Deuteronomy 28 Commentary

Deuteronomy 28 Commentary: Blessings and Curses.

Chapter 28 goes together with chapter 27. Having declared the curses for disobedience (failure) in chapter 27 the pages now turn to the blessings for obedience.

As an isolated work chapter 28 is a detailed revelation of Genesis 1 verse 28. The LORD’s special gift to humanity was the blessing of increase, fruitfulness (prosperity) and dominion. After the flood the LORD sought a fresh start with man and the same blessing was bestowed on Noah in Genesis chapter 9. After the scattering at the Tower of Babel (Shinar) the LORD singled out one man, Abraham, to whom the same blessing was repeated. This special gift would pass on from Abraham to Isaac and then from Isaac to Jacob. Genesis 49 gives us details of the same blessing now to the nation that came out of Jacob. Deuteronomy 28 is an expansion of that same blessing.

Study the chapter carefully and you will see how obedience results in increase (fruit of the womb), prosperity (economic boom) and dominion (you shall be the head and not the tail).

The fruitfulness of both the womb and the crop of the field are direct references to the blessing of increase and prosperity. Conspicuously missing in real manifestation is the blessing of dominion. We do however have hints of it when the LORD promises to elevate Israel above her enemies. References to political authority tend to hide the real dominion that the LORD wished for His people. Only in Jesus Christ do we truly begin to rule as per the original plan.

As an expansion of Genesis 1 verse 28, this chapter keeps alive the triad blessing. It is the same blessing that the LORD restores fully in Revelation 22 – the last chapter of the Bible. And according to Revelation 22 verse 5, “they will reign for ever and ever”. The man who was created to rule will once again have dominion but for now we have hints of the same in this chapter. But disobedience is still a problem and the blessing that had been reduced into a contract or covenant would give us a long list of consequences for disobedience.   

Going up verse 15 we find a very long list of curses. The graphics used are truly powerful. We can see for ourselves and relate to some of these misfortunes. Life without God can be rough. It’s a decision that man makes. It’s a decision that the LORD doesn’t want man to make.

Chapter 28 is famous for its blessings. They are sweet. But it’s the curses which are scary. Of the 68 verses in the chapter only 14 verses talk about the blessings – representing about 21% of the total. The structure of the chapter tells the story of humanity.

Christianity is simple – represented by the first 14 verses. This is God’s will. But life under disobedience is very complex. Look at many verses that cover the curses! Look at the confusion! This chapter is explaining Genesis in High Definition. After the fall man has to get back to God. Then this confusion isn’t there. It speaks to us on the need to reflect on important items of life. Life without God is unsatisfying and very frustrating (verses 15 to 68).

The visuals are very powerful. Using graphics to explain biblical truths isn’t a modern invention. Running through these verses is like watching a PowerPoint presentation. In Genesis 3 man has to sweat for a living. Deuteronomy 28 gives us powerful graphics for this sad state of affairs. There is a curse on the works of my hands. The land or ground will produce very little. I will build a house but fail to live in it. The list is long.

These curses have the effect of reducing man to a nothing. He is no longer in charge of his destiny. He can no longer rule over his own destiny. 1 plus 1 should give us 2 but not for a fallen man. Nothing works. To rule is to have rules that function in a prescribed way in order to achieve a known objective or result. With the fall of man (disobedience) rulership is wiped out. Rules are broken. Rules demand that clouds pour down rain but when rules are broken the clouds feel free to drop anything but rain. What a chapter!

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Published by Joseph Malekani

Joseph Malekani is a born-again Christian with a strong PAOG/Baptist background. He is heavily involved in student ministry with ZAFES – an IFES movement with focus on student ministry in Zambia. He is married to Audrey and they have two lovely children.

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