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"If... Then... "
Wednesday AM Bible Study
January 31, 2007
Theme: This chapter lays out before the people the consequences of their response to God's covenant with them.
This chapter should be seen in the light of Deuteronomy 28-30, and the blessings and curses God placed before the people with respect to their response to His covenant with them. As Deuteronomy 30:19 says, “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendents may live.” Jesus says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
Note . . .
I. THE CALL (vv. 1-2)
A. The initial words of this chapter point back to the first table of the law (the first four commandments, governing our relationship with God). This is the basis of blessing before God.
B. With this was specified the commandments to keep God's Sabbath and reverence His sanctuary. This points to both the internal and external expressions of true devotion to Him—both time and place.
II. THE CONSEQUENCES (vv. 3-39).
Note that there is a repeated pattern of “if” and “then”. This speaks of the consequences of obedience or disobedience. God makes it clear that His response to His people depends upon their response to Him. Blessing or cursing, life or death, was placed before them.
A. The promise of God's blessing for obedience to His commandments (vv. 3-13).
If they walk in His statutes and keep His commandments, He promises to bless the produce of the land, their peace, and victory in battle. He assures them that He would “look” on them with favor. They will have to eat the old harvest in order to make way for the new (v. 10). The greatest blessing of all is that He would consent to 'set His tabernacle' among them (that is, dwell in the midst of them), and will not 'abhor' them (v. 11; which reminds them of His grace toward them). He would walk among them and be their God—and they His people.
B. The promise of God's punishment for disobedience to His commandments (vv. 14-39).
If they will not obey, however, He promises five levels of punishment—each expressed as more severe than the one before by the expression “I will punish you seven times more for your sin”. Here, God also shows His grace; because each act of punishment is meant to drive them to repentance before the next one comes. Here, we see the promise of . . .
1. Punishment on their persons (vv. 14-17).
2. Punishment on their agriculture (vv. 18-20).
3. Punishment on their children and animals (vv. 21-22).
4. Punishment on their security and dignity (vv. 23-26).
5. Punishment on their liberty in the land (vv. 27-39).
C. It's important to note that in this is the warning about not allowing the land to have its sabbath (vv. 34-35; see also 25:1-7). All of these things eventually happened to Israel for its disobedience.
III. THE COMMITTMENT (vv. 40-45).
A. In this warning, God promises to respond to them if they confess their sins in the midst of the misery they bring upon themselves. He promises to remember His covenant with them and will protect the land for their return.
B. The reason for this is because God is committed to His covenant promises to their forefathers (v. 45). Even when His people are unfaithful to Him, He remains faithful to them.
IV. THE CONCLUSION (v. 46).
These words at the end of this chapter underscore the seriousness of God's call to obey Him and remain faithful to His covenant.