Moses has concluded giving the people the reminders of the Law. Now he turns to the individual curses that will follow those who don’t obey.
The curses Moses lists here are individual curses for the individual who indulges in these listed acts. The final curse is all encompassing and deals with someone who skates on the edge of right and wrong. It also applies to EVERY ONE OF US because NO ONE can keep God’s Law 100% 100% of the time. Hence our need for Jesus to fulfill the Law for us.
I’m interested in Moses’ directions about placing the people, half on Mt. Ebal and half on Mt. Gerizim. I have looked at the “blessings” Jacob gave his sons just before his death. I was wondering if the positivity or negativity of their blessing put them on one side or the other. There were only four of the sons who received a definite negative “blessing.” Reuben, Levi, Simeon, and Issachar. I’m questioning the positive/negative ratio for Gad and Benjamin. On the positive side are Judah, Zebulun, Dan, Asher, Naphtali, and Joseph. Looking at the lineup on the mountains this certainly doesn’t fit what we see. Three of the four of those receiving curses from Jacob wind up on the blessing side.
So I turned to the camp layout to see if Moses followed those lines. Moses’ list starts with the center tribe on the southern side (Simeon) and the center of all the camp (Levi). He then takes the first two on the eastern side (Judah and Issachar) and ends with ALL the western side (Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin). These were all on the blessing side. On the curse side Moses starts with the southern group first taking the inside and outside tribes (Reuben and Gad), he includes ALL the northern side (Asher, Dan and Naphtali) and the outer most tribe on the eastern side (Zebulun). These last four are not even grouped in order of camp location.
Finally I turned to the numbers. The size of the tribes may have been the deciding factor. I noticed that the tribes on the “blessing” side were mostly all from the east to west camp lineup including Levi in the center. The tribes on the “cursing” side were mostly north and south. With the exchange of Zebulun for Simeon the count comes out more even. The “blessing” side had 316,800 people while the “curse” side had 307,930.
I was pondering this and feel I was given this answer. The people had an even chance to choose their destiny of “cursing” or “blessing.” It didn’t matter their past history. It didn’t matter which side of “town” they came from. It was an individual choice. And these were individual curses being laid out before them. Each person had to make that choice for himself. His family could be his support group but the choices are still up to each person.
The top of God’s curse list was making an imitation God. This makes perfect sense to me because His first commandments deal with this same issue. The second curse is exactly the opposite of His first commandment with a promise. “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12).
The next three curses center around Jesus’ command to love your neighbor as yourself. The acts described here are self-serving and take advantage of others, especially those less fortunate than yourself.
The next four address sexual sins. These are not the only sexual sins that God includes in His Law but they are major enough to carry not only the label of sinful but also bring a curse with them.
The following two both deal with murder. Murder by one’s own hand or by deceit.
Judas definitely fell into this one about a bribe to shed innocent blood. King David’s son Absalom broke the one about laying with one’s sister. These two men ended their lives with another of God’s curses; cursed is a man who hangs on a tree.
ALL of these curses Moses shared, the people would agree to by saying Amen. Amen, I have been told, means “so be it.” The people would sign their names to these conditions and agree to abide by them. This recitation of the curses and the assembling on the two mountains would take place in the Promised Land, when they built that altar on Mt. Ebal. I find it comforting to know that those who represented the curse side of the choice stood on the same mountain as the altar where such things could be brought to God to seek His forgiveness. Even in our sins we are never too far away that He can’t reach us. Turn to Him and repent. He is waiting with open arms.
Father God, thank You for leading me into Your word. Thank You for making me search for answers. Thank You Holy Spirit for giving me something to grab onto. I’m NOT saying it is the only answer or even the correct one but it is what I feel You gave me today.
Thank You Father that You are never farther away from me than a prayer of repentance. I have choices to make in my life that can lead to blessings or curses too. I get to choose. I know I don’t always make the right choice but You never give up on me even in the times of wrong choices. THANK YOU for drawing me back. Help me every day to make at least one less bad choice than I did the day before. Keep me moving ever toward You and what You want of my life.