Sunday, 25 February 2018
The Bible: A Very Grim Fairytale: Deuteronomy: Chapter 11: Blessings or Curses?
Okay, so I know that Deuteronomy has not been worth all of the effort so far. It isn't advancing the story at all, except the parts where it subtly rewrites it of course. But it is very subtle. Mostly it is just telling the story again. In case we missed it the first time. Think of it as an interlude before things get going again.
So, as we just established, not a lot happens in Deuteronomy. And even less happens in chapter 11. Actually nothing happens at all in chapter 11. It is a chapter in which God, through Moses, tells his people to do as they are told. If they do then good things will happen to them. If they don't....well you fill in the gaps.
God reminded them of some more of the great things he had done for them. He had taken them out of Egypt after performing miracles for them, miracles that were not strictly speaking necessary of course, but Moses didn't mention that. He had done things to Pharaoh too. Oh yes. What a great God he is even if all he has is a gaudy tent while the Pharaohs have pyramids. God didn't mention that either.
He did mention the way he had punished those who had displeased and disobeyed him. He did not mention that he seems to have been a bit inconsistent about how he punishes people. Some got off lightly like Moses' brother Aaron and others were plunged into spontaneously opened fissures in the Earth. Oh and Moses himself was punished for waving his stick the wrong way. God didn't mention that.
The point though is that if they obeyed their nasty and moody and capricious God he would look after them. In the land of milk and honey he would send them rain to water their crops and to drink. Yes God is taking the credit for the weather and getting his excuses in early for when it is bad.
God wanted his rules taught to everyone forever. Then he would send them nice weather. More than that he would give them the land and drive out other people from the land. Actually the people would drive them out by killing them but then God would claim the credit for it. That's religion for you folks. When nice things happen it's a miracle. When bad things happen, it's because of sin or just because of free will or something like that. Or mysterious ways.
That, said God, is the choice before them. The blessing or curse. Obey God and you are blessed, disobey him and you are cursed. This is something we will return to later in Deuteronomy. I bet you're looking forward to that.