This week we continue along the same line of thought as last weeks study, that God is faithful and will always keep His word. The people of Israel, of course, have such a unique experience with God and we can learn so much from what we read about them. When we see what God says in Deuteronomy chapter 30, our hearts should be lifted. I encourage you to read that Scripture passage on your own before continuing through these notes.
What a powerful passage Deuteronomy 30 is. Often, people reading through the Old Testament read too quickly over this book, missing out on the treasures that are there to be found.
What we see here in the passage is a clear set of options and with a promise and a warning. The options: Love and Obey God, or allow your hearts to be pulled away to worship false gods. The promise: If you love and obey, you will prosper greatly and have abundant life. The warning: if you disobey and love other gods, you will lose the land and die.
What was true for the people of Israel is true for us today. If we want to be blessed, Jesus told us to love God with all we have and obey what He has commanded. What do we mean when we use the word blessed? I believe we have used this word so many times that we often confuse it with a worldly blessing. This passage reveals that God does indeed want to bless us and that our choices and their consequences affect our experience of that blessing.
God loves to bless His people, that is the kind of God we serve. He is not some foreign deity who likes to wait for people to mess up so He can pop them on the head with some kind of supernatural punishment! He loves His people, and He loves to provide for and bless His people.
There are few thoughts that go along with our understanding of this special passage that I will list below. Remember, when reading OT passages like this, we must be sure not to assume that our identity as believers under the New Covenant is the same as the Jewish person to whom this passage was originally written to. Context is king when reading OT passages. Nevertheless, the principles found here certainly apply to the people of God.
1. Our blessing is tied into our obedience!
God has made it clear: obedience is better than sacrifice. God tells us what to do, and He promises blessing when we obey. It is one thing to know Scripture and another to do what it says.
I love how in verse 11 the author explains that the commands of God are not “too difficult” to follow or “beyond [our] reach”
This was true for the Israelites, but it is even more true for us today! We are on the other side of Calvary! We get be empowered and led by the Holy Spirit of God to comfort and guide us to know and obey God. Listen to what Jon Bloom says about this, “The devil wants you to believe God’s commands are torturously burdensome and the death of your happiness. The devil wants you to believe that God is withholding joy from you in the limitations he places on you.”
When you read about obedience in Scripture, don’t allow yourself to believe the lie that God is over-loading you with commandments or with-holding something good from you. What we find in Scripture, when we obey and follow it, is true freedom and life. The great lie of Satan is that obedience to God will rob you of fun and happiness. In all actuality, disobedience to God just moves us deeper into the slavery of our own sinful nature. God’s system brings true freedom and joy. What could be better than that?
2. Our prosperity is tied into what our hearts love
What does your heart love? What do you lean into to give you meaning and worth in life? Is it money? Success? Another person? Entertainment? Those things will never prosper you like God can prosper a life.
The word “prosper” is used in this passage multiple times for a reason. When we think of the word prosperity, we often think directly of monetary gain or material wealth. This should not be the case. Biblical prosperity and worldly prosperity are often different things, and we need to remember that. When we fail to remember this, we will find ourselves expecting God to make us wealthy, as if that is what He is obligated to do. God’s goal for your life is to make you HOLY, not wealthy.
More than often, a Western ideological mindset does not equate with Biblical language…perspective is everything here.
God is not out to make you rich. Anyone who tells you that if you would just obey God and do whats right then you will be filthy rich, is lying to you. And most of the ones doing the lying are doing it because they are getting rich on the people who believe them. The desire for prosperity has become grossly taken advantage of by many people. God will make you to prosper. He will prosper you by allowing you to know Him and the power of His salvation in your life. He will prosper you by allowing your kids to know Him and live for Him. He will prosper you by allowing you to impact other people with the gospel. He will prosper your life by giving you the hope and peace that passes all earthly understanding. Why would we allow our minds to trade out those things for money? If all we got was material prosperity for obeying God what a disappointment it would be. God’s goal is not to overload you with possessionS that will ultimately rot away with the rest of the world. God’s prosperity is measured spiritually, not materially. I say these things as a warning to not allow your heart to be led away to a place of envy and discontentment because you long for wealth. One of the beautiful things about God is that He will always provide you with what you need, and that does include material things.
3. Our loss of blessing is tied into our willingness to surrender
God has told us what to do, love Him and obey. You and I will never do that if we do not surrender ourselves to Him. Surrender is both an action of the body and the mind. It is a decision to deny the natural desires that we have and give our minds and will over to God.
Romans 12:1-2 is an amazing encouragement from Paul. I have taken the liberty to add some explanation into the verse here. Paul says, “I beg you, brothers and sisters in Christ, that you would present your bodies and your minds to God as a living sacrifice, because this should be your natural reaction to what God has done for you. Be HOLY (or set apart for His purpose) and acceptable to God by surrendering yourself to Him. Don’t live your life like the world, who loves and worships their own desires. Their decisions will bring them punishment and no reward. But instead, allow your mind to be made new and reconstructed by God’s Word, so you can start thinking and living spiritually, and not just according to your flesh. Doing this will make you into the person God wants you to be, a pure reflection of Jesus, and will accomplish the will of God in your life. The world will see that change, and they will be drawn to Christ because of your surrender to Him.” (For a deeper study of these two verses, I encourage you to watch the Bible Breakdown video that I made a while back.)
Are you surrendered to God today? Are you living for Him? Or for you? If you long to experience His blessing and for Him to prosper your life for His purpose, you must surrender to Him, love Him, and obey what He says. This is a daily decision, and it must be guarded, because our hearts will lead us astray if we do not make a point to live this faith out.