About six weeks ago, when I posted the devotional about the Blessings of the Law, I promised that we’d look into the Curse of the Law. To do that–to begin with–I’m going backwards in Deuteronomy, to Chapter 27. Later–in another devotional–we’ll go back into Chapter 26. (For me, sometimes, it’s easier to read a scripture that “hits” me, then start digging backwards, to try to figure out WHY. That’s what I’m doing, here.)
These things happened when the Israelites were getting ready to cross the river into the land which they were to inherit (the Promised Land).
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Deuteronomy 27:1-10 (NKJV)
The Law Inscribed on Stones
Regarding: The General Use of Lime to Coat Stone Walls
“The Architecture of Herod, the Great Builder”
by Ehud Netzer
In addition to the considerable use of fieldstones in foundations, freestanding walls were also built of them at several sites. Most of the walls at Masada were built of unworked stones. Here use was made of rather large stones, most of which were quarried locally, together with medium-size and small stones. The construction was based on masonry courses, each of which was 40-60 cm high. The masons first laid the large or medium-size stones and then completed the leveling of the course with small fieldstones. It should be mentioned that the builders sometimes slightly shaped the stones, e.g., for the buildings’ corners or doorjambs. The fieldstones were usually bonded by mud-based mortar. Lime-based mortar was used only rarely, and then mainly for specific reasons, such as protection against moisture (for example, the walls of the caldarium in the large bathhouse at Masada and the walls of the bathhouse in Herod’s First Palace at Jericho.)
With regard to the coating of fieldstone walls with plaster, two categories should be mentioned: 1) a complete plastering of all the faces of the walls inside, and sometimes also outside, the buildings; such plaster could have been mud-based or lime-based and covered the mortar between the building stones as well as the small stones used to stabilize them. It also partially covered the margins of the larger building stones, since lime-based plaster adheres better to stones than to mud-based mortar. In any event, most of the surface of the large stones remained visible.
Regarding: Tablets of Stone, Coated with Lime
“Dissertations on the Genuineness of the Pentateuch, Volume 1”
by Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg
THE ART OF WRITING AMONG THE HEBREWS
We are expressly told by the Sacred Historian, that the stones were first covered with plaster, and then written upon; now this is exactly the method that we find noticed in a multitude of Egyptian monuments, and as is most carefully described in MINUTOLI’S TRAVELS, “The walls hewn out, were first carefully levelled, and the faulty places filled up with lime, gypsum, or cement, in which afterwards the figures and hieroglyphics were cut out, just as in the stone itself, which I could demonstrate by several specimens that I have brought over. Walls that were intended for painting were commonly covered with silt, lime, or gypsum, and in the first place whitened, and then the colours laid on.” According to chemical analysis (p. 347), the plaster consisted of pure lime, sometimes of lime and gypsum in equal proportions. HEEREN remarks on the inscriptions in the royal sepulchres, “…all the walls are covered with sculptures and paintings. But on account of the quality of the stone, they cannot, as in the palaces be worked on the rock itself, but the walls are covered with a mortar, and on this the sculptures and paintings are worked. Now, if such a method was adopted, it cannot be maintained that the operation was too laborious, or the space on the stones too small to admit of so much writing. It was intentionally, doubtless, that no precise number of stones was fixed upon. As many great stones were to be taken as would be necessary for the purpose. In reference to the Egyptian labours of a similar class, no objection of this sort has been started. And if the native city itself of Hesiod honoured his memory by causing his largest poem to be engraven at length on tablets of lead, how can we any longer, on such grounds, dispute the execution of a writing of smaller extent…?”
Deuteronomy 27:11-26 (NKJV)
The Curses Proclaimed at Mt. Ebal, before the Israelites Proceeded to Mt. Gerizim
After addressing the above Bible passages from Deuteronomy 27 and the historical notations made by archeological scholars about them, in order to actually go to the Curses of the Law (which are different from the Curses set upon staying on Mt. Ebal, rather than fording the river to take up residence on the other side, on Mt. Gerizim), we have to move back to Deuteronomy 28.
The Curses for Disobedience of the Law
Reading through all of the above (and your really should read at least the scriptures thoroughly), there are several things that should be at least fairly obvious…
- God actually made some providence (provisions, just in case) for any Israelites who chose not to move on to Mt. Gerizim, and therefore into His further promises (both blessings and curses). On the side of the river at Mt. Ebal, if they chose to stay there, there were some things that would be considered curses, and the people had best stay away from those things. At that point, though, God hadn’t set before them the actual blessings or curses that would occur when either obedience or disobedience occurred.
