Many years ago, when I was first trying to comprehend the reality of God and His caring for us and our need to come and remain under His guidance and authority, my mind projected an analogy of a little child that was allowed to go out and play in the fenced yard but not to go out beyond the gate. Of course, in my mind, me being that little child, I decided for myself to go beyond that fenced gate and venture out on my own. And in my analogy there was a woods nearby. You probably know what’s coming next, I decided to go into the woods and very shortly became lost. When I left the safety of the fenced yard, I removed myself from the protection and guidance of my parents. When I got lost, it didn’t mean that my parents no longer loved me, it just meant that I had removed myself from the influence of their guidance and protection. I know, this analogy isn’t perfect but at the time it provided for me, a rationale to understand what had transpired in my life and my need to get back to the fenced yard. That fence gate, in that fenced yard, in many ways, has played a critical role in my walk with God, over the years.
I have been going through the Old Testament again in a new hard copy of the Amplified Study Bible I recently bought. I’m almost finished Deuteronomy now, and as I was saying my prayers yesterday I asked God to help me understand why there is so much of the curses laid out in Deuteronomy for Israel. The short story is there is a lot and it’s not pretty. Oh, the blessings are laid out first, but I’m beginning to see things I haven’t seen before. God doesn’t list all of the blessings in one place like when Moses expounds upon the curses in Deuteronomy in chapter twenty-eight. They are interwoven throughout all of the preceding scriptures, lots of little things that one could easily overlook. An example is that God wanted all of the men of Israel to come before Him at least three times a year and He promises them that if they will do that, they do not need to fear that their land or possessions will be attacked during that time they are away because He will ensure that they aren’t. You won’t find that in chapter twenty eight. And, it’s also important to note, that even though the curses are spelled out very clearly, they are in effect, just a taking away of the previously special blessings promised to Israel.
The short story is that God doesn’t give us the option of having it both ways and He even brings this to our attention in Deuteronomy 29:19-20 NIV where He says,” When such a person hears the words of this oath and they invoke a blessing on themselves, thinking, “I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way,” they will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry. The Lord will never be willing to forgive them; his wrath and zeal will burn against them. All the curses written in this book will fall on them, and the Lord will blot out their names from under heaven.“
The over riding lesson that God is trying to impress upon Israel and us is that He really is our source, for everything and we just don’t get it. And it really doesn’t matter how He continually reinforces that comprehension that we need to grasp, be it with what we see with our eyes or the blessings that will and do follow, it is our utter dependency on Him that is the objective because try as we might, when push comes to shove, that is the way that it works. The blessings are everywhere, from the manna, to the quail, to the water and their clothes not wearing out nor their sandals. We continually focus on things whereas He would have us focus on Him and the loving relationship of dependency that He wishes us to be in with Him. He is our Father and we are His sons and daughters. That is what a Father does.
And, as I’ve been studying God’s Word, I can’t help but feel that there is a reversal going on, from the way it is now, after the fall, from the way it originally was with Adam and Eve in the garden, prior to the fall. God’s revelation to us in the Bible is all about returning our hearts and minds back to the way it was before the fall. Prior to the fall there was no greed or shame. Dependency was a given. God’s presence was the pinnacle of the garden, He created us to be in union with Him, in fellowship with Him. Our dependency on Him was total via Adam and Eve prior to the fall. But after the fall that all changed. Self replaced God, self broke that unity. We had eyes to see but we could no longer see. We had ears to hear but we could no longer hear. From Genesis to Deuteronomy, we see God showing us what transpired, how that communion was broken, how He chose faith or trust (dependency) in Him, to do what He says He will do, via individuals, as the vehicle or means whereby His plan of reconciliation is realized. He then expands His revelation and selects a small nation to become a witness to Himself, outlining special blessings or curses dependent upon the recognition of the need to trust in Him to meet all of our needs, both physically and spiritually.
That gate, in my previous analogy, plays a critical role in Israel’s history and their recognition of this requirement. I guess what I am saying is that when you read the blessings and curses in Deuteronomy chapter 28, don’t look at them as a summation of do this or else, look at them as the reality of what happens when you go through that gate and remove yourself from His guidance, love and special caring. It’s not pretty, not pretty at all but that is what happens when we walk away from God’s love. It’s our choice, not His.
I also can’t help but remember when Nabeel Qureshi died and how Nabeel said that regardless of his stated desire to remain with his wife and child, Nabeel trusted God. And what did Nabeel trust God for? I think he trusted God’s choice over his own. He saw beyond what his eyes could see, he heard beyond what his own thoughts said. As much as Nabeel wanted his own will to be realized, he trusted God’s will for him over his own.
I can’t help but think that is where we all need to be.
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!