Deuteronomy 28–30: Curses, Blessings & Covenant Renewal


We regret that there is not an accompanying audio for this session.

In Deuteronomy 28 Moses sets before the congregation of Israel the blessings and the curses of the covenant that they are renewing. Two things about the blessing and cursing sections of this chapter merit comment: (1) Israel’s God comes first to bless His people. When we look at ancient Near East history, the usual order of other ancient covenants is curses, then blessings; here it’s interesting to note God reverses the order. (2) The blessings (vv. 1–14) are heavily outnumbered by the curses (vv. 15–68). The reason for this probably lies in God’s desire for obedience. He knows the blessings that will come if they stay focused on His covenant and principles. Interestingly, several other ancient Near Eastern law codes and treaties also contained more curses than blessings.

Moses says, “If you diligently obey the voice of the Lord.”  The word “if” looms large. In this chapter, Moses encouraged the nation with a choice. The covenant God made with Israel contained three major features: The law, the sacrifice, and the choice. It was God’s plan to reveal himself to the world through this fledgling nation. He could do it two ways: either by making them so blessed that the world would know only God had blessed them; or by making them so cursed that only God could have cursed them and they still survive. The choice was up to Israel. In today’s faith walk, we are no different. We too have a choice to diligently and faithfully obey God’s voice or stray from his ways and suffer consequences.

Blessed shall you be (v. 3): An obedient Israel would be blessed everywhere: In the city . . . in the country . . . when you come in . . . when you go out. An obedient Israel would be blessed in their homes and in their farms, and in their kitchens (the fruit of your body . . . the produce of your ground and the increase of your herds . . . Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl). Perhaps the best blessing had to do with Israel’s own relationship with God as He would separate an obedient Israel unto Himself, speaking of a special relationship. If not for this, all the material blessings described previously would be empty and they (and we) would be no different from the other idolatrous nations.

The remainder of this chapter, literally fifty-two verses, outline the curses if the people choose to disobey God. Dr. John Maxwell provides us with some conclusions that may be drawn from the vital question of whether all good and all evil things that happen are caused by God in response to man’s actions.

(1) Every good gift comes from God.

(2) Many blessings and curses are a result of man’s response to God.

(3) Some blessings and curses are a result of God’s plan for man.

 (4) Blessings can become curses if we fail to glorify God.

(5) The teaching “… whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Gal. 6:7) is a general principle that will be true in the long run, but there will be times when it seems to be a fallacy.[1]

Pastor John MacArthur adds, “Significantly, the phrase “the Lord your God” is used approximately 280 times in the book of Deuteronomy. The full measure of the divine curse would come on Israel when its disobedience had been hardened into disregard for the glorious and awesome character of God.”[2]

Moses begins chapter twenty-nine with a review of the past. We can learn so much from Moses’ teaching and his persistent look at the past to help the Israelites prepare for their future.  He wants this generation to know about God’s promises and his rescue from their bondage. He’s building a foundation for them to lean on when times are difficult—a foundation of God’s promises and His love that brought them out of the burden of slavery.

He goes on to remind them of the covenant and the consequences they will face if they break it. In his passionate plea, he wants them to fully understand the price of disobedience. Not only would it affect the Israelites, but God’s purpose in bringing judgment against a covenant-breaking Israel was also for the sake of all nations. When they see what happens to a nation who forsakes theLord, they will witness something different from their idol worship.

In chapter thirty Moses makes clear the choice the Israelites had. Under God’s leadership and encouragement Moses carefully explained the blessings and the curses that would come from an obedient or disobedient Israel. He speaks about Israel being driven from their promised lands by other nations and then relates God’s promise to regather them in the Promised Land.

The chapter continues with Moses’ declaration of the blessings Israel will experience not only when they physically regather in the Promised Land, but also when they spiritually regather. He speaks of “the Lord your God will circumcise your heart…to love the Lord your God with all your heart.”

He then gives the people a choice. Under the terms of the Old Covenant, Israel had a choice: life or death, good or evil. It was up to them. God was going to glorify Himself through Israel one way or another. How it would happen was really their choice.

That you may love the Lord your God: To love God this way, to really trust Him, is explained well in Deuteronomy 30:20. To love and trust God means to obey His voice, for a child who really loves and trusts their father and mother will obey him. It means to cling to Him, for if we really love and trust Him, we will be attached to Him. It means to regard Him as our life and the length of our days because if we love and trust Him, He is not simply a part of our life, He is our life.


  1. We need to stop and review what He’s done for us and rejoice in that. Is there a possibility that maybe we don’t see God’s blessings in our life because we’re working too hard to even notice them?
  2. God is bigger and smarter than us and always will be. We must humbly accept this. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
  3. We, outside the Old Covenant, are confronted with the choice. But the choice focuses first not on “Will I obey God or not?” but on “Will I trust in Jesus for my standing before God?” Jesus said He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters. (Luke 11:23) Jesus is still asking the question, who do you say that I am (Matthew 16:15), and our choice in answering that question determines our eternal destiny.
  4. Moses never taught Israel that they were justified by obeying the law. In his first book, he stated that Abraham was justified by faith in the Lord (Gen. 15:6). Here Moses is speaking to a believing people about fellowship, not justification. His point is simply that Israel’s full enjoyment of life is based on their obedience to God’s word. Although the people could not be justified by the law, they could be blessed because of their obedience to it.



[1]Maxwell, John C., and Lloyd J. Ogilvie. Deuteronomy. Vol. 5. The Preacher’s Commentary Series. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1987. Logos Bible Software Edition

[2]John MacArthur, The MacArthur Bible Commentary,(Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2005), 233.


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