Blessing or curses: Each person must choose…

Deuteronomy 11:26–28, A blessing and a curse. Each person must choose which path he will take. This passage begins with the words, “Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; a blessing, if you will obey the commandments of YHVH your Elohim, which I command you this day; and a curse, if you will not obey the commandments of YHVH your Elohim, to go after other gods, which you have not known” (Deut 11:26–28). YHVH sets before each person two paths: the path of blessing and the path of curses. Each person individually must choose which path he will follow.

After this, in verse 29, YHVH instructs the Israelites that upon entering the Promised Land, they are to stop between the mountains of Gerizim and Ebal, which are located at the entry point of the land. The former mountain represents a blessing, while the later represents a curse. The town of Shechem is located between the two mountains. The Hebrew word shechem means “shoulder” or “back”. The shoulder supports the head, which through the disposition of the mind and the direction in which the head is pointed, determines the path a person will walk whether good or evil. 

It was at Shechem, between the two mountains representing good and evil, that Israel renewed its covenant with YHVH before entering the Promised Land (Josh 8:30–35). The power of the covenant that the people made with YHVH on that day thousands of years ago is still visible in the modern land of Israel: Mount Ebal is bare and devoid of vegetation, while Mount Gerizim is lush and green with foliage. This fact stands as a loud testimony and reminder to man today to the power of blessing and cursing, and to the reality and validity of YHVH’s Torah, its covenants and its ability to bless or curse us depending on whether we obey it or not.

Israel renewed its covenant with YHVH at Shechem at the plains (or oak trees) of Moreh (Deut 11:30). What was significant about this place? This was this exact spot, at the entry point to the Promised Land, that YHVH had established his covenant with Abraham some 500 years earlier. We read about this in Genesis 12:6, “And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Shechem unto the plain [or oak] of Moreh [or teacher].” And it was to this same spot that YHVH brought Israel to renew his promises he had made to Abraham. It was there YHVH would begin to teach them to walk victoriously and righteously before him in their promised inheritance IF they would choose to obey his Torah (or his instructions in righteousness) and to turn their backs on the pagan gods and practices of the nations around them. It was at the same spot that Jacob, upon entering the Promised Land, buried all his family’s false gods and pagan accoutrements (Gen 35:4). 

YHVH is calling his people today to make the same choice as the end times saints prepare to enter into our promised inheritance as YHVH’s kings and priests ruling with Yeshua in his millennial kingdom on this earth (Rev 1:6; 5:10; 20:6). Presently, YHVH is urging his people to come out of spiritual Babylon (Rev 18:4)­—to come out from the world and to be separate and to touch no unclean thing (2 Cor 6:17).

As noted earlier, this passage of Scripture starts with Israel having to choose between the blessing and the curse—obeying YHVH’s commands, which leads to life, or disobeying them, which leads to death (Deut 11:26; see also 30:15–20). Making the right choices as we go through life is what determines our outcome both here on earth and eternally in our next life, whether good or bad, life or death. 

Earlier YHVH declared that it was Israel’s spiritual destiny to become a nation of priests (Exod 19:6), and as such Israel would become an example to the nations of the world of YHVH’s righteousness and the wisdom of Torah if they chose to obey him (Deut 4:6–8). 

Today YHVH is calling his people who have put their faith in Yeshua, the Messiah of Israel, to be a royal priesthood (1 Pet 2:9), and to prepare to reign with Yeshua as kings and priests in his millennial kingdom (Rev 1:6; 5:10; 20:6).  But first they must learn to reign over the kingdom of their own lives by overcoming the world, the flesh and the devil. To be a priest of YHVH Elohim requires that each person choose righteousness over wickedness, the holy (set-apart) over the profane (that which is defiled, polluted or worldly, see Ezek 44:23; 22:26). 

One cannot represent a holy, set-apart, sinless and righteous Elohim before the nations of the world unless one is set-apart (from the world) oneself. Yeshua told his disciples that though they were in the world, they were not to be of the world (John 17:11, 14). YHVH admonished his people to be holy or set-apart as he is holy or set-apart (Lev 11:44 and 45), and the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews declares, “Follow peace with all men and holiness, without which no man shall see YHVH” (Heb 12:14).

One cannot choose that which is holy (kodosh or set-apart) from that which is unholy (defiled or polluted) unless one knows what is holy and what is not. YHVH, not man, determines what is holy. To guide man in the walk of holiness, in the rest of this Torah portion, YHVH outlines various times, places, things, actions and foods that are holy to him by which his people can enter into holiness and have holy communion with him. For example, there are holy times (the weekly Sabbath, YHVH’s annual festivals and the sabbatical year), holy places (where YHVH places his name for his people to gather to worship him), holy food (clean verses unclean meats), holy income (our material income is sanctified or made holy through our tithing a portion of it to YHVH), holy lips (YHVH’s people are forbidden to allow the names of pagan deities to come on their lips, and to take YHVH’s name in vain), and YHVH’s people are to destroy any pagan, corrupting, defiling influences (the false gods of the heathens) by putting these things out of their lives. 

Being holy or set-apart is the saint’s mission and destiny as YHVH’s set-apart people, and whether we attain to the high level of holiness to which he calls us all depends on the choices we make, for good or for evil, whether we obey YHVH or to disobey him.

1 Thessalonians 4:7, Uncleanness…holiness. Uncleanness is the opposite of holiness. Remember this: Obedience is the path to righteousness; righteousness is the path to holiness. Uncleanness means “impure motives, lustful, profligate or dissolute living; unrestrained by convention or morality; lack the self control to live within prescribed boundaries of Torah.” Uncleanness is defined by YHVH, not by men. That which is unclean to YHVH is an abomination or detestable to him and is the opposite of holiness, which is his character and is how he wants us to be (Lev 11:43–45 cp. 20:11; Ezra 9:10–11; Rev 21:7–8).


5 thoughts on “Blessing or curses: Each person must choose…

  1. Regarding Shechem meaning “back” ,as supporting the “head”, as you noted above. The question is, who is the master (‘head”) of our lives/actions ??

    Is it Yeshua?? (Colossians 1:18), then Mt. Gerizim (blessing)

    Is it Satan ?? (John 8:44), then Mt. Ebal (cursing)

    • Good question and point. As I’m sure you’re alluding to, when we go against the Word of Elohim (called sin), then we place ourselves under the lying Serpent’s power and headship (as Adam and Eve did) and the curses as a result of going that way. When we obey the Word of Elohim, we place ourselves under the headship of Yeshua and blessings are the result.

  2. My mother(of blessed memory) was a devout catholic and she had many idols in her room, which I couldn’t stand. When I was presented with the opportunity I took a hammer to them destroying them and discarding them. When I told my (then) SDA pastor he asked why didn’t I sell them and give the $$ to the church and I quoted Deut. 7:25 and he just shrugged his shoulders! Would that we could just as easily see the wrongs on our life and destroy them as easily but we can do nothing w/o Him.

    • Good on you, Carol. It can’t be easy to respect a pastor who either does not know Elohim’s word or advises you to go against it.

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