- If the people CHOSE (and we always have choices whether or not to believe and go forward with God, or stay behind) to go to the other side of the river to Mt. Gerizim, and abide in that land of promise, then there were things that they were going to have to obey. If they chose to stay on the side of Mt. Ebal, then (my assumption is) they would be subject to the curses, but not to the blessings, since those blessings were not told to them at that point. So the outlook on that side of the river (of choice) was pretty bleak. I think that it was merciful of God not to actually tell them what the curses would be, at that point, but mainly I think He didn’t tell them, because He didn’t want to FORCE them to cross the river. He wanted them to cross because they loved Him and knew in their hearts that it was the right thing to do. If they decided they didn’t know that, they would be SUBJECT TO the blessings and the curses (though they didn’t know what either of those would entail), and they did know that there were some things that would change their positions regarding those blessings and curses.
- If the people chose to cross the river, they would then, immediately, see the priests who were already there to greet them with the blessings that rightfully belonged to them by their obedience (at that moment, but also FROM that moment), and the curses that also rightfully belonged to them, should they ever choose to WALK AWAY FROM obedience. In other words, that group of people was forewarned about God’s full intentions for them, with the hope (from God) that they would be able to remain in obedience to always receive the blessings and not the curses (the consequences of sin/missing the mark/not obeying God). Thankfully, later, He also made it clear that there were blood sacrifices that could be made (under the Law), with penitence, for disobedience/sin. Hopefully we can do some studying about that, later on. When Jesus died on the cross for our sin, even later, becoming the final blood sacrifice for all, God gave us THE WAY to obtain and stay in obedience without blood sacrifice.
(Romans 6:23 [NKJV]…”For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”)
(Ephesians 5:2 [NKJV]…”And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.“)
Having worked your way through these scriptures and other references, I encourage you to take a look back at the blessings that God has for us for obedience to His Word (the Bible, yes, but for us living in The New Testament ages, Jesus Himself, who is the fulfillment of the Word and the Law).
The list of curses are negative…yes. However, they are reminders (to those of us who have received Jesus as our Lord and Savior) that we have therefore entered into obedience, and that He is ALWAYS seated on the right hand of God the Father, and is ALWAYS interceding for us, and all we have to do is repent (turn and go back the other way–into spiritual obedience once again). We no longer have to make blood sacrifices, because Jesus Himself did that for us. We simply have to recognize what’s happening, turn around, and renew His work in our hearts, and go back to following Him, once again making it possible for God to keep handing out His blessings.
(Romans 8:34 [NKJV]…Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.)
Reading through the curses should give you the shivers, really! It also should make you realize, if you have been seeing some of those very things happen over and over and over again, in your lives, that you may be missing something about the obedience side. Once recognized, then you can pray, seeking the Lord your God with all your spirit, soul, and body, for Him to reveal to you what has possibly been putting up a barrier to the blessings He meant for you all along. Once you find that barrier, you can push past it in prayer and obedience, and get back into the blessings.
The really good thing…??? You can accomplish this through the reading of the Word [Bible] and listening for the voice of Jesus [the Word] (because faith comes by hearing [God], and hearing comes by the Word of God. With faith, all things are possible–including walking more and more in the blessings of obedience and less and less in the curses of disobedience. One reason you may seem to be experiencing more curses than blessing, is simply because you haven’t known to BELIEVE that God wants to bless you in all ways. Once you get that straightened out, you can take authority over the devil, thus, by the way, becoming more obedient to God’s Word. 😉
Is it work…??? Totally yes, but not PHYSICAL work (unless God leads you to do something due to obedience to His will)! It’s work, though, to take the time to read and listen to God’s Word and His will.
Is it impossible…??? Absolutely not! God NEVER sets anything before us that cannot be accomplished. It is His will that we CAN always move forward with Him. He WILL [it IS His will to] make a way for us.
(Matthew 19:26 [NKJV]…”But Jesus looked at them and said to them, ‘With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’”)
(Hebrews 13:5 [NKJV]…”Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’”)
I’ll leave you with a song by Don Moen…
“God Will Make a Way for Me”
The Story of “God Will Make a Way for Me”