The blessing, if you listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, which I am commanding you today; and the curse, if you do not listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I am commanding you today, by following other gods which you have not known.
As the Israelites stood on the brink of the Promised Land, Moses was saying to them, “For 40 years you have experienced both blessings from God and curses from God. Which do you want for your future?” For the Israelites, God’s blessings meant prosperity. They had been slaves in Egypt for 400 years. Now God had promised to give them a land that was bountiful and fruitful, and would provide for all their needs. “It is yours,” Moses told them, “if you obey God.” But material prosperity is not the only kind of blessing God gives us. Sometimes the blessings of obeying God include harmonious and fulfilling relationships with other people. Sometimes God’s blessing means protection from evil and calamity in our lives. Sometimes God’s blessing results in peace of mind no matter what is happening around us. God was saying, “If you obey Me, there are real and tangible benefits that you will experience.”
In Deuteronomy 11, the word “curses” can be translated “discipline.” For 40 years, the Israelites had experienced the discipline of God. They saw God open the ground and swallow the rebellious leaders of Israel. They experienced fiery bites of serpents because of their disobedience. They had seen Miriam, Moses’ sister, struck with leprosy because of her disobedience. They had seen God discipline Moses because of his disobedience. They had seen the discipline of God. Moses was saying, “Having seen both, which do you want for your future? If you want God’s blessings, then obey Him. If you want God’s discipline, then disobey Him.”
If you want to experience God’s curses, then disobey Him or simply neglect Him in your life. I am not suggesting that all problems in your life are the result of disobeying or ignoring God, but some of them are. If you are a child of God, then the Bible says that He loves you too much to allow you to continue to disobey Him or ignore Him without any consequences. In fact, the Bible promises that if you are a child of God and you are living disobediently to God or wandering away from God, then He will send painful discipline into your life–not because He hates you but because He loves you. Hebrews 12:5-6 says, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; for those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives.” If you are a child of God and disobey God or ignore His commands, then there will be real consequences in your life.
Today, you and I face the same choice that the Israelites did. As you stand on the brink of a new year, you need to ask yourself, “What do I want for myself and my family in 2018? Do I want God’s blessings, or do I want His discipline?”