Today’s reading: Deuteronomy 27:1–27
As we continue our journey through Deuteronomy with Moses and the tribe of Israel, we have come to the actual description of the journey across the Jordan. In this passage, Moses gives specific instructions on how the people will cross the Jordan. Moses informs them what they will get from the Jordan, the stones for the altar. Then Moses explained how they will come in this new land with proclamations over them. These proclamations are written as blessings and curses.
Relationship. This is the one word that describes what is happening here. The relationship that God had with Israel. The relationship that was between God and Israel was strained when they were freed and sent into the wilderness. God had everything ready for the people and they didn’t trust God because their relationship was not strong enough. Throughout Deuteronomy and the entire Bible the main theme and the main focus is : relationship. In Deuteronomy we are seeing a new reset of expectations for the entire people of Israel. We are seeing that God is giving them a reset of the expectations and a reset of their relationship. God is not concerned about all of the small things but he wants us to be in a relationship with him.
Is the beginning of this Passage, when Moses is instructing the people how to gather the stones. God has instructed Moses to tell the people to use uncut stones. This was not a mistake. God wanted the people to obey and to make no excuses in their worship. He did not want them to get obsessed with the cutting and the perfection of the stones for the altar, He just wanted their love, their devotion and relationship with them.
Blessings and curses have been used throughout the Bible and throughout time. Blessings are defined as special favor, mercy, or benefits that have been given to you from God. Curses are defined as a prayer or invocation for harm or injury to come upon the person. When we see or hear these particular words, Blessings and Curses , many images come to our minds. But if we actually take a step back and understand the truth underlying meaning of both of these words, we can see that they can be linked back to relationships.
When we are in a relationship with God, we understand his purpose for us and his direction for us. When we are in a relationship with him, his favor is with us. But when we choose to go against his words or his will, then we are not in a relationship with him. And when we have a disconnect from God we feel out of place and lonely and disconnected. So when we try to redefine these words of blessings and curses that we see here in Deuteronomy, we can actually see it as being in relationship with God or not a relationship with God.
Hosea 6:6 “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”
Hosea 6:6 ESV
God‘s main focus for us is to be in a relationship with him. He does not want all of the things that we have put upon him to love us. He does not need our money, he does not need our riches, he does not need our sacrifices. The one thing that God needs is our relationship with him. When we start a relationship with him and maintain this relationship we can see the blessings and curses better.
Let’s look at a relationship with God as if we are going to an optometrist. We are able to live our daily lives without perfect vision. We might be able to see our world fairly clearly. But when we have been reviewed and examined we might come up a little out of focus. We are prescribed new glasses. Then the world that we have been living in and observing becomes clearer and the obstacles more pronounced and the opportunities are more defined. With our relationship with God, we have a new prescription and are able to see what are our obstacles and opportunities. In a similar manner to the optometrist , we must get a check up on our relationship with God on a regular basis.
This is what the relationship that we have with God changes. It creates new expectations and clarity to our lives. We are able to navigate the world with more light and not fall into pitfalls of our own creations. We can stay in connection with God without trying to do more things, but just being in relationship with him.
My relationship with God has not always been the best. I have fallen down many times. I have been shown grace and many times over. But I realize that my relationship is dynamic and living. It is not static and nonliving. I have to daily reassess my relationship and make a commitment to move forward. That is what God wants, he knows that it will not be perfect but He wants to be with us no matter what may come.