Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Rewards and Penalties

Summary of the Terms of the Covenant or Contract
Deuteronomy 26:16-19

“This day the LORD thy God hath commanded thee to do these statutes and judgments: thou shalt therefore keep and do them with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.  Thou hast avouched the LORD this day to be thy God, and to walk in his ways, and to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and to hearken unto his voice: And the LORD hath avouched thee this day to be his peculiar people, as he hath promised thee, and that thou shouldest keep all his commandments; And to make thee high above all nations which he hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honour; and that thou mayest be an holy people unto the LORD thy God, as he hath spoken.” (Deuteronomy 26:16-19)

Israel had sworn that they would keep God’s commandments, his laws, and his prescribed penalties with everything they had as demonstration that they claimed him as their God.  God promised that in return for their obedience, he would promote them above every other nation, as his special people, respected and honored by the other nations.

The promise is similar to the promise to Christians in John 14:23-24. “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.  He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.”  There are a number of people who claim to be Christians yet refuse to obey the Lord.  Clearly they don’t really care about him.  As John 14:15 says, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”

A Permanent Memorial
Deuteronomy 27:1-10

“And Moses with the elders of Israel commanded the people, saying, Keep all the commandments which I command you this day.  And it shall be on the day when ye shall pass over Jordan unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, that thou shalt set thee up great stones, and plaster them with plaster: And thou shalt write upon them all the words of this law, when thou art passed over, that thou mayest go in unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, a land that floweth with milk and honey; as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee. 

Therefore it shall be when ye be gone over Jordan, that ye shall set up these stones, which I command you this day, in mount Ebal, and thou shalt plaster them with plaster.  And there shalt thou build an altar unto the LORD thy God, an altar of stones: thou shalt not lift up any iron tool upon them.  Thou shalt build the altar of the LORD thy God of whole stones: and thou shalt offer burnt offerings thereon unto the LORD thy God: And thou shalt offer peace offerings, and shalt eat there, and rejoice before the LORD thy God.  And thou shalt write upon the stones all the words of this law very plainly.” (Deuteronomy 27:1-8) 

Israel was to build a monument of large stones on mount Ebal which were to be plastered over, and the entire law then engraved in the plaster.  Centrally located, Mount Ebal was visible from most areas of Israel, so it would be a constant reminder of what God expected.  The law engraved on the memorial was a permanent record that could be readily referred to.

Next to the monument was to be an altar of natural uncut stones so there was no element of man’s works in their worship.  The altar was to be used for burnt offerings and peace offerings, reminding them how much they had been blessed and of their obligation to God.  Joshua 24:25 describes Joshua setting up this monument in Shechem, on the south slope of the mount between the peaks of Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim.

“And Moses and the priests the Levites spake unto all Israel, saying, Take heed, and hearken, O Israel; this day thou art become the people of the LORD thy God.  Thou shalt therefore obey the voice of the LORD thy God, and do his commandments and his statutes, which I command thee this day.” (Deuteronomy 27:9-10) 

Because they were God’s people, Israel had an obligation to fulfill his commands.  Christians have a similar obligation to demonstrate their appreciation for what he has done for them.


  1. It's interesting, because this is something of the same point I'm drawing from 1st John. Being one of God's children should bring about a desire to serve God and to seek His will rather than ours. This desire should emanate from gratitude and love. As God set up these testimonies as a constant reminder of what He had done and what He expects; for us things such as the Lord's Supper serve to remind us of what God has done and what He expects.
    Forgive me, I have been in a talkative mood of late... Thanks for the post.

  2. People who are conscious of what God has done and is doing for them find it easy to serve God, but those who forget find it easy to fall away. One of the biggest jobs of the pastor and church is to keep people aware of what he has done, to exhort each other. Winning souls is only one part of the job.

  3. Too true. Peter calls us blind if we forget what the salvation we received in Jesus Christ delivered us out of, 2nd Peter 1:9. Easy believism fills a building with bodies. True discipleship is a full time job.
    Our small church has some wonderful fellowship, but there are distinct hints of danger. Calvinism and the teachings of Rob Bell from the ECM are present dangers. This highlights the necessity for discipleship to me.

  4. Matthew 28:19-20 says, "Go ye therefore, and teach(matatheno- "to disciple") all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching(didasko-"to teach") them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." Unfortunately we have confused discipling with teaching, and are not effectively doing either one. Titus 1:9 tells us it is critical the pastor be "Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine(teaching) both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers." Fellowship must grow out of doctrine, not replace it.