D’varim (Deuteronomy) 26:1–19:8
This week’s reading portion is quite dense, but there are some real pearls of wisdom if we look closely. The parasha details the commandments that God gave the children of Israel—what they were to do, and not to do—when they came to the Land. As I was reading the scripture portion, I was struck by how much emphasis God places on obedience and disobedience. In fact, 14 verses speak of the blessing to be found as a result of obedience (28:1–14) and 54 verses speak of the curse that will result from disobedience (28:15–68).
But, as I’ve written before, God is not seeking robots for His kingdom! He seeks men and women whose hearts belong to Him, and who desire to obey because they love Him. In fact, God cares more about the condition of our heart than the heartless, religious deeds we may fall into the habit of doing (the entire first chapter of Isaiah is devoted to this issue).
There are two key verses in the 28th chapter of Deuteronomy that are important for us to understand because they speak to the condition of the heart. The first verse is found in Deuteronomy 28:10:
So all the peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the Lᴏʀᴅ; and they shall be afraid of you.
How does this connect to the heart? Well, often we mistakenly understand the blessing in our lives—both material and spiritual—as for our own benefit. While God does indeed love to bless His children, this verse shows us very clearly that the reason for His blessing (which will come as a result of honoring God through obedience) is to testify to the peoples of the earth that Elohim is the one true almighty God.
And then there is another issue that the Lord brings up, which is the judgment that can come upon us if we forget God as a result of the abundant blessings He gives:
Because you did not serve the Lᴏʀᴅ your God with joy and a glad heart, for the abundance of all things.
This should cause all of us to pause and take stock! God is clear that we will bring judgment upon ourselves if we forget Him and fail to serve the Lord with joy and a glad heart due to the plenty that He has given. This is what many refer to as the “paradox of blessing” and we would be wise to keep it from entering our hearts.
God must be the center of our lives; He desires for us to have thankful hearts and to serve Him out of love. He also wants us to keep the right perspective! A humbled heart is a wonderful tool to keep us in right relationship with Him, and to make sure He alone receives the glory for all blessings.
Something amazing happens when we stop focusing on what we want to have, and instead start praising Him for all that we already have!
This article originally appeared on Hope for Israel, September 7, 2017, and reposted with permission.