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Moses often reminded Israel of the two consequences of actions: blessing for obedience and curses for disobedience. Moses could not have been more straightforward yet to this very day people seek biased justification and over-spiritualization to forsake all responsibility of true obedience. Unfortunately those people are too preoccupied avoiding legalism that they miss the amazing correlation between obedience and salvation. Here in this week’s portion, amidst the Moses’ supplications, was a verse that demonstrated the aforementioned correlation.

The first verse in this week’s portion framed the proceeding declarations in the portion.

“See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse:” Deuteronomy 11:26

Look closely at this specific declaration:

“And when the LORD your God brings you into the land that you are entering to take possession of it, you shall set the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal.” Deuteronomy 11:29

It is intriguing that the blessing and the curse were set on two different mountains. Natural curiosity leads to a desire to research the definitions of each mountain. Take a look:

  • Gerizim = cuttings off
  • Ebal = stone or bare mountain

The mountains represented a visual manifestation of consequences for obedience or disobedience.   Deuteronomy 11 described the desolation and bare land that would result from disobedience.

“Take care lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them; then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and he will shut up the heavens, so that there will be no rain, and the land will yield no fruit, and you will perish quickly off the good land that the LORD is giving you.” Deuteronomy 11:16-17

And Leviticus 11 recounted the incredible result of being one of G-d’s people.

“I am the LORD who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy.” Leviticus 11:45

First, G-d saved the Children of Israel from Egypt to make a covenant then G-d commanded the people to be set apart. How can one be holy? Through obedience to G-d (Num. 15:40) and obedience comes with blessing. (Deut. 7:11-16; 30:16) Gerizim is the plural form of the verb garaz which means to cut, to cut off, or to separate, a definition that is similar to “holy” (kodesh) which means to separate and to “covenant” (beriyt) which comes from the root bara (to cut). Therefore those who obey, and receive the blessing that was set on Mount Gerizim, do so because of the covenant with G-d that called them to be separate from the world, destined for holiness. This covenant is not only physical through obedience to the commandment of circumcision but it is also spiritual through Messiah Yeshua Who gives a new heart. Deuteronomy 30 summarized the Good News and demonstrated what should be the desired distribution of blessings and curses that were set on the two mountains.

“And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.  And the Lord your God will put all these curses on your foes and enemies who persecuted you.” Deuteronomy 30:6-7

Messiah Yeshua is the mediator of the New Covenant which enables faithful obedience. He has separated a remnant, cut a covenant with them, and leads them toward holiness. Baruch HaShem for His love and grace that counts us as part of that remnant! Baruch HaShem for His loving and gracious commandments that draw us closer to Him and bring such immense blessing!

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