Deuteronomy 28 begins, “And if you faithfully obey the voice of the LORD your God, being careful to do all his commandments … these blessings shall come upon you …” (verses 1,2). It is very sad that the succeeding generations failed to do this, so God’s blessings ceased and later, curses came upon them (read verse 15 on). In Acts we have been reading how Paul first preached Christ to the Jews but there was great opposition from many of them so God said, as he quoted to King Agrippa in today’s reading, “I will send you far away to the Gentiles” (Acts 22:21). Now Paul has things to say about this when he wrote to the Romans. The failure of the Jews to accept Christ “means riches for the Gentiles” (11:12).

Paul describes the Gentiles as being grafted into God’s olive tree to replace “some of the branches (that) were broken off” (verse 17). But then Paul warns these Gentile branches that have been grafted in and are receiving God’s blessings to “stand in awe for if God did not spare the natural branches neither will he spare you” (verses 20,21).

We could not but think as we read the Deuteronomy chapter that some of the warnings against natural Israel about what would happen if they let God down can now be applied in the twenty-first century to the largely faithless “Christian” nations. For example, “From heaven dust shall come down upon you until you are destroyed” (verse 24). “The LORD will strike you with … confusion of mind” (verse 28). “Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things, therefore …” (verse 47).

Many nations, like Israel of old, have experienced abundance, but what kind of “joyfulness and gladness” has resulted? Peter quoted David in the Psalms and the experiences among the first generation of believers was a fulfilment of this. “You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence” (Acts 2:28).

Let us live so that all the blessings we read of today come upon us. Our knowledge and belief in the truth of God’s word can give us a foretaste now, but what wonderful future blessings are promised! While knowledge and belief are an essential foundation, prayerful godly living is needed to complete the character of Christ being formed in us.