Studies in Deuteronomy

You can be cursed

Deuteronomy 27

Jerry A Collins




v        Should we make covenants with God?

v        Do we need to pay attention to secret sins?

v        What difference does Godís Word make with sin?


There are times when we need reminders that keep us on the right track. We need something in our face so that we will pursue the right path and not deviate into a wrong direction. Something that can bring correction in case we do forget or swerve us away from the correct pursuit. That might be a list with reminders all throughout the dayólike a phone call you need to make; a meeting you must attend; a special occasion coming up. We might need a cheat sheet to review just before we take the test. A yellow ribbon so we will not forget the troops. A briefcase in front of the door so we remember to take it with us to the office or else trip over it. Things in our face, in our way that remind us what to do, where to go, what to take! Moses and the Elders vs 1 charged the people to do the same with the Word of God. Four times in ten verses the people are reminded to keep the Word of the Lord in their face so they would not swerve, deviate, or turn aside (vs 1, 3, 8, 10 Read these and comment). Here begins a new address to the people. The last of three major speeches made by Moses as a last will and testament (1-4; 5-26; 27-34).


Moses now gives the new generation its instructions concerning a fresh commitment to the covenant when Israel enters and possesses the land.

Commitment by writing 1-4 They are to participate in a ceremony of covenant renewal beginning with writing the law on stones 2, 8 when they cross over into the land (3 times). Actually, this ceremonyhappened in Joshua 8:30-35. First, this writing commemorated Godís faithfulness to them as His people in giving them this landónot just any landóbut one fully able to provide for them (flowing with milk and honey 3) and one promised to your fathers. These stones were to be set upon Mt Ebal vs 4 coated with lime so they could write the words on them for the people to read. Mt Ebal was near the center of the land with the city of Shechem at itís baseómodern day Nablus. This is where the Lord first appeared to Abe who built an altar there as he entered this land 500 years earlier and the promises for this people began (Gen 12:6-7). Second, this writing symbolized the nationís mission to bring Canaan under the direction of this Word for all who lived within itís boundaries. This would become the Law of the land and govern all that the leadership pursued and administered. Third, the words were to be written very distinctly vs 8. This emphasizes the significant role and supreme position of Godís Word in the new land. Nothing of it should escape their notice at all! So, the Word of God can be written down in a clear visible way on the walls of your home or office or study as a way of showing itís prominence in those places where you live and work. Posted like you post important public announcements to declare your commitment to it. For Israel, it becomes their national constitution. For us, it becomes the source of life to us and not death. Sin brings death-dealing consequences but Godís Word brings light (revelation) & life to us.

Commitment by sacrifice 5-10 They are to build an altar but not use any tool to do so. Just pile up stones vs 5. This was followed by two sacrifices: (1) Burnt offerings vs 6ótheir sacrifice was to be completely burned up before the Lord there. This expressed the nations total dependence on the Lord for their future in the land. A sacrifice today is something we give up for God. It is our living body that is on the altar today (Rom 12:1-2). It is a gift by the fact that we do not benefit from it, by it being given to someone else who does. (2) Peace offering vs 7ówhich is eaten at a communal meal together that expressed their thanksgiving to God and their complete joy in His provision to them as a people and a nation. God has gone overboard for them and they appreciate that so much is the idea! Both of these sacrifices demonstrated their commitment to this covenant God made with them.

Commitment by obedience 9-10 So on the plains of Moab, between Mt Ebal and Mt Gerizim, sometime later with Joshua leading the people, would be a major turning point in Israelís historyóthen she will have had freshly committed herself to the Lord. This new generation would formally become Godís people as they took upon themselves the responsibilities and privileges of the Law of Moses. Their fathers had done this at Mt. Horeb (Ex 19:8. So this new generation would do that at Mt. Ebal. That is to commit to obey the statutes andcommands of the Law. Godís wants His Word to be central in all of our lives. To govern everything we do, everything we become, every direction we take. So apply it to your life. Make it prominent by teaching it to your family; by making sacrifices necessary to obey it; to follow it even into uncertain, unclear and risky places God calls you too. God still wants the same thing today for His people that He wanted thenóHis Word central all our days and in all of our lives.


The tribes divided 11-14 Six of the tribes are to stand on foot of Mt. Gerizim to bless the people as the covenant was formally ratified before God and this new generation. These 6 tribes descended from Leah and Rachel the proper wives of Jacob and take precedent. On Mt. Ebal the other six were to express the curses descended from Jacobís concubines, Bilhah and Zilpah along with Reuben who forfeited his birthright and Zebulun Leahís youngest son. Vs 14 the Levites stood between these two groups reciting these curses and blessings. All of the people were to respond ĎAmení to take to themselves the blessing and the curse and by this swearing or taking an oath before God. So everyone participated in this ceremony and personally committed themselves to God.

Secret curses 15-26 There now follows 12 curses possibly answering the number of the tribes. These curses contrast with the curses of Deut 28 in that they deal with secret violations of the Law. Twice the words in secret are inserted 15, 24. They include (1) idolatry; (2) beaches of love for oneís neighbor 16-19; (3) sexual perversions 20-23; (4) personal injuries 24-25. They include violations against exclusive worship of the Lord, honoring parents, protection of life& property, justice for weak and powerless, sexual relations. Each of these could more easily be concealed from judicial authorities. Secret sins include hiding disobedience Gen 3:8-11; hiding idolatry Eze 8:12; hiding murder Gen 4:9; hiding stealing Josh 7:16; Hiding adultery 2 Sam 12; hiding by lying Acts 5. If you do not believe you will be accountable then you will engage in secret sin. It is a lie from Satan when we convince ourselves that no one knows we commit themóGod does! Paul used vs 26 to teach that no one could find eternal by obeying the Law (Gal 3:10). Every conscious sin subjects sinner to curse of God from which none can be delivered except He who became one for us.

1. Focus more of your attention on Godís Word than you have been doing.

2. God is interested in our paying attention to secret sins. Examine your heart; watch out for attack; be strong in the Lord; know that there are no secrets.