I have a friend who has helped me see a couple of different ways of investing. One way is to entirely trust in the stock market to bring your funds up with compound interest, but if the market goes down one year, you might lose a ton of retirement funds.
Another way is to accumulate compound interest but to add a floor so that you can’t lose money when the market crashes. Although the compounding interest rate was a bit lower, my wife and I agreed that the peace of mind of not losing any money would be better for us than having to constantly keep up with the stock market.
Sure, in both situations you’re trusting the market, but one of them ensures that even in the worst of times, you are never losing money, you’re just not making any. The same difference applies to being in a relationship with God BC and AD:
God’s covenant to Israel: See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today; and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn from the way that I am commanding you today, to follow other gods that you have not known (Deuteronomy 11:26-28, NRSV).
In God’s covenant with Israel, their trust was to be in Him. Yet their obedience to God affected whether they would experience blessing or curse. There wasn’t really an in-between unless God showed them mercy for a certain amount of time. There wasn’t a “floor” in the market to prevent the negative consequences of disobeying God.
What are some advantages to this? Well we know that after God sent Israel into exile (because of their idolatry), ever since they got back, they never worshipped idols. Why is this? It’s because they didn’t want to be sent into exile ever again. It stirred in them a healthy fear, or reverence, of God.
Are there any disadvantages to this covenant? Not if people obey the Lord, there is always guaranteed blessing. Yet, if people disobey God, there isn’t a “floor” to hold back negative consequences of their disobedience. The fault isn’t with the covenant itself, it’s with the people who chose to disobey the covenant. At one point, all it took was one person to ruin things for everyone, a guy named Achan in Joshua 7, find it here
The short version is that Achan stole some things in the city of Jericho that he wasn’t supposed to, since all was supposed to be destroyed, and his selfishness cost thirty-six people their lives. The Lord wouldn’t honor Israel’s advancement into the land of Ai until Achan was punished and what he took was destroyed.
But where and when is the ‘floor’ instituted? Are we still waiting or has the floor already come? See for yourself:
The floor plan:“For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the things written in the book of the law.”...Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”— in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:10-13, NRSV).
Jesus Christ, our Messiah, is the Floor who keeps us from the curse of the Law! This doesn’t mean we will never experience discipline, but rather instead of going between the roller coaster of blessing and curse, we as believers go between blessing and missing out on the blessing. Although not as bad, who wants to miss out on the blessings of God? That’s almost a curse in itself!
Think about the consequence of not receiving a present and receiving the best one ever. If your parents said, “Well we were planning on giving you exactly what you asked for even though it was hundreds of dollars, but you didn’t do your chores the past month.” It would certainly feel like a curse.
God’s gift to us through faith is Himself, His Spirit. The gift of knowing that as we walk in His will, we will experience blessing. This doesn’t mean we'll never go through trials and tribulations, but that we will experience eternal gifts in the midst of these things: peace that passes all understanding, patience to wait through trying circumstances, faithfulness to endure a job we don’t like, and much more.
Our whole relationship with God becomes more personal in that we don’t have to follow God, which stems from a mindset of keeping ourselves from experiencing consequences. Instead, we get to follow Him.
God’s instruction to Israel in Deuteronomy was a blessing to themselves and, therefore, others. I hope you’ll see the wisdom and application of why God said what He said to Israel and what that has in store for us today as ‘uncursed’ followers of Christ; people who have the opportunity to get in on the ways that He would have us to walk into today.