On Various Subjects
By Pastor Ron Thomas
Rodgers Baptist Church
801 West Buckingham Rd. - Garland, TX 75040
Text: Deuteronomy 28:1-2. "And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all His commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth:
2 And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God."
Introduction: The following is a true account from the life of the 18th century preacher, pastor, theologian, and hymn writer, Robert Robinson. "Give her some more liquor, boys!" the young man said. The poor gypsy woman was already so drunk, she could hardly stand on her feet. But the wild and reckless young men were determined to get her even more drunk. Seventeen-year-old Robert Robinson shouted, "Pour it into her, and we'll get her to tell our fortunes." The others complied, giving her more liquor, until she agreed to predict their futures for nothing. "She doesn't know what she's saying. She's drunk!" one of the rowdy young men exclaimed, after she had prophesied that evil fortune awaited him. "You ought to know." Robinson replied. "You gave it to her." Turning to the self-appointed leader, the bleary-eyed gypsy pointed a quivering finger and said, "And you, young man, you will live to see your children and your grandchildren."
Robinson suddenly turned pale and said, "You're right. She's too drunk to know what she's saying. Leave her alone. Let's go." But her words haunted him the rest of the day. "If I'm going to live to see my children and grandchildren," he thought, "I'll have to change my way of living. I can't keep on like I'm going now." So, that very night, half in fun and half seriously, he took his gang to an open air revival service nearby, where the famous evangelist George Whitfield, was preaching. "We'll go down and laugh at the poor deluded Methodist," he explained. But the Spirit of God was already at work in the troubled heart and confused mind of this wayward young man.
That night, Whitfield preached from Matthew 3:7, "O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" The message sobered and frightened him at the same time. He felt that the preacher was speaking to him and only to him. On Tuesday, December 10, 1755, two years and seven months, after hearing that sermon, twenty-year-old Robert Robinson made his peace with God, and "found full and free forgiveness through the precious blood of Jesus Christ." He later wrote the preacher who had first convicted him of his sinfulness, "I confess it was to spy the nakedness of the land I came - to pity the folly of the preacher, the infatuation of the hearers, and to abhor the doctrine. I went pitying the poor deluded Methodists, but came away envying their happiness."
Several years after his conversion, Robinson felt called to preach, and entered the ministry of the Methodist Church. Subsequently, he left the Methodist Church when he moved to Cambridge, and became a Baptist pastor. Here he became known as an able theologian through his writing of many theological works, as well as several hymns.
At the age of twenty three, just three years after his salvation experience, Robert penned these words, "Come, Thou fount of every blessing, Tune my heart to sing Thy grace; Streams of mercy, never ceasing. Call for songs of loudest praise. Teach me some melodious sonnet, Sung by flaming tongues above; Praise the mount I'm fixed upon it, Mount of Thy redeeming love." Robert Robinson's life was changed, transformed, by a God of blessing. How ironic that in one night, an intoxicated gypsy woman, would be used to pronounce a blessing, and a renown preacher used to warn of a curse. Together, their words set Robert on a journey to personally meet and know the God of blessing. Eventually Robert Robinson chose the way of blessing, and penned this great hymn to the God of blessing.
In our text, Moses stands before the children of Israel and sets before them a blessing and a curse. As Robert Robinson had to choose, Israel had to choose, and we must choose the blessing or the curse.
It's interesting that it was the blessing that first caught the attention and sieged the mind of young Robinson. Our God, the God of the Bible, is the God of blessing. The first fourteen verses of Deuteronomy 28, expresses the blessing and points us to God's place of blessing. From this text, we are presented with:
Four Principles Concerning God's Place Of Blessing
Principle one: God is the source of all blessing. Here in this text, Moses is speaking on behalf of the Lord God. Israel's whole future centered upon their relationship with God. Israel had experienced redemption from Egypt; they had been protected and preserved by God for forty years in their wilderness wanderings; and now they were on the verge of crossing the Jordan River to enter God's land of promise. If they had learned anything, they had learned that all true blessings flow from God. Man cannot bless! The priest could not bless, he could only invoke God's blessing. The Levitical priest would say, "The Lord bless thee, and keep thee; The Lord make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee; The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace." It is God who blesses man. The greater, blesses the lesser!
As New Testament believers, it is God who has redeemed us out of the bondage of sin by the blood of His Lamb, Jesus Christ. It is God who has protected and preserved us in this world that is a barren wilderness unto this good hour, and it will be God who will carry us into the future. We must always look to God as the source of all blessing!
God alone has the power to bless. In verse 1b, Moses says, "...that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth." God rules the nations. God can do anything in this world. He has the power, the ability, to bless, to exalt and promote. What a mighty God we serve! Paul in Ephesians 3:20 says, "Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us." God is able, but we must look to Him and trust in Him for the need, the blessing.
God has the desire to bless us, rather than curse us. We know and serve a good and gracious God. He is not vindictive, perverted, licentious, or in need to be appeased. Jehovah, the God of the Bible, is loving, kind, holy, true, long-suffering, and gracious. He longs to bring His people into the promised land, a land of blessing, flowing with milk and honey. He is a good God who wants only the best for His children. In Matthew 7:11 Jesus said of the Heavenly Father, "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in Heaven give good things to them that ask Him?"
Always remember that God is not your enemy, He is your friend. God will never withhold any good thing from you. You can always trust Him to do the right thing, even if it is not a pleasant thing.
Principle two: God's blessings, must be secured by a life of submission and obedience. There is a tiny but powerful little word in these verses. The word is, "if." Verse 1a says, "And it shall come to pass, IF thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all His commandments which I command thee this day." Verse 2b says, "....IF thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God." This word "if," tells us that while God's love is unconditional, His blessings are conditional. For God to bless us in our rebellion to His ways and will, would be in violation to His love and character. While God's love has secured us, we in response to His love must secure His blessings. How? Here are two realities that will put you into a position to secure the blessings of God.
First: God's blessings are attached to His commandments. Verse 1 tells us that if we hear the Lord God and live in obedience to His commandments, His Word, then we can know we are on the road to His blessings. We find the same condition in John 15:10. Jesus said, "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in His love." Do you get the message? Keep yourself near the Word of God, the people of God, involved in the things of God, doing the will of God, and God will bless your life. Dwelling with God, living in obedience to His Word, is the secret to securing God's blessings.
Now that is easily said, but is not easy. The flesh, the devil, and the world, are purposed to pull you away from the will and Word of God. Only as you are purposed, determined, to keep yourself focused upon God and His Word, will you be successful in life. Which brings us to the second reality.
Second: God's blessings are activated by our choices. Deuteronomy 28 is a long chapter of sixty eight verses. This chapter is divided into two parts. These first fourteen verses have to do with blessing. The remaining verses speak of cursing. Blessings or cursing, the choice was theirs. Deuteronomy 30:15 says, "See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil." Israel was left with a choice, and so are we. While God is certainly sovereign, only a fool would deny the fact of human responsibility. Every human born of woman, has a choice to make. In this life, we will choose between God or Satan, eternal life or eternal death; a life of blessing or a life of cursing. As children, our parents make many of our choices, but eventually we must choose for ourselves! The secret to securing the blessings of God, is to choose obedience over rebellion.
The Bible tells us that "God is love," and love must make a choice. God is not going to save you against your will. How many here would want to marry someone against your will? Marriage is a decision of love. Salvation is a decision of love. God in His divine pure love chose in eternity past to redeem us through His Son, Jesus Christ. We must choose to receive the Son by faith at the preaching of the Word of God and conviction of the Holy Spirit of God. It is the same when it comes to serving God. We serve Him because we love Him. As God's children, none of us merit or deserve the least of His blessings. All blessings come to us by God's grace! However, everyday we make choices that place us in the path of God's blessings or the path of God's correction. God help us to make the right choices!
Principle three: God's blessings, will overtake us. Verse 2 is without doubt one of the most positive and delightful verses in the Bible. Just to read it, puts a smile on your face. "And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God." Wow! If we meet God's conditions and love Him, serve Him, by choice; then His blessings are a sure thing. They will run you down and tackle you!
The words, "...come on thee and overtake thee," are illustrated in the story of Jacob and Laban. Jacob took his wives, his great wealth, and left the house of his father-in-law Laban in secret, while Laban was out of town. When Laban returned and found them gone, he was furious and asked, "Which way did they go?" Laban took off in pursuit of Jacob and it says in Genesis 31:25, "Then Laban overtook Jacob." Laban ran after Jacob, caught up with him, and seized him. That is what God says His blessings will do to us!
When we live to please God, His blessing will seek us out. As Laban ran after Jacob, the blessings of a faithful God will run after us.
When we live to please God, His blessings will surprise us. Can you imagine Jacob when Laban and his men appeared over the horizon? Surely he was both surprised and startled. God's blessings will come out of nowhere, when we least expect it and surprise us!
When we live to please God, His blessings will seize us. Quickly Laban and his men seized and surrounded Jacob. He was no match for uncle Laban. Jacob didn't know that God had intervened along the way. As Laban seized Jacob, God's blessings can come upon us and seize us.
Surely all of us who know God and live for Him, can identify with this picture. Another hymn writer wrote, "Count your blessings, Name them one by one." Somewhere along the way, an enthusiastic soul modified the words, "Count your blessings, Name them ton by ton." How wonderful it is to be chased down by God's blessings! Satan makes a lot of promises, but does not deliver. God delivers! It pays to serve the Lord, both now and into eternity!
Principle four: God's blessings come in all shapes and sizes. In verses 3-13, Moses enumerates the earthly, physical blessings of God upon Israel. Quickly we will run through these blessings listed in these verses.
In verse 3, God promises the nation Israel prosperity in the city as well as in the country. It says, "Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field." Both the farmer and the businessman need the presence of God. From the city to the country, the Lord is to be glorified.
In verse 4, God promises the nation Israel increase of children, fields and cattle. It says, "Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep." God's first commandment was to "...be fruitful and multiply." As families would grow and increase, so would the provisions to sustain them.
In verse 5, God promises the nation Israel an abundance of the necessities of life. It says, "Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store." Everything that they would need would be in abundant supply.
In verse 6, God promises the nation Israel safety in all of their journeys. It says, "Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out." The people of Israel would not live in fear. God will give them freedom and safety.
In verse 7, God promises the nation Israel victory and supremacy over their enemies. It says, "The LORD shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways." There is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few.
In verse 8, God promises the nation Israel success in all their undertakings. It says, "The LORD shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; and He shall bless thee in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee." Whatever they set their hand to do, God would bless and prosper it.
In verses 9-10, God promises to elevate the nation Israel to a position of prominence. It says, "The LORD shall establish thee an holy people unto Himself, as He hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, and walk in His ways. 10 And all people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the LORD; and they shall be afraid of thee."
Verse 13 says, "And the LORD shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the LORD thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them." Israel would become the envy of the nations, blessed by God with prosperity, power, and position.
These are some wonderful blessings! Israel actually realized these national blessings, and so has America. As "one nation under God," America has been blessed by God supremely. For decades, America has been the envy of the nations, because she has honored the Lord. Sad to say, that prominent place is in jeopardy and God's blessings are drying up. We have forgotten where our blessings come from and how they are obtained.
Here we need to make a difference between Old Testament Israel and God's promises to that nation; and New Testament believers. Whereas Israel's blessings were physical and earthly; our blessings are spiritual and heavenly. We do not preach a health and wealth gospel. Just because you live for the Lord and keep His commandments, doesn't mean that the perfect job, a fat bank account, new car, new house, and a care free life, are going to chase you down and tackle you. Surely God has promised to provide for our physical needs; but our blessings are much greater than these things. In Ephesians 1:3, Paul writes, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ." Here are a few of the blessings that have chased us down and overtaken us.
We have been adopted by the Heavenly Father into His family. Ephesians 1:4-5 reads, "According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will." It all began with the choice of God's grace. God chose to love us, and adopt us as His children! If you are saved, you are a child of God, and as such, an heir of God! Galatians 4:7 reads, "Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ." Hallelujah, what a blessing!
We have been purchased by Jesus Christ the Son. Ephesians 1:7, "In whom we have redemption though His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace." Jesus came to take our place, to die our death, to pay our sin debt upon the Cross. He took our sin and shame, and gave us His righteousness! All our sins, past, present, and future, have been forgiven! Hallelujah, what a blessing!
We have been preserved by the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1:13, "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise." The Holy Spirit is God's proof of purchase, His mark of ownership. Nothing can separate us from the love of God! We are saved to the uttermost! Hallelujah! What a blessing!
Deuteronomy 28:14 leaves us with a challenge. It says, "And thou shalt not go aside from any of the words which I command thee this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them." Are you in God's place of blessing? If our lives are to be truly blessed, we must go with God, the God of blessing. No one has done for you what God has done for you. Live for Him, long for Him and learn of Him! To walk away from the God of blessing, is to curse yourself!
Which will it be for you? The blessing or the curse?