Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Did God Pronounce Curses on Abraham?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Does anybody remember--did God pronounce curses on Abraham if he should fail to obey? All we have is God's gracious promises to him of divine blessings (Gen. 12:1-3, for example).

But Moses pronounces blood curdling curses on Israel if they fail to obey (see Deut. 28:15-68). God threatened "every sickness and every plague" (vs. 61). Abraham didn't need any of those curses to motivate him to obey. When the Lord made His promises to Abraham, the patriarch responded in the way God wanted--"he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness" (Gen 15:6; the Hebrew word "believe" is our word "amen"). "The faith of Abraham" kept him true in serving the Lord.

Unfortunately, Abraham's descendants at Mount Sinai did not share their "father's" faith. They were motivated by a works program. When the Lord tried to renew to them the grand promises He had made to Abraham, instead of saying "amen" with melted hearts, they thought God was striking a bargain with them, a "contract." They promised total obedience forever: "All that the Lord has spoken we will do" (Ex. 19:8).

And there we have the Old Covenant versus the New Covenant. God's covenant is always His promise of redemption and salvation by grace through faith. Our humble, heart-melted faith is the only response He wants. "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be  lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:14, 15).

Dear, beloved Joshua (who followed Moses) also is obsessed with curses if Israel fails to obey (24:20). Like their parents at Sinai, they repeated their mistake and promised vainly, "We will serve the Lord" (vs. 21). They had learned nothing by Joshua's time! They renewed on themselves the Old Covenant that Paul says "gives birth to bondage" (Gal. 4:24).

Ever thereafter, Israel's history is permeated with the Old Covenant. Paul says that legalism became their "tutor" ("schoolmaster," KJV) to bring them back on their long detour until they should be justified by faith, as was Abraham (Gal. 3:22-24). Is your detour over?

--Robert J Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 17, 2002.
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