Many commentators have pointed out and the discussed the reasons that in the “blessings and curses” section at the end of Deuteronomy, there are more curses than blessings. Obviously, one reason for this is Moses’ desire, at the end of his mediatorial role in Israel, to warn them against forsaking God’s covenant and the dire consequences of such disobedience.
The sin of breaking God’s covenant must always be viewed as horrific, terrible, and dreadful; though sin offers great pleasure and promises alluring treasures, it is always, in the end, ugly. There is nothing sexy about blindness, disease, enemy conquest, blighted crops, a bronze heaven, an iron earth, and cannibalism (Deu. 28:15-68). Moses does not want the people to think that once he is gone, that God’s covenant of love to Israel is to be taken lightly. He wants them to enjoy God’s blessings (which he states simply and beautifully in Deu. 28:1-14); but he knows their wayward hearts and thus, gives a most dreadful warning.
Failure On Display
Israel was to be a priestly nation upon earth for God. Amidst the nations of the earth, God and chosen them, delivered them, and raised them up to be an ensign of His redemptive purposes for all the world to see. They were, in a sense, “on display” for the observation of the pagan nations. They were the people of God, set up to show how all mankind was to worship & serve the Living God.
The commentators, when looking at this passage in Deuteronomy 28, note how Moses seems to think that the curses will inevitably come on Israel. To which it might be asked, why would God choose Israel, give them the covenant, fully knowing they would fail and worse yet (so we might say), fail in front of the world? Did God put them on the stage, only to watch Israel fail, and then judge them for their failure?
Some might say this is unfair, to which we must respond that this was all God’s mercy. This was all part of His revealing the glory of Christ, the true Israel who did not fail. When God put Christ on display, He performed flawlessly. God, in His kindness, ordained Israel’s failure, in order to make it abundantly clear that salvation is from and in God alone, and not in man’s self-effort, merit, or moralism.
Sitting in Moses’ Seat
Christ came and sat in Moses’ seat, unveiling the mystery that had been hidden in the Pentateuch. The dark and dreadful cloud of the curses which hung over Israel, were rolled back as He declared the gospel of the Kingdom; which was that He would become the curse for us, that we might become the righteousness of God (Gal. 3:13). Like Moses, He sat atop a mount, speaking on behalf of God.
The Law left Israel (and mankind) with the question of “What must we do to be saved?” His message answered the question by announcing the blessedness of those who come into the Kingdom through Him, by faith (Mat. 5:1-12). Poverty of Spirit (i.e. repentance), not lineage (i.e. being of Abraham) would procure the blessing which God, all along, intended for sad mankind.