Deuteronomy, the last book of the Torah, recounts Israel’s journey to the edge of the Promised Land. It consists of Moses’ preaching to Israel to obey God and keep the Mosaic covenant that had been established at Mount Sinai decades prior. Because of this, much of what we see in Deuteronomy is a retelling of what we’ve already seen in the previous books of the Torah.
Near the end of Deuteronomy, there is a large section where Moses outlines the blessings that would result from obedience to the law and curses that would result from disobedience. God’s people have entered into a covenant with him, and here we see quite clearly what will happen depending on Israel’s response.
Obedience would bear good fruit. Among the many blessings in verses 1-14, we see that the Lord would set Israel above all the other nations (v.1), bring victory over Israel’s enemies (v.7), and cause prosperity (v.11). All that sounds great!
Disobedience, on the other hand, would not be so good. The result of disobedience would be severe. Israel would experience defeat, sickness, exile, and death.
Sounds fair enough, right? Both parties entered into the agreement, and to be honest, Israel had the good side of the deal. God had nothing to gain; Israel had everything to gain. They didn’t deserve God’s favor to begin with; no, because of their sin, they only deserved God’s curses. And yet, God chose to bless them as his people and promise them abundance as they obeyed.
If you’re familiar with the Old Testament, you know what happened. Israel chose wrong. They chose disobedience. Time and time again, Israel rebelled against God, resulting in exactly what God had laid out here in Deuteronomy 28. I encourage you to become really familiar with this chapter as you read through the Old Testament because you’ll be able to trace how God’s wrath in the Old Testament is tied directly to these curses. God was not flippantly punishing Israel unjustly; he was simply fulfilling the covenantal obligations that had been agreed upon centuries prior.
As the Old Testament narrative came to a close, it was undeniably clear that Israel had a serious problem. They were repeatedly, without fail, egregiously breaking the covenant they had made with God back at Mount Sinai. They couldn’t stop.
Something had to give.
And so in came Jesus.
Jesus, the perfect Son of God, came down in the flesh and lived a sinless life. He never broke the Mosaic covenant. He obeyed every single law. But instead of receiving the blessings for obedience, what do we see? He received the curses. Jesus experienced the exile and death that we deserve for our rebellion, bearing every bit of our punishment.
And in return, we get everything. We get the blessings. In Christ, in Christ alone, we are blessed. Our greatest enemies– sin, Satan, and death– are defeated before us. We are established a holy people for a holy God. Of course, these promises are not all felt fully until eternity, but we start to experience them now.
Despite Israel’s disobedience, God sent Jesus to provide a way out. Where Israel (and all people) deserve the curses of this covenant, the final chapters of the Bible portray the beauty of a Savior who has been merciful on us beyond measure. Whereas we deserve an eternal exile, God has given us an eternal home, a redeemed land free from sin and death and all enemies. Read verses 64-68 and then compare that to the truths in Revelation 21-22 and be astounded.
What a God we serve!
With that, we conclude our summer series on Christ in the Old Testament. In the last three months we’ve seen Jesus present, specifically in the Torah, in more than a dozen ways. It’s my prayer that you have been edified by this study and encouraged to continue it in your own study of Scripture.
Christ is present always. May we not only see him in all the pages of Scripture but in every aspect of our lives. To Him be all the glory, now and forever.