Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Two Mountains

Leslie Basham: After they sinned, Adam and Eve heard the terrible words of God cursing creation. We read those words with a different perspective than they had because we know the end of the story. Here's Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: It's the cross of Jesus Christ that breaks the power of the curse and puts us in a position where God can, once again, bless us as covenant keepers.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, December 17.

Why would we want to read passages in the Old Testament about the curses that follow those who disobey, about judgment and punishment. One reason is that they give us perspective about the incredible act of mercy Christ showed on the cross. Here's Nancy continuing in the series called, "Jesus, Our Source of Blessing."

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: As you know, our Bible is divided into two major sections: the Old Covenant or the Old Testament and the New Testament or the New Covenant.

And I find that most believers love to live in the New Testament. And many believers today never break open the pages of the Old Covenant, the Old Testament. That's not such easy reading.

But, could I suggest to you that you'll never experience the fullness of the New Testament until you've become very familiar with the Old Covenant, the Old Testament.

There's a picture in the Old Testament that I think describes wonderfully the difference between the Old and the New Testament. It took place with the Children of Israel. We read about it in the Book of Deuteronomy and then again in the Book of Joshua.

In Deuteronomy God said to the Children of Israel, "When you go into the Promised Land, I want you to have a little ceremony." And there were two mountains that would be on the other side of the Jordan. And in Joshua [8] we read about when this actually took place. One was named Mount Gerizim. And the other was named Mount Ebal.

And God said to the Children of Israel, "I want you to split the tribes into two groups and half of you go stand on Mount Gerizim and the other half go stand on Mount Ebal, facing each other. Then take some stones and write all my laws that I've just given you, write them on those stones.

Put those stones in the middle between the two mountains. And then have the Levites, the priests, come in between those two mountains and have them recite the law and have them pronounce blessings on those who obey and curses on those who do not obey the Word, the Law of the Lord."

So, as the Levites read the Law of the Lord, they're going to read a series of blessings and the people standing on Mount Gerizim are to say "Yes, that's the blessing. Amen. Amen. Amen to the blessing."

And when they read the curses, the people standing on the facing Mount, Mount Ebal, are to say "Amen to the curses." Deuteronomy, chapter 27, tells us what the priests are to say when they pronounce these blessings and these cursings.

Actually they give a lot of detail about the cursings, but they give no detail about the blessings. And I wonder if that's because they knew that the Children of Israel would not be able to keep the Laws of God so they didn't even bother to tell them what all the blessings would be.

But when you come to verse 14 of Deuteronomy, chapter 27, you have this whole long list of the cursings. And verse 14 tells us the Levites shall declare to all the men of Israel in a loud voice.

Verse 15, "Cursed be the man who makes a carved or cast metal image, an abomination to the Lord, and all the people shall answer and say, 'Amen.'" Verse 16, "Cursed be anyone who dishonors his father or his mother. And all the people, standing over there on Mount Ebal, shall say, 'Amen.'"

And you have these hundreds of thousands of Jews standing on this mountain saying "Amen, Amen," to all these cursings. I mean, there's a whole long list of them. Verse 25: "Cursed be anyone who takes a bribe to shed innocent blood, and all the people shall say, 'Amen!'"

And then you come to verse 26. Here's the bottom line. "Cursed be anyone who does not confirm the words of this Law by doing them. And all the people shall say, 'Amen.'"

Now, God is just saying here what we've been saying all along, and that is, "Covenant breakers are cursed." They come under God's righteous judgment. If you don't keep the law of God, you are damned. That's the message of the Old Testament--all the way through. And the people said, "Amen!" to all of this.

Now, why in the world were they saying "Amen!" to all these cursings. Well, what they were saying was, "We agree that God is righteous and just to judge us if we don't keep His law."

They didn't think they would be under that curse; they wanted to be under the blessings. They weren't saying "We want to be under the curse." They were saying, "We'll obey God." They agreed to it sincerely, I think.

Just like you and I sit in church and we hear the preachers talk about different things we're supposed to do according to the Word of God and we say, "Amen. We'll do it."

But there was a problem with those Jews standing on Mount Ebal and those Jews standing on Mount Gerizim. And that's this--they couldn't keep the law. I mean, they hardly got down off those mountains before they were making idols and doing all the things that God said, "Don't do."

And they had just said, "Amen." And now they're doing it. They didn't have a heart to obey God.

So they ended up reaping the consequences of the curse under God's righteous judgment. And you go through Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Leviticus, Numbers, I mean through the Old Testament history books, through the Old Testament prophets and that's the theme.

In fact, I think the concept of curse in the Old Testament can be summed up in one verse. Jeremiah, chapter 11, verse 3: "Cursed is the man who does not obey the words of this covenant." Period. Where did that leave these Jews? It left them under a curse because they couldn't keep God's law.

Where does that leave us? Under a curse. Under God's righteous judgment. That's not stuff we want to hear today. We don't want to be told, "You're under the curse; you're under God's judgment; you disobeyed God's law."

We want to be affirmed. We want to know how much God loves us and how kind He is to us and we want a God who just "winks at us" when we disobey those laws. But the truth is that anyone who violates those terms of God's righteous law is under God's judgment.

You see, you and I can't keep God's law any better than those Old Testament Jews could. On our own, left to ourselves, we have no more potential to obey God than they did.

And so, Jeremiah 17 says, "Thus says the Lord," verse 5, "Cursed is the man who trusts in man." Cursed is the one who depends on himself, his own righteousness or anything else or anyone else. "Cursed is the man who makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord." What's it saying? Cursed are all covenant breakers.

And then we come to the New Testament, to the New Covenant. And we see this repeated in Galatians, chapter 3, verse 10. "All who rely on observing the law are under a curse."

Why? Because we can't obey it. We can want to; we can try to but we can't obey it because it's written in Galatians 3:10, "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.

Oh, and that little word "everything" adds a perspective here because, maybe you were sitting there thinking, Well, I keep most of God's laws. And I don't break nearly as many laws as some other people that I know. But the New Testament reminds us that cursed is everyone who does not keep everything in the Law of God.

So, where does that leave all of us? Under God's judgment. It leaves us in a hopeless position. We can't obey God's commands. We can't keep His covenant. No matter how many "Amens" we say.

Therefore, we are cursed. BUT and this is where we come to the New Covenant-- again, promised to us in the Old and then we see it coming to life in the New. There is hope for people who are cursed, for covenant breakers.

The reason is that Someone has taken our curse. Someone took that curse for us. Someone stood in our place and has borne the righteous judgment of God against our sin.

And He did it so that God's blessing could be restored to us. That's the story of Scripture. God created men. He blessed them. Men broke the covenant; God cursed them.

And God spends the rest of the Old Testament reminding them why they're under the curse but also letting them know "I still want to bless you and I'm going to rectify this situation. I'm going to provide a means through which you can get back to that condition of Genesis 1 which is blessed.

And so the New Testament responds to the Old in what I think is one of the greatest verses in all of God's Word, Galatians 3:13. "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us. For it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.'"

It's the cross of Jesus Christ that breaks the power of the curse. And puts us in a position where God can, once again, bless us as covenant keepers.

Leslie Basham: During the Christmas season we're reminded of how much God has blessed us through His Son. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has given us great perspective on the curse and the blessings that we read about in the Bible. This is also the time of year when we think about ways we can bless others. Here's Nancy with some thoughts on giving.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: When we come to this time of the year, one of the things I love to do is to look back on my giving over the past year and to think of the people and the ministries that God has used to bless my life in a particular way. And then I look for opportunities to invest financially in those who've ministered spiritually to me.

So I'd like to encourage you during the last weeks of this year to take some time to do the same thing yourself. Make a list of the individuals, the ministries that God has used to touch your life in a significant way this past year.

And then, perhaps, if God has used Revive Our Hearts to minister to you in a particular way during this past year, we'd be so grateful if you would do two things.

First, take a moment to jot us a note and tell us how you've been blessed. And then, if the Lord directs you to enclose a financial gift, we'd be so grateful, especially at this end of the year season.

As we've been sharing with you, every gift that you give between now and the end of this month will be doubled, up to $250,000. And those gifts are so important to us, and they'll enable us to finish this year with all our bills paid and then to go into the new year knowing that we can continue offering this ministry on this station in your area.

Let me just challenge you to grow in faith and in this grace and the joy of giving as we contemplate during this season the incredible gift that God has given to us in Jesus Christ.

Leslie Basham: Here's how you can write to us.  You can also e-mail by visiting our Web site, ReviveOurHearts.com. Or make a donation by phone. The number is 1‑800‑569‑5959.

Between the time of the prophets in the Old Testament and the beginning of the Gospels, 400 years lapsed. What was happening during that time between the Testaments. We'll find out tomorrow. I hope you can be here for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is a ministry partnership of Life Action Ministry.

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