites declared the following blessings and curses to the people:
1 “Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the LORD your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth.
[Following Are The Blessings Proclaimed From Mount Gerizim]
2 “All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you if you obey the LORD your God:
3 “Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country.
4 “Blessed shall be the offspring of your body and the produce of your ground and the offspring of your beasts, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock.
5 “Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.
6 “Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.
7 “The LORD shall cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before you; they will come out against you one way and will flee before you seven ways.
8 “The LORD will command the blessing upon you in your barns and in all that you put your hand to, and He will bless you in the land which the LORD your God gives you.
9 “The LORD will establish you as a holy people to Himself, as He swore to you, if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in His ways.
10 “So all the peoples of the earth will see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they will be afraid of you.
11 “The LORD will make you abound in prosperity, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your beast and in the produce of your ground, in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers to give you.
12 “The LORD will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand; and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow.
13 “The LORD will make you the head and not the tail, and you only will be above, and you will not be underneath, if you listen to the commandments of the LORD your God, which I charge you today, to observe them carefully,
14 and do not turn aside from any of the words which I command you today, to the right or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.
15 “But it shall come about, if you do not obey the LORD your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes with which I charge you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:
[Following Are The Curses Proclaimed From Mount Ebal]
16 “Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the country.
17 “Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.
18 “Cursed shall be the offspring of your body and the produce of your ground, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock.
19 “Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out.
20 “The LORD will send upon you curses, confusion, and rebuke, in all you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and until you perish quickly, on account of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken Me.
21 “The LORD will make the pestilence cling to you until He has consumed you from the land where you are entering to possess it.
22 “The LORD will smite you with consumption and with fever and with inflammation and with fiery heat and with the sword and with blight and with mildew, and they will pursue you until you perish.
23 “The heaven which is over your head shall be bronze, and the earth which is under you, iron.
24 “The LORD will make the rain of your land powder and dust; from heaven it shall come down on you until you are destroyed.
25 “The LORD shall cause you to be defeated before your enemies; you will go out one way against them, but you will flee seven ways before them, and you will be an example of terror to all the kingdoms of the earth.
26 “Your carcasses will be food to all birds of the sky and to the beasts of the earth, and there will be no one to frighten them away.
27 “The LORD will smite you with the boils of Egypt and with tumors and with the scab and with the itch, from which you cannot be healed.
28 “The LORD will smite you with madness and with blindness and with bewilderment of heart;
29 and you will grope at noon, as the blind man gropes in darkness, and you will not prosper in your ways; but you shall only be oppressed and robbed continually, with none to save you.
30 “You shall betroth a wife, but another man will violate her; you shall build a house, but you will not live in it; you shall plant a vineyard, but you will not use its fruit.
31 “Your ox shall be slaughtered before your eyes, but you will not eat of it; your donkey shall be torn away from you, and will not be restored to you; your sheep shall be given to your enemies, and you will have none to save you.
32 “Your sons and your daughters shall be given to another people, while your eyes look on and yearn for them continually; but there will be nothing you can do.
33 “A people whom you do not know shall eat up the produce of your ground and all your labors, and you will never be anything but oppressed and crushed continually .
34 “You shall be driven mad by the sight of what you see.
35 “The LORD will strike you on the knees and legs with sore boils, from which you cannot be healed, from the sole of your foot to the crown of your head.
36 “The LORD will bring you and your king, whom you set over you, to a nation which neither you nor your fathers have known, and there you shall serve other gods, wood and stone.
37 “You shall become a horror, a proverb, and a taunt among all the people where the LORD drives you.
38 “You shall bring out much seed to the field but you will gather in little, for the locust will consume it.
39 “You shall plant and cultivate vineyards, but you will neither drink of the wine nor gather the grapes, for the worm will devour them.
40 “You shall have olive trees throughout your territory but you will not anoint yourself with the oil, for your olives will drop off.
41 “You shall have sons and daughters but they will not be yours, for they will go into captivity.
42 “The cricket shall possess all your trees and the produce of your ground.
43 “The alien who is among you shall rise above you higher and higher, but you will go down lower and lower.
44 “He shall lend to you, but you will not lend to him; he shall be the head, and you will be the tail.
45 “So all these curses shall come on you and pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you would not obey the LORD your God by keeping His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you.
46 “They shall become a sign and a wonder on you and your descendants forever.
47 “Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy and a glad heart, for the abundance of all things;
48 therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the LORD will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in the lack of all things; and He will put an iron yoke on your neck until He has destroyed you.
49 “The LORD will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as the eagle swoops down, a nation whose language you shall not understand,
50 a nation of fierce countenance who will have no respect for the old, nor show favor to the young.
51 “Moreover, it shall eat the offspring of your herd and the produce of your ground until you are destroyed, who also leaves you no grain, new wine, or oil, nor the increase of your herd or the young of your flock until they have caused you to perish.
52 “It shall besiege you in all your towns until your high and fortified walls in which you trusted come down throughout your land, and it shall besiege you in all your towns throughout your land which the LORD your God has given you.
53 “Then you shall eat the offspring of your own body, the flesh of your sons and of your daughters whom the LORD your God has given you, during the siege and the distress by which your enemy will oppress you.
54 “The man who is refined and very delicate among you shall be hostile toward his brother and toward the wife he cherishes and toward the rest of his children who remain,
55 so that he will not give even one of them any of the flesh of his children which he will eat, since he has nothing else left, during the siege and the distress by which your enemy will oppress you in all your towns.
56 “The refined and delicate woman among you, who would not venture to set the sole of her foot on the ground for delicateness and refinement, shall be hostile toward the husband she cherishes and toward her son and daughter,
57 and toward her afterbirth which issues from between her legs and toward her children whom she bears; for she will eat them secretly for lack of anything else, during the siege and the distress by which your enemy will oppress you in your towns.
58 “If you are not careful to observe all the words of this law which are written in this book, to fear this honored and awesome name, the LORD your God,
59 then the LORD will bring extraordinary plagues on you and your descendants, even severe and lasting plagues, and miserable and chronic sicknesses.
60 “He will bring back on you all the diseases of Egypt of which you were afraid, and they will cling to you.
61 “Also every sickness and every plague which, not written in the book of this law, the LORD will bring on you until you are destroyed.
[Sicknesses and diseases are curses, not blessings.]
62 “Then you shall be left few in number, whereas you were as numerous as the stars of heaven, because you did not obey the LORD your God.
63 “It shall come about that as the LORD delighted over you to prosper you, and multiply you, so the LORD will delight over you to make you perish and destroy you; and you will be torn from the land where you are entering to possess it.
64 “Moreover, the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth; and there you shall serve other gods, wood and stone, which you or your fathers have not known.
65 “Among those nations you shall find no rest, and there will be no resting place for the sole of your foot; but there the LORD will give you a trembling heart, failing of eyes, and despair of soul.
66 “So your life shall hang in doubt before you; and you will be in dread night and day, and shall have no assurance of your life.
67 “In the morning you shall say, ‘Would that it were evening!’ And at evening you shall say, ‘Would that it were morning!’ because of the dread of your heart which you dread, and for the sight of your eyes which you will see.
68 “The LORD will bring you back to Egypt in ships, by the way about which I spoke to you, ‘You will never see it again!’ And there you will offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but there will be no buyer.” (Deuteronomy 28)
Verses 60 and 61 speak of sickness and disease. These are curses of the covenant, and they are reserved for those who do not keep the laws, commandments, statutes and ordinances of the covenant. Those who keep the covenant are blessed with the removal of sickness and disease.
12 “Then it shall come about, because you listen to these judgments and keep and do them, that the LORD your God will keep with you His covenant and His lovingkindness which He swore to your forefathers.
13 “He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock, in the land which He swore to your forefathers to give you.
14 “You shall be blessed above all peoples; there will be no male or female barren among you or among your cattle.
15 “The LORD will remove from you all sickness; and He will not put on you any of the harmful diseases of Egypt which you have known, but He will lay them on all who hate you.” (Deuteronomy 7:12-15)
Please note that God’s promise to those who keep His covenant is the removal of ALL sickness and disease. Not some diseases, not a few sicknesses, but all sickness and disease. This is exactly the picture we see played out in the ministry of Jesus as He healed all who came to Him of all manner of sickness of disease. Following the resurrection of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the apostles also healed all who came to them. (See Acts 5:12-16) The healing of all who came to Him, either personally or through His followers, is a picture of all who enter into the covenant through Jesus. Therefore, we see that all who are in the covenant, the spiritual sons and heirs of the Abrahamic covenant, receive all of the blessings, including the removal of all the sicknesses and diseases that are on the world, of which Egypt is a representation. This may be difficult for you to accept, but it is the clear word of God. We should not evaluate God’s word based on our current experience. If we don’t see the removal of all sickness and disease in the body of Christ today, it is not because God’s word is not true. Perhaps it is because we are not walking in the covenant as we should.
Please remember that this covenant is an eternal covenant (1 Chronicles 16:12-17, Hebrews 13:20). As such, it is never going to go away. It is now and will be for all eternity the spiritual legal system through which God governs the affairs of all the people on earth not only the nation Israel. This broad authority was established when Jesus made covenant with the whole world when He laid down His life for the sins of the whole world. With His resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the covenant which began with a man named Abram established God’s legal authority to judge all people, for all time, according to the laws, commandments, statutes and ordinances of the covenant. This means God’s curses, blessings and discipline as stipulated in the eternal covenant are in effect right now as you are reading this article.
We will talk more about how the covenant became the law of the entire world in future articles, but there is yet one more part of the covenant’s consequences to review, the discipline of the covenant that is reserved for believers in Jesus Christ. We will take up this discussion in Part III of Curses, Blessings & Discipline